Cooling measures take the heat out of the market Housing prices in 70 mainland cities rose an average of 5.5 per cent year on year last month, up 0.6 of a percentage point on August, according to official figures. The September growth rate showed signs of a steady slowdown in mainland housing prices thanks to government measures designed to take the heat out of the market, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. Of the 70 main cities, only two registered double-digit year-on-year housing price growth, according to a survey jointly conducted by the bureau and the National Development and Reform Commission. Hohhot in Inner Mongolia recorded the biggest price rise of 14.6 per cent, while prices in Qingdao , Shandong province , increased by 11 per cent. Housing prices fell in 15 cities, including previously overheated Shanghai, where they fell by 1.2 per cent year on year. Huizhou in Guangdong, Baotou in Inner Mongolia, and Dandong and Jinzhou in Liaoning also reported marked declines in housing prices, according to the survey. Nationally, prices for new houses rose by 6.2 per cent year on year, while second-hand flat prices increased by 6.4 per cent. The secondary market was most active last month in Zhengzhou in Henan , Xuzhou in Jiangsu , Dalian and Shenyang in Liaoning, and Beijing, which all registered year-on-year growth of 10 per cent or more. National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Zheng Jingping dismissed questions about the effectiveness of the cooling measures. 'Our policies are aimed at regulating [the market] and preventing the prices from rising too fast, rather than bringing down the housing prices drastically,' he said yesterday. 'That is not in accordance with economic rules or in the interests of the government and the people.' According to Mr Zheng, average housing prices across the country rose 8.8 per cent year on year in the first nine months of the year, while the growth rate for the first half of the year was 10.1 per cent. Average housing prices had risen by 12.5 per cent year on year in the first quarter of the year, following a 14.4 per cent gain for all of last year.