There's more evidence of a turning point in China's property sector. But developers won't rush to start new projects just yet.
June's property data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows prices rising 0.02% month-over-month, the first increase since September 2011.
That jibes with numbers from private property agency Soufun, which also showed a turnaround in prices in June. It reflects a creeping increase in sales, which have been improving steadily since February.
In 2009, the last time a slowdown in overall economic growth forced the government to abandon its controls on real estate, the turnaround in property prices triggered a rapid rebound in investment by developers keen to cash in.
This time it might take a little longer.
For starters, inventory levels are high. Property already under construction is equal to 3.7 times total sales in 2011. Developers will want to clear some of that overhang before breaking ground on new projects.
Also, though policy controls are not as restrictive as they were at the start of the year, the government is not about to allow another binge of speculative purchases. Earlier this month, Premier Wen Jiabao was promising 'unflinching' and 'long-term' controls on speculators.
Finally, there has been no surge in new loans like the one that funded the rapid turnaround in investment in 2009. In the first half of that year, new loans tripled on-year. In the first half of 2012, they grew only 16%.
Rising sales and prices will put a floor under falling investment, so China's property sector should not be a drag on growth in the second half. But it won't be a major boost to the economy either.