China curbs drag home prices down further

China’s home prices for last month posted the biggest decline in 19 months as the government pledged to maintain curbs on property, according to SouFun Holdings, the nation’s biggest real-estate portal.

And market watchers expect prices to continue to fall, with no signs of the curbs easing in sight.

Home prices dropped 0.3 per cent last month from January, according to SouFun, which began compiling the figures in July 2010 when housing values fell 1.3 per cent.

Residential prices slid in 72 of 100 cities tracked by the company last month, 12 more than in January, it said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Shanghai restated home purchase restrictions that allow only local permanent residents to buy a second home on Tuesday, a week after a newspaper affiliated with state-run Xinhua News Agency said China’s financial centre had broadened its definition.

Premier Wen Jiabao has maintained that China would not waver on its real estate controls and efforts to bring prices down to a reasonable level.

“Home prices will continue to fall in the coming months because it’s pretty clear that the central government won’t ease the tightening soon,” said Mr Zhao Zhenyi, a Shanghai-based property analyst at Yuanta Securities. “Developers will launch more projects as inventories increase.”

Local governments have attempted to ease property tightening policies with little success. The eastern Chinese city of Wuhu on Feb 13 reversed its decision to relax property curbs.

The mid-sized city in Anhui province had planned to waive a deed tax and subsidise some purchases on Feb 9, becoming the first Chinese city this year to signal its intention to ease property measures.

Developers’ performances fall

Average home prices nationwide climbed 0.93 per cent last month from the same time in 2011 to 8,767 yuan (S$1,740) a sq m (10.76 sq ft), the slowest pace of growth since August, SouFun said.

The month-on-month decline last month was the sixth straight drop, the longest losing streak since SouFun started tracking the data.

Chinese property developers fell in Hong Kong trading and made up nine of the 10 biggest decliners on the MSCI China Index as of yesterday morning.

China Overseas Land and Investment, the nation’s biggest developer listed in Hong Kong, declined 3.3 per cent, the most since Feb 13.

Some Chinese developers are allowing first-time home buyers to delay their down payments to boost sales, China Business News reported on Monday, citing unidentified sales agents.

Developers in cities including Nanjing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Wuhan sold some projects with a 10 per cent down payment, the newspaper reported.

The sellers advanced the remaining 20 per cent, which buyers do not have to pay back for as long as three years in some cases, the newspaper said, citing agents and sales people it did not identify.

First-home buyers in China need a minimum 30 per cent down payment.

Home prices in the western city of Chengdu fell 1.1 per cent from January, the biggest decline among China’s 10 biggest cities, while Beijing dropped 0.6 per cent, according to SouFun.

The property market will remain challenging this year, although there would not be a “collapse” as leading cities prove more resilient, according to a Citigroup report yesterday, led by analyst Oscar Choi.

Source : Today – 2 Mar 2012

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