Housing sales in Shanghai fell by nearly 50% in the first half of 2008, the South China Morning Post reported. Sales of new residential property fell to 5.27 million square meters, down from 10.43 million sqm in the same period last year. The decline drove residential property prices down 4.3% to RMB16,635 per sqm in the last week of June after hitting a record of RMB17,393 per sqm the previous week. Government policies to rein in growth and curb inflation dampened enthusiasm for property as banks raised interest rates and required higher initial deposits for buyers of second homes. Despite the decline, however, demand for high-end residential properties remained strong.