By Cherry Cao | 2012-11-19 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
THE number of Chinese cities seeing monthly gains in new home prices rose in October, according to National Bureau of Statistics data released yesterday.
Excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, prices increased in half of the 70 cities tracked by the bureau, compared with 31 in September. Prices were flat in 18 cities while the remainder registered a decline.
Despite central government's continued controls, some local authorities have "fine-tuned" their property policies by allowing home buyers to borrow more from public housing funds, causing a rebound in home prices, Zhang Dawei, an analyst at Beijing-based Zhongyuan Real Estate, told Xinhua news agency.
The central bank's loosening grip over lending control also contributed to the pick-up, as first-home buyers can still access a substantial discount on mortgages at banks, Zhang said.
Zhang defined the monthly price rebound as "mild," adding that both home buyers and real estate developers were looking to the country's leadership change for new policy signs.
The central government has repeatedly reiterated its firm stance on property market control and vowed to keep in place tightening measures such as bans on third-home purchases and property tax trials.
"Despite some fluctuations, the general trend that the country's housing market continues to stabilize hasn't changed," said Sky Xue, an analyst with China Real Estate Information Corp.
"With home-purchase restrictions remaining effective, we are expecting downward pressure on home prices over the next couple of months particularly in third and fourth-tier cities where supply has far outnumbered demand."
There would be no relaxation of current restrictions on home purchases in the short term and the central government was "actively studying" an expansion of its experimental property tax program, Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Jiang Weixin said last week.
New home prices remained unchanged in Shanghai for the third straight month while they climbed 0.3 percent in Beijing, compared to a gain of 0.1 percent in September.
Prices in Guangzhou rose at a pace of 0.4 percent for the second consecutive month and Shenzhen, which recorded 0.1 percent growth in September, jumped at a faster rate of 0.4 percent last month.
In the existing home market, meanwhile, 32 cities registered price increases in October, compared to 35 in September and 38 in both July and August.
The value of new home purchases, excluding government-funded affordable housing, rose 6.6 percent from a year ago to 3.88 trillion yuan (US$622 billion) during the 10-month period, compared with a 3.3 percent gain in the first three quarters and a rise of 2.3 percent in the first eight months.