China August home prices rise for 1st time in 2015: Surveys

A farmer walks past a vegetable field next to newly-built residential buildings in Chenggong new district of Kunming, Yunnan province, China.
A farmer walks past a vegetable field next to newly-built residential buildings in Chenggong new district of Kunming, Yunnan province, China. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Chinese home prices rose in August for the first time this year compared with year ago levels, two private surveys showed on Tuesday, adding to signs of recovery in the property sector that could take some pressure off the slowing economy.

Prices of new homes in 288 cities rose an average 0.07 per cent in August from a year earlier, the first year-on-year rise since November 2014, a poll by property services firm Real Estate Information Corporation(CRIC) showed.

Compared with July, home prices in August were up 0.5 per cent, the fourth consecutive rise on a monthly basis, said CRIC, owned by E-House China Holding Ltd.

A separate survey by property consultancy China Real Estate Index System(CREIS) showed average prices in the 100 biggest cities rose 0.15 per cent from a year earlier, reversing a 10-month falling trend.

China's housing market has steadied in recent months after a year-long slump, propped up by a barrage of government support measures since last September, including a series of interest rate cuts and lower downpayment requirements.

Even a modest recovery in a sector that accounts for around 15 per cent of GDP would be a welcome boost for an economy heading for its weakest growth in 25 years.

But analysts do not expect a full-blown recovery any time soon, noting a massive overhang of unsold homes will likely discourage fresh investment and new construction well into next year.

China cut downpayments again on Monday for some second home buyers who are funding their purchases with housing provident funds.

"With more supportive policies in place, we expect to see a gradual improvement in fundamentals in second half of 2015 and maintain our positive view on the sector," analysts from Barclays wrote in a note.

A latest Reuters survey showed Chinese home prices are expected to rise modestly this year thanks to government support measures for the sector.

The government is due to publish its August property price data for 70 major Chinese cities on September 18 after reporting its property sales and investment figures on September 13.