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Beijing lifts restrictions on foreign home buyers

Hu Yongqi
Updated: Feb 17,2016 7:59 AM     China Daily

Overseas Chinese can also buy apartments as long as they work, study or live in the capital

Foreigners with work permits who have no property in Beijing can now buy one residential apartment without having to work in the city for a minimum period, local authorities have said.

Before the new regulation, foreigners were required to work for at least one year in the capital before they became eligible to buy an apartment there, as part of efforts mirrored in four other Chinese cities that restrict non-residents buying property in order to curb rising house prices.

The Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said over the weekend that foreigners working in the capital can buy property and branches of foreign companies can purchase non-residential properties to be used as offices. The new regulation took effect on Feb 4.

Early this month, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and five other ministries jointly promulgated a new regulation to overhaul the access foreign capital has to the Chinese housing market. As the regulation took effect, Beijing lifted the threshold.

Liu Siwei, a researcher at the Beijing Real Estate Research Institute, said the new policy meets the demand for residential use as the city aims to become a center for international exchange.

“This can also be regarded as progress in opening-up and attracting foreign talent, as many major economies around the world don’t levy restrictions on foreigners buying houses,” said Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization.

Some more new policies concerning permanent residence for foreigners will be announced on Feb 18 by the Ministry of Public Security, Wang said.

He added that the ministry will establish a service center later this month in Zhongguancun, a renowned high-tech hub in Beijing, to serve foreigners who want to apply for permanent residence.

In addition, people from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as well as overseas Chinese can now buy apartments in the capital as long as they work, study or live in the city.

Wang said overseas Chinese get more privileges when buying property or applying for permanent residence in Beijing, considering their needs in coming back to China to study, work and visit families.

Since China’s reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, more than 10 million Chinese moved to other countries, according to Wang. “Beijing endows more favorable policies to overseas Chinese than foreigners, giving greater importance to overseas Chinese. If it works well, Beijing may give foreigners further access to the local housing market,” he said.

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