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Home prices rise slower in April

Updated: 2013-05-19 09:13
By Hu Yuanyuan ( China Daily)

New home prices in China's major cities rose at a slower pace in April as the government's recent tightening measures started to take effect, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Saturday.

"The trend of surging property prices across the country has been curbed in April as the growth rate in quite a number of cities has slowed down," said Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician with the bureau.

"However, the fundamental reason for the rising property price hasn't been addressed yet, and implementation of tightening policies has to be strengthened in the market," Liu said.

The highest growth rate was capped at 2.1 percent in Guangzhou. In March, the highest growth rate was 3.2 percent in Shanghai.

Of the 70 cities monitored by the NBS, 67 saw new home prices rise month-on-month in April, compared with 68 in the previous month. But, 36 cities registered slower month-on-month price rises in April.

The central government said on March 1 that it planned to introduce a 20 percent capital gains tax and higher down payments and mortgage rates for second-home buyers in cities where prices are deemed to be rising too fast. And major cities unveiled detailed regulations by the end of March.

But some analysts said the growth rate of property sales this year will be very similar to 2012, despite the government's latest round of policy tightening.

China's average home price may rise 3 to 8 percent this year, with the sale volume climbing 5.6 percent, research from CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets showed.

"Though the average home price across the country will increase by 3 to 8 percent in 2013, the price hike in key cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou could hit 20 percent," said Nicole Wong, regional head of property research at CLSA.

Growth in the sales value of China's commercial residential housing in the first four months eased to 59.8 percent from a rise of 61.3 percent during the first quarter.

The amount of floor space sold grew 38 percent, up 0.9 percentage points on the first three months, according to the NBS.

For Xiao Jin, vice-general manager of Beijing Vanke Co Ltd, quality projects will sell fairly well this year, even with the rigorous property policies in place.

"The strong demand remains there, and the reduced supply will further strengthen the price hike expectations of potential buyers," Xiao said.

Beijing Vanke will soon launch 240 units of high-end apartments in the capital's market, with the average price hovering around 50,000 yuan ($8,064) per square meter.

According to a survey by CLSA, a total of 43 percent of property developers are expecting a price hike, with the proportion reaching a record high from the end of 2010. And 35 percent of potential buyers are also expecting a price increase, the highest since the end of 2011.

But the imbalances between supply and demand will improve by the end of this year, said Wong.

Despite the stringent real estate policies, Chinese developers are still on track to meet their sales targets for 2013, according to an industry report by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.

For Bei Fu, a Standard & Poor's credit analyst, the developers' sales targets may appear aggressive, but the strong sales so far in what is usually a slow selling season suggests it could be mission possible.

"While we expect some of the sales momentum to lose steam, overall performances should be good for the full-year of 2013," Fu said.

The report notes, however, that the governments of top-tier cities are likely to be more stringent in implementing new regulations, which could have a dampening effect on transaction volumes.

"We continue to assume up to 10 percent growth this year in transaction volumes for bigger players and limited growth for smaller players," said Fu. "And we expect 5 percent growth in average selling prices across the country."