More Chinese cities see home prices fall in August


More cities have reported lower or unchanged home prices in August as previous government efforts to tame the overheated real estate market showing effect.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 46 out of the 70 monitored major cities saw prices of new homes decline or stay unchanged, compared to 31 cities in July.

New home prices in 16 cities declined, compared to 14 cities in July. Southwest China's Chongqing municipality and east China's Jinan city were leading the declines.

A total of 30 cities, including first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, saw their home prices unchanged.

The July and August figures show that the property prices of the top four cities remain unchanged for two consecutive months, indicating that government's cooling measures have kicked in.

"The data shows the government's measures to cool the property market have taken effect," said Zhang Dawei, an analyst with Centraline Property, a Beijing-based real estate agency.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in his opening remarks at the 2011 "Summer Davos" that the country will maintain its prudent monetary policy as the economy is moving in the right direction.

This indicates that the government is not likely to ease real estate policies despite the global economic outlook, Vincent Lo told China Daily. Lo is the chairman of Shui On Land Ltd, a major property developer in Hong Kong.

Lo predicted that property prices may drop in the next 12 to 18 months as the government's real estate measures continue.

Previously, the government restricted residents in 43 major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, from purchasing second or third homes. Home buyers were also required to pay higher down payments for mortgages. Property taxes have been levied in the cities of Chongqing and Shanghai.

Now, the government has reportedly started to prepare home-purchase restrictions in second- and third-tier cities to further prevent price increases.

During the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday earlier this month, only 407 contracts were signed for residential apartments in Beijing. This represented a 70-percent drop compared to the three-day holiday in May, and a 50-percent fall from the corresponding period last year, according to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

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