China Construction Bank (CCB; 601939.SH, 0939.HK) and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC; 601398.SH, 1398.HK) have granted some of their branches discretion to raise minimum down payments and mortgage rates for first-time home buyers in areas where home prices have surged, the Wall Street Journal reported. In Zhejiang province, CCB branches have raised the minimum down-payment to 40% from the required 30% minimum, and have raised mortgage rates to 1.1 times the benchmark lending rate for first-time home buyers. The bank’s branches in Shenzhen have also raised rates. ICBC has also increased down-payment ratios in Hangzhou, Zhejiang’s provincial capital, but it is not clear whether rates have been hiked elsewhere in the province. Home prices in Hangzhou surged 47% year-on-year in 2010, the fastest rate in China, ahead of Chongqing and Beijing, which saw 2010 housing prices increase by 37.9% and 37.1%, respectively. The news indicates banks are increasingly concerned about a potential real estate bubble. The China Banking Regulatory Commission announced last week that it hasn’t changed its policy on a minimum down-payment of 30% for first-time home buyers and 60% for second-home purchases.