Real Estate

Four Shanghai districts have banned people from overseas from buying second homes within their jurisdictions.

The move precedes the issue of city government rules for overseas property investors, which are still under discussion.

District transaction centers in Pudong New Area and Jing'an, Xuhui and Baoshan districts have stopped accepting applications from foreigners and Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau residents who want to buy a house if they already own a home in the city, according to staff at the centers.

Transaction centers transfer the title deeds of property from owners to buyers.

Pudong New Area has also stopped transactions for overseas individuals and companies investing in office and retail property.

Pudong said its new policy came into effect in the middle of last month, while Xuhui said the rules were effective from yesterday. Jing'an and Baoshan said they halted the transactions on July 24 when the central government introduced guidelines to restrict property investment by foreigners.

Under the national framework policy set by six government bodies including the Ministry of Construction and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange in July, overseas individuals must live for at least one year on the mainland before they can buy a house. They must also promise that the house is for personal use.

Fang Lei, spokeswoman for the Shanghai Housing, Land and Resources Administration Bureau, said the government was still drawing up detailed rules, but declined to give a timetable for the issuance.

When issued, the rules will cover the whole city and district governments will be expected to fall in line.

Industry insiders said the central government's guidelines were difficult to implement because they were vague over the definition of "personal use."

"That's why some transaction centers have interpreted the general policy as barring foreigners from buying a second house," said an industry insider who preferred to remain anonymous. "Otherwise, it's too easy for buyers to claim that a second, third or even more purchases are all personal."

The central government introduced the July guidelines amid growing concern that the sudden influx of foreign investment would increase housing speculation. 

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