Beijing wants to hasten property investment as 2017 target only half-met

BEIJING, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Beijing hit just half its target of 250 billion yuan ($38 billion) in annual property investment over the period from January to August, the Chinese capital’s housing bureau said on Friday, urging redoubled efforts to fill the “grave gap”.

Investment in new public and private housing and supporting facilities in the city of 22 million was about 139 billion yuan in the first eight months, for just 55.5 percent of the full-year target, the bureau said in a statement.

That confirmed a “grave gap” with the target, it added, urging “all level of officials to fully understand the grim situation” and “treat it as a political task”.

Top Beijing government leaders have reiterated that the target has to be met with no delays, it said.

Real estate investment, which directly affects 40 other business sectors in China, is considered a crucial driver for the economy.

Beijing’s measures to tame an overheated property market since late last year, including restricting lending and raising the bar for qualified buyers, have been among the most stringent taken by major Chinese cities.

They caused a drop of more than 40 percent in private home sales in the first seven months this year, the Beijing Statistics Bureau said.

Beijing has also sought to increase the supply of cheaper public homes, boosting the rental market this year to make homes more affordable.

But some analysts still say that deeply-rooted structural imbalances remain unresolved in the biggest cities like Beijing, such as insufficient residential land and property supply compared to rigid demand.

They say local governments have little incentive to boost supply and risk price declines as they benefited dramatically from a surge in land sale revenues.

Prices rose 25.9 percent for new homes in Beijing in 2016, data from the Statistics Bureau shows. They rose 5.2 percent in August from a year earlier. ($1=6.5867 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk and Yawen Chen; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)