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China Home Prices Expand Gains on Sentiment, SouFun Says

China’s new home prices rose the most in four months as smaller developers marketed more projects amid interest from buyers concerned that prices will start rising again.

Prices climbed for a sixth month, increasing 0.26 percent to 8,791 yuan ($1,412) per square meter in November from October, SouFun Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest real estate website owner, said in an e-mailed statement today, based on its survey of 100 cities.

“Buyers’ sentiment improved as they saw home sales rise in first-tier cities, which is a leading indicator,” said Johnson Hu, a Hong Kong-based property analyst at CIMB-GK Securities Research. “First-home buyers, who have been waiting and watching the market, are begging to take action in case home prices take off nationwide.”

China is unlikely to relax property curbs nor issue new measures after the Communist Party unveiled the new generation of leaders in November. The government’s property curbs have had a “relatively good” effect and the government will “steadfastly” enforce property controls, Housing Minister Jiang Weixin said at a press conference in Beijing last month.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Property Index rose 1.6 percent at the close of trading, the only gainer among the five industry groups on the benchmark, which fell 1 percent. It was also the property gauge’s biggest two-day gain in a month.

The eastern city of Heze had the biggest gain in November, increasing 1.97 percent, SouFun said. Home prices in Beijing rose 0.7 percent from October, and increased 0.1 percent in Shanghai.

Moody’s Investors Service last week revised China’s property sector to “stable” from “negative,” on expectation sales and access to funding will continue to improve in 2013.

More Sales

Property sales are expected to increase over the next 12 months, while the Chinese government is unlikely to impose further tightenings, Franco Leung, an assistant vice president of Moody’s, said in the report.

Home sales in Shanghai almost doubled last month from October to 981,500 square meters, property consultant Shanghai UWin Real Estate Information Services Co. said in a e-mailed statement yesterday. A square meter is about 10.8 square feet.

China will speed up property tax reform over the next five years, Shanghai Securities News reported on Nov. 29 citing Finance Minister Xie Xuren. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences proposed imposing a property tax nationwide on homes where the per-person space for each individual exceeds 40 square meters, the official Xinhua News Agency reported last week.

The government has raised down-payment and mortgage requirements in its more than two-year effort to curb the property market. It also imposed a property tax for the first time in Shanghai and Chongqing, increased construction of low-cost social housing and enacted home-purchase restrictions in about 40 cities.

Developers are “relatively optimistic” about sales in the first half of next year as no new property curbs are expected, according to CIMB’s Hu.

Home prices fell 0.46 percent last month from a year earlier, according to today’s SouFun statement.

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