Beijing authorities have given this year's first pre-sale approvals for two expensive projects, stoking expectations that the capital city will ease its property curbs.
The city's housing bureau announced that the first pre-sale permit was issued on Sunday to a project called Thaihot Cathay Courtyard in Chaoyang district, with the highest price set at 100,537 yuan (HK$128,800) per square metre for a house with gross floor space of 352.54 square metres.
The cheapest unit in the project, developed by the Fujian-headquartered and Shenzhen-listed Thai Hot Group, is priced at 53,072 yuan per square metre.
The year's second permit was issued the same day to a project in Fengtai district with an average price of 67,000 yuan per square metre. It is developed by an obscure company.
The prices exceed the previous ceiling imposed after a meeting in November last year that barred any residential property project priced above 40,000 yuan per square metre, or over 10 per cent higher than neighbouring projects.
"It is a signal that Beijing will probably cancel the licence restriction this year to bring its cooling measures in line with the central government's preference for market-oriented policies," said Jiang Yunfeng, a research director at China Index Academy, the mainland's biggest real estate consultancy.
A third licence was given to a project with an average price of 13,000 yuan per square metre the same day.
The mainland's top housing authorities have said they will let local officials decide for themselves the measures they want to adopt to rein in runaway property prices.
Beijing is one of over a dozen major cities to have stepped up property tightening efforts in the past three months to contain soaring home prices.
Annual housing inflation in the city eased to 20.6 per cent last month, from November's 21.1 per cent and October's 21.2 per cent, according to official data.
Analysts, however, expect the more than 40 per cent increase in residential land price in the city last year will further push up home prices this year, although the pace of increase will be slower.