China’s New Home Prices Advance for Ninth Month, SouFun Says

China’s new home prices rose for a ninth month in February, adding to concerns that the government may issue new property tightening policies.

Prices climbed 0.8 percent to 9,893 yuan ($1,590) per square meter (10.76 square feet) from January, SouFun Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest real estate website owner, said in a statement today after a survey of 100 cities.

“The risks for the government to add on more tightening measures are increasing,” said Johnson Hu, a Hong Kong-based property analyst at CIMB-GK Securities Research. “But the policy tightening will be a gradual process and home prices will continue to rise in the coming months.”

Uncertainties over the government’s property policies lingered as the country is poised to complete a once-in-a-decade leadership handover in the next two weeks. Premier Wen Jiabao last week said cities that had “excessively fast” price gains should impose home-purchase restrictions promptly, according to a statement after the last State Council meeting he headed.

Li Keqiang is set to replace Wen as premier at the end of the annual gathering of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, which begins March 5.

Home prices rose 2.5 percent last month from a year ago, according to the SouFun statement.

“It is very likely for the government to intensify property curbs and keep them for a long time,” said Yu Liang, president of China Vanke Co., the country’s biggest developer, at a press conference in Hong Kong this week after the earnings.

Vanke said Feb. 27 that full-year profit rose 30 percent as it sold more small and medium-sized homes that are less affected by government curbs. The developer sold homes worth 141.2 billion yuan, an industry record, it said.

Detailed Rules

The eastern city of Changshu in Jiangsu province had the biggest gain last month, with prices increasing 4.1 percent, SouFun said. Home values in the capital Beijing added 1 percent, while those in Shanghai, the country’s financial center, jumped 1.3 percent from January.

The country may announce detailed rules to control property market “soon” at the local or ministry level, China Securities Journal reported on Feb. 25, citing an unidentified person.

The government has raised down-payment and mortgage requirements in its almost three-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.

A gauge tracking property shares in Shanghai fell 1.3 percent at the close of trading, the worst performer among the five industry groups in the Shanghai Composite Index. The benchmark slipped 0.3 percent.

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