March 5, 2016 / 5:26 AM / 4 years ago

China's four biggest cities working on steps to cool housing market: minister

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s four biggest cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, are working on steps to cool their property markets in response to recent strong housing sales and prices, state media reported on Saturday, citing the country’s housing minister Chen Zhenggao.

Women stand on a pedestrian overpass in front of residential buildings during a hazy day at the Pudong financial area in Shanghai, China, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song

Local governments in Tier 1 cities will strictly enforce housing purchase restrictions and increase land supply as part of stabilization measures, Chen was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.

China’s housing market bottomed out in the second half of 2015 after cooling for more than a year, but a strong rebound in prices in the biggest cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, have sparked concerns that some markets may be overheating, raising fears of a property bubble.

Prices in Shenzhen surged nearly 52 in January from a year earlier, followed by Shanghai with a near 18 percent rise. nL3N161208]

“We are paying high attention to prices changes in Tier 1 cities and are making close communication with authorities in these four cities,” Chen said.

Local administrations will also increase the supply of small- and medium-sized homes and clamp down on illegal transactions to stabilize market sentiment, he said.

While property prices in China’s small cities are still falling, authorities in some big cities have already announced measures to cool the market.

Shanghai last week issued new rules to increase the supply of medium- and small-sized apartments after the recent surge in home prices in the city.

“There is not much inventory (of unsold homes) in the first tier cities. We must pay high attention to it and need to take some targeted measures,” Jia Kang, told reporters at the sideline of the ongoing annual meeting of parliament.

    China’s home prices rose for a fourth straight month in January with big cities leading the gains, suggesting an uneven recovery in the housing market as the government’s stimulus policies gain traction.

Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao, Kevin Yao and Nicholas Heath; Editing by Kim Coghill

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