China's housing market refuses to be deflated. Photo: Reuters
China's housing market refuses to be deflated. Photo: Reuters

Coca-Cola’s 1990 slogan “Can’t Beat The Real Thing” could easily have been written to describe China’s housing market today: shamelessly, joyfully full of fizz.

Prices not only edged higher in more of the nation’s biggest cities during March, they did so at a faster pace too — a fearless challenge to government orders to stamp out speculation in red hot real estate markets. It’s as if policymakers have slaved away for days to drive those nasty weeds out of their front lawns, only to see new sprouts shooting up all over again. They’d better get ready for another serious mow.

Home prices in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, shot up 2.5% in March from February after climbing precipitously in the first two months of the year. Xiamen, a sub-provincial city in southeastern Fujian, jumped 1.9% after pulled back slightly in January and February.

Forty-five of 70 large to medium-sized cities reported new home prices rising 0.5% or more in March, up from 23 in February, National Bureau of Statistics data released on Tuesday showed.

Across all 70 cities, the average gain in March of 0.71% against February’s 0.33% hardly suggests the localized restrictions on home purchases are working effectively.

Prices are rising the quickest in those provincial cities that haven’t yet caught the eye of central government officials whose focus has been trained on the most popular tier-one capitals.

When compared with a year-earlier, home price gains appear to be slowing. But that’s like looking through the rear-view mirror at a time when prices were surging across the board.

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