China's home prices increase in fewer cities as curbs bite

Home price growth in cities across China has slowed for eight consecutive months, and some key cities experienced declining average home prices in May as more cities introduced stricter measures against speculation, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics released on Monday.

Latest official survey presented on Monday showed continuous stabilization of home prices in China's biggest cities after a string of government measures to control price hikes.

In second-tier cities, average new home price growth dropped 0.8 percent, and pre-owned home price growth went down 0.5 percent. Improvement in short-term price trends stalled after three months of acceleration, with average housing prices up 0.7 percent month on month in May, unchanged from April.

In Beijing, the scene of the nation's tightest property restrictions, prices of new homes were unchanged from the previous month, and prices of existing homes fell by 0.9%, the first decline since February 2015.

On a yearly basis, house prices advanced in 69 cities in May, as seen in April.

Price growth in smaller third-tier cities rose to 0.9 percent in May from April's 0.8 percent, CBRE's Xie said. There were 58 cities that grew prices back in April.

In Shanghai, new home prices remained unchanged from April and gained 12.9 percent from the same period of previous year, the bureau said. In May, growth was 10.4 percent.

Prices in China's sizzling property market kept pace in May with the previous month, indicating resilient demand despite the imposition of tougher official measures to curb surging prices. Yesterday's data showed the fastest price gains were across smaller cities. Beihai, in southern Guangxi, saw prices advance 3.2 per cent. The year on year growth decorated for the sixth consecutive month since its peak in November, when it grew by 12.6 percent.

Analysts including Patrick Wong and Kristy Hung of Bloomberg Intelligence say the housing market may weaken in the second half on government curbs and rising mortgage rates.

"Around the country, first and second-tier cities registered the most notable retreats in price growth in both new and existing markets", said Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician at the bureau, which monitors prices in new and pre-owned home markets in 70 major cities.

Mr. Hu said that once the people there have purchased a property, their next home buying may be done five years later.

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