Growth in the cost of new housing in China slowed last month for the first time since prices exited contraction in 2015 as targeted purchasing curbs in top-tier property markets across the country appeared to finally be hitting home.

The average price for new residential housing across 70 major cities rose 12.4 per cent in December year on year, according to a weighted average from Reuters based data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics. While only a 0.2 percentage-point dip from November’s rate, the fall marks the first deceleration since March 2015.

The impact of purchasing curbs was more visible in short-term price trends as housing prices rose 0.3 per cent month on month in December, down from 0.6 per cent growth in November and far below September’s peak of 2.1 per cent.

In month-on-month terms prices rose in 46 out of 70 cities, were static in four and fell in 20, with nine additional cities recording price falls compared to a month earlier.

But the longer view on China’s property markets suggests significantly elevated prices remain the norm among the 70 cities surveyed by the statistics bureau: in year-on-year terms December saw prices rise in 65 cities and fall in five for the third month running.

That may be one reason why the statistics bureau, in a note released alongside the latest data, placed particular emphasis on the progress made in reining in monthly price growth in top-tier cities. New homes in Beijing, for example, actually fell 0.1 per cent month-on-month in December.

Unfortunately for house hunters in the capital, that still left prices more than 28 per cent higher than a year prior.

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