Real Estate

Signs of hope in China home price data

China property sees a dual pace recovery: Pro

The price of new homes in China fell 5.7 percent year-on-year in May, the country's National Bureau of Statistics reported on Thursday, but reversed month-on-month declines for the first time in more than a year.

Prices rose by 0.2 per cent month-on-month, the first positive reading since April 2014, with a broad pick-up in month-on-month gains across China's 70 major cities.

The May year-on-year fall was also slightly less steep than in April, when prices were down 6.1 percent by the same measure. Prices were down 2.3 per cent in Shanghai and Beijing in May, compared with 4.7 percent and 3.2 percent respectively a month earlier.

Among the 70 cities, Shenzhen was the top performer, recording the second consecutive month of year-on-year rebound, up 7.5 percent following a 0.7 percent rise. New home prices in Shenzhen rose 6.6 percent in May from April.

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China's weak property market is seen as one of the major risks for the economy. Economic growth slowed to a six-year low of 7 percent in the first quarter as demand at home and abroad faltered, and recent data showed weakness persisted into the second quarter, putting more pressure on the government to step up policy stimulus.

Real estate investment growth continued to slow in the first five months of 2015 to the lowest since May 2009, Reuters reported on Thursday, with inventory levels remaining high in lower-tier cities, despite the signs of overheating recurring in Shenzhen.

China's central bank has moved to stimulate the property market, cutting interest rates in May and attempting to boost lending by reducing the amount of cash banks have to keep in reserve.

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Wee Liat Lee, managing director, regional head of property research at BNP Paribas, told CNBC that he was pretty sure the Chinese property market had bottomed out, but that the recovery was dual-paced.

"What we see in the tier one and two cities is a recovery in volumes and prices are creeping up, but on the other hand, tier three and four cities, given the oversupply situation, are still at the bottom," he said.

"We are not seeing prices dropping but we are seeing a floor after the government's support to stimulate the market."

China said on Thursday that it would step up "effective investment" in key sectors, including shantytown renovation, rural power infrastructure and urban transport, to support economic growth.