Correction to China Housing Sales Growth Decelerates Sharply in April on Sunday

By Dominique Fong Features Dow Jones Newswires

China's housing sales growth decelerated sharply in April after cities doubled down on stricter property controls to curb speculation, while property investment rose.

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In April, housing sales by value rose 10.1% from a year earlier, according to calculations made by The Wall Street Journal based on data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. That compared with a 18.2% gain in March.

April home sales rose at the slowest year-over-year pace in more than two years after a raft of cities imposed harsher crackdowns on the housing market. Several banks in Beijing and Guangzhou raised mortgage interest rates and Shanghai introduced a lottery system to limit home presales. Other cities raised down payments or restricted homeowners from selling property until two years after the purchase date.

For the January-April period, housing sales increased 16.1% from a year earlier, slowing from a 20.2% gain from January through March.

Despite the drop in sales, Chinese developers continued to signal confidence in the housing market.

Property investment, including commercial and residential real estate, picked up during January through April, gaining 9.3%. That compared with a 9.1% gain recorded in the first three months of the year.

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Construction starts slowed slightly, rising 11.1% for the January-April period to 482.4 million square meters from a year earlier. That was down from the 11.6% increase in January-March.

Some developers are betting housing demand will remain strong in major Chinese cities that have low inventory--an expectation that has spurred stocking up on land and new real estate projects.

For instance, Sunac China, which focuses on big Chinese cities, said it plans to add 188.3 billion yuan of new saleable resources this year, more than double the target last year.

Another mid-sized developer, Longfor Properties, said it plans to build 6.8 million square meters of property projects this year, up 18% from what it completed last year.

Meanwhile, Shimao Property said it expects housing sales volumes in first- and second-tier cities to drop by 10% to 20% this year, but doesn't expect prices to drop significantly because of strong demand and low housing supply.

Write to Dominique Fong at dominique.fong@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications

This article was corrected May 14, 2017 at 0345 GMT to show that in April, housing sales by value rose 10.1% from a year earlier, according to calculations made by The Wall Street Journal based on data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. That compared with a 18.2% gain in March. The original version of this article incorrectly said it compared with a 18.2% gain in the first three months of the year in the second paragraph.

In April, housing sales by value rose 10.1% from a year earlier, according to calculations made by The Wall Street Journal based on data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. That compared with a 18.2% gain in March. "China Housing Sales Growth Decelerates Sharply in April," at 11:18 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, incorrectly said it compared with a 18.2% gain in the first three months of the year in the second paragraph.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 14, 2017 23:57 ET (03:57 GMT)