China's home price growth picks up amid government clampdown on lending

The country's housing market has experienced a boom over the last two years despite moves to curb speculative purchases

This picture taken on May 25, 2017 shows a resident (C) walking across the road in the Wonderland Villas hilltop residential complex in the Kwai Fong district of Hong Kong. 
Red-whiskered bulbuls start chirping around 5:00 am at Wonderland Villas, a hilltop complex in leafy northern Hong Kong whose own history charts the city's political, economic and social fortunes. Prices at Wonderland have risen, waned and risen again, as Hong Kong property has swung through boom and bust to become one of the world's most expensive markets. / AFP PHOTO / Isaac LAWRENCE / TO GO WITH Hong Kong-China-Britain-lifestyle-property-construction-urban-planning, FEATURE by Elaine YU
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China's new home prices rose at a slightly faster pace in October after gains had held steady the previous month, as prices remained resilient in the face of falling sales and a tighter liquidity environment.

China's housing market has seen a near two-year boom, giving the economy a major boost but stirring fears of a property bubble, with the government taking strong measures to curtail purchases.

Authorities have been particularly focused on curbing speculative lending in the housing market and have continued a broad effort to defuse financial risks from a rapid build-up in debt in the economy.

Average new home prices rose 0.3 per cent month-on-month in October, compared with a 0.2 per cent gain in September, according to Reuters calculations from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data out on Saturday.

The number of cities surveyed that recorded monthly increases in prices increased in October, indicating broadening strength in markets nationwide.

New home prices rose 5.4 per cent year-on-year in October, down from September's 6.3 per cent increase as rapid increases subside in the face of government efforts to engineer a soft landing in the housing market.

Data on Monday showed household loans, mostly for property purchases, fell to 450.1 billion yuan (US$67.9bn) in October from 734.9bn yuan in September.


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While monthly price rises peaked in September 2016 at 2.1 per cent nationwide, they have softened only slowly, regaining momentum as buyers shrugged off each new measures to curb speculation.

Prices for new private homes in top-tier cities fell 0.1 per cent in October, narrowing from a 0.2 per cent decline in September, the NBS said in a note accompanying the data.

In the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, prices fell 0.1 per cent after being flat in September. They fell 3.3 per cent from a year earlier.

Property values rose 0.2 pe rcent on-month in Shanghai after remaining unchanged in September.

As mega-cities like Beijing impose increasingly stringent measures, speculators have moved to smaller centres this year where authorities offer cheap credit and impose few restrictions in the hope of clearing a glut of unsold homes.

Property prices in tier-3 cities rose 0.3 per cent from a 0.2 per cent increase in September, the NBS said in the note.

While market watchers do not anticipate significant price declines or a crash, weakness in property and construction is starting to drag on broader economic growth.

Gross domestic product growth eased to 6.8 per cent last quarter from 6.9 per cent in the first half, with a marked deceleration in the property sector.

Data on Tuesday showed property sales in October fell at the fastest rate in more than two years and housing starts slowed sharply, reinforcing views that China's robust growth is starting to cool.

The majority of the 70 cities surveyed by the NBS still reported a monthly price increase for new homes. Fifty reported higher prices in October from 44 in September.