(Yicai Global) March 14 -- Commercial housing sales in China fell 3.6 percent annually over the first two months as the Chinese New Year holiday hampered purchases and buyers were more rational, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Just 141 million square meters of property sold, spokesman Mao Shengyong said in a press briefing data, citing NBS data. Developers purchased 15.5 million square meters, more than 34 percent less than last year, spending CNY69 billion (USD10.3 billion) -- down 13.1 percent.
The week-long Chinese New Year fell in February this year, and this brought down sales considerably, Mao said. The bureau compiles January and February data every year to compensate for the national holiday. Other months are tracked individually.
Another reason is that the housing market is undergoing a new development stage, he added, saying that ordinary residents and investors are now much more rational about buying homes. China began tightening its grip on foolish spending in the sector in March 2017, when President Xi Jinping unveiled the country's new mantra on real estate: "a house is a home, not an investment."
China's property market has begun a cooling period, said Yan Yuejin, research director at Yiju Research Center. He believes the trend in declining sales will soon extend to third- and fourth-tier cities.
The slowing housing sales had a carryover affect into the land market, added Zhang Dawei, chief analyst at Zhongyuan Real Estate. Land transactions in many cities across the country were still adjusting at the start of this year, he continued, saying real estate firms were less willing to snap up land and strict supervision of finance channels meant they were being more cautious about expensive plots.
Yan backed these thoughts, saying developers right now are focusing on shifting unsold houses and are being far more conservative. They are more likely to increase their land reserves through equity and project acquisitions, rather than buying land parcels, he added.
Editor: James Boynton