Bank of China tightens lending to mainland second-home buyers

HONG KONG: Bank of China has tightened lending to buyers of second homes on the mainland, in line with the  central government's move to curb property speculation.

In new rules on property lending published on its website last Friday, the bank says buyers of second homes are  required to pay a deposit of at least 50%, up from 40%.

Mortgage rates have also been revised to a minimum 1.1 times benchmark rates.

Buyers of first homes bigger than 90 sq m will have to pay a minimum down payment of 30%, compared with 20%  previously.

The bank says it will not provide loans to those who buy more than two homes and those who fail to provide tax  returns or proof of social security contributions.

It will interview the applicants and visit their homes to verify the accuracy of the information.

On April 14, the State Council ordered mortgage rates on second homes be set at 1.1 times the central bank's  benchmark lending rate. The Bank of China is the first bank to follow the instructions and to release the  details.

Developers are also facing stiffer loan restrictions, with lending tightened for projects in districts that  recorded a rapid increase in home prices caused by speculative activity.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission has sent loan applications from 41 developers to the Ministry of Land  and Resources for review on land-use compliance. The ministry has examined the applications of 25 companies.

According to Bloomberg, SYWG BNP Paribas Asset Management and China Business News conducted a survey between  April 19 and 23 and found that 87% of respondents expect property prices to decline following the government  restrictions on mortgages.

There was already a sharp fall in property sales last week.

Developers in Beijing released 21 new projects for pre-sale this month, while 18 were launched last month.

Transaction data from Centaline Property Agency showed only 12% of the units were sold this month, compared with  38% last month.

The data showed 695 new homes in the capital were sold so far this month, down 79% from the 3,237 deals  registered last month.

Centaline's chief executive for northern and southwest China, Dickson Wong Hung, said home sales in Beijing,  Shanghai and Shenzhen dropped 70% last week from the previous week.

"Property sales in Guangzhou decreased only 40 per cent because the market was dominated by end-users," Wong  said. "The investment sector was relatively inactive compared with other major cities."

Wong expects prices to drop 30% by the end of this year -- South China Morning Post
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