China’s home prices return to growth in March as pandemic impact starts to ease

China’s home prices return to growth in March as pandemic impact starts to ease

BEIJING : New home prices in China returned to growth in March after stalling for the first time in five years in February, suggesting some pent-up demand as the impact from the coronavirus outbreak on the property market gradually fades.

China has in recent weeks lifted transport curbs and city lockdowns which had crippled business operations for developers and reduced customer visits to property showrooms, as the authorities gradually brought the pandemic under control.

The coronavirus crisis has killed more than 3,300 people and infected over 82,000 in mainland China.

Average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities edged up 0.1% in March from the previous month, having been unchanged in Feburary, according to Reuters calculations based on National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data published on Thursday.

On a year-on-year basis, home prices grew 5.3% in March, the slowest pace since June 2018, easing from a 5.8% uptick in February.

The majority of the 70 cities surveyed by the NBS still reported monthly price increases for new homes, with the number rising to 38 from 21 in February.

Prices were unchanged in Wuhan,the epicentre of the outbreak, as it did not sell any properties in March due to the pandemic, NBS said in a statement alongside the data.

China’s major property developers, such as Evergrande (3333.HK), have been launching discounts and promotions to spur sales. Latest data from researcher CRIC shows sales of the top 100 developers surged 136.2% last month from February.

Developers said they expected sales to normalise in April, following an 80%-90% recovery in March, but analysts noted that consumers remain cautious amid lingering fears of the pandemic and potential job losses.

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