House price index slips again

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Shanghai's house price index fell for the second straight month in July with 90 percent of the areas monitored recording price drops.

The index, which tracks price fluctuations of existing homes across the city, lost 14 points, or 0.53 percent, to 2,551 last month, the Shanghai Existing House Index Office said yesterday. The monthly index ended its 15-month rally in June amid increased supply and shrinking sales as the central government's policies to rein in runaway prices since mid-April dampened buyer sentiments.

"Prices of existing properties have been affected, more or less, by promotions introduced by developers in the same area," said Tao Ting, an analyst with the index office. "Transaction volume of existing homes rebounded from June as prices retreated a bit but in general, demand from home buyers has still been curbed under tightened mortgage policies."

The prices of existing homes in five downtown districts registered an average 0.36 percent decrease in July, with Xuhui shedding the largest 0.66 percent.

Across the city, 63 out of the 68 areas tracked by the compiler suffered drops with the remaining five witnessing price gains. That compared to 55 drops and 13 gains in June.

Among the losers, Sanlin in Pudong New Area posted the biggest monthly decrease of 1.58 percent, followed by Zhijiang Road in Zhabei District and Zhangjiang High-tech Park area in Pudong, down 1.45 percent and 1.44 percent, respectively.

Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Ltd, operator of the city's largest estate chain, also reported yesterday that sales volume of existing homes, by units, at its 200 branches rose 46 percent in July, mainly fueled by demand from end-users.

Citywide, 45 percent of existing houses traded at Centaline branches last month were priced between 1 million yuan (US$147,500) and 2 million yuan while those below 1 million yuan accounted for 27 percent of the total, the company revealed.

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