China home sales surged 18% in March ahead of stepped-up curbs

A view of a residential area of Pudong district in Shanghai, China, on April 4, 2017.
A view of a residential area of Pudong district in Shanghai, China, on April 4, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (BLOOMBERG) - China home sales remained resilient last month, as buyers rushed into the market before a tightening of curbs on home-buying in March.

The value of new homes sold rose 18 per cent to 1 trillion yuan (S$202.54 billion) last month from a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data released on Monday (April 17) by the National Bureau of Statistics. The increase compares with a 23 percent surge in the first two months of the year.

Policy makers are seeking to clear a glut of unsold homes in smaller urban centers, while pledging to enforce strict curbs in most first- and second-tier cities to prevent a housing bubble. In a month when at least 64 cities announced new or stricter property-buying restrictions, buyers flocked into the market because of fears they'd be ruled ineligible for future purchases.

New medium and long-term loans to households, made up mostly of mortgages, picked up again last month to 450.3 billion yuan, according to official data last Friday.

Investment in real estate development gained 9.4 per cent in March from a year earlier, up from 8.9 per cent in the first two months, according to Bloomberg calculations. Strong property investment helped China's fixed-asset investment excluding rural areas expand 9.2 per cent in the first quarter, accelerating from 8.1 per cent growth last year.