(Corrects milestone in the first paragraph to say Nov 2016 property sales growth was lowest since November 2015 not December)
BEIJING, Dec 13 (Reuters) - China's property sales growth slowed sharply to 7.9 percent in November from a year ago, its lowest since November 2015, and and well short of 26.4 percent increase in October.
Meanwhile, real estate investment rose 6.5 percent over January to November from the same period a year earlier, and property sales area increased 24.3 percent, official data showed on Tuesday.
Investment growth, reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), also slowed slightly from an increase of 6.6 percent in January to October, as house prices and sales have shown signs of cooling in recent months.
That is in stark contrast to a robust recovery in home prices and sales that supported the economy in the first three quarters of the year, thanks to a flurry of government stimulus measures.
Nonetheless, in recent months policymakers have begun to worry about an overheating property market and the risk of a sudden and sharp price fall damaging the economy.
Regulators have told banks to strengthen risk management around property loans. More restrictions on home purchases have been implemented to curb soaring prices, helping to slow down property investment.
Real estate investment, which directly affects about 40 other business sectors in China, is considered to be a crucial driver for the economy, which last year saw its slowest growth in a quarter of a century.
National Statistics Bureau spokesperson Mao Shengyong said in November that property investment would accelerate or remain at current levels for the rest of the year, due to a low-base effect.
The outlook for China's residential property market in 2017 is stable, Moody's Investors Service said in a report issued late November. (Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Eric Meijer)