Latest Beijing housing rules to target single buyers as crackdown on fraudulent divorce

By Wang Xinyuan Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-20 23:13:01

A local follow-up measure to rein in frenzied property prices may target single and divorced citizens in Beijing as local authorities attempt to crack down on couples buying second homes through false divorce, the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported Wednesday citing insiders.

Beijing housing authorities, including the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, have drafted details on the implementation of the central government's recent new rules, which have attracted the most attention for their 20 percent tax on capital gains from home sales.

According to one of Beijing's new rules, the tax rate will vary based on how long a property is held, and sellers will be subject to lower tax rates if they own their houses for longer than five years before selling them.

The draft rules will ban single and divorced citizens from buying second homes, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified Beijing housing official.

Some couples have deliberately divorced in order to act as separate owners, allowing them to buy a second home without having to adhere to tough rules such as higher mortgage rates and down payment requirements, the official said. 

The drafts have not set stricter measures for non-Beijing citizens "as the existing policy is already very tough on them," the official was quoted as saying.

Non-Beijing citizens are not qualified to buy property in Beijing unless they have paid taxes and social security charges to the city for five consecutive years, according to the current policy.

In early March, the State Council issued new measures including a 20 percent capital gains tax on existing home sales in order to fight speculative investment on existing houses against the backdrop of strong housing price rebounds in major cities. 

"The detailed rules have not yet been announced," a government employee who did not give his name at the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development told the Global Times Wednesday.

Record-high housing prices in major cities, and especially in Beijing, have touched a nerve for many who are unlikely to be able to afford an apartment in their lifetimes, which has let to intensified pressure on China's newly elected government to rein in property prices.

The average price of properties in the Wudao­kou neighborhood of Beijing, which is located near top universities and some first-rate primary schools, has reportedly soared to 100,000 yuan ($15,873) per square meter, which is more than 20 times the price a decade ago and three times the annual disposable income per capita in Beijing in 2012.

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