Business / Industries

Property market still in the doldrums

By Zheng Yangpeng (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-19 08:34

Tom Orlik, chief North Asia economist of Bloomberg, said that the message from Li confirmed the belief that the policy has swung full circle, from controlling speculators to bolstering demand.

However, sales remain weak. One reason, Orlik said, was that as prices fall, speculators find other places to park their cash.

"A second reason is that the credit torrent that drove the housing boom in past years has dried to a trickle," he said, noting that despite cuts in interest rates and banks' reserve requirement ratios, loan growth continues to slow.

Many local governments have ramped up efforts to bolster sales after finding that easing curbs on purchases had little impact. China Business News reported that the city of Ningbo in Zhejiang province may offer subsidies to homebuyers and acquire unsold units from developers to be used as social housing.

Fujian, Sichuan, Anhui, Jiangsu and other locations have taken similar steps to reduce inventories, the newspaper said.

Shanghai's housing authorities denied media reports that the city will scrap or loosen its buying restrictions. But banking sources in the city said that some minor adjustments to buying conditions would be announced soon.

Still, a broad-based recovery is not yet in sight. So far this month, the widely expected sales turnaround has yet to materialize.

Sales in the first half of March in the 50 cities monitored by the China Real Estate Information Corp were flat year-on-year, and the first half of March 2014 was already a weak base of comparison.

In Beijing, sales slumped 35 percent year-on-year, although sales in Shanghai rose 23 percent.

Yang Kewei, an analyst with the CRIC, said the sales slump in Beijing was largely because few new projects were released by developers in March.

Both builders and homebuyers in Beijing were waiting for more clarity from the government.

"Both sides are staying on the sidelines in anticipation of concrete policies in April, and transactions will warm up then," Yang said.

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