Suzhou, in eastern Jiangsu province, said this week that it would waive its “home buying eligibility check” for prospective buyers, which previously limited the number and location of houses an individual or a family could purchase in the city, based on their social insurance, personal income tax and residency status.
Buyers from across the nation will be allowed to buy both pre-owned and new homes in any of Suzhou’s six districts, the city’s housing department told the Post on Wednesday.
“Waiving purchase eligibility checks is the biggest possible relaxation to existing restrictions,” said Yan Yuejin, director of Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institute. “The new rule also amplifies and upgrades September’s 120-square-metre (1,290 sq ft) rule. Now, buyers can purchase houses of any size in Suzhou without any restrictions.”
The move comes as home prices in major Chinese cities fell at the fastest pace in nearly nine years in December. Prices of new homes in 70 medium and large cities eased 0.4 per cent month on month in December, following a 0.3 per cent decline in November, according to official data.
Suzhou, a city of more than 12 million residents, has previously experimented with similar measures. Last September, the municipal government said non-residents could enjoy the same qualifications as residents for buying property. Both groups could buy a maximum of three homes with areas of 1,290 sq ft or less. For larger houses, the cap was removed.
Shanghai and Guangzhou rolled out similar easing measures.
Shanghai’s housing ministry said on Tuesday that individuals who have paid income tax or social insurance in the city for at least five years in a row would be immediately eligible to buy one house in select districts, regardless of their residency status. The previous rule stipulated non-residents to be married to qualify for property purchases.
The change was intended to “satisfy residents’ reasonable housing needs and promote work-life balance across districts, in addition to facilitating the integration of cities and industries,” Shanghai’s housing ministry said in a social media post.
The Guangzhou government removed buying restrictions for houses measuring 1,290 sq ft or less on January 27.
“2024 is an important year for wholesale relaxation around housing purchases,” said Yan. “This is fundamentally different from the ‘local relaxation’ that we saw in 2023.”
The latest round of relaxations could prove to be the tonic China’s property market needs this year, he added.
Additional reporting by Yulu Ao