House prices in China's largest cities continue to fall

A Chinese soldier reacts to a photographer on the eve of the 19th Communist Party Congress in October 2017. (Photo: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s house price growth continued to cool in November, at least compared to the levels reported late last year and in early 2017.

According to data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), new home prices grew by 5.1% over the year, down from 5.4% in the 12 months to October.

It was the slowest annual increase since March 2016, and well below the recent cyclical peak of 12.6% reported in November 2016.

Of China’s major cities, prices in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Shenzhen all declined from a year earlier, falling 0.2%, 0.2%, 0.1% and 3.1% respectively.

In February, annual price growth in all of these cities sat in the double-digits with many reporting increases of over 20%.

Over the month, prices nationwide grew by 0.3%, according to calculations from Reuters, unchanged from the level reported in October.

The NBS said they rose in 50 of 70 cities monitored, unchanged from the level repprted in October.

Prices in tier-one cities — the largest of the large tracked by the NBS — fell by 0.1%, unchanged from the pace recorded one month earlier.

In comparison, prices in tier-two and three cities continued to outperform, lifting by 0.5% and 0.4% respectively, up from 0.3% apiece in October.

The divergence reflects government efforts to stymie speculation in China’s largest property markets through the introduction of restrictions on lending, buying and selling houses that were gradually rolled out from late 2016.

As a by-product, that’s helped to lift interest in smaller cities where restrictions aren’t as stringent or where they don’t currently exist.

Despite the regulator-induced slowdown in price growth in 2017, separate data released by the NBS revealed that property sales by floor area jumped to a five-month high last month, coinciding with steep acceleration in the number of new properties starting construction.

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