Loans to China's property sector grew at a slower pace in 2018 as Beijing tightened home-purchase rules to curb bubble risk, but lending to property developers expanded slightly faster than the year before, central bank data showed on Friday.
Outstanding yuan property loans grew 20 percent from a year earlier to 38.7 trillion yuan ($5.72 trillion) by end-December, compared with 20.9 percent growth in 2017, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a quarterly financial report.
Outstanding mortgage lending climbed 17.8 percent year-on-year to 25.75 trillion yuan by the end of 2018, below a 22.2 percent rise in 2017, central bank data showed.
Policymakers have vowed to ensure "stable and healthy" development of the property market, repeatedly emphasizing that homes are for living in, not speculative investment.
The government's sustained drive to reduce debt risks in the economy has cooled the property market but a continued downturn in credit growth in the sector could add to growing pressures on the world's second-largest economy.
The real estate sector is a key driver of economic growth, so any further weakness could influence the pace and scope of fresh stimulus steps expected from Beijing this year.
Property investment is also looking wobbly, with analysts waiting to see if the government will risk loosening restrictions on home buyers that have kept speculation in check.
Real estate investment in December rose 8.2 percent from a year earlier, down from 9.3 percent in November, according to Reuters calculations based on data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
That was just ahead of the slowest pace of growth last year at 7.7 percent recorded for October.
Developers raised their borrowings last year though, with loans extended for property development up 22.6 percent in 2018 versus growth of 21.7 percent in 2017, the report showed.
The central bank also said outstanding household loans jumped 18.2 percent to 47.9 trillion yuan by end-2018.