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China to Release New Home Price Index Amid Property Boom

China will release two new indexes for home prices and change the survey’s methodology, the National Bureau of Statistics said, as the government is facing pressure to rein in rising property prices.

The government will release two indexes of new and second-hand home sales from January, the agency said in a statement posted on its website today. It will stop releasing national average property prices, according to the statement.

It will continue to monitor 70 big and medium-sized cities and use online registration data for home transactions for 35 of them, it said. For cities that don’t have online registration systems, the bureau will continue to use figures from local authorities.

Online registration data “covers a wider range, is more detailed and easy to access,” according to the statement. “We will stop reporting the median home prices” because they are not representative and can “cause misunderstandings,” it added.

“The key is not which methodology to use, but whether local governments will massage the numbers,” said Du Jinsong, a Hong Kong-based property analyst for Credit Suisse Group AG in a phone interview.

The government will report home price data on the 18th of each month and is due to release the January figures this week.

New homes will be broken down into low-cost housing and private-sector homes. Private-sector homes will come under three categories: places smaller than 90 square meters (967 square feet); from 90 square meters to 144 square meters; and larger than 144 square meters, the statement said.

China’s home prices under the old calculation rose for a 19th month, jumping 6.4 percent in December from a year earlier.

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