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China’s First-Home Buyers Shrink as Market Slows, Survey Shows

June 10 (Bloomberg) -- The ranks of China’s first-home buyers have shrunk amid a market slowdown, according to a report from the Survey and Research Center for China Household Finance.

About 20 percent of buyers are purchasing homes for the first time this year, according to a survey between August and March, compared with 48 percent in 2012, said Gan Li, director of the center and a professor at Southwestern University of Finance Economics. Such buyers accounted for 90 percent in 2000, said Gan, who surveyed 28,000 households in 29 Chinese provinces.

“The era of Chinese real estate industry being driven by first-time homebuyer demand is over,” Gan said after a press conference in Beijing today. “The market is going to be driven by investment and improvement in demand that is sensitive to price.”

Chinese government’s four-year efforts to rein in property prices have been aimed at squeezing speculative investments out of the market by increasing second-home mortgages and imposing home-purchase restrictions. Home prices fell for the first-time in May on a monthly base since June 2012, according to SouFun Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest real estate website.

More than 55 percent of households purchasing new homes this year already own one place, compared with 43 percent in 2013, according to the report. Twenty-one percent of Chinese urban households own more than one home, it said.

China’s housing vacancy ratio in urban areas rose to 22 percent in 2013 compared with 21 percent in 2011, according to the report.

“The oversupply problem is very severe based on our analysis as both the stock and the new construction are high,” Gan said.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Bonnie Cao in Shanghai at bcao4@bloomberg.net; Xiaoqing Pi in Beijing at xpi1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at apapuc1@bloomberg.net Tomoko Yamazaki

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