China property investment, sales quicken in June despite curbs

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Buyers check out offerings at a residential property display during a real estate fair in Nantong city, east China's Jiangsu province.
Photo: AFP

China’s real estate investment growth sped up in June after slowing in May, suggesting spending in the sector remained resilient even as the government sought to tame soaring prices with a flurry of restrictive measures.

Growth in property investment, which mainly focuses on residential but also includes commercial and office space, accelerated to 7.9% in June from a year earlier, compared to a 7.3% expansion in May, according to Reuters calculations based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Real estate investment is a major driver of the economy affecting more than 40 other sectors. But worries over the potential bursting of price bubbles in China’s biggest cities have led to a raft of government cooling measures in recent months, as buyer demand appeared to be more resilient than expected.

The area of property sold grew 16.1% in January-June from the same period a year earlier, up from 14.3% in the first five months of the year, the NBS said.

In June alone, sales grew 21.4%, more than double the 10.2% increase in May, Reuters calculations showed.

In June alone, sales grew 21.4%, more than double the 10.2% increase in May, Reuters calculations showed.

New construction starts measured by floor area, a telling indicator of developer confidence, rose 10.6% in the first half of the year, accelerating from a 9.5% rise in the first five months, the bureau said.

In June alone, new starts rose 14.0%, the highest since October 2016, according to Reuters calculations.

Policymakers have prioritised stabilising an overheated property market ahead of a Communist Party reshuffle later this year, reiterating the need to avoid dramatic price volatility that could threaten the financial system and harm social stability.

In spite of government efforts to curb property prices, household loans – mostly mortgages – rose to 738.4 billion yuan in June from 610.6 billion yuan in May, according to Reuters calculations based on data recently released by China’s central bank.

A survey by China’s central bank in late June showed that 31.2% of households expect housing prices to rise in the third quarter of this year, while 46.1% of households tipped them to remain basically unchanged.

Growth in inventory floor area in the first half was 9.6% lower than one year earlier, compared with a fall of 8.5% in the January-to-May period.

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