China Property Digest: Fresh cooling measures seen

BEIJING, March 21 Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:29am EDT

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BEIJING, March 21 (Reuters) - China's government unveiled tough measures on March 1, including a 20 percent capital gains tax and higher downpayments for second-time home buyers, in its latest bid to calm frothy home prices.

Many analysts expect further government steps to rein in home price inflation that may be stronger than official data suggest.

Property investment accounted for 14 percent of China's gross domestic product in 2012.

Here is a look at the latest news, numbers and more from China's real estate market.

REUTERS NEWS

Mar 19 - Chinese households expect home prices to rise in coming months although their expectations of overall consumer inflation are easing somewhat, according to central bank surveys.

Mar 18 - China's new home prices rose in February from a year ago for a second consecutive month, though gains are expected to ease after the government unveiled this month tougher tax plans to curb real estate speculation.

Mar 15 - 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.

Mar 12 - China's home price inflation may be stronger than official data suggest, with a near quadrupling of home sales in the capital last week after the government unveiled tax plans to curb speculation, a sign that investors have giant gains to lock in.

Mar 7 - The family of Soho China Ltd's chief executive Zhang Xin is in discussions to buy a 40 percent stake in the 1.8 million square foot General Motors building in Manhattan, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing real-estate executives familiar with the talks.

Mar 6 - At Shanghai's Zhabei District marriage registration centre, officials divorced a record 53 couples in a single day this week - about one every five minutes - as couples rushed to untie the knot to avoid tougher tax laws on home sales.

Mar 6 - China's planned urbanisation drive will be main engine of growth for domestic economic activity in the years ahead, giving the government scope to boost domestic demand and infrastructure investment, a senior planning official said.

DATA

- China's central bank survey in Q1 showed 68 percent of households considered current home prices "unacceptably high", up 1.3 percentage points from the previous survey.

- Revenues from property sales in China rose 77.6 percent in the first two months of 2013 from a year earlier, compared with an annual increase of 10 percent in 2012, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

- China has set up a housing information network of 40 major cities, government data showed, a move seen to get prepared for an expansion of property tax beyond the current pilot cities of Shanghai and Chongqing.

- The existing home transaction in Beijing reached 11,024 units in the first 10 days of March, up 279 percent from the same period last year, data from local consultant Home Link showed.

CHINESE PRESS

Mar 21 - China's biggest property developer Vanke said it will not follow the trend of raising home prices considering the harm soaring prices would do to the property industry, the president Wang Shi said.(Shanghai Securities News)

Mar 18 - Officials from Beijing commission for housing and urban-rural development dismissed media reports that it had announced detailed measures after the central government unveiled tougher tax plans to curb property speculation.(People's Daily website)

Mar 14 - Shenzhen Urban Planning Land and Resources Commission denied media reports that it had banned developers from raising prices of new home projects for the year.(China News)

THEY SAID

-- "Second-hand homes are always in prime locations in tier 1 cities. It is relatively easier for sellers to transfer the tax to home buyers."

(Qin Hong, head of the policy research institute under China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying)

-- "According to current regulation, the one who gets the income should pay the tax. If you do not pay the capital gains tax, you get out of line. We still have some measures to protect home buyers' interest if such thing happens."

(Qi Ji, Vice-Minister of housing and rural-urban development told the state broadcaster CCTV) (Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao and Kevin Yao; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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