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Shanghai authorities said to discuss ways to cool property market

[SHANGHAI] Shanghai authorities held a meeting on Tuesday (March 8) to discuss measures to cool a surge in property prices after recent frenzied residential homebuying, according to people familiar with the matter.

The municipal government's National Development and Reform Commission held discussions with regional authorities from the People's Bank of China and the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter isn't public.

Possible measures weighed include tightening mortgage policies for second-home buyers who plan to purchase larger properties, the people said.

Residential home prices in first-tier cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen have surged amid central bank monetary stimulus and a relaxation of housing curbs intended to boost real estate investment. Prices in Shanghai, China's financial hub, jumped 18 per cent in January from a year earlier, according to official data.

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The city's real estate market has an "irrational" mood and should be more tightly controlled with a step-up in regulation, Shanghai's most-senior official said during annual legislative meetings in Beijing last week.

The local authorities on Tuesday also looked at increasing scrutiny of down-payment loans to prevent potential financial risks, said the people, without giving more details. Chinese regulators plan to bar lenders including developers, housing agencies, small-loan companies and peer-to-peer networks from offering loans for down-payments, people familiar with the matter said earlier this week.

Other options discussed at the Shanghai meeting include maintaining existing home-purchase limits, restricting the issuance of pre-sales licenses for high-end apartments, and adding to the supply of small and medium-sized properties during land-use planning.

New-home prices in Shanghai jumped 2.2 per cent in January from a month earlier, while existing home prices increased 2.7 per cent, the most since 2013, according to data from the statistics bureau.

The media office of Shanghai NDRC didn't immediately respond to calls and a fax seeking comment.

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