China home price inflation quickens in Jan - survey

BEIJING Fri Feb 1, 2013 2:10am EST

BEIJING Feb 1 (Reuters) - Average home prices in China's 100 biggest cities rose 1 percent in January from December, quickening from the 0.2 percent pace in the previous month and marking the eighth consecutive monthly rise, a private survey showed on Friday.

The data, published by the China Real Estate Index System(CREIS), reinforced signs of a gradual pick-up in the property market despite the government efforts to temper prices.

Average home prices rose 1.2 percent in January from a year ago to 9,812 yuan ($1,600) per square metre, accelerating from December's 0.03 percent annual rise, according to the survey.

Rising home prices could reignite official concerns about property inflation and trigger fresh property curbs, even as the broader China economy appears to be slowly regaining traction.

"Home prices in tier 1 cities and some eastern coastal cities rose obviously last month, which fuelled the quick gains on the average prices in 100 cities," CREIS, a consultancy affiliated with China's largest online real estate company Soufun Holdings, said in a statement.

Average home prices in China's top 10 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, rose 1.61 percent from December and were up 2.84 percent from a year ago, the third year-on-year increase since November 2012.

Property developers have become more optimistic on the outlook of the market, helped by the recent rebound in sales and they have increased supply of high-end properties, CREIS said.

China's home prices started to firm again in mid-2012 as the People's Bank of China, the central bank, began to expand monetary easing as part of Beijing's growth-supporting policies.

China's fight against property speculation has headed into its third year, but middle-class Chinese still feel priced out of the urban housing market.

The Chinese government is due to publish January home prices in 70 major cities on Feb. 22. Home prices rose 0.4 percent in December from the previous month, after a 0.3 percent rise in November, official data showed.

The government has pledged to keep its property controls, such as restricting the number of homes Chinese can buy, although analysts have called for more market-oriented instruments such as property taxes to control home prices.

The official China Securities Journal reported on Friday that China will postpone the expansion of a pilot programme to implement a property tax but may introduce other curbing tools in tier 1 cities.

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