China's home prices likely to fall in 2013 on property curbs - paper

SHANGHAI, March 15 Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:21pm EDT

SHANGHAI, March 15 (Reuters) - China's home prices are expected to fall in 2013 as the government will strictly enforce the latest property curbs, the housing minister said, according to the China Securities Journal report on Friday.

China earlier this month announced fresh measures to rein in home prices. The curbs include stricter implementation of an existing 20 percent capital gains tax on home sales, tightening restrictions on home buying and higher down payments for those buying a second home in cities where prices are rising too quickly.

"If there are problems during the process of implementation, we will make some changes, but it must be strictly enforced," Jiang Weixin, Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said on Thursday, the newspapers reported. Weixin said home prices are likely to fall on these curbs, the paper added.

The planned new measures to curb speculation have battered property stocks and have sparked a rush in home sales in the first two weeks of March as investors quickly sold their properties to lock in gains.

China's new home prices rose an average of 0.8 percent in January from a year earlier, snapping 10 months of decline, according to official National Bureau of Statistics data. Prices rose in 53 of the 70 major cities it surveys.

Official data show strong underlying demand despite a three-year-long campaign to curb speculation and price rises.

Home sales soared 55 percent in the first two months from a year ago, outpacing the 37 percent annual rise in the same period of 2010. (Reporting by Fayen Wong and Samuel Shen; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)