Mainland residents remain lukewarm to the property market with just 14.6 per cent of households interviewed planning to buy homes in the next three months, according to a quarterly survey by the People's Bank of China. The number of interested homebuyers was 1.3 percentage points lower than in the previous quarter and 1.9 percentage points off the level a year ago. The central bank last month interviewed 20,000 households in 50 mainland cities, seeking their views on the cost of living, stock market investment and property buying. The study found residents were cautious on the property market's outlook after the central bank and the China Banking Regulatory Commission slapped new rules on home purchases in September last year, requiring those buying a second home to make a 40 per cent down payment, and pay a higher mortgage rate. Potential buyers also worried about further rate increases and more austerity measures. Waning buying interest was especially noticeable in major cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou. The number of Shanghai residents who planned to buy homes was down 4.3 percentage points from the previous quarter and in Guangzhou, the percentage was 3.8 percentage points lower. While home prices are still rising, the momentum of increase in prices in 70 cities continued to slow, rising just 0.2 per cent last month from January compared with 0.3 per cent in January from December, according to the National Development and Reform Commission. In the southern region, home prices weakened, with those in Guangzhou falling 0.1 per cent and Shenzhen easing 0.9 per cent. Agents estimate that prices in Shenzhen's primary and secondary markets have retreated about 20 per cent from their peak in the third quarter of last year and that transaction volumes are 70 per cent off their peak. Samuel Wong Shu-kuen, a general manager at Midland Realty China's Shenzhen branch, said transactions improved in the first half of this month, March being the traditional high season. But he expected a slow market in the coming months. Potential buyers would not enter the market until they had a clearer picture as to whether more controls would be coming, said Mr Wong.