BEIJING, July 28 (Reuters) - Chinese authorities made a record amount of land available for property development in the first half of this year, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, as strong demand boosted the property sector even as the broader economy slowed.
Figures published by the news agency highlight the dilemma facing the central government as its attempts to cool property prices jar with strong demand and the desire by regional governments to sell land for development to raise cash.
The government is worried about a possible property bubble and the potential for unrest as many people find themselves priced out of home ownership.
But at the same time, it does not want to put too much pressure on the one sector of the economy that is growing strongly.
Xinhua, citing Land Ministry data, said the amount of land made available for development nationwide in the first half of 2013 rose 38.8 percent from the same period in 2012 to a record high 82,400 hectares (203,600 acres).
It cited enthusiasm among enterprises for land purchases in top cities as well as strong demand for commercial-use land in some smaller cities.
Of the total, land made available for residential development rose 36.9 percent, and that for commercial use rose 42.8 percent, the news agency said.
China’s property sector helps drive more than 40 other industries, from cement, steel and copper to furniture and home appliances. Local governments also depend heavily on revenues from land sales to service their debt.
Data this month showed that the pace of China’s month-on-month home price rises edged down for a third straight month in June, though the year-on-year gains were the strongest this year. (Reporting by Jonathan Standing; Editing by Robert Birsel)