BEIJING, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- The growth of China's real estate investment continued to slow in July, latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Wednesday.
The NBS said property investment rose 13.7 percent year on year in the first seven months to 5.04 trillion yuan (819 billion U.S. dollars), 0.4 percentage point down from the first half of the year and 1 percentage point down from the January-May period.
The investment for residential property, which accounted for 68.2 percent of the total, rose 13.3 percent year on year, compared with a 13.7-percent growth rate for the first six months of 2014.
The slower growth accompanied a faster decline in area and volume of property sales.
The total area of property sales dropped 7.6 percent year on year in the first seven months to 564.8 million square meters. The drop was 1.6 percentage points steeper than the decline seen in the first half of the year.
Property sales volume was down by 8.2 percent year on year during this period, compared with a drop of 6.7 percent in the January-June, according to the NBS.
The property development climate index compiled by the NBS fell slightly by 0.02 point from June to 94.82 points in July.
China's property sector has been cooling since the beginning of the year, with the growth of key indicators such as property investment slowing for six months straight.
Over the past few months, an increasing number of cities saw a drop in house prices, in part due to policy easing on purchasing rules such as a ban on second or third homes, or higher minimum down-payment.
New house prices in 55 of an official sample of 70 major cities dropped month on month in June, compared with 35 in May. New house prices fell in first-tier cities Shanghai, Guangzhou and Tianjin, but not in Beijing. However, used house sales declined in all four cities.
Latest data from the Chinese real estate agency Centaline showed 37 of 46 cities that previously imposed market control measures have lifted or eased the rules.
Many experts have ruled out the possibility of a "hard landing" for China's property sector. Instead of introducing aggressive easing measures, the government is more likely to rely on fine-tuning to put the sector back on track, they said.
The current market slowdown provides an opportunity for the government to accelerate property market reforms, Zhu Zhongyi, vice president of the China Real Estate Industry Association, said at the Boao Real Estate Forum in south China's Hainan Province last week.
As banks become more lenient on issuing loans amid sufficient credit supply, the property sector is likely to recover further in the fourth quarter, especially for second-tier cities where inventories are not too high, according to Zhang Hongwei with real estate consulting firm Tospur.