Sunday, 28 July 2013

Chinese house prices still rising despite government intervention

In March, the central government announced a 20 percent capital gains tax on pre-owned home sales.
 Several cities announced detailed policies of their own at the end of March.
But sales only slumped briefly. Market activity was brisk in the second quarter. Prices have kept rising.
According to the China Index Academy, a Beijing-based real estate research organization, the average housing price in 100 cities was 10,258 yuan ($1,671) per square meter in June, up 4.55 percent from January.
In Beijing, which has the toughest curbs, prices rose 10.8 percent in the same period to 27,783 yuan per sq m.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, housing prices in 63 of the 70 cities that it monitors rose month-on-month in June, compared with 65 in May.
Most experts interviewed by China Daily said prices will keep rising for the remainder of the year, although momentum will slow.
They noted that housing investment, a leading indicator of the property market, is picking up. Developers' financial health greatly improved during the second-quarter sales boom, meaning housing investment was being scaled up, particularly in first-tier cities.
Already, land markets in first-tier cities are heating up, with surprising premium bids at auctions in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The higher land prices will initially at least translate into higher housing prices.
Second, housing transaction volume is high because of robust demand and supply.
On the supply side, developers usually offer more units in the second half. On the demand side, the number of first-time home buyers is still high. Demand is being boosted by an increasing number of buyers seeking to trade up.
"Prices will be buoyed by buyers' expectations that prices will rise indefinitely, given the fact that prices remained stubbornly high under the last round of curbs," said Lian Ping, chief economist of Bank of Communications.
However, analysts also said that whether on a month-on-month or year-on-year basis, price gains will be smaller in the second half of this year than in the first half.
An important reason is that China's property market didn't warm up significantly until the second half of last year. Thus, the first-half base of comparison is lower than that for the second half, according to He Tian, head of research at the China Index Academy.
Another factor is property tax, a long-anticipated move to rein in housing prices that is expected to be imposed in more cities beyond the pilot sites of Shanghai and Chongqing.
Given the moderate outlook for the second half of the year, most analysts said further tough curbs are less likely to be announced by the central government.
Analysts said current policies, mainly administrative measures, do not align with the "market-oriented" reform the new leadership is pushing. Further, they noted, GDP growth in the second quarter slowed to 7.5 percent and is expected to dip further in the third quarter.
Thus, the central government will be very cautious about further steps to cool the property sector, which has proven to be very effective in shoring up the broader economy when the manufacturing sector is weak.

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