China plans more affordable housing, reiterates property controls

China will continue to build millions of affordable housing units and stick to control measures on the property sector next year, the minister of housing and urban-rural development said Tuesday.

The country plans to start construction on 6 million affordable housing units and complete the construction of 4.6 million units in 2013, Jiang Weixin, the minister, told a national work conference here.

He also urged “unswervingly” carrying forward with property controls, noting that work will be accelerated to expand property tax trials beyond Shanghai and Chongqing.

Differentiated credit and tax policies and purchase restrictions in the sector should continue in order to curb speculative and investment demand on the housing market, Jiang said.

Meanwhile, the ministry will continue to support consumers’ rational housing demand, he said.

The remarks came as Chinese real estate developers’ share prices surged on Tuesday over anticipation that strong housing demand will be generated by the country’s urbanization process.

Urbanization is considered as a main driver for domestic demand and will be actively and steadily pushed forward in 2013, according to a statement issued after the central economic work conference earlier this month, which set the tone for policymaking next year.

China Vanke Co., Ltd., the nation’s biggest property developer by market value, gained 5.97 percent to close at 10.12 yuan (1.61 U.S. dollars) on Tuesday.

At least five real estate firms, including AVIC Real Estate Holding Co., Ltd. and Guangzhou Pearl River Industrial Development Co., Ltd., saw shares soar by the daily movement limit of 10 percent during the morning session.

The rally drove the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up 2.53 percent to finish at 2,213.61 points, a near six-month high.

China is building more than 7 million government-subsidized housing units this year as part of its five-year plan to construct 36 million such affordable homes by 2015 in a bid to make housing accessible to low-income families.

The country has started construction of more than 30 million affordable housing units since 2008 and finished building 17 million of them, Jiang said.

He also demanded making afforable houses accessible for migrant workers, not just registered permanent residents, in all prefecture-level cities in 2013.

Runaway real estate prices have been a significant source of public complaint in recent years, forcing the government to implement a string of policies like bans on third-home purchases and property tax trials to keep prices down since early 2010.

However, the property market has shown signs of warming in recent months, after the central bank twice cut interest rates and banks’ reserve requirement ratio to buoy the economy earlier this year.

In November, 53 out of a statistical pool of 70 major cities recorded higher new home prices than a month earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This was up from 35 in October.

Jiang vowed to keep a vigilant eye on the market, saying local officials will be held responsible if home prices go up too fast because of relaxed property controls.


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