Beijing to launch lottery for prized school spots as home prices go through the roof

Authorities try to counter sky-high real estate prices in select districts driven by parents trying to get their children into top classes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2017, 8:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2017, 9:29am

Beijing will introduce a lottery to allocate some primary school places in a bid to rein in rising ­prices for homes near coveted academic ­institutions, according to Chinese media.

Most pupils in the capital are assigned to a school within their neighbourhood, and many parents have spent millions of yuan to buy a home in areas with elite schools, in the hopes the purchase will lead to a prized spot, driving up property prices.

The new measure was aimed at “lowering parents’ expectation that buying a property will lead to enrolment in a certain primary school to avoid excessive speculation on school district properties,” Beijing Youth Daily reported on Sunday, quoting an unidentified official with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education.

It was not immediately clear how many schools would be affected as the authorities have not released an official update to enrolment policy.

Liu Yilian, a Dongcheng district real estate agent, said property prices in residential areas with top primary schools had risen from an average of 130,000 yuan (HK$146,760) to 150,000 yuan per square metre.

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Average prices in the Beijing secondary market had risen from 57,597 yuan to 61,326 yuan per square metre, according to online property site Anjuke.com.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy dean of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, blamed poor distribution of educational resources for fostering speculation.

“The government needs to balance education resources and better plan government funding among different districts and between schools in the same district to ensure schools are equally developed,” Xiong said.

The move is among the latest measures by authorities to curb rising property prices.

On Friday, Beijing moved to crack down on disingenuous divorces as a way to skirt restrictions on second-home purchases.

On Sunday, authorities banned the sale of flats converted from commercial or office space – known as “lofts” or “hotel apartments”– to individual buyers.

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Between March 13-19, some 1,306 units of newly converted flats were sold in Beijing , up 57 per cent over the same period a month ago, according to Centaline Property.

“If there is any doubt about the seriousness of the Beijing’s ­government’s home market controls, after Sunday it should stop,” said Yan Yuejin, a research director at the E-house China R&D ­Institute.

Si Zhi, vice-president of Soufun Holding, which runs a property listing portal, said the policy was a heavy blow to some real ­estate developers.

“A lot of apartment sellers began to withdraw their offers. We saw large quantities of delistings this morning,” Si said.