BEIJING, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Land prices in major Chinese cities continued to rise in the first quarter of 2012 but at a slower pace as the national economy headed for a soft landing and government restrictions hit the property market, the latest official figures show.
The average land price in 105 major Chinese cities monitored by the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) reached 3,057 yuan (486.8 U.S. dollars) per square meter in the first quarter, up 3.53 percent year on year and 0.26 percent higher than in the previous quarter, the MLR said in a statement Tuesday.
The increases were slower than the 5.94-percent year-on-year growth and 0.29-percent quarter-on-quarter rise registered in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Land for residential use was priced at an average of 4,516 yuan per square meter in the first quarter, down 0.04 percent from the previous quarter, marking the first such decline since the second quarter of 2009, according to the MLR.
In the first three months, land supplies for construction surged 33.6 percent year on year to 114,400 hectares, but that for property development slumped 18 percent year on year, the ministry said.
During that period, authorities uncovered 9,462 cases of illegal land use involving 3180.7 hectares of land, down 3.8 percent and 35 percent year on year, respectively.
China has seen its property market cool since authorities adopted tighter lending policies, imposed restrictions on home purchases and built low-income housing units.
In March, 46 of the statistical pool of 70 major cities saw drops in new home prices from February, while new home prices in 16 cities remained unchanged, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Affected by the property sector and weakened exports, the country's economy expanded 8.1 percent in the first quarter, the slowest pace in almost three years.