Background tips: The State Council decided to lift down payments and second-home loan rates early this month, and announced that commercial banks can refuse to issue loans to third-home buyers in cities where housing prices are rising too quickly.
China's red-hot property market is showing signs of cooling as the volume in property trading in cities such as Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Guangzhou plunged after the government introduced new regulations early this month. But don't get comfortable yet: The new policies are just the beginning to restrain the housing bubbles that are emerging in many cities.
If the latest campaign to cool the property market succeeds, policymakers must come up with more targeted measures to effectively curb property speculation. Without them, the country may risk another disastrous surge in property prices.
Since the central government has made it clear that it will apply the most Draconian measures to cool the property market, local governments and authorities should do their best to help alleviate the property bubbles.
Given the massive ramifications of the property market on the economy and society, policymakers need to rein in speculative buyers to avoid causing panic in the market. A sudden collapse of the property market is simply too expensive for the country to afford and can also force the government to stop its ongoing campaign. Worse still, some local departments are recklessly intervening in the central government's plan.
One department in particular is trying to correct its mismanagement of affordable housing in the middle of the campaign, but this move will likely attract attention away from the focus on housing speculation. Some are arbitrarily annulling bidding results at land auctions without considering the impact of an uncertain land supply on future property price expectations.
To cool the property market in a safe manner, policymakers need to prioritize their tasks on hand.
(China Daily 04/28/2010 page8)