Trade & Investment

Restrictions on home purchases by expats eased in China

Updated: 2015-08-28
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Restrictions on property purchases by overseas institutions and individuals have been eased, according to a statement on the Ministry of Commerce's website.

Overseas institutions with branches and representative offices in China, and individuals working or studying in the country can now buy property for their own use in line with their practical needs, it says.

Previously, would-be buyers had to be in the country for at least a year to qualify.

However, home purchase restrictions currently in place in some cities, including Shanghai, on the number of apartments they can buy will apply to overseas individuals, the statement said.

"We don't expect such an adjustment in policy to leave any major impact on the country's real estate market for basically two reasons," said Joe Zhou, head of research for China operation at Jones Lang LaSalle, an international real estate services provider.

"On one hand, overseas buyers account for a really small proportion in the country's property sales market and on the other hand, real estate prices in China have simply soared over the past decade, which has made properties here not attractive to overseas buyers any more."

In Shanghai, for example, the average cost of a new apartment had risen to 3.24 million (US$506,000) last year from 1.33 million yuan in 2007, according Shanghai Homelink Real Estate Agency Co figures.

Chester Zhang, associate director at Savills China Research, said: "It is of course kind of positive news for overseas institutions and buyers. However, no big impact should be anticipated because neither overseas institutions nor individuals play an important role in real estate investment."
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