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Home Prices in China Grew at a Record Rate in October Despite a Slump in Sales Volume

November 17, 2016

A residential condominium project in Zhengzhou, China.Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

China’s new home prices grew in October at the fastest rate since record-keeping began in 2011, despite a significant slump in property sales volume as local governments stepped up measures to cool skyrocketing prices.

Monthly growth slowed in most of China’s first- and second-tier cities, with Shenzhen prices dropping 0.5 percent, the first fall since October 2014, suggesting restrictions in the hottest markets to curb speculative buying are starting to bite.

Prices in China’s 70 major cities were up 12.3 percent in October from a year earlier, accelerating from an 11.2 percent increase in September, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) survey showed on Friday.

Sixty-five of the 70 cities tracked by NBS showed a year-on-year price gain, up from 64 in September.

Seven cities recorded a price fall on a monthly basis, versus six in September.

First-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, which have been the frontrunners of the price rally, saw prices grow 27.5 percent, 31.1 percent, 23.6 percent, 31.7 percent, respectively, from a year earlier. Price growth decelerated versus a month earlier.

In the second-tier city of Hefei, again the top performer in October, new home prices rose 48.4 percent in October, quickening from a 46.8 percent surge in September.

“The property market in China’s first and second-tier cities apparently has cooled in October, while it remained relatively stable in third-tier cities,” Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician from the bureau said in a note accompanying the data.

Read More: Why a Chinese Real Estate Bubble Could Bring Down the Global Economy

China has depended on a surging real estate market and government stimulus to drive growth this year, but fears of a property market crash have led more than 20 cities introduce tightening measures to cool the market.

In addition to higher down payments and bans on second-home buying, China also made it harder for property developers to issue bonds, discouraging developers from raising debt for new construction.

New household loans, mostly mortgages, fell to 433.1 billion yuan in October from 637 billion yuan in September, central bank data showed on Nov. 11, suggesting demand for mortgages is cooling.

Property investment rose in October on an annual basis to its highest since April 2014, according to Reuters calculations from data issued by NBS on Monday.

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Analysts say the impact on real-estate investment from tightening measures is usually delayed, but a property market dampened by sluggish domestic demand could weigh on the economy from early next year, adding uncertainty to the growth outlook.