Limit expected for HK homebuyers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2006, 12:00am

Beijing to set one-house rule, other cities tipped to follow

Beijing aims to limit Hong Kong and Taiwan residents as well as overseas Chinese to buying one home in the capital as part of rules targeting speculation, a newspaper reported.

However, authorities in Shanghai and Guangdong yesterday said they had yet to set specific policies.

The Beijing News quoted a directive from the capital's construction commission as saying residents of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and overseas Chinese could only purchase one flat or house intended for their own use, effective from Friday. The report could not be independently confirmed.

On Monday, six government bodies issued an 'opinion' on the management of foreign investment in property. Officials in mainland cities with large numbers of residents from Hong Kong and Taiwan appear to be interpreting the rules in different ways, given the vague wording.

'Residents of the Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan regions and overseas Chinese, due to the necessities of living, can buy commercialised housing of a certain area for their own habitation on the mainland,' the full text of the rules, carried by Xinhua, said in Chinese.

It gave no specific area or number of units.

A clause of the rules aimed at 'overseas' - sometimes translated as 'foreign' - individuals says only people working or studying on the mainland for more than a year can buy housing for their own use.

A spokeswoman for the Shanghai Housing and Land Administration said the city was still studying the rules, but one official said it would follow the principle of limiting individuals to buying housing for their own use.

'Central government policies also apply to people from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. Specific regulations, such as how many flats they can buy, haven't emerged. But it will be in line with the principle of personal living and personal use,' said a spokesman for the Shanghai Property Trading Centre, which registers transactions in the city.

'We are still researching the matter and won't disclose anything before we have a final plan,' said Du Ting , director of the property section of Guangdong's construction department.

The uncertainty is threatening to trigger a rush to buy housing in Guangdong.

'We are Chinese too, not foreigners,' said Hong Kong businessman Choi Hok-zhun. 'But if this news is true, I may have to buy another house before Guangzhou or Shenzhen launch similar measures.'

Additional reporting by staff reporters