Wuhan Joins Big Chinese Cities to Limit House Purchase
The central city of Wuhan, with a population of more than nine million, has now joined China's big cities in imposing a limit on house purchases. It comes as the central government tightens control on the property market where real estate prices rose for 19 consecutive months.
Our reporter Wang Jing has more.
The city of Wuhan now stipulates that each family can buy only one new apartment in the downtown region.
The move, effective from January 15th, is in response to a rapid growth in the city's home prices.
The average property sales price in Wuhan rose 17% last year to over 6 thousand yuan or about $930 US dollars per square meter, triple the average monthly salary level in the city.
Liu Zhen is from the city's real state management bureau.
"In downtown areas, supply can narrowly meet demand, and this can not be eased in the near future."
Meanwhile, some cities in Shaanxi province will start restricting house purchases within the year, but the details are yet to be released.
Many large cities in China, such as Shanghai and Beijing, have imposed a limit on housing purchases for months. Thirteen other cities like Xiamen and Wenzhou with fast rising property prices took similar move since last year.
Financial analyst Shui Pi says the current purchase limit should be extended.
"The current purchase limit has two soft spots, one is that it is confined to certain area, and the other is that it is temporary. The speculation can only be contained if the limits are long-term and wide-spread. Or else, hot money will go to cities where there are no limits. This is something we don't want to see."
The moves by individual cities are in addition to central government policies targeted at the property sector, as soaring home prices put the prospect of home ownership out of reach of ordinary people.
China has been grappling with a surging real-estate market since late 2009, and has taken numerous measures to stabilize prices, including raising down-payment requirements, increasing mortgage rates and curbing lending for additional home purchases.
Chen Sheng from the China Index Academy, one of Chinese largest property research organizations, says the purchase limits have shown effect, and more cities are likely to follow suit.
"In general, home price increase in cities that have imposed the purchase limit have slowed, even when there's an increase, it's not more than 2 percent. According to our data, prices in some cities, including Taizhou, Kunming, Dongguan and Yichang had a sharp year-on-year increase, so it's quite likely that they are going to take further tightening measures. "
Latest figures indicate that China's December property prices posted the smallest gain in 13 months. Property prices in 70 cities rose 6.4 percent in December from a year earlier. That's less than the 7.7 percent increase in November.
But some analysts fear the tightening measures are not enough, as the fundamental drivers of the market, including supply constraints and strong demand, have largely been untouched.
For CRI, I'm Wang Jing.