China Housing Sales Jump as Demand Defies Government Curbs

China’s home sales jumped 34 percent in September from the previous month, as the government refrained from adding to property curbs, emboldening buyers.

The value of homes sold climbed to 691.1 billion yuan ($113 billion) last month from 514.6 billion yuan in August, based on the difference between the National Bureau of Statistics data for the first three quarters of the year and the first eight months. Housing sales in the first nine months surged 34.5 percent to 4.54 trillion yuan from a year earlier, according to the data.

The government in March stepped up a three-year campaign to cool the housing market by ordering the central bank to raise down-payment requirements for second mortgages in cities with excessive cost gains. Some Chinese cities are facing increasing pressure to meet the annual home-price targets they set earlier this year, and to cap gains at the growth rate of local disposable incomes.

“Home sales have been gathering pace since the end of August after banks loosened lending” as the government tried to stem an economic slowdown, Luo Yu, a Shanghai-based analyst at advisory CEBM Group, said by phone. “Buying demand remains strong although more people are taking to the sidelines” after prices surged.

Three-Year Campaign

Home prices rose 9.5 percent last month from a year ago, the most since December, according to SouFun Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest real estate website owner.

China’s housing ministry will study property markets in some cities in the near term, signaling it is accelerating the establishment of a system for long-term property controls, which includes financing policies for real estate companies, China Securities Journal said Oct. 14, citing unidentified people.

China hasn’t changed its housing credit policy direction of supporting first-time homebuyers and the construction of smaller apartments, the central bank said in a statement on Oct. 16. About 77 percent of new mortgages were taken out by first home buyers in the first three quarters, indicating that buying for investment purposes has been restricted, it said.

China’s economic growth rose 7.8 percent in the July-September period from a year earlier, accelerating for the first time in three quarters, the statistics bureau said today, as Premier Li Keqiang spurred factory output and investment to meet the government’s expansion goal for 2013. New yuan loans jumped 26 percent to 787 billion yuan last month from a year earlier, the central bank said Oct. 14.

Domestic Loans

Domestic loans to developers jumped 50 percent last month from a year earlier, as compared to the 25 percent-pace recorded in August, Luo said, citing today’s government data and his own calculations. September is a traditionally strong season for home sales, he said.

Investment in homes, office buildings, malls and other real estate gained 19.7 percent to 6.11 trillion yuan in the first nine months, according to the statistics bureau data. New property construction rose 7.3 percent to 1.45 billion square meters (15.6 billion square feet).

An index tracking property shares on the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 percent at close of trading, compared with a 0.2 percent rally in the benchmark.

About 68 percent of Chinese households considered property prices “too high” in the third quarter, up 0.9 percentage point from the previous quarter, according to a central bank quarterly survey on Sept. 18.

Home sales volume rose 23.9 percent in the first nine months to 754.3 million square meters from last year, the government data showed today. Property sales value including office buildings and retail space climbed 33.9 percent to 5.4 trillion yuan from a year ago.

— With assistance by Bonnie Cao

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