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But on taking office in March, the country's new leaders – Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang – inherited a slowing economy and opted not to enact any new property tightening policies on top of measures already in place. Analysts believe this has given developers and home buyers the necessary confidence to flood back into the property market.
"There has been no emphasis on tightening and credit has been quite loose," said Liu Yuan, head of research at Centaline China, a real estate brokerage.
(Read more: China's property sector is booming even as economy slows)
The frothy property market has boosted the broader economy. Just a few months ago investors and analysts were worried about China's slowdown, but a strong run of investment and production data has sent them scurrying to upgrade their forecasts. The housing strength has also spilled over to land sales, with records set at land auctions in recent weeks as developers compete for the best plots in the biggest cities.
Attention is beginning to shift to when Messrs Xi and Li might decide enough is enough, and move to cool the property market. Many are betting they will hold fire until a big Communist party meeting in November, wary of doing anything that might throw the growth rebound off course.
As if to make that point, the national statistics bureau published a statement accompanying the property data on Wednesday that propagated a dovish line. "Although housing prices have continued to increase, the size of the increase has narrowed in month-on-month terms," said Liu Jianwei, an analyst with the bureau. Prices were up 0.8 percent month on month in August, down from a 1.7 percent increase in March.
(Read more: China property immune to tapering: China's richest man)
Back in Shanghai's Majestic City, one of the residents, Wang Bing, had a different interpretation. Pushing his nephew in a stroller, he pointed to empty shop fronts at its base – evidence, he said, that many of the homes had been sold to speculators and people had not moved in. "Rising property prices are good for the economy but are hurting ordinary people. It's like the government has eaten a piece of fatty meat and doesn't want to spit it out," he said.