China Home Sales Have Biggest First-Quarter Gain in 3 Years (1)

China’s home sales rose 69 percent in the first quarter as buyers rushed into the market before local governments implemented property curbs.

The value of homes sold climbed to 1.2 trillion yuan ($194 billion) from a year earlier, China’s statistics bureau said today. That was the biggest first-quarter increase in three years. Overall real estate sales, including commercial buildings, rose 61 percent to 1.4 trillion yuan from last year.

“Quite a lot of buyers bought homes as they expected local governments would issue harsh property curbs,” said Zhao Zhenyi, Shanghai-based analyst at Industrial Securities Co. “It’s very hard to estimate the property policy direction of the new administration, especially given the economy eased unexpectedly in the first quarter.”

Thirty-five city governments issued details of property measures by the deadline on April 1, a month after former Premier Wen Jiabao ordered the central bank to raise down-payment requirements for second mortgages in cities with excessive cost gains and told local governments with the biggest price pressures to tighten home-purchase limits.

China’s economy grew 7.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the government said today. That compares with the 8 percent median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 41 analysts and 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

China Overseas, Evergrande

Investments in homes, office buildings, malls and other real estate gained 20 percent to 1.3 trillion yuan from January to March, according to the statistics bureau, compared with the 24 percent gain in the year-earlier period. New property construction fell 2.7 percent to 388.7 million square meters (4.2 billion square feet).

China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd., the country’s biggest developer listed in Hong Kong, achieved 40 percent of the year’s sales target by March, while contracted sales of Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd., more than doubled to 17.72 billion yuan.

A gauge tracking property shares on the Shanghai Composite Index increased 0.9 percent at the close of trading, the only one to gain among five industry groups on the benchmark, which fell 1.1 percent.

Home sales volume rose 41 percent in the first quarter to 189 million square meters, the government data showed today.

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