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POLITICAL ECONOMY
China home prices rise in April: survey
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) May 2, 2013


Sydney harbour home fetches record $54 million
Sydney (AFP) May 2, 2013 - A Sydney harbour-front mansion has sold to a Chinese-born businessman for $53 million dollars (US$54.3 million), setting a new property record for the city, reports said Thursday.

The eight-bedroom, seven-bathroom house "Altona" in prestigious Point Piper had been on the market for several years, having been bought in 2002 for Aus$28 million by a former publishing executive.

The Australian Financial Review and other media said it was purchased for the record price by Xiuzhen Ding, a Chinese-born businessman who lives in Melbourne.

The home boasts a series of terraces overlooking lawns and the harbour, with a heated pool, private jetty and sauna. The price beats the former Sydney record of Aus$45 million, set in nearby Vaucluse.

But it was short of the national residential property record of Aus$57.5 million paid by Mineral Resources founder Chris Ellison for his waterfront pile in Perth in 2009.

Chinese home prices picked up in April in their fifth consecutive monthly rise, an independent survey showed on Thursday.

The cost of a new home in 100 major cities rose 5.3 percent year-on-year to an average 10,098 yuan ($1,638) per square metre, said the China Index Academy.

Home prices increased 3.9 percent in March and 2.5 percent in February.

On a monthly basis, prices rose one percent in April from March, the group said in a statement, continuing a run of increases for the 11th month in a row.

"Looking ahead, cities where housing prices are rising quickly face the risk of even tighter regulatory policies," said the China Index Academy, which is owned by SouFun Holdings, China's largest real estate website operator.

Property prices are a sensitive issue in China and authorities have sought for the past three years to control their rise.

New rules issued in March to rein in prices included a capital gains tax of 20 percent on profits that owners earn from selling residential property.

Homeowners were previously taxed just one or two percent of the sale price.

Major Chinese cities, including the capital Beijing and commercial hub of Shanghai, have begun to announce detailed policies on how they plan to implement the central government's edict.

Chinese couples have flocked to divorce to evade the new tax, through a loophole which allows couples with two properties who separate and put each house into one person's name to then sell them tax-free in certain cases.

Other measures to contain prices have included restrictions on purchases of second and third homes, higher minimum down payments and taxes in some cities on multiple and non-locally owned homes.

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