Shanghai’s mayor Ying Yong said on Thursday that he will do everything in his power to stabilise the housing market, ending speculation that the city would loosen its grip on the sector as it faced an uphill task of sustaining growth amid fears of a slowing economy. “We must bear in mind that controlling prices of land and homes is not a makeshift policy,” the mayor told a press conference after the close of the annual session of Shanghai People’s Congress. “We will stand firm in stabilising the property market and ensure reasonable pricing on land and homes so that the price movements will be in line with our expectations.” On Sunday, Shanghai set itself a growth target of 6 per cent to 6.5 per cent in 2019, down from last year’s 6.5 per cent. It is expected to be the slowest growth since 1990 when the city’s gross domestic product expanded 3.5 per cent. Beijing sends clear message to Hong Kong: join forces with Shanghai and boost China’s financial power Property used to be a key driver for China’s urban areas and local government would roll out incentives to bolster construction and stimulate home purchases to underpin economies when there were signs of slowdown. Real estate investment in Shanghai climbed 4.6 per cent in 2018, compared to a growth of 17.7 per cent in the manufacturing sector during the same period. “Shanghai’s home prices are still not affordable to talented professionals from other parts of the country,” said Yin Ran, a Shanghai-based angel investor and independent analyst. “The weak home market at present is not enough to prompt local officials to ease the austerity measures.” Home prices in Shanghai surged between mid-2015 and late 2016, forcing the municipal government to step in to roll out measures to stem the gains amid fears of a property bubble. China unveils trading rules for new hi-tech board, paving way for bold new market to compete with New York, Hong Kong In March 2016, Shanghai raised mortgage down payments, heightened the threshold for non-locals to buy homes and tightened oversight of the shadow banking system to rein in the overheated property market. Prices of pre-owned homes in Shanghai were estimated to have dropped about 10 per cent in 2018. Some southern cities such as Zhuhai and Guangzhou, along with Heze in Shandong province, pioneered the move to loosen curbs in late December amid slowing sales and a bearish outlook in China’s property market. Shanghai officials see home prices as one of the factors that affect the city’s competitiveness. The city, once the mainland’s economic locomotive, has been lagging behind other provincial-level regions in terms of GDP growth since 2008.