China property curbs may trigger short-term home buying rush

China property curbs may trigger short-term home buying rush

HONG KONG - China's property-related shares fell by the most in nearly five years on Monday on plans to tighten curbs on the housing market, though some economists predict a near-term spike in existing home prices, at least until local governments work out how to implement the changes.

The plans, announced by the cabinet late on Friday, include the stricter implementation of an existing 20 percent capital gains tax on home sales, strengthening restrictions on home buying and increasing loan rates for those buying a second home in cities where prices are rising too quickly.

"More detailed measures will be announced by related ministries including the People's Bank of China (central bank) and local governments, so markets should definitely take the edict seriously and be prepared for falling prices of related financial assets," Bank of America-Merrill Lynch's chief China economist Ting Lu wrote in a March 3 note.

Lu said there could be a rush to buy existing homes before local governments say how they will levy the capital gains tax, but the number of deals would then slump, hitting property agencies.

Stocks battered

A gauge of property-related stocks listed in Shanghai slumped 9.3 percent on Monday - its biggest drop since mid-June 2008.

The CSI300 index of leading Shanghai and Shenzhen stocks dived 4.6 percent, its steepest fall since November 2010. In offshore Chinese markets, China Resources Land slumped 8.6 percent, reversing gains so far this year, in its worst session for 17 months. The stock is now down 2.4 percent in 2013 after surging 69 percent last year. The broader Hang Seng Index is down 0.5 percent this year.

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