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Home price rise slows in January

By Zheng Yangpeng | China Daily | Updated: 2016-02-02 08:05

The rise in China's new home prices slowed in January, as sales faltered on reduced housing supplies before the Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb 8.

The average price of a new home in China's 100 major cities rose 0.42 percent month-on-month in January to 11,026 yuan ($1,675) per square meter, private researcher China Index Academy said in a report. It was the ninth straight month of growth, but slower than December's 0.74 percent rise and November's 0.46 percent advance.

New homes in the 10 biggest cities posted 0.54 percent month-on-month growth, but that was 0.6 percentage points lower than in December.

The academy attributed the slowdown to developers' reluctance to promote new housing projects before the Lunar New Year, as many city dwellers returned to their hometowns for family reunions, leading to fewer sales and putting a damper on price.

For example, in Beijing, where people from outside the city make up a large portion of homebuyers, new home sales in the first 25 days of January slumped to 2,819 units, the lowest in recent years, according to Centaline Property Agency.

New home prices in the capital edged up 0.3 percent from December to January, the smallest gain among the largest cities. However, sales of pre-owned housing in the first 25 days of January hit 18,814 units, almost seven times that of new homes, according to Centaline.

Prices of pre-owned housing in the capital gained 1.68 percent over December, the China Index Academy said. The pre-owned market in Beijing is dominated by residents who already own an apartment but want to trade up for a bigger one.

Gains in Beijing were shadowed by those in Shenzhen, where prices surged 5.24 percent. Year-on-year, prices have jumped 45 percent.

"Shenzhen has seen a second round of price rises starting in November, largely driven by speculators who borrowed money to buy homes. The 45 percent year-on-year growth is really rare in the past 20 years," said Yang Hongxiu, deputy head of the E-house China R & D Institute.

Li Qiaoling, a researcher with Homelink Real Estate Agency, said the sales slump in January is normal, as the period before the Lunar New Year is a traditional offseason. In addition, pre-owned housing sales were impeded by less willingness on the part of landlords to bargain, as they are expecting prices to rise.

The academy expects demand to rebound after the festival, with steady price growth, and more rapid expansion in some key cities.

Others are less optimistic. Moody's expects nationwide property sales growth to drop to under 5 percent in 2016, from 16.6 percent in 2015.

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