Ten major Chinese cities saw new home prices stabilise last month after a surge in November, according to the latest SCMP-Creda index, with their combined sales volume jumping more than 20 per cent from the previous month. Shenzhen, the most expensive mainland city, saw prices fall 5.1 per cent after a 27.7 per cent gain in November. New home prices in the city climbed 59.9 per cent for the whole of last year. The five top gainers were led by Chengdu, where prices picked up slightly by 4.2 per cent after declining for two previous straight months. Chongqing was the biggest loser, falling 10 per cent last month after growing 7.3 per cent in November. The combined transaction volume in the 10 cities climbed 21.5 per cent month on month to 17.8 million sq metres. READ MORE: Little optimism about China’s property destocking prospects “The market continues to heat up and transactions hit a record high in December. First-tier cities in particular outperformed the market,” said Chen Sheng, dean of the China Real Estate Data Academy, which partners the South China Morning Post for the monthly index. Chen said tier-1 and tier-2 cities have made outstanding progress in destocking, while tier-3 and tier-4 cities still face great pressure to ease their home gluts. “Home prices will tend to diverge in different cities in 2016,” he said. All the four top-tier cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou – saw transaction volume advance over 20 per cent, with Beijing surging 57 per cent last month from the previous month. December is the peak season for home sales in China as developers usually offer special promotions to meet the annual target. New home prices on average rose 3.6 per cent in Hangzhou last month from November and gained 2.2 per cent in Guangzhou. They increased 2.1 per cent in Beijing and 1.2 per cent in Tianjin. For the full year of 2015, nine of the 10 cities saw prices increase. Besides the big gain of Shenzhen, prices in Beijing were up 14.7 per cent, followed by Shanghai, where prices rose 12 per cent. Chongqing was the only city suffering a drop for the whole of last year, falling 21.2 per cent from 2014. Chen expects a looser policy environment for the property sector this year given the country’s broader economy still needs support from real estate. “The central government may even introduce short-term supportive policies to boost sales,” Chen said. Beijing has set clearance of unsold homes in smaller cities as one of its major economic goals in 2016. New policies to boost sales, such as offering subsidies to encourage home purchase by migrants and rural farmers, are likely to be unveiled this year.