Residential Land Sales Temporarily Halted

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BEIJING, Mar. 24 – The Ministry of Land and Resources has announced a temporary ban on housing sales, renewing measures to cool soaring real estate prices.

“Residential land supply will increase and low-income housing projects will top local governments’ agendas,” Yun Xiaosu, vice minister of land and resources, said during a video-conference on Monday. He also said that local authorities should not sell land for residential purposes until this year’s housing land supply plan is released in early April.

Yun emphasized that the low-income houses and shanty units must be included in this year’s land supply plan and should account for more than 70 percent of the overall supply.

“The ministry encourages local governments in second and third tier cities to adopt new policies and measures to curb the escalating housing prices,” Yun said.

The Ministry of Land and Resources issued a directive on March 11 ordering developers to take a 50 percent down-payment on all land put up for auction within one month of signing the contract or face losing the land along with the deposit.

In his report to the National People’s Congress earlier this month, Premier Wen Jiabao said China will build three million housing units for low-income families and renovate 2.8 million shanty units with a total of US$9.25 billion allocated this year – a year on year increase of 15 percent.