A survey has been initiated by the State Administration for
Industry and Commerce (SAIC) in late December on foreign investment
in China's real estate sector, sparking fears of new curbs to bring
down the soaring housing prices.
An urgent notice was released by the SAIC's Registration of
Foreign Invested Enterprises on its official web site to local
branches, but no details were revealed.
Citing a well-informed source, the Shanghai Security
News reported Monday that the survey was planned last November
after the Ministry of Construction opened another research meeting
on the implementation of existing policies restricting foreign
investment into real estate market.
But sources with the SAIC's Shanghai and Beijing branches
maintained that the move was to collect and compile national
statistics for internal management.
The Registration of Foreign Invested Enterprises also declined
to disclose the purpose and development of the survey.
A package of policies were mapped out last year to
prevent the influx of foreign capital into the real estate market
including a directive on the attraction foreign investment in 2007
to strengthen the approval and supervision of direct foreign
investment in real estate property.
In July 2006, China took a major stride to regulate its real
estate market and stave off speculative investment by raising the
ratio of registered capital in property developers' overall
investment and restrictions on residential property purchases by
foreign institutions and individuals,
Only foreign institutions establishing branches or
representative offices in China and individuals working or studying
in China for more than one year can purchase apartments for their
Official figures from the National Bureau of Statistics however
unveiled a rapidly expanding inflow of overseas capital into the
sector shrouded by the risk of overheating.
Between January and November, real estate developing enterprises
used 53.9 billion U.S. dollars of foreign capital including those
from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao, a rise 71.9 percent from the same
period of last year. Over the same period, just over 3,204 billion
yuan (435.4 billion U.S. dollars) flowed into the property sector
from home and abroad, up 40.8 percent.
Industry insiders say that the governments may be making
preparations for making further policies.
Despite tighter monetary policy marked by rises in lending rates
six times last year amid efforts to curb investment growth and slow
the economy, the real estate climate index still rose slightly in
November to 106.59, up 0.85 points from October and up 2.67 points
from last November.
But the government's focus stays with affordable housing for
low-income households. In November, it urged local authorities to
reserve at least 70 percent of the land designated for residential
construction for low-rent units or smaller, cheaper homes.
The floor space of marketable, unsold buildings dropped 4.5
percent to 117.97 million square meters in November, which analyst
say could be the result of developers building more affordable
homes and fewer luxury properties.
(Xinhua News Agency January 8, 2008)