Oct 10 (Reuters) - China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd , the largest property developer by market value, and smaller rival Shanghai Shimao Co Ltd posted strong nine-month contract sales on Thursday, despite official efforts to curb the market.
The government wants to prevent a bubble from forming and head off unrest if people cannot afford to buy homes. However, it cannot tighten too much as a strong property market has helped offset an economic slowdown.
China Overseas Land reported contract sales of HK$111.8 billion ($14 billion) in the first nine months of the year, or 93 percent of its 2013 target of HK$120 billion. The nine-month figure was a 22 percent rise from the HK$91.9 billion it reported last year for the same period.
Shimao contract sales grew 44 percent to 10.14 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) in the January-September period.
"As of September, the company has already hit its full-year sales target in advance," Shimao said in a statement posted on the website of the Shanghai stock exchange.
Contract sales are recorded when buyers purchase a property and are an indication of developers' future revenues.
Earlier this month, Poly Real Estate Group Co Ltd posted a 17.24 percent in the first nine months, while China Vanke Co Ltd said its nine-month sales hit 128.5 billion yuan.
Developers have tried to counter the tightening steps, which include taxes or restrictions on property purchases, by targeting less developed cities.
Still, new home prices rose at their fastest in at least 2-1/2 years in August, with some large cities rising around double the national pace. (Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee in SINGAPORE and Meg Shen in HONG KONG)