Guangzhou has unveiled a new policy banning foreigners, and people from Hong Kong and Macau from investing in retail properties in the city, the latest move to tighten controls on its red-hot property market.
The policy, which took effect on March 1, came as sales of shops in Guangzhou surged in the fourth quarter, with investors shifting their focus to commercial property after they were banned from speculating on the residential market, said Ellis Wong, managing director of Centaline Property Agency's local office.
According to data compiled by the real estate firm, sales of shops in Guangzhou's secondary market increased in the second half of 2011.
In the third quarter, sales volume jumped 53.6 per cent to 110,700 square metres from 71,600 square metres in the second quarter and rose another 44 per cent to 159,500 sq metres in the fourth quarter.
A strong economy and robust retail sales in the city have encouraged investment.
Shrugging off the global downturn, Guangzhou's gross domestic product increased by 11 per cent year on year to reach 891.9 billion yuan (HK$1.095 trillion) in the first three quarters of 2011, powered by strong consumption and investment.
In the first 11 months of last year, increasing consumer confidence and tourist consumption boosted the city's total retail sales by 17.3 per cent year on year to 474.7 billion yuan, according to property firm DTZ.
Wong said the new policy would not have a significant impact on the overall market because foreign investors, mainly from Hong Kong, accounted for just 15 per cent to 20 per cent of shop acquisitions in the city.
However, it meant that foreigners' investment channels were further limited, said Liu Zhizhong of Midland Realty.
Liu said foreign individual investors, including those from Hong Kong and Macau, were banned from investing in residential and office sectors last year, and now they were barred from venturing into the retail property market.
The mainland government has launched a series of measures to cool a runaway property market, although some municipal governments have quietly tried to unwind some measures as their revenue streams rely heavily on property sales.
Premier Wen Jiabao this week reaffirmed the central government's determination to continue implementing measures to push home prices back to a reasonable level.
Investment in commercial real estate is forecast to top this amount in 2012, from 740 billion yuan last year