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BEIJING: China's new home prices barely rose in October, weighed down by weak demand in major cities amid stringent policies affecting borrowers and tight credit, a private survey showed on Monday.

New home prices in 100 cities rose 0.09% month-on-month, slowing from September's 0.14% increase, according to data from China Index Academy, one of the country's largest independent real estate research firms.

That was the slowest pace of growth since February 2020 at the height of China's COVID-19 crisis.

Prices of resale homes fell 0.04% in October from a month earlier, the first decline since June 2020, due partly to government guidance limiting resale prices imposed in some cities including the southern tech hub of Shenzhen.

"The market has cooled notably since the third quarter of the year due to the tight credit environment and tightening of policies," said the academy's research director Cao Jingjing.

"In October, home buyers were in a wait-and-see mood."

Some cities have taken steps to support developers and their projects as the deepening debt crisis at property giant China Evergrande Group rocked sentiment in the sector.

The northeastern city of Harbin said last month that developers should get back part of their pre-sale funds held in government escrow accounts as quickly as possible to relieve pressure on their cash flows.

Broader concerns about China's real estate sector, which accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product when related industries are included, loom large for investors and Chinese policymakers.

Representatives from 10 Chinese property companies had met government regulators to ask for an "appropriate loosening" of policy restrictions, local media reported on Oct. 15.

In October, new home prices grew the slowest in the biggest cities, with the first monthly decline seen in Shanghai since February this year, while Shenzhen prices fell for a second consecutive month.

"Expectations of easing credit policies have increased," said Cao.

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