Realty growth sinks to single-digit level

Updated: 2015-04-16 07:40


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First-quarter housing sales by area fell 9.8 percent, the NBS said. That was a big improvement from the whopping 17.8 percent contraction in the first two months.

Calculations by China Daily show that in March, home sales were just marginally below the year-earlier levels: 0.9 percent down by area and 0.2 percent lower in value.

The NBS does not provide single-month data.

However, policy loosening in late March failed to ignite sales, to the surprise of many observers. After a soft patch in the first week of April, sales in the second week continued to fall.

According to the China Index Academy, the research branch of SouFun Holdings Ltd, sales in the 38 cities it monitors fell 11.2 percent last week, compared with the previous week.

In late March, the central bank said that commercial banks could reduce their minimum down-payment requirements to 40 percent from 60 percent for buyers of second homes who have outstanding mortgages on their first homes.

Separately, tax authorities said that individuals selling an ordinary home would be exempt from the usual 5.5 percent tax if they had owned that unit for more than two years, down from five years previously.

The housing authorities also said that the government would curb land supplies in second-and third-tier cities in an effort to rein in oversupply there.

Ding Zuyu, president of China Real Estate Information Corp, said that several factors had undermined the effectiveness of the policy changes.

For one thing, the Qingming (tomb-sweeping) festival is considered an inauspicious time to buy a home. The holiday fell from April 4 to 6.

Another factor, according to Ding, is that the implementation of the support policies is taking time to trickle down to the local level. Further, supplies of new apartments dwindled during the festival.

As the policies take effect nationwide, their impact will be fully felt starting from the second half of April, he said.

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