(Yicai Global) Sept. 15 -- Suzhou, a Chinese city near Shanghai, is now allowing people who are not registered residents in the municipality to buy property without any restrictions, in the latest relaxation of curbs to boost a sluggish real estate market, local real estate agents told Yicai Global.
Real estate agents are now able to sell property to people who are non-resident in Suzhou as long as it is their first home in the city, a local real estate agent said, adding that there has not been an official government announcement yet.
Buyers are no longer required to settle in the city and they can purchase property in any part of Suzhou, the real estate agent added.
People who are not registered residents of the city can buy one home here without restriction, and his ownership of properties outside the city will not be a burden for him to seek a favorable mortgage rate here, staff at the Real Estate Market and Transaction Management Center of Suzhou High-tech Zone confirmed.
In the old days, any non-registered local resident who plans to buy property in Suzhou must have a record of paying income taxes or making social security payments to the city for several years, and their ownership of properties outside the city may prevent them from getting an optimal mortgage rate.
Suzhou has been lifting real estate curbs in the past five months, which were previously introduced to curb speculation. For instance, non-residents used to be required to have made two years’ worth of social security contributions before they could apply to buy property. This was then reduced to six months and now has been completely waived.
“The gradual relaxations in restrictions have boosted property viewing, but the actual transaction amount has not improved much,” said Yu Xiaoyu, research director at Yihan Consulting. The new relaxation is not expected to attract outside new buyers who make the purchase solely on investment, since the government policies still discourage speculation in the real estate market.
Despite the lifting of the curbs, Suzhou’s property market remains sluggish. Over the recent three-day Mid-Autumn Festival public holiday, sales of new houses tumbled over 25 percent from the same period last year to around 10,000 square meters, according to data from the China Index Academy.
Although the local market experienced signs of recovery in June, sales fell again in July and August and prices are also on the wane, according to CRIC China. The average transaction price of new houses in Suzhou was around CNY24,600 (USD3,532) a square meter in August, a decrease of 6 percent from both a year and a month earlier.
September and October are peak months for property sales and many new housing projects in Suzhou are lowering their prices. The price of pre-owned houses has also fallen, Yicai Learned.
Editor: Kim Taylor