© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Men work at a construction site of apartment buildings in Beijing, China, July 15, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
BEIJING (Reuters) – New-home sales in 16 Chinese cities rose at a slower pace last week, held back by falling transactions in the biggest cities and by surging COVID-19 cases, despite government support policies and the easing of pandemic curbs.
Measured by floor area, sales for Dec. 11-17 in 16 selected Chinese cities had been 1.4% greater than in the previous seven days, China Index Academy, one of the country’s biggest independent real estate research firms, said on Monday. For Dec. 4-10, weekly growth was 4.9%.
Chinese authorities in recent weeks have stepped up financing support for developers, providing some relief from a crackdown on excessive leverage in mid-2020 that pushed cash-strapped developers to default on debt obligations and halt construction. Some homebuyers responded by boycotting mortgage payments.
The industry’s sentiment has recovered slightly in response to stimulus measures, but rising COVID-19 cases following the abrupt relaxation of many pandemic control measures on December 7 has dented the recovery pace.
Streets in major Chinese cities were eerily quiet on Sunday as people stayed home to protect themselves from a surge in cases that has hit urban centres from north to south.
Home sales in tier-one cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, fell 13.6% last week from a week earlier. Sales in Beijing slumped 29.4% week-on-week and in Shanghai by 29.0%.
At an agenda-setting meeting that ended on Friday, policymakers said they would boost property and consumption. Many measures with similar objectives have already been implemented earlier this year.