Mainland home prices eased last month as government measures bit and analysts predict the trend will continue due to increasing supply.
Year-on-year, prices rose 20.6 per cent in Beijing, 20.4 per cent in Guangzhou and 20.3 per cent in Shenzhen, down from November's 21.1 per cent, 20.9 per cent and 21 per cent respectively.
Prices rose 21.9 per cent in Shanghai last year, leading 70 major cities monitored by the National Bureau of Statistics.
"Home price rises further moderated in December, showing that market expectations are stabilising after a slew of measures taken recently by the first-tier and some second-tier cities to step up tightening efforts and increase the supply of affordable homes," said senior bureau statistician Liu Jianwei.
Yang Chenqing, an analyst with the private property consultancy CRIC, said the four first-tier cities and some second-tier cities stopped approving presales of expensive properties and suspended sale registrations of projects with fast-rising prices in December, artificially lowering average prices.
"So the December data are within expectations and they are a result of control measures," he said.
But the Sunday Morning Post has found that the number of cities with prices rising more than 10 per cent rose to 28 in December from 26 in November.
Month-on-month, price rises eased to 0.6 per cent in Beijing and Shanghai, 0.7 per cent in Guangzhou and 0.5 per cent in Shenzhen in December.
Monthly price growth was 0.1 percentage points slower in 31 second-tier cities and 0.2 percentage points weaker in 35 third-tier cities.
"The momentum will be weaker for a price rebound this year as supply will catch up," Yang said, adding that a high base of comparison in 2013 would also limit housing inflation.
CRIC predicted home supply would increase in 80 per cent of its 14 sample cities and remain stable elsewhere this year compared with 2013. For example, supply would rise 40 per cent in Beijing and 20 per cent in Shenzhen.
Analysts from Fitch, the global ratings agency, expect home prices to rise 5 per cent, down from 11.5 per cent in the top 100 mainland cities last year.
In its latest property report, Fitch said: "We expect growth to moderate in 2014 but to remain satisfactory."