BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- China will strictly implement and improve housing market tightening measures and ensure that the policies remain steady, the State Council said Wednesday at the last executive meeting of the incumbent government.
The cabinet asked cities that have imposed restrictions on the housing market to maintain their grip, while other cities in which home prices have soared too fast will be asked by related provincial governments to introduce timely curbing measures, according to a statement released after the meeting, which was chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.
The cabinet noted that tension between housing supplies and demand in some major cities is not likely to change in the short-term.
China's urban population outnumbered that of rural areas at the end of last year, an increase that is expected to give momentum to urban property markets as new settlers seek housing in cities.
With this expectation, houses in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai have become a popular investment choice for the country's wealthy, further squeezing already tight supplies.
Wednesday's statement said China must continue to curb speculation in the housing market and expand experimental property tax reforms in Shanghai and Chongqing to more regions.
The housing market experienced a short cooling-off period starting in 2010, when tightening policies like higher down payments and restrictions on third-home purchases were introduced.
But the market began to heat up last year after the central government put more emphasis on economic growth.
In December 2012, 54 cities out of a statistical pool of 70 major Chinese cities, up from 53 in November, recorded higher new home prices than in a month earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This marked the third consecutive month of such increases.
In an effort to guide market expectations, the State Council also pledged Wednesday to ensure land supplies for housing projects this year.
In principle, land supplies for home construction should not be lower than the average for the past five years, said the State Council.
Meanwhile, the government will also accelerate construction on government-subsidized housing. The government aims to finish construction on 4.7 million affordable housing units and start construction on another 6.3 million units.
By the end of this year, migrant workers should be included in the housing programs of the cities where they work, the statement said.