More Chinese cities posted monthly home price declines in November in yet another sign of the effectiveness of the government's efforts to cool the country's runaway property prices.
In November, 49 cities out of a statistical pool of 70 major cities saw drops in new home prices from October, compared with 34 cities in October, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday.
New home prices in 16 cities stayed flat last month from October, and the growth rates of home prices in another five cities were all below 0.2 percent, according to an NBS statement on its website.
On a year-on-year basis, new home prices dropped in four cities out of the 70 in November, including Ningbo, Haikou, Wenzhou and Nanchong. In October, only Ningbo and Wenzhou posted year-on-year drops.
Wenzhou saw the largest decline of 5.2 percent in its new home prices last month.
Gains of new home prices eased in 61 cities, the statement said. Beijing's new home prices rose 1.3 percent from a year earlier, down 0.4 percentage points from the October figure.
New home prices in Shanghai rose 2.4 percent from a year ago, while prices in Guangzhou and Shenzhen increased 6 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.
New homes are defined as new commercial residential apartments, excluding affordable housing, according to the statement.
Prices of existing homes fell in 51 cities in November, an increase from 13 cities in October, while those in 12 cities stayed flat, according to the statement.
Since April 2010, China has imposed a raft of measures aiming to calm property prices. These include higher down payments, home ownership limits, the introduction of a property tax in some cities and the construction of low-income housing.
To gear the property market toward healthy development, China has also begun the construction of affordable housing units, aiming to build 36 million subsidized housing units by 2015.
China's housing authorities said in early November that the country has already met this year's goal of starting construction on 10 million units by the end of October.
China's tightening measures have shown positive preliminary results this year, Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, said on Friday.
While more and more cities witnessed month-on-month price declines, housing sales also shrunk due to strict government curbs.
In November, commercial housing sales in China slipped 1.2 percent year-on-year, according to data released last week by the NBS.
The total area of commercial housing sold during the period dipped 1.7 percent year-on-year, while the sector's climate index, which reflects its overall condition, fell to 99.87 points from October's 100.27 points, the NBS said.
Major developers have witnessed dramatic declines in housing sales. China Vanke, the country's largest developer, saw its total floor area sold and sales volume plummet by 26 percent and 20 percent month-on-month, respectively.
"We should consolidate and expand regulative results in 2012 and continue to strictly implement measures to restrain speculative and investment needs for housing," Zhang said.
China will keep its regulations in place until housing prices fall to a reasonable level, according to a statement released Wednesday after the country's annual central economic work conference.
"The country will speed up the construction of commercial residential housing to increase the effective supply and promote the healthy development of the property market," the statement said.
It also said that China will appropriately handle the investment, financing, construction, operation and management of affordable housing projects and solve housing problems for low-income urban residents, newly-employed workers and migrant workers from rural areas.
"The government has set a clear tone for reining in runaway housing prices next year," said Wang Yulin, vice director of the policy research center under the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.
Wang said that China should retain tight control over the property sector, as even a slight change in policy could result in dramatic price rebounds.
Market sentiment indicates that price drops next year will be as high as 15 to 20 percent, said Zhao Xiao, a professor at the Beijing University of Science and Technology.
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