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NBS may collect house prices from online database

09-26-2010 08:55 BJT

By Zhao Qian

Following a national uproar over questionable home pricing data earlier this year, the government's official number crunchers appear to be turning over a new leaf by proposing revisions to the methodology used to collect housing price information.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) became the focus of intense public criticism back in March when they announced that average home prices increased a paltry 1.5 percent year on year in 2009 across 70 unidentified cities. Members of the public and media questioned the accuracy of the data, asserting the home price data did not reflect real market conditions. Others poked fun at the bureau, suggesting officials had misplaced a decimal point.

But analysts Saturday said the statistics bureau's draft proposal was a "quantum improvement" over its previous calculation methods.

Future price data will come from an online real-estate industry database rather than from figures submitted by developers "who may possibly conceal real prices," Ye Qing, a professor at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law told the Global Times.

"It is the first time for the NBS to survey the prices of existing properties and that is a huge improvement," Ye added.

The new plan will collect home transaction prices directly from real estate exchange databases for 35 large and medium-size cities. Since the other 35 cities used in data compilation do not have a centralized real estate database, home sales data will come from developers.

Previously the statistics bureau's data was dependent solely on developers' reporting of transaction prices.

One industry watcher suggested the real estate industry should be given access to all the data.

"If we could gain access to comprehensive nationwide data, that currently only the NBS gets, we would analyze the data using our own methodology," Liu Yuan, a senior research manager with Centaline China Real Estate told the Global Times Saturday. "Then the NBS data would be much more helpful for the real estate sector."

But the NBS may be hesitant to share that, Liu said, since the public may further question their calculations - something the bureau does not want.

The statistics bureau is promising future statistical sampling will be more accurate, with commercial residences and affordable housing to be listed separately.

For the next four days the statistics bureau is soliciting public comments to the proposal on its website.

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: Global Times

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