Can foreigners buy apartments or houses in China?
Although China has opened its real-estate market to foreigners, not every foreigner is entitled to buy a house on the Chinese mainland; only those who have worked or studied in the country for more than one year are eligible.
Additionally, foreigners can only buy one residential property according to their needs, and are not allowed to buy commercial properties under their own names, unless they form a company for the purpose.
- The foreigner must have worked or studied in China for a minimum of one year before they can buy a residential house. This law does not apply to foreigners of Chinese heritage or Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau residents, who are automatically eligible.
- Branches or representative offices of foreign entities in China can only buy non-residential properties in the city where the business is registered.
- Foreigners must not have any other residential properties in China.
- The real estate developer must have the Housing Sales to Foreigners Certificate (an approval paper from the local housing authority). Without the paper, it is illegal for them to sell apartments and houses to foreigners, and so they will not be able to give you the property ownership certificate.
- Valid passport, visa or Residence Permit.
- Proof that they have worked or studied in China for over a year, such as a valid Residence Permit, or a visa with an exit and entry stamp.
- A written promise that the foreigner does not possess other housing property in China.
- Branches or representative offices of foreign entities in China need to present the business approval document and registration certificate created when the office was first set up in China, and – if relevant – a written promise that purchased housing property is necessary for the work being conducted in China.
Usually a broker or real-estate agency will help finish the paperwork needed to obtain the property ownership certificate for your house.
If you are not familiar with the Chinese real-estate trade, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer or ask a friend who has some experience to ensure that there is nothing in the contract to be wary of. Buyers are required to pay three percent stamp tax, two percent maintenance tax, and one-and-a-half percent contract tax.
For information on how to get a mortgage in China, see this article.