Real Estate

China September property prices extend gains, raise fears of a bubble

China property prices rose at the fastest pace on record in September, fueling fears of a market bubble in the world's second-largest economy.

Property prices climbed 11.2 percent on-year in September in 70 major cities while prices were up 2.1 percent from August, according to Reuters calculations using data from the National Bureau of Statistics. In August, prices rose 9.2 percent from a year ago.

Home prices in the second-tier city of Hefei recorded the largest on-year gain at 46.8 percent, compared with on-year gains of 40.3 percent in August. Top August performer Xiamen posted an on-year rise of 46.5 percent against an increase of 43.8 percent in August.

Prices in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing rose 34.1 percent, 32.7 percent and 27.8 percent on an annual basis respectively, according to Reuters.

Underpinning the strong growth was simply"debt" said independent analyst, Fraser Howie, who is also co-author of "Red Capitalism" and "Privatizing China."

"A decade ago you could make a case for strong property in China (with) genuine demand and relatively low leverage in the sector. This is certainly not the case now. You are seeing a lot of leverage in the property sector, both retail and commercial," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box".

The quick gains in property prices in China came after the Chinese government introduced measures aimed at boosting home sales earlier this year to reduce large inventories in an effort to limit an economic slowdown.

Recent fears of overheating, however, prompted local governments in China to announce a flurry of property market cooling measures in recent weeks. Any impact from those measures was not reflected in the latest data.

Will the Chinese property market spiral out of control?
Peter Parks | AFP | Getty Images

Despite the property cooling measures, Howie said the broad theme of how the Chinese government was responding to the situation was recurrent.

"For five to six years or so, you have on-again-off-again cooling measures in the property market, trying to make property more affordable and it's still nowhere near affordable," he added.

The Chinese government, he said, "has no clear plan".

"It's just a bubble, they try to pull it back; they rein it in a bit, they let it go again when it impacts the real economy."

Given the broader slowdown in China's economy, the growth in the property sector was encouraging investors to put their money into real estate, he added.

Tim Condon, head of research for Asia at ING, was more positive about the Chinese government's froth-tampering moves.

"When applied in a determined fashion as in Singapore, macroprudential policy works; home prices decline. When applied in a less forceful way, as in Hong Kong, they are less effective. We view China's authorities as more like Singapore's and we think it's a matter of time before macroprudential policy slows sales growth," he wrote in a note on Friday.

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