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More cities to relax housing restrictions

2014/7/18 15:28:15   source:Chinadaily.com.cn

  Photo taken on July 4, 2014 shows newly-built houses in East China's Shanghai. [Photo/Xinhua]

  Local governments in second-tier cities are rushing to relax curbs on home purchases, and some are even urging people to "buy now" as sluggish property sales undercut local fiscal revenue.

  Hebei province said on Thursday that the government will continue to offer tax breaks to "maintain a healthy property market". For example, there will not be any personal income tax on sales of apartments owned for at least five years.

  Meanwhile, in Jiangsu province, the government-backed Changzhou Daily published a front-page ad on Tuesday declaring that "now is the best time to buy a home, as realty prices will not fall any further".

  According to real estate consultancy Shenzhen World Union Properties Consultancy Inc, the transaction volume of commercial housing in Changzhou dropped 18 percent year-on-year in the first half of this year.

  And as of June 30, the inventory of new commercial housing totaled 12.3 million square meters, it said. It would take about two years for that to be sold, given the average pace of home sales in Changzhou.

  The newspaper's plea was greeted with widespread criticism.

  Fan Jianping, chief economist of the State Information Center, said on people.com.cn that such a "bailout" of the real estate market will not help sell the large quantities of houses already built.

  Zhang Dawei, director of market research at Centaline Property Agency Ltd, said: "It is a bit over the top for the government to use a newspaper ad like that. The local government feels an urgency to get those houses sold, as it is dependent on land sales".

  Nobody is going to buy a house just because the local government says so, Zhang said.

  As the central government pursues stimulus measures to give a lift to the slowing economy, it is also allowing market forces to play a significant role in real estate prices.

  Against the backdrop of the slowdown in the property sector, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Thursday that the central government will no longer set ranges for real estate agencies' fees.

  Those fees will be subject to market conditions, and the administrative power to regulate real estate brokers' fees will be ceded to provincial governments, according to Xinhua News Agency.

  Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia and Jinan, capital of Shandong province, recently ended all curbs on home purchases.

  But moves like that will not shake the housing market.

  "The resurgence of the real estate market in smaller cities is closely related to demand and supply," said Zhang.

  Similar moves are likely in other cities, especially those with large inventories, according to Zhang.

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