MORE cities in China registered evidence of a slowdown in house prices last month while the majority continued to witness increases.
Prices for new homes, excluding affordable housing built for residents relocated for urban development, either fell or remained unchanged month on month in 20 out of 70 monitored cities across the country in March, an increase of six from February, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
In Beijing, new home prices remained at the same level as in February. Prices in the capital gained 4.9 percent from a year ago, down from February's year-on-year increase of 6.8 percent, according to the bureau.
Prices rose the most, or 1 percent, in Xi'an in Shaanxi Province and Jiujiang in Jiangxi Province while those in Shanghai climbed 0.2 percent from a month earlier, easing from a 1.1 percent gain in February. A total of 29 cities registered a smaller monthly price growth in March, the bureau said.
The prices of existing homes, meanwhile, either dropped or remained flat in 26 cities, also an increase of six compared to February. Among the gainers, only three cities – Jilin, in northeast China's Jilin Province, Jinhua in east China's Zhejiang Province, and Pingdingshan, in the central province of Henan, – rose by more than 1 percent from February, compared to five cities registered a month earlier.
In Shanghai, the monthly price growth of existing houses remained unchanged from February at 0.4 percent.
On a year-on-year basis, two out of the 70 cities recorded decreases in new home prices, including Sanya, a hot spot for property speculation in south China's Hainan Province, where prices fell 0.6 percent. In the existing home market, five cities registered price falls over a year ago, the bureau said.
"About two-thirds of Chinese cities continued to register month-on-month home price growth in March, indicating that ample liquidity, de facto negative interest rates coupled with a continuously appreciating Chinese currency has been facilitating the growth of home prices despite tightening measures from the central government," said Liu Ligang, an ANZ economist.
China has launched a series of rein-in measures to combat runaway home prices since late January. However, prices in general have remained stable so far despite a cut in transaction volumes. In Shanghai, for example, sales of new homes, excluding those built under affordable housing programs, surged 131 percent from February to 411,000 square meters last month.
However, on a year-on-year basis, that represented a drop of 48.5 percent, according to Shanghai Uwin Real Estate Information Services Co. It was also the lowest March figure registered in the city since 2006.
Average prices, meanwhile, continued to climb 1.8 percent from February to 21,003 yuan (US$3,216) per square meter, Uwin data showed.
In the latest move to fight stubbornly high home prices, the central government has sent inspection groups to ensure a thorough and effective implementation of earlier rein-in policies in 16 provinces and municipalities.
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