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  2015/5/28 Inspired by traditional living [2015/5/28]
Foreigners love living in traditional Chinese courtyard houses, or siheyuan, in Beijing. Wealthy expats can also renovate such courtyard houses. [Photo/China Daily] The growing trend among wealthy expats is to rent old courtyard homes in Beijing, but finding your dream place does not come cheap as demand in the sector is high Marc, an investment banker from Europe, is part of a growing trend of wealthy expatriate professionals that are opting for a traditional home in China. Even though Western-styled villas and luxury apartments dominate the high-end of the property market, older courtyard houses are starting to prove extremely popular in Beijing. "I wanted to live in a Chinese traditional courtyard because it felt much more comfortable," Marc, who preferred not to give his surname or nationality, said. "The design is much more beautiful than an apartment block." Aside from the aesthetical factors, living in a traditional courtyard home provides other benefits in Beijing's busiest areas such as private gardens-a rare feature in China's housing market. "If foreigners are particularly interested in Chinese culture and want to live a colorful, convenient and sometimes quiet life, they may prefer courtyards located in the downtown area of Beijing," Apple Cai, marketing manager at lettings agent Joanna Real Estate, said. Additionally, a government ban on future villa development in the city has made courtyard homes, or siheyuan, the only available option if you want your own private garden in central Beijing. Existing siheyuan can be found in the popular districts of Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen and Xuanwu. But some of the best-preserved homes are in Dongcheng and Xicheng. Joanna Real Estate offers several types of properties aimed at wealthy expats based in the capital. These include a number of renovated Chinese courtyard houses. Rental prices vary greatly, depending on the size, location and state of the property. Monthly rents for siheyuan, between 250 square meters and 350 sq m, range from roughly 35,000 yuan ($5,636) to 50,000 yuan. Courtyards of more than 600 sq m go for about 200,000 yuan per month. One of the reasons why courtyard houses are so expensive is because there are very few on the market. Beijing's population boom in the 1990s led to the systematic demolition of many of the traditional urban houses. And courtyards and hutong were replaced by modern apartment blocks that could hold more residents. It is hard to imagine that when you cross the carved wooden doors you will find a foreigner living in such a traditional home. But many expats are attracted by the unique charm of these old buildings. In fact, the percentage of foreigners renting courtyards is about 10 to 20 percent, according to Joanna Real Estate's business data. "A key factor living in a siheyuan was the temperature of the house," Marc said. "I never had to use the air-conditioning in the summer because the temperature was kept low in the courtyard. And it was not very cold in the winter because the walls are quite thick." Wealthy foreign expats can also renovate siheyuan according to their tastes and needs as long as they respect the structure of the building. Naturally, there are drawbacks to living in a courtyard house. Parking space can be scarce and Western amenities sometimes out of reach. "It was difficult to find a parking space close to my courtyard," said Marc. "But in the end I managed to find a car park that belonged to another residential building close by." Still, for those who have money to spend but believe that a courtyard is not the ideal place for them, villas and luxury apartments, with hotel-like services, remain the favorite choice for the affluent expats. "If foreign families have children attending international school, they might prefer villas, as these usually have spacious living areas," Cai, of Joanna Real Estate, said. "They are also close to international schools. "But if foreigners focus more on their work, they may choose apartments or serviced apartments that will offer a more convenient lifestyle."

    Provisional law on realty registration soon [2014/12/4]
A provisional regulation on real estate registration will soon be announced, China News Service reported on Wednesday, citing sources.It will be made public as early as this week, or next week, and is expected to be effective from Mar 1, 2015, the agency reported.Chinese government on November 2013 announced plans to consolidate various real estate registration offices into one body, establishing a single information-sharing platform. The planned reforms are aimed at providing better protection for the property rights of citizens, while establishing the foundation for a possible tax levy.The Ministry of Land and Resources will supervise the registration of real estate nationwide, including housing, forests, prairie and sea.The original plan was that the regulation would come out by the end of June, but it was delayed due to controversy. Cheng Xiao, a law professor with Tsinghua University who had participated in the making of the regulation, told the news agency that five technical revisions was made on original draft, without much major change.Cheng said the major objective of the regulation is not anti-corruption and imposing tax, as popular idea conceived, but to clarify property rights, because clear property rights are the bedrock of the efficient running of a market economy.

    No upturn in China's property market [2014/12/4]
Property market in China continues to slide. In November, home prices fell in 82 cities and rose in four compared to last month, chinanews.com reported on Monday.The average price of newly built homes is 10,589 yuan ($1,726) per square meter in 100 Chinese cities, which is lower compared to last month as well as same time last year, said the website quoting data from China Index Academy.Hangzhou reported the biggest fall in home prices, with the rate dropping 0.93 percent from last month, and 10.08 percent year on year.Among 100 cities, home price in only 18 cities is higher from a year earlier.The prices in Beijing and Shanghai saw a slight upturn of 0.07 percent in November, reaching 18,946 yuan per square meter ($3,082), which ends the downturn from May of this year.In Shanghai, the average home price rose 1.18 percent compared to last month, and 5.23 percent year on year.Reductions in inventory will continue in the future, which will cause downward pressure on prices in the property market in the country, China Index Academy forecasts.

    China plans property tax in 2017 [2014/11/6]
China will accelerate the property tax legislation but will not rush its implementation this year, said Jia Kang, head of the Research Institute for Fiscal Science of the Ministry of Finance, at a forum organized by China Society of Economic Reform on Sunday.According to him, property tax will enter legislative procedure in 2015 and the tax law is expected to be wrapped up by 2016. If it goes as planned, related taxes will be implemented in 2017, said Jia.Property tax along with consumption tax, recourse taxes, environmental tax, personal income tax and the change from business tax to value-added tax will be the focus of the reform, he said.A suitable plan will be discussed fully during the legislative process and the country will not copy the taxation mode from the US, said Jia.China launched property taxes in Shanghai and Chongqing on a trial basis in 2011 to tighten its property market control. It was expected that the trials would be expanded to cover more regions, but the expansion was postponed due to the lack of legal basis.The impact property tax will have on housing prices triggered wide debate in the country. Some believe that the full implementation will restrain the investment speculation in property market and will help tame the housing price while others believe that the taxation will encourage the market and push up the price.Jia said people should not have high hope on taxation’s impact on controlling the property prices. As its function is to stabilize the property market, the implementation is unlikely to help lower the price sharply.

    Beijing not to ease home purchase restrictions: official [2014/11/6]
Beijing's home purchase restrictions will not be eased despite a sluggish property market, a government official confirmed on Thursday.A source with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development told Xinhua that home buyers in the capital city will have to stick with the current purchasing policy, which is in line with Beijing's plan for sustainable development.Rumors have swirled recently that the Beijing government had accepted a draft plan by a local property think tank to gradually abolish the 20-percent tax on profits for each second home sold, lower the contract tax and lessen home-purchasing restrictions for non-Beijingers."Though the restrictions will not be eased, the government has just extended a preferable tax policy to the public, which will effectively relieve people's house-buying burden," said the source.

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