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Property prices fall at a faster rate in Jan
Updated: 2009-02-12 18:33

The property prices in 70 major Chinese cities fell 0.9 percent in January from a year earlier, a faster fall than in December 2008, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said Thursday.

New home prices in 70 large and medium-sized cities dropped 1.4 percent compared with the same period last year, 0.6 percentage points faster than December decline.

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New home prices in 28 of the 70 cities fell, leading by Shenzhen with a 16.5-percent drop, Guangzhou falling by 9 percent and Xiamen by 5.6 percent.

Housing for low-income earners in major cities was priced 0.4 percent higher than the same month last year.

Housing prices in the 70 cities declined 0.4 percent year on year in December, the first drop since the NDRC began to publish the data in 2005.

The grim economic situation and future uncertainties have dampened home buying, said Yin Bocheng, chief of the real estate research center under Fudan University.

The Chinese government has announced a stimulus package for the ailing property industry in December, emphasizing low-income housing and home ownership.

However, it would take some time for the stimulus measures to pay off, said Li Guoping, analyst with the Top Consult, a domestic real estate consulting agency. Li expected the country's housing price to stabilize in the second half this year.

According to the package, people who had owned their home for two or more years can now sell it without having to pay business taxes. Previously, owners had to wait at least five years before selling houses tax-free.

If they sell their houses within two years, owners only have to pay taxes levied on the profit, not the sales price.

To boost homebuying, the government also allows people with "smaller-than-average" apartments to buy a second apartment under favorable loan terms.

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