Home prices increase at faster pace

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China's home prices rose at a faster pace in January, with nearly two thirds of the cities monitored seeing gains, according to an industry report.

The average price of new residential properties across 100 major cities climbed 1 percent from a month earlier to 9,812 yuan (US$1,557) per square meter, extending strength for the eighth consecutive month, the China Index Academy said in a report released today. That compared with an increase of 0.23 percent in December.

Thirty-eight of the 64 cities that posted gains registered a price increase of more than 1 percent. In December, 57 cities posted gains with 26 of those recording a rise of more than 1 percent.

Quanzhou in Fujian Province led the gainers last month with a 3.96 percent rise. Thirty-five cities, meanwhile, reported price drops, with 21 recording a fall of more than 1 percent.

"Major cities led by first-tier ones as well as those along the eastern coast recorded accelerated price increases in January and that was the main reason behind a much faster pace registered across the country," the academy said. "Continuously improving home sales over recent months, coupled with repeated vows made by the government to support demand from end-users, also helped boost confidence among real estate developers who have become more inclined to launch high-end products to the market."

For instance, the average price for a new home in China's 10 largest cities jumped 1.61 percent from December to 16,417 yuan per square meter, with Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen all seeing a gain of more than 2 percent. That compared with an average growth of 0.45 percent recorded by the 10 cities in December.

Separate data released today by Shanghai Uwin Real Estate Information Services Co also showed the property market was strengthening.

New home transactions stayed above 1 million square meters in Shanghai for the second straight month in January despite a plunge in new supply. The average price advanced 5.1 percent from December to 23,070 yuan per square meter, the highest in six months, Uwin said today in a report.

"Robust transactions registered at medium to high-end developments across the city, coupled with price hikes at some low-end projects in outlying areas, jointly contributed to an increase in the average cost for a new home in Shanghai last month," said Huang Zhijian, chief analyst at Uwin.

New residential properties with a price tag of 25,000 yuan a square meter or less accounted for 69 percent of total new home sales in the city in January, compared with 71 percent in December. Those costing more than 40,000 yuan per square meter took a 10.8 percent share last month, up from 7.7 percent in December, Uwin data showed.

Across the city, a high-end project in Houkou District developed by Shui On Land emerged as the best-seller last month with 321 apartments being sold at an average price of 44,388 yuan per square meter.

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