The headline climb in China's property prices last month may appear bubbly – if you look at the wrong number.
The size of the rises from a year earlier are certainly large: In December, average new home prices in 70 major cities on the mainland rose 9.9 percent from a year ago, the 12th consecutive annual rise and the same as the previous month's record gain, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics Saturday. Some large cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou posted more than 20 percent price rises from a year earlier.
But while the figures make for shocking headlines, analysts are looking at month-on-month increases.
(Read more: China's red-hot housing market shows signs of easing)
"That is a better reflection of the momentum. Year-on-year data is lagging," said Lee Wee Liat, head of property research at BNP Paribas.
The month-on-month figures show an average rise of 0.4 percent in December, down from November's 0.5 percent rise and the fourth straight slowdown since August's 0.8 percent gain, according to Reuters calculations.
"The slowdown is because of the mortgage tightening in November and December. The approval process has been actually lengthening in those two months," said Nicole Wong, head of regional property research at CLSA.