Real estate slide

China's housing prices are falling, fast and far, after many months of increases that built what many believed to be a dangerous real-estate bubble.

The question now is what these continuing declines in property prices mean for the state of the overall economy and just how long they will continue. Many landlords in Beijing at least seem to have tempered their greed somewhat, scaling back requests for massive rent increases in the new year.

Chinese business media is reporting that property prices in major cities around the country have fallen for the fourth straight month, with declining prices for both homes and in the retail sector. The government has said it plans to move forward with measures to control pricing at both the national and local levels, with an eye toward reasonable rates that will allow more Chinese to buy homes.

Before the declines, property prices had risen across the country by more than 30 percent last year, according to several estimates.