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Measures to cool housing sector set to continue

By Wu Yiyao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-13 07:37

City-specific measures will continue to be used to help stabilize the healthy development of the housing market in cities at all levels, striking a balance between deleveraging purchases in key cities and reducing inventories in others, according to analysts.

Measures to help stabilize the real estate market were reaffirmed in the Government Work Report, delivered by Premier Li Keqiang on March 5 during the opening meeting of the fifth session of the 12th National People's Congress.

In large cities, a measure that covers each step in property transactions, including developers and agents, will be used to ensure the housing market does not overheat. Meanwhile, steps will be taken to reduce inventories in lower-tier cities and provide those who are not properly housed or live in shantytowns with access to better housing, the report said.

A number of lenders in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, have already raised residential mortgage rates by 5 to 10 percent.

"From a financial perspective, the most direct and effective way of cooling the overheating housing market is to curb leveraged investment," wrote Qian Jun, professor of finance at the Shanghai advanced institute of finance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and deputy director of the China Academy of Financial Research, in a research note.

Qian said taxation is another tool that could be used to adjust the market, imposing taxes on the overheated market to increase speculators' costs, while waiving taxes on affordable housing to provide greater access.

According to the National People's Congress, the nation's top legislative body, taxation on housing is included in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) for Lawmaking, but is not included in this year's plan for reviewing drafts and proposals.

"Deleveraging in the financial market is a way of stabilizing the market and guiding capital flow into the real economy," said Hu Yifan, chief China economist at UBS Wealth Management.

Homebuyers have already felt the effects of the city-specific measures, which have resulted in the real estate market becoming more rational.

"Since late last year, the point that housing is for housing, not speculation, has been reaffirmed several times. I feel that sellers of pre-owned homes are more open to price negotiations, and real estate agents are less pushy. As the growth in the price of homes slows, they are no longer urging buyers to sign contracts as quickly as possible. I will take my time and examine more options. After all, home payments are significant, and I plan to live in my home for decades," said Ma Yijuan, a 46-year-old homebuyer in Shanghai.

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