Residential buildings are seen in Beijing. Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee
Residential buildings are seen in Beijing. Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee

Property prices barely moved in China for the final month of 2016 as cooling measures across the country’s overheated housing market took grip. Once high-flying home prices in the most sought-after cities are now on the decline, while smaller cities scrape out tiny gains.

The southern hub of Guangzhou, boasting a population of 13.5 million as of 2015, became the only one of the 15 so-called hot-spot Chinese cities to report a monthly uptick, of 0.7%, while the remainder posted slips ranging from 0.1% to 0.4%, in December. Beijing prices fell 0.1%, Shanghai and Chengdu down 0.2%, and Shenzhen slipped 0.4%.

On average, tier-one cities saw prices at a standstill in December, compared with a 0.1% month-on-month gain during the previous month. Meanwhile, lower-tiered cities saw gains halved from November, with a 0.2% and 0.4% increase for tier two and tier three cities in December, respectively, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Wednesday.

Moderating a trend in apartment prices in China means the year-on-year gains are narrowing due to the much smaller rises last month versus December of 2015. On average, gains posted by new homes is 0.3 percentage points smaller than in the preceding month.

In 65 of the 70 cities tracked by the government statistics offices, home prices are higher than a year ago, the same number of cities from November.

The rest are laggards: Urumqi in Xinjiang, Baotou in Inner Mongolia, Dandong and Jingzhou in Liaoning, and Mudanjiang in Heilongjiang. All of these provinces are struggling to keep up with China’s fast- changing economic landscape.

Beijing home prices finished the year up 28.4% from the end of 2015, Shanghai are up 31.7%, Guangzhou higher by 24.3%, and a 23.8% increase for Shenzhen, NBS data showed.