Enacted on March 1st, 2015, the “Interim Regulation on Real Estate Registration” published by the Sate Council aims to offer effective protection for real estate, and better maintain transaction security. Should a foreigner have the intention to purchase an apartment or invest in the real estate market in China, of what issues should they be aware?

According to the “Notice on Further Regulating Oversea Agency and Foreigners to Purchase Real Estate in China”, foreigners who have worked or studied in the territory for more than one year are permitted to buy commercial residential houses in China as a self-owned or self-occupied property. Foreign individuals are not permitted to purchase real estate for commercial or non-private use. Overseas agencies which do not have offices or representatives in China are also not permitted to buy commercial residencies or invest in the real estate market. That is to say, if a foreigner intends to purchase a house in china, they should conform to at least three conditions:

  • Have lived in China for more than one year; 
  • Have no other housing in China; 
  • Make solely private use of the property.

Procedures Foreigners Should follow When Buying Real Estate
Foreigners who wish to buy real estate should hold a valid certificate (passport, overseas individual residence status certificate, etc.) and go to the department of land and real estate to deal with the corresponding land use and property right registration. They may also wish to hire a real estate agent to assist in finishing the necessary procedures.

Investing in Real Estate Market in China
According to the “Opinion about Standard Real Estate Market Foreign Capital Admittance and Management”, if an overseas agency or individual wishes to acquire a house in China as an investment and/or use it as a non-private house, and the corresponding regulation on foreign investor real estate purchasing within, they should apply to establish a Foreign Investment Enterprise. At the same time, overseas investors need acquire the real estate enterprise through share transfer or other means of merger. They can alternatively buy the stock of a Chinese party in a joint venture. They would also need to make the necessary arrangements for employees, deal with any debt and pay the lamp sum. In addition, if the overseas investor has established a real estate enterprise, and the total amount of the investment is more than 10 million US dollars, the registered capital should be more than 50 percent of the invested sum.

In accordance with the “Opinion about Standard Real Estate Market Foreign Capital Admittance and Management”, a foreign-capital enterprise may purchase residential properties, and can furthermore rent out such property. It should pay the transaction fees, registration fees, drawings fees, deed tax and stamp duty. However, in light of the “Operating Rules on the People’s Bank of China on Foreign Direct Investment in RMB Settlement Business”, real estate enterprises with foreign investment shall not borrow capital in RMB from abroad.

It is also important to note that real estate ownership registration authorities employ only Chinese language documents to register property rights. In cases where foreigners submit documentation in an other language, they should lodge notarised translations in Chinese at the same time.


This article is intended solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Although the information in this article was obtained from reliable official sources, no guarantee is made with regard to its accuracy and completeness.