In Beijing

Crackdown on websites to cool housing market

BEIJING • Beijing ordered 15 online real estate portals to remove misleading information, false advertising and even advice on fengshui by yesterday as part of its campaign to cool a red-hot housing market.

Advertisements on the websites should not promise rising returns on Beijing real estate investment, Xinhua news agency reported, as the Chinese capital battles with soaring home prices and property speculators.

While flats in Beijing on average are still cheaper than homes in Tokyo or London, the authorities fear surging prices are increasing household debt, heightening banks' credit risks and fanning grassroots resentment as home affordability fades.

The targeted websites, which include popular real estate portals Lianjia and I Love My Home, should also not offer to help prospective buyers handle matters related to local "hukou" residence permits or school enrolment, Xinhua reported late on Tuesday.

They are not allowed to spread rumours or disseminate misleading information such as "limitless potential for price gains".

Content on fengshui or any form of financing advice is also forbidden.

The measures are the latest restrictions to help cool Beijing's fevered real estate sector.

In the middle of last month, the Beijing government raised the minimum down payment on a second home to 60 per cent, from 50 per cent.

On bigger homes, that minimum increased to 80 per cent from 70 per cent.

It also suspended issuing individual mortgage loans of more than 25 years, effectively forcing borrowers to take on more expensive, short-term loans.

Buying a third property has already been banned.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline 'Crackdown on websites to cool housing market'. Print Edition | Subscribe