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MLR vows no decrease in residential land supply

By Zhao Qian (Global Times)

08:12, January 14, 2013

The Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) said Saturday that the aggregate land supply for commercial residence use this year will not decrease from the average annual amount for the past five years, a decision intended to keep the property market running stably.

The MLR will adjust the land supply plan according to the property market's performance this year, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

"The supply of land plots for commercial residences is limited, especially in first- and second-tier cities, as demand for apartments is huge and urbanization will be an unavoidable trend in the coming years," Fan Xiaochong, vice president of Sunshine 100 Real Estate Group, told the Global Times.

The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China set a goal of improving the quality of urbanization in China by 2020.

Fan noted that it is taking time for the central government to resolve the problem of limited land supply, as "China's land policies are too complicated."

In the downtown areas of major cities, where nearly no undeveloped land plots are available for new apartment construction, "it always takes a long time and costs a lot of money for local governments and developers to demolish old apartments," Fan said.

Local governments need to strictly supervise real estate developers who have already bought land plots, and require them to develop promptly and legally, the ministry said in the statement.

Tracts that remain undeveloped for more than one year will be repossessed by the government without compensation and reassigned for other uses, the MLR said in a regulation on land hoarding in June 2012.

But Li Zhanjun, a director at E-house China R&D Institute, told the Global Times that "more than half of land-hoarding cases have been caused by local governments modifying construction plans, while irregular behavior by developers account for less than half."

Total land sales contracts nationwide last year amounted to 2.69 trillion yuan ($432.8 billion), lower than 3.15 trillion yuan in the previous year, and the average price for residential-use land saw a 2.3 percent increase in 2012 year-on-year, 4.1 percentage points slower than in 2011, according to the MLR.

Fan said that developers will be more enthusiastic about purchasing land this year, as signs showed property beginning to recover slightly in the fourth quarter of last year.

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