Home prices in nearly half of China's major cities fell in February from the year-ago period, as Beijing showed its determination to tame the property market.

Of the 70 large and mid-sized cities tracked by the central government, 27 saw new home prices fall year-on-year, compared with 15 cities in January, the country's National Bureau of Statistics said Sunday.

As the government reiterates its determination to keep rigorous property measures in place, property developers will offer greater discounts, Carlby Xie, head of research at the real estate consultancy Colliers International (Beijing), told China Daily, the country's official English-language newspaper.

The news came in the wake of Premier Wen Jiabao's warning last week that home prices remained far above reasonable levels and the government must persist with efforts to curb speculation or face the threat of a bursting property bubble.

If we relaxed, all we have achieved would be lost and it would cause chaos in the property market, which is bad for the long-term, healthy and stable development of the housing market, Wen said during his final press conference of China's parliamentary assembly, Reuters reported.

China Vanke Co. Ltd. (SHE:200002), the country's largest publicly traded real estate developer, said contracted sales in the first two months of 2012 fell 27 percent from a year earlier to 19.1 billion yuan ($3 billion). The company's stock lost 3 percent in value during the past week and closed at Hong Kong dollar 9.25 ($1.2) a share Monday.

Meanwhile, International Monetary Fund official Zhu Min said China will avoid an economic hard landing.

China's heading for a soft landing, Zhu said Sunday, as reported by Bloomberg from the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

The IMF expects China's gross domestic product to expand by 8.25 percent this year, compared with 9.25 percent in 2011.