Beijing courtyard home goes for a record amid rising foreign interest

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2007, 12:00am

A renovated courtyard home in Beijing has sold for a record 110 million yuan amid a surge of foreign interest in the capital's historic homes.

The 3,028 square metre siheyuan in the Xicheng district went to a so far unidentified buyer for 36,324 yuan per square metre.

The property is on the shores of the Hou Hai, or Back Sea, in the scenic Shichahai lakeland area.

Courtyard homes - a collection of buildings, enclosed by a wall, and arranged around a square court - were popular with the nobility hundreds of years ago.

Many have been demolished and others redeveloped amid the capital's property boom.

Property agents believe only 3,000 traditional courtyard homes remain in the city.

Meggie Qin, head of research for North China at property agents CBRE, said prices varied widely. Those in Shichahai or near the Forbidden City were the most valuable because of their prime location and limited supply.

Yale Yeung, associate director of agent Century 21's mainland department, said courtyard homes around the West Sea and Back Sea were selling for 40,000 yuan per square metre.

'The sizes of most courtyard properties range between 300 and 500 square metres and most cost 30 million yuan to 50 million yuan,' he said. 'The supply of courtyard properties with more than 2,000 square metres of floor area is limited. That's why the buyer was willing to pay a record-high price.'

Agents say foreign buyers have been showing more interest in courtyard homes since the government presented the Property Law this year. The measure, which confers equal protection on public, private and collectively owned property, will become law on October 1.

A source at one international surveyors' firm said: 'Our investment department seldom handles the sales of courtyards, but this has changed recently. Many wealthy foreigners are looking for courtyard properties.'

One famous foreign owner is media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who paid 30 million yuan for a siheyuan in the Jingshan district in 2005. Among prominent Hongkongers with courtyard homes is National People's Congress deputy David Chu Yu-lin.