The average price of a second-hand home in Beijing rose last month for a third consecutive month to a six-month high of 41,328 yuan (HK$51,720) per square metre, and Shanghai followed a similar trend, according to the SCMP-CTC index, adding to signs that policy relaxation is fuelling housing price inflation in top mainland cities. However, the month-on-month pickup pace in Beijing slowed to 0.8 per cent from October's 1.1 per cent. The price in Shanghai edged up 0.6 per cent to 34,264 yuan per square metre, the highest in four months, after a flat month. "The mortgage relaxation on people buying their second homes improved the funding of such buyers, who came back to the market despite a narrowing room for price negotiations with sellers," said mainland consultancy Century 21 China Real Estate (CTC), the South China Morning Post 's partner for the monthly index. The index rose to 158 points in Beijing from October's 156. In Shanghai, it edged up to 142 from 141 in the previous two months. In year-on-year terms, the price trends have been diverging in the mainland's two most important housing markets. Prices in the capital fell 4 per cent for a third month, quickening from October's decline of 2.2 per cent. In Shanghai, however, prices have kept rising this year, albeit at a steadily slower pace. Last month's gain was 1.2 per cent. "First-time homebuyers are not enjoying [the central bank's] easy mortgage policies as about 40 per cent of the banks have yet to implement low rates," CTC said. "How the credit policies eventually get implemented will affect the pace of the recovery in the housing market." The consultancy's data also showed second-hand home transactions in Beijing jumped 23.6 per cent last month from October to 12,370 units, after a 1.3 per cent drop in the previous month. They were still down 4.5 per cent from the same period last year. The sales volume in Shanghai surged 28.5 per cent on the month to 21,884 units, but it was still 9.9 per cent lower than a year earlier. "Transactions towards the end of the year will remain good," CTC said, citing rising supply and demand.