How Can Foreigners Buy a House in China?

March 2, 2017

As an expat in China housing is one of your main concerns. Most foreigners rent apartments, but if you plan to stay in China for the long term it could be better to buy a property. Foreigners can buy properties in China but the process requires some preparations. This article will answer all your question on the related requirements, the procedure, the costs, and risks.

Requirements and Restrictions


Certain national requirements for foreigners are always in place. Foreigners must always be legally allowed to reside and work in China. Foreign residents are also required to use their purchased property for dwelling purposes only. In order to purchase commercial or industrial property, you have to incorporate a company.

There are no nationwide restrictions on the number of properties eligible foreigners can buy. Instead local purchase restrictions and requirements may apply. In Shanghai, people without a Shanghai household permit are allowed to buy only one property. Make sure to check the requirements of your local government.


Like with many other regulations in China, there are ways you can get around restrictions. For the purpose of property registration, you have to use a Chinese name, which can be translated phonetically from your native language. Therefore if you manage to buy a second house in a different place than your first, you can just use a different Chinese name to register.


 The Process

Let’s say you have lived in China for half a year, but your local government requires a one-year residency period. Therefore you need to wait for at least another half year to qualify. Six months later you are finally qualified to buy a house. The process fort his is very similar to that of Chinese buyers despite a few additional steps required for foreign property buyers.


Step 1: You need to provide proof that you are eligible to buy a property. If a one-year residency period in China is required you should go to the local Municipal Bureau of Public Security to obtain proof of your one-year residency. If the local government restricts the number properties you can buy you need to obtain a written declaration to prove you have not reached this limit. Meanwhile, you can begin searching for your ideal residence, or hire an agent for this.


Step 2: After you find a suitable property, you will need to submit a preliminary agreement in which you set out the terms and conditions of the purchase. If the seller agrees with your proposal, a deposit of 1% of the agreed selling price should be paid to the seller.


Step 3: You and the seller draft and sign the ‘Official Sale Contract,’ which has to be notarized if the buyer is foreign.


Step 4: Go to your local Foreign Office to have the purchase approved by the government.


Step 5: Your last step towards becoming a homeowner in China is to make a trip to the Deed and Title