|House price rises accelerate in Chinese cities|
BEIJING, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Home prices kept rising at a quicker pace in major Chinese cities last month, underscoring the necessity of government measures to cool the property market, data showed on Friday.
Of a statistical pool of 70 major Chinese cities monitored by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 53 cities saw home prices increase within 2.2 percent in January from a month earlier. In December, 54 cities recorded increases with a growth margin of no more than 1.2 percent.
New home prices in first-tier cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen respectively rose 2.1 percent, 1.3 percent, 2.0 percent and 2.2 percent on a month-on-month basis, marking a quicker pace of growth than in December.
On a year-on-year basis, 53 cities registered rising prices with the growth rate drastically up to 4.7 percent, compared with the 2.4 percent rise recorded in December, the NBS said in a statement on its website.
Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician with the NBS, attributed the sharper price increase in January to two factors: property developers phasing out sales promotions after the previous discount had taken effect; and buyers cashing in amid intensifying worries about future price rises.
New home prices in Guangzhou recorded the largest year-on-year growth of 4.7 percent, followed by Urumqi and Beijing. The eastern city of Wenzhou saw its housing price plunge 10.1 percent from a year ago, according to the NBS.
Compared with a month ago, only 10 cities saw prices fall and seven saw prices stay unchanged.
Compared with a year ago, 16 cities saw prices decline and and one kept the same.
Since 2010, the Chinese government has adopted measures including restricting third-home purchases and introducing property tax trials to cool the runaway real estate market, which has been the key economic driver for the country in recent years.
However, home prices started to rebound unexpectedly in the second half of 2012, shored up by the country's pro-growth policies, including two consecutive interest rate cuts and the lowering of banks' reserve requirement ratio.
Having detected the increasingly heated property market, the State Council, or cabinet, reaffirmed its stance on Wednesday: to strictly implement and improve housing market tightening measures and ensure that the policies remain steady.
The cabinet asked cities that have imposed restrictions on the housing market to maintain their grip, while other cities in which home prices have soared will be asked by provincial governments to introduce timely curbing measures, according to a statement released after the meeting.
It also said China must continue to curb speculation in the housing market and expand experimental property tax reforms in Shanghai and Chongqing to more regions.
The NBS' Liu Jianwei predicted that prices will not rebound drastically if these measures are strictly implemented, especially the completion of more affordable housing in 2013.