BEIJING, Oct 15 (Reuters) - China's residential land price gains quickened for the first time in 1-1/2 years in the third quarter, the land ministry said on Thursday, adding to signs of recovery in the property market.
The average price of land for residential homes in 105 major cities rose 3.4 percent to 5,421 yuan ($854.58) per square metre in the July-September period compared with a year earlier, the China Land Surveying and Planning Institute, a research unit under the ministry, said in a report.
That compared with a 2.7 percent rise in the second quarter and marked the first quickening since the first quarter of 2014.
The faster growth pace, a prelude to rising home prices, adds to evidence that China's housing market has steadied this year after a slew of government measures to support the sector.
The data coincided with figures last month showing home prices rose for a fourth consecutive month in August as sales and market sentiment improved, a rare bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economic outlook.
Land prices for residential homes also rose 1.16 percent in the third quarter against the previous three months, quickening from 1.0 percent growth in the second quarter, the report said.
The amount of land made available in 105 major cities in the third quarter rose 2.4 percent from the same period last year, marking the first annual rise since the first quarter 2014.
China's housing market has gained some momentum in recent months after a year-long slump. But analysts do not expect a full-blown recovery any time soon, as a huge overhang of unsold homes discourages new construction and investment in all but the biggest cities.
$1 = 6.3435 yuan Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao and Nicholas Heath; Editing by Nick Macfie