Home prices in many Chinese cities have continued to set records over the past year despite the government's four-year long campaign to cool the market. Some local governments were forced into a fresh round of curbs in November, with measures including raising minimum down payments for second homes and promising to supply more land for building residential properties.
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.
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Mowat isn't alone in considering the property sector a key risk. Credit Agricole is concerned that an excessive price correction could threaten the country's growth prospects.
"It takes only 3.5 years of average annual disposable income to buy a home in the U.S., compared to as much as 22.5 years of urban disposable income in China," Credit Agricole said in a note.
"This makes inaccessibility of housing a big social issue and threatens a sharp correction, which – given that residential construction accounts for about 10 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) – poses a large risk to growth," it said.
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The strong rises in property prices and sales continued in January even as China moved to rein in credit growth, UOB KayHian said in a note last week. It noted that developers spent around 248 billion in January to replenish their landbanks, up around 37 percent from the monthly average in 2013.
Those purchases are spurring concerns both that developers are taking on more debt even as monetary policy is tightening and that more projects will come up for sale this year, potentially leading to oversupply if the market slows, UOB KayHian said.