Polarized Housing Market Creates Policy Dilemma

(Xinhua News Agency, Aug. 18, 2016. Complete text:) Beijing - China’s property market has shown signs of cooling, posing a dilemma for policymakers who need to shore up the slowing economy.

In July, the property sector continued to moderate, with fewer cities reporting monthly rises in new home prices.

Of 70 large and medium-sized cities surveyed in July, 51 saw new home prices climb month on month, down from 55 in June and 60 in May, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Thursday [Aug. 18].

Meanwhile, 16 cities reported month-on-month price declines, up from 10 in June and four in May, according to NBS data.

Official data last week showed that property investment in the first seven months of the year rose 5.3% from a year earlier, slowing from an increase of 6.1% in H1, and 7% in the first five months of the year.

Growth in property sales in terms of floor area slowed to 26.4% in the first seven months, down from 27.9% in the first six months, and 33.2% in in the first five months.

The cooling should come as relief to authorities who have been worried about asset bubbles, but there are concerns that the property sector, one of the economy’s major drivers, is losing steam.

A recovery in the property market starting from late last year, partially helped prop up growth in the Chinese economy, which has been weighed down by cooling investment, the cutting of industrial overcapacity and weak demand.

However, sharp increases in home prices, especially in the big cities, have fanned fears of overheating. In late July, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee declared that China would prevent the growth of asset bubbles.

On an annual basis, the southern city of Shenzhen saw home prices rise 41.4% ...

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