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Wang Jianlin warns China property is ‘big bubble,’ but strategist says only top tier cities a worry

Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images

Property price jumps in China's top tier cities have many worried about an asset bubble, but there's still "some way to go" on prices, an Asia strategist told CNBC.

Concerns about China's property market were stoked when China's richest man, real estate magnate Wang Jianlin, told broadcaster CNN on Wednesday that the country's property market was the "biggest bubble in history."

But Sean Yokota, SEB Bank's Asia strategy head, told CNBC's "The Rundown," that prices were near flat in many cities.

"The big cities (like) Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, do have a bubble forming because of how much the prices have increased, but if you just look at it in aggregate for the entire country, the third tier cities and below still have prices only rising about 1 or 2 percent," Yokota said. "So I think there are pockets but in aggregate, it's still got some way to go."

Average new home prices in China's 70 major cities rose 9.2 percent in August from a year earlier, accelerating from a 7.9 percent increase in July, an official survey from the National Bureau of Statistics showed last week. Home prices rose 1.5 percent from July.

The data showed prices in Shanghai and Beijing rose 31.2 percent and 23.5 percent respectively, while prices in second tier cities Xiamen and Hefei recorded the biggest gains, of 43.8 percent and 40.3 percent respectively, from a year ago.

Wang said it was the vast difference between price movements in top tier cities and those below that made it difficult for Beijing to address the issue.

"Prices keep rising in top cities but falling in several thousand other cities so the glut in medium and small size cities is not going away. Instead, prices in top cities are pushed up. I don't see a good solution to this problem – limiting purchase or credit – but none have worked," Wang told CNN.

This is coupled with a slowing economy that policymakers are attempting to support, putting Beijing in the difficult position of driving growth while preventing the property market from overheating.

Donna Kwok, senior China economist at UBS, told CNBC on September 19, "On the one hand, they need to temper the signs of froth that we are seeing in the higher-tier cities. On the other hand, they are still having to rely on the [property market's] contribution to headline GDP growth."

The property market contributes up to one-third of GDP as its effects filter through to related businesses such as heavy industries and raw materials, Kwok said.

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