Sales of private housing on the mainland dropped 20.6 per cent in the first 11 months from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. Total sales of private property, including residential and commercial properties, reached 1.93 trillion yuan (HK$2.18 trillion) in the first 11 months, down 19.8 per cent from a year earlier. Sales were worse in key cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, compared with those in the second-tier cities. Property sold in Beijing dropped 48.6 per cent year on year during the period, to 9.69 million square metres, the sharpest fall among the big cities. The value of sales fell 44.5 per cent to 118.32 billion yuan. Only 19.54 million sq metres was sold in Shanghai, down 40.9 per cent from a year earlier. Sales dropped 39.4 per cent to 163.17 billion yuan. The fall in the value of sales was due to the slowdown in the property market and the decline in property prices. About 490 million sq metres of private property was sold on the mainland during the period, down 18.3 per cent from a year ago. The floor area of private residential property sold dropped 18.8 per cent. According to the report, about 708.4 million sq metres of residential area was vacant at the end of last month, 22.9 per cent higher than at the same time last year. Average property prices in 70 cities dropped 0.5 per cent last month from October, the bureau found. The price of a new home in the cities fell 0.6 per cent, although that was still 0.2 per cent higher than the year before. Luxury residential property performed more poorly than mass residential. The average price of luxury residential property fell 1.2 per cent last month from October, while mass residential dropped 0.5 per cent. The price of a new home fell last month in 43 key cities, while it rose in 13 cities. The price of a new home in Shenzhen fell 2.4 per cent. The prices of homes on the secondary market in 38 large cities also dropped.