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Easier to buy Beijing house

RESTRICTIONS on foreigners buying real estate in Beijing have been called off after the city introduced a slew of measures on Friday to revitalize the sluggish property market.

The residency requirement and house type limits for expatriates buying homes in Beijing were suspended throughout 2009, following advice given to nine municipal departments - including the municipal construction committee, development and reform commission and Beijing's finance bureau.

In its bid to curb an overheated property market, the Beijing municipal government issued regulations in 2007 stipulating that only expatriates who had lived in Beijing for more than one year and who could provide details proving they would be the primary inhabitants could buy one house.

"House prices had skyrocketed at the time and the government wanted to curb foreign capital from driving up property prices," said Li Wenjie, general manager of real estate agency Centaline China's North China Branch.

Foreign purchases accounted for seven to eight percent of all real estate transactions in Beijing before the regulation took effect.

After that, purchases dropped to 0.5 percent, he said.

Purchases of floor space in commercial residential buildings fell 40 percent in 2008 from the previous year and property price growth rate in 2008 dropped 1.9 percent compared to 2007.

After China's State Council unveiled a real estate stimulus package in November, including tax and interest rate cuts to boost home purchases, the market showed signs of warming up.


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