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Property Prices Continue to Rise
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Property prices in China's major cities kept rising in June despite several rounds of government control measures intended to cool the sector.

Property prices in 70 large cities rose by 5.8 percent year-on-year, 0.7 percentage points higher than the growth rate in May, according to a survey jointly released yesterday by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Bureau of Statistics.

"As the second and third quarter is usually the hot season for the property market, the climbing prices are understandable," Richard Wang, a researcher in Beijing with the global real estate consultancy DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, told China Daily.

"Besides, since some of the macro control measures are just guidelines, the local governments are still working on detailed regulations, so it will take some time for those policies to take effect."

Wang said he believes the figures for July will be a better indicator of how the macro policies work.

Since April the central government has introduced a series of measures to try to cool the market, including raising the one-year benchmark lending rate by 27 base points to 5.85 per cent, increasing down payments from 20 percent to 30 percent and introducing a minimum capital adequacy ratio of 35 percent for property developers.

Prices for newly-built homes climbed 6.6 percent last month compared with a year earlier, 0.5 percentage points higher than the previous month.

Residential property prices in Shenzhen, a booming city in South China's Pearl River Delta region, jumped 14.6 percent on a yearly basis, boasting the highest increase among the 70 cities surveyed.

The next highest rise was in Beijing, which reported a 11.2 percent year-on-year hike in residential property prices.

"Even with these macro control measures, house prices in Beijing will still endure a growing momentum in the future, given the strong demand," said Peter Zhang, a senior manager with DTZ. "But the growth rate may slow down."

Statistics show that eight cities saw new residential housing prices fall in June from the previous month. Shanghai had the largest drop 5.4 percent down from house prices in May.

"This shows that the real estate bubble in Shanghai has been squeezed a little," said Wang from DTZ.

The price of a second-hand property increased on average by 4.9 percent year-on-year in June, 0.6 of a percentage point higher than the previous month.

And that for non-residential properties, such as offices and warehouses, in the 70 cities rose 5.3 percent on a yearly basis.

Meanwhile, a report from DTZ shows that the flow of overseas capital into China is accelerating, with commercial properties a major target.

DTZ statistics show that foreign investment in the property market reached US$4.5 billion in the first quarter of 2006, exceeding the figure for the whole of last year US$3.5 billion.

Although sources said new rules to control foreign investment in China's property market have been agreed and will soon be released, it is unlikely to stop the flow of overseas capital, analysts predicted.

"These measures will make highly speculative investors think twice, but will not affect long-term investors who are confident in China's economic prospects," said Nicholas Cho, director of DTZ's investment department.

(China Daily July 21, 2006)

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