New home prices in China fall again despite efforts to help developers


BEIJING — China’s new home prices fell for a sixth straight month in February as authorities’ efforts to ease policy restrictions on developers and boost buyer confidence have yet to take effect.

Average new home prices in 70 major cities edged down 0.12% in February from January – according to Wall Street Journal calculations based on data released Wednesday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics – widening compared to January’s 0.04% decline.

Meanwhile, fewer cities reported increases in home prices. Twenty-seven of 70 cities saw a monthly increase in house prices last month, up from 28 in January, the statistics office said.

China’s biggest cities are emerging the strongest from the housing slowdown that began last year, with house prices rising 0.5% month-on-month in the country’s so-called tier-one cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

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Prices in second- and third-tier cities generally held steady or fell, said Sheng Guoqing, an analyst with the statistics bureau.

Year-on-year, average new home prices in China rose 1.15% in February, a slowdown from January’s 1.65% rise.

New home prices rose in 46 of 70 cities in February from a year earlier, compared with 50 in January.

Data released by the Statistics Office on Tuesday showed home sales by value in the first two months of the year were down 22.1% from a year earlier, the biggest drop since March 2020, when the fast-spreading Covid-19 pandemic delivered its first hammer blow to China’s economy.

China’s property sector, which accounts for more than a quarter of overall economic output by some estimates, began to slow last year when Beijing imposed borrowing restrictions on cash-strapped property developers. The crackdown has weighed on the country’s economic recovery and sparked wider economic anxiety in recent months.

China’s central bank lowered its key rates in December and January, but defied market expectations by keeping its key rate unchanged in March. Economists expect more easing measures in the coming months, including potential measures to help property developers and stoke buyer interest.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com

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