Buying a Home in China

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Buying a private residence in China can be complex, but with the assistance of Maxxelli, very possible. The following are a list of rough guidelines to buying property in China, but may be subject to change. For up to the minute information on buying a property it is advisable to consult an agent or law firm.

Foreign nationals are generally restricted to buying one property for their personal use, although business organizations may purchase more for the use of their employees. These properties can be anywhere in the municipality apart from areas classified as “sensitive” by the government. And you should check that the developer or seller has been given clearance to sell to foreign nationals. You should also check that your agent has conducted thorough checks on the seller, including, in the case of developers, their registered capital and commercial credit.

Each property should generally have five certificates: a certificate for the use of state-owned permit, a project planning permit, and a permit for the advance sale of the property. Contracts are generally standard, but should still be checked thoroughly. Some points to double check include:

  • The hand-over date
  • What responsibilities fall to the developers in the case of late delivery of a property
  • Special stipulations regarding any changes to the standard property layout
  • Quality guarantees
  • Provision of utilities and broadband

When buying the property, the funds must first be converted into RMB. Foreign currencies cannot be used, even by transferring from the buyer’s foreign exchange account. If the deal cannot be completed, the funds can be converted into a different currency and remitted to a foreign exchange account or overseas account.


Obtaining a mortgage can be difficult for foreign nationals in China. Banks tend to have their own individual regulations, so it is worth shopping around. Normally you will have to provide a revenue certificate, education certificate, credit certificate and a local guarantor.

It is worth pressing the developer for a payment by installments methods of purchase, with the final payment made upon delivery of the property. The money can also be entrusted to a third party such as a law firm to avoid any “misunderstandings” with the developers.

When the property is ready for the handover, you should first inspect it thoroughly, and maybe bring in some experts recommended by your agent to check the quality. The developer should give you a “letter of guarantee,” and you will have to sign to confirm you have received the keys and a “letter of handover.” However, make sure that you are satisfied with the property before signing these last two documents. If you are not satisfied, you should raise any concerns with the developers and ask for a response in writing to protect your rights later. Finally, you should check that everything listen on “the form of final acceptance of construction” has been completed and that the form has been sent to the relevant supervisory departments.

After selling a property, paying all relevant taxes, and being granted permission by the departments responsible for foreign exchange, the funds may be converted out of RMB, transferred into a foreign exchange account or out of the country.

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