Is property purchase a good idea for expats in China

Published:  21 Oct at 6 PM
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Although apartments in China’s main cities are becoming more expensive, some expats are taking a chance on capital gains by purchasing now.

The Chinese government has recently eased laws governing expat property purchase, encouraging more long-stay expats to take the plunge and buy a home. Although owning an apartment gives a feeling of security, the first rule of property choice and purchase – position, position, position - still applies.

One couple who’ve been living in Beijing for a while began flat-hunting in 2014, choosing two districts, Daxing and Tongzhou, as they were more affordable. Finally, they selected and bought an apartment close by the Grand Canal in the Jingmao International Community.

Two reasons persuaded them to go slightly upscale in their purchase, with the first the construction of Subway Line 6 and the second the nearby safe local play zones for children. Luck was with them, as Beijing’s new municipal government buildings were built in the locality, new subway lines were installed and other major developments took place, all driving property prices through the roof.

Expats in general are reluctant to commit to buying property in China due to its basically unstable real estate market. One American expat who’d lived in China for the last nine years, took the plunge and bought an apartment earlier this year. The property was undervalued, and he and his Chinese wife were committed to staying in the country for five years more. In the several months since their purchase, the value of the apartment has risen by 10 per cent.

Others are worried about construction quality in new-build apartment blocks, and are reluctant to commit for that reason as well as for the fact that buyers’ legal protection is weak, to put it mildly. The Chinese government seems quite keen to have foreigners purchase homes in the country, with some former policies now being loosened to allow expat purchases.
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