January 4, 2012

Home Prices Fall in China

Beijing vows not to loosen property restrictions

Downtown Beijing. Downtown Beijing.

Prices of homes fell in China for a fourth straight month as the Chinese government repeated its determination to keep property restrictions in place.

Bloomberg reported that, even as Beijing is loosening other policies designed to keep it from a so-called hard landing as its economy slows, real estate is the last place it is likely to lift curbs. According to SouFun, the country’s largest real estate website owner, residential properties dropped in price by 0.25% in December from November.

All of China’s 10 largest cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, the nation’s financial center, saw prices fall, as did 60 out of 100 cities that the company tracks. Not just the country’s government, but also a number of cities have restrictions in place on home purchases.

Peter Bai Hongwei, a Beijing-based property analyst at China International Capital Corp., the country’s biggest investment bank, was quoted saying, “Home prices extended the downward falling tendency, but didn’t fall aggressively, because many developers have already achieved sales targets. Property is likely to be the last sector that the government will relax policies this year.”

That would appear to be the case; at an economic planning meeting in December, the government said that it intended to continue such measures despite the fact that home sales have slowed and prices have fallen.

But still sales were brisk. Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd., China’s second-biggest developer, reported in December that sales rose to 79.1 billion yuan ($12.6 billion) in the first 11 months. That is 11% over 2011’s goal. China Vanke Co., the biggest developer by market value, reported that its sales remained over 100 billion yuan for a second year in 2011.

While average home values nationwide, on the other hand, rose 2.9% in December from the same month in 2010 to 8,809 ($1,398) yuan a square meter (10.76 square feet), that is the slowest year-on-year growth since August, according to SouFun.

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