China is trying new ways of skimming housing-market froth

PAN JINGYUAN has little time for traditional family values. The 26-year-old says she has no intention of ever getting married and loves living far from her parents. But Ms Pan is traditional in one way—she sees a home as the best investment for her savings. She plans to buy a small flat in the southern city of Shenzhen, where she works at the headquarters of a restaurant chain. “There is no way the government would ever let prices really fall,” she says.

Such confidence has long been rewarded. Property prices in cities have roughly quadrupled this century, a rate of growth far exceeding that of the American housing bubble of the early 2000s, albeit from a lower base. This has led to a series of concerns: that homes are increasingly unaffordable, that the economy is too reliant on property and that housing prices, having gone up and up, might someday crash.

The government has, until now, tried to reduce the risk by periodically applying brakes on the market. Whenever real estate…Continue reading

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