Mainland home prices rose at a slower pace last month, the National Development and Reform Commission said yesterday. Prices on average climbed 10.1 per cent from the year-ago level after jumping 10.7 per cent in March, according to a statement the planning agency posted on its website. The NDRC tracks the property market every month by studying price movements in 70 major cities. Overall prices climbed 0.2 per cent from the previous month. New home prices increased 10.8 per cent from a year earlier, slower than the 11.4 per cent pace in March. Analysts said the sector's expansion had been slackening since October last year when Beijing began aggressive measures to hold it back, including imposing constraints on those buying a second home. Now that the country is in a sober state after the earthquake, analysts project that the market will stay sluggish in the near term as Beijing continues to exercise restraint. They believe sales will pick up only around the start of the Olympics. 'I don't expect the market to improve in the coming months,' said Albert Lau Tak-yeung, a managing director at Savills in Shanghai. 'On top of the government's policy directed at cooling down the market, the earthquake will hurt sentiment further.' Kenny Ho Enkai, Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research in Shanghai, said: 'The people's income has expanded more than 10 per cent while inflation is at a record high. If you take into account these factors, the rise [in home prices] is very reasonable.' Mr Ho expects positive sentiment will return to the market in the second half when runaway inflation slows down and positive news emerges around the Olympics. Danny Ma, an associate director of CB Richard Ellis, did not expect housing prices to drop further due to solid fundamental demand. Consumer inflation on the mainland rebounded unexpectedly to 8.5 per cent last month, prompting the central bank to take immediate tightening measures, raising the prospect of faster appreciation of the yuan to control prices. The mainland's economy expanded at a robust 10.6 per cent in the first quarter. Last month, Beijing home prices rose 13 per cent year on year and 0.2 per cent from March. Prices in Shanghai rose 9.7 per cent from a year earlier, and the monthly growth was also 0.2 per cent. Prices in Guangzhou were 2.7 per cent more expensive than last year but merely 0.1 per cent more costly month on month. In Shenzhen, prices rose 5.5 per cent from last year, but fell 1.4 per cent month on month.