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China Likely to Raise Mortgage Deposits to Curb House Price Hiking

The central bank is likely to order commercial banks to raise mortgage deposits to at least 40 percent for homebuyers who intend to buy a second apartment.

Homebuyers will have to make a down payment of 40 percent to buy a second apartment, and for apartments for commercial use, the down payment will be raised to as high as 50 percent, Wednesday's China Daily reported.

The minimum deposit for an apartment of more than 90 square meters is currently 30 percent, while for apartments less than 90 square meters it's 20 percent.

The central bank is also expected to increase the interest rate of mortgage loans to 1.1 times the benchmark one-year lending rate this week, the report said.

The move is an attempt to curb the rise in house prices and speculation in the property market.

The current five-year lending rate has reached 7.83 percent after the central bank raised the interest rate for the fifth time this year on September 13.

This means the interest rate for five-year mortgage loans could reach as high as 8.613 percent if the central bank makes a move this week.

"With the expansion of mortgage loans, and as the central bank continuously raises interest rates, mortgage loans are beginning to face a high risk of default," China Construction Bank (CCB), the lender with the highest mortgage loans in China, was quoted as saying.

Total non-performing mortgage loans in three major commercial banks - CCB, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Bank of China - rose to 19.2 billion yuan (US$2.55 billion) at the end of 2006 from 18.4 billion yuan in 2005, according to CCB.

The central bank will also require commercial banks to stop lending to property developers who hoard land and house for speculation purposes, according to the source.

Property prices in 70 major cities jumped 8.2 percent in August from a year earlier after gaining 7.5 percent in July, according to figures from the National Development and Reform Commission.

Housing prices in Beijing rose 12.1 percent from a year earlier, while prices in Shenzhen went up 20.8 percent.

(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2007)

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