China's property market regulation to continue: premier


China will continue to regulate the real estate market to bring down property prices to a reasonable level, said Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening of the annual parliamentary session Monday.

"We will strictly implement and gradually improve policies and measures for discouraging speculative or investment-driven housing demand, build on progress made in regulating the real estate market," said Wen when delivering his government work report at the Fifth Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC).

The government will also work to develop low-income housing, aiming to basically complete five million units and start construction on over seven million units, ensuring they are built to a high standard, he said.

The reiteration came when tension between the country's central and local governments started to emerge on property market regulation, with local authorities tentatively relaxing the curbs but the central government unwilling to see this happen.

China has imposed a raft of measures since 2010 to cool the runaway market, including higher down payments, higher loan rates, a ban on third-home purchases, property-tax trials and the construction of low-income housing.

As a result, new home prices in the 70 major Chinese cities monitored by the National Bureau of Statistics all ceased to rise in January.

Previous data showed that in January 2011, a total of 60 out of 70 cities surveyed saw rises in new home prices, and the figure fell to 39 in July.

In February, local governments of several east and south China cities announced plans to loosen restrictions on homebuyers, which were called off within days.

"The buying restriction is not likely to be abolished in a short term," said Guo Songhai, a professor with Shandong University of Finance and Economics, who expeted the withdrawal to take place only with further improved government policies and a reasonable decline in home prices.

China has vowed to build 36 million affordable housing units during the 2011-2015 period in a bid to meet the demand of low income families. In 2011, it started construction of 10 million units.

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