More Chinese cities see recovery in new-home prices

Newly-constructed residential buildings in Yunnan province in China. As part of the country's easing measures, the central bank has reduced interest rates six times since November 2014, along with a cut in reserve requirements for all banks, helping
Newly-constructed residential buildings in Yunnan province in China. As part of the country's easing measures, the central bank has reduced interest rates six times since November 2014, along with a cut in reserve requirements for all banks, helping to bring down personal mortgage rates. It has also scaled back down-payment requirements for purchases of first and second homes.PHOTO: REUTERS

Easing measures result in increases in 39 cities last month, compared with 33 in November

BEIJING • China's home-price recovery spread to more cities last month, especially smaller ones, after the authorities rolled out easing measures targeting regions with a surplus of unsold homes.

New-home prices climbed in 39 cities, compared with 33 last November, among the 70 cities tracked by the government, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. They dropped in 26 cities, compared with 27 in November last year, and were unchanged in five.

The figures are good news for investors in Chinese developers' debt, as Chinese real-estate bonds have advanced 0.6 per cent so far this year, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch index shows.

China's Politburo, the top decision-making body of the Communist Party, last month vowed to reduce home inventory as one of its key tasks this year, prompting expectation of more easing measures.

The area of unsold new homes nationwide increased 12 per cent from a year earlier to 441 million square metres as of Nov 30, according to the latest available data from the statistics bureau.

"Policy will continue to be supportive this year to sustain economic growth and market destocking," Mr Jeffrey Gao, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Nomura Holdings, said before the release of the data.

New-home prices in the southern business hub of Shenzhen jumped 3.2 per cent from a month earlier, the quickest pace since October. Shanghai trailed Shenzhen to increase 1.9 per cent, the fastest in six months. Prices of the two cities jumped 47 per cent and 16 per cent from a year earlier. Prices rose 0.4 per cent in Beijing and 0.7 per cent in Guangzhou.

Cities seeing declines included Changde city in southern Hunan province, where prices slid 0.6 per cent, and in north-eastern Dandong city, where they fell 0.9 per cent.

Price increases are still very concentrated in a small segment of the property market in China, Ms Nicole Wong, Hong Kong-based head of property research at CLSA, said yesterday on Bloomberg Television.

"What the government wants, which is a pick-up in the economy, is more difficult this time," Ms Wong said. The central bank has reduced interest rates six times since November 2014, along with a cut on reserve requirements for all banks, helping to bring personal mortgage rates to the lowest in five years, according to Centaline Group.

In addition, the central bank last year also scaled back down-payment requirements for purchases of first and second homes, allowing buyers to borrow more.

Year on year, prices rose in 21 cities from the previous month, the same as in November, the statistics bureau said. Existing-home prices rose last month in 37 cities from the previous month, compared with 40 in November.

Home prices in the tourist cities of Hangzhou and Xiamen gained 1.1 per cent and 1.3 per cent from a month earlier, leading to 5.6 per cent and 6.4 per cent year-on-year increases.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline 'More Chinese cities see recovery in new-home prices'. Print Edition | Subscribe