Land sales in Chinese cities soared to a record high in the first three quarters of the year as the property market warmed up and the effect of government regulations faded away.
Data from the China Index Academy, a private database of the country's property market, showed land transfer fees in 300 major Chinese cities added up to 2.11 trillion yuan ($346 billion) by the end of September this year.
This was up 70 percent from the 1.23 trillion yuan recorded during the same period last year. At the same time, the total supply of land parcels increased 8.9 percent year-on-year to 1.18 billion square meters, including 430 million sq m for residential land.
"Land sales in major cities have registered a record high in the first three quarters of this year," said Xie Yifeng, head of the Asia-Pacific Urban Real Estate Association.
Xie said the thriving market was due to an increasing land supply, high premium prices for prime land parcels and a strong willingness and capital abundance among developers to acquire new land.
Shenzhen witnessed the fiercest land market rise by far this year, with its land sales income up by 475 percent from a year before, followed by Guangzhou, which saw an increase of 431 percent.
Among the top 10 cities with the highest land sales revenue in the first three quarters, six witnessed an increase of more than 100 percent compared with the same period last year.
Nationwide, Shanghai acquired the highest income from land sales in the first three quarters, with 156.8 billion yuan going into the pockets of local government.
According to the real estate service provider Century21, in September alone, Shanghai auctioned 18 commercial land parcels for 40.3 billion yuan, which registered a record high so far this year in terms of both area and revenue.
It was also the sixth straight month the city witnessed a monthly land sales income of more than 10 billion yuan.
The record level was largely because of deals over prime land in Shanghai's downtown Xujiahui area, which was purchased by Hong Kong developer Sun Hung Kai Properties for 21.77 billion yuan on Sept 5. It became the nation's most valuable plot since 2010.
Among the 18 auctions, eight land parcels were sold at a deal price twice or even higher compared with the trigger price, among which four were located in the Pudong area.
The 10 major property developers in China, including China Vanke Co and Evergrande Real Estate Group, have paid a total of 244.7 billion yuan at land auctions so far this year - 50 percent more than the same period last year and 11 percent more than the whole of last year.
But experts also warned such surging land prices may not be sustainable.
Huang Yu, deputy head of the China Index Academy, said policies would be more prudent in the fourth quarter, with property tax and land reform likely to be enacted.
Meanwhile, because the central government is calling for controls on prime land, there will be fluctuations in land prices in the last quarter of this year, he said.