Home sales shot up in February in China’s first-tier cities as eager buyers returned to the market amid the country’s efforts to spur sales and stabilise the market, according to agents and research firms. Lived-in homes were particularly hot properties among urban buyers, with sales increasing in Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen by at least 80 per cent on a month-on-month basis. New-home sales increased by up to 25 per cent in Beijing and Shenzhen compared with January, but declined 37 per cent in Shanghai. The overall positive movement follows aggressive policy moves by Beijing to shore up the staggering property market, which accounts for 10 to 12 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. The push began with the announcement of the ‘ three policy arrows ’ – bank credit, bond issuance and equity financing – in November, which has led to specifics such as the opening of the property market to private-equity investors , an acceleration in lending and a reduction in mortgage rates in many cities . Wealthy Changzhou is latest Chinese city to ease homebuying restrictions Shanghai recorded the strongest growth in second-hand transactions, which rose 141 per cent month on month to 19,280 in February, according to data compiled by the Lianjia Research Institute in Shanghai. That matched a peak in July 2022 when pent up demand led to a surge in purchases after the city ended its two-month Covid-19 lockdown. February was the strongest month since mid-2021, besides that exceptional July 2022 spike, said Yang Yulei, chief analyst with the institute. “It means the property market is expected to be on the right track,” Yang said. “Under the supportive policies launched last year, market sentiment was boosted a lot, and homebuyers are not taking a wait-and-see approach.” China’s new home sales surge after 19-month slump as measures boost demand In Beijing, 15,315 lived-in homes changed hands in February, an 84 per cent surge over January, according to data from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. Sales of new homes in the national capital increased 20 per cent compared with January to 4,824. Agents said they have felt a rebound under way since Lunar New Year, with more people coming out for viewings. Lu Sheng, an agent who sells homes at the Cloudland development in the Daxing district of Beijing, said the market has been improving since January. China to expand financial support for home rental market “The number of viewings and the sales are OK,” he said. “Most homebuyers have a need for housing, and they tend to look at small flats at around 98 square metres.” In Shenzhen, transactions of lived-in homes hit a 19-month high in February, rising 81 per cent to 2,509, according to data from Shenzhen Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. New-home transactions rose 25.4 per cent month on month to 2,041. “We noticed that more homebuyers began viewing properties after the Lunar New Year holiday,” said Alan Cheng, CEO of Centaline Property Agency for southern China and general manager in Shenzhen. “Their pace of making decisions has also sped up. In the past, people who just viewed properties but did not buy accounted for a major part of the customers. But now, the sentiment has improved a lot, leading to a fast increase in transactions.” Hong Kong’s tax cuts for buyers of cheaper homes has boosted sentiment: agents He added that more Hong Kong buyers came to Shenzhen to buy properties or view homes after the border reopened. Cheng said he sees more than 20 people from Hong Kong coming to view homes in Shenzhen each week, which is only 10 per cent of the pre-pandemic level, but is a signal that the home market is recovering. “It’s just the beginning,” he said.