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China residential prices not expected to decline more than 20% in 2011

SHANGHAI: Residential prices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are not expected to decline more than 20% in 2011 despite the latest string of tightening measures, said Knight Frank in its latest Greater China quarterly report.

According to Knight Frank, the outlook for the China property market hinges on three factors: the liquidity of developers, the supply of new homes and the implementation of the government tightening policies.

The latest measures were announced on Sept 29, which included: banning commercial banks from granting mortgage loans to households that already own two or more residential properties; lifting the down-payment ratio for first-time homebuyers to 30% or above; and limiting the number of residential units that each resident household can buy in cities where home prices are too high or have been increasing rapidly.

By the end of October, a total of 14 cities had unveiled bylaws to implement the policy limiting home purchases, but details of these bylaws vary from city to city. Among these bylaws is one which states that households that owned two flats are banned from home purchases in Fuzhou, Shenzhen and Nanjing. Fuzhou and Shenzhen also prohibits certain non-resident households to buy homes in the city.

The remaining 11 cities — including Beijing and Shanghai — have adopted a looser approach in implementing the policies, by allowing each resident household to buy one more home, irrespective of the number of homes they already own.

Knight Frank believes that should some of the policies be adopted loosely, a significant correction in home prices can be avoided. Cities such as Shenzhen, which took a strict approach in implementing the policies, are likely to face serious housing shortage.

Home prices in these cities are not expected to plunge, as the effect of the policies would be offset by the lack of new flats.

Liquidity for most developers have improved with the number of new home sales having rebounded during 3Q 2010. The first three quarters of the year saw the top 20 Mainland developers reaped total sales of 473 billion yuan (RM219.35 billion, or 93% of the total in 2009).

As the inventories of unsold new homes in the first-tier cities remain at a relatively low level, Knight Frank believes most developers will not boost sales by slashing prices aggressive before the Lunar New Year.  

With dramatically growing housing stats this year, pre-sales for flats are expected to jump next year. Compared to a year ago, housing stats in Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have increased by 164%, 72%, 34% and 18% respectively this year.

The central government's determination to further tighten the cooling measures is evident in the recent interest-rate rise and restrictions on developers' capital sources.  

Developers are expected to face greater pressure to accelerate sales after next year's Lunar New Year, said Knight Frank.

Meanwhile, after the most recent round of tightening measures were announced, the housing market began to cool. October saw the average daily sales of new homes in major China cities plunged after city governments made moves to limit their citizens' home purchases.

Many homebuyers deferred their home purchases until after mid April after the introduction of fresh tightening measures by the State Council. However, pent-up demand was unleashed in August when the tightening measures were found to have limited effect on depressing home prices.

The average daily sales of new homes in the first-tier cities namely Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen rose 22.9%, 69.8%, 37.3%  and 83.7% respectively in August. By end of September, secondary home prices in these cities had rebounded 1.5% to 4.9% from their respective troughs in July, reported Knight Frank.
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