China eases rules on foreigners buying homes

BEIJING • China loosened restrictions on foreign investment in real estate after the yuan's depreciation reduced the appeal of Chinese property assets.

Overseas companies' Chinese units and foreign nationals working and living in China can buy properties for their own use that meet "real needs", the Chinese authorities said in a statement.

Requirements that foreign investors should have paid their registered capital in full before taking local loans have been removed, according to the statement, dated Aug 19.

The move came as China's first major devaluation since 1994 this month made inbound investments, already dampened by high property prices and a weakening growth outlook, "worthy of a careful pause", according to realtor Jones Lang LaSalle.

The revisions to restrictions introduced in 2006 aim to ensure "stable and healthy" growth of the property market, said the statement from the central bank.

The 2006 rule banned foreign citizens living and working in China for less than a year from buying a home in the country, among other restrictions.

Non-Chinese home buyers accounted for 0.5 per cent of existing-home transactions in Shanghai last year, according to Centaline.

The growth in China's property development investment slumped by almost 10 percentage points from a year earlier to 4.3 per cent in the first seven months of this year.

This situation came as developers' confidence sagged, putting pressure on an economy that was already slowing.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2015, with the headline 'China eases rules on foreigners buying homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe