Buying a House in China: Can Foreigners Buy Property in China?

Buying a house in China is very different from buying a home almost anywhere else. While there are some similarities to the process of purchasing a property elsewhere, buying a house in China requires much more research and planning than you might expect. This article covers everything you need to know about buying a home in China, including how different it is from other countries, the types of properties available and what documentation you’ll need. It also details the process of finding and buying a house, as well as renting one instead – something that isn’t common but does happen from time to time.

Can Foreigners Buy Property in China?

Foreigners can indeed buy property in China – both residential and commercial real estate. However, the Chinese government has implemented various restrictions that will be explained in the following section. It is important to note that while it is possible for foreigners to buy property in China, they will not be able to own the land on which the property is built. This is because the Chinese government controls the land, not the individuals or companies that own the property built on top of it. On the other hand, Chinese individuals cannot buy property outside of China. This applies to both residential and commercial real estate outside of the Chinese Mainland.

In terms of residential real estate, there are no restrictions on who can buy. However, the same cannot be said for commercial real estate. If you’re interested in commercial real estate, you must first obtain an Approved Foreign Investment (AFI) certificate. This certificate is issued by the Chinese government and is valid for 10 years. You can apply for it with the help of a Chinese partner, or you can hire a real estate agency to do so on your behalf. You must be aware of the following restrictions when purchasing commercial real estate in China: - You cannot own land. As explained above, the government controls the land, not the individuals or companies that own the property built on top of it. This means that you must find a Chinese partner willing to enter into a joint venture with you on the property. - You must pay a higher deposit. This is because the Chinese government considers that foreign investment in commercial real estate is a higher risk. - You will have to pay higher taxes. This is due to the fact that you will not be able to claim a lower tax rate as an individual (which is possible for Chinese residents).

What’s Different About Buying a House in China?

There are a lot of things that are different in China. for example, the internet in China is censored, behind the so-called Great Firewall. As a result, many foreign websites are blocked in China. If you want to do a Google search or check Gmail, you might have to find a good VPN that still works in China. Many internet users in China rely on VPN to visit foreign websites. As another example, cryptocurrencies are banned in China. Buying bitcoin in China is very difficult. 

Similarly, there are a number of key differences when it comes to buying a house in China compared to when you would purchase one in your home country. This article mentions a few, but there are many more that buyers need to be aware of before starting the search. Most importantly, foreigners cannot own 100% of a home in China. While this is something that comes as a surprise to many first-time buyers in the country, it’s due to regulations that exist in place to prevent the flight of capital from China. Another difference that many don’t expect is the sheer lack of inventory when it comes to homes for sale in China. There simply aren’t as many properties for sale as there are in other countries. While this is normal for large cities, it’s especially true for smaller towns and even some rural areas.

Types of Properties Available for Sale

When it comes to the types of properties available for sale in China, you’ll find everything from small city apartments to luxury country homes. There are also some properties that are very different from what you may be used to. You can find the following types of properties when searching for homes in China:


This will be found in large cities and often be part of a larger building.


These are usually purchased as an investment, and each unit will have its own separate ownership.

Commercial property

For those who would like to make a profit, commercial property can be a good choice.

Countryside house

These are often large homes that are found outside of the city.


These are two separate units found on one property. They’re popular in larger cities where space is limited.


These are often converted houses that are found in the city.

The Process of Buying a House in China

When buying a house in China, there’s no typical timeline. The process can range anywhere from a few weeks to over a year, depending on the property and where you are in the process. There are several key elements to the process of buying a property in China. This includes finding the right property, applying for a mortgage, applying for a land use right (LUR) and completing the sale.

Finding the right property

The first step in the process is finding the right property for you. There are several options for finding a property in China, including finding a real estate agent and visiting open houses in person, using apps to view available properties or going to a real estate exhibition. You may also find that the place where you’re currently renting has available properties for sale in the area.

Applying for a mortgage

Finding the right property is just the beginning. Next comes the process of applying for a mortgage, which will differ by lender. Depending on your income and credit history, you may find yourself with very few options. This is especially true for first-time homebuyers, who may find the process challenging in China. It’s important to start this process as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance at being approved. Applying for a land use right (LUR) - People who are buying in a planned community or new development will need to apply for a land use right (LUR) in order to proceed with the sale. This can be a complicated and lengthy process that involves a lot of back-and-forth communication with the developer, so it’s important to get it started as soon as possible.

Complete the sale

There are many steps in the process of buying a house in China, but once everything is completed, the sale will be finalized. This can vary from signing a contract to closing, depending on the type of sale and what is required.

Documents Required for Purchasing a Home in China

There are certain documents that are required when purchasing a home in China. This may vary slightly depending on the type of property you’re purchasing, but you can expect to provide the following:

Proof of income

This is something that will vary depending on your lender. At a minimum, you’ll need to show that you bring in at least three times the amount of the mortgage payment each month. This can be in the form of pay stubs or even a letter from your employer stating your salary.

Credit report

Even though there aren’t any credit scores in China, you’ll still need to submit a credit report. This can be obtained from a credit bureau that charges a fee.

Power of attorney (POA)

This is a very important document, even if you’re not buying a home in China. A POA gives another person the ability to act on your behalf. This is a document that you’ll want to get sooner rather than later, as it will make the entire process smoother.

Limitations on Foreigners Buying Real Estate in China

While buying a home in China may sound like a perfect solution for expats, there are certain limitations on what properties foreigners are allowed to buy. One thing to keep in mind is that there are restrictions on buying rural land. This is something that is done at the provincial level, and the ban is more on the purchase than the owning of the land itself. However, purchasing luxury or commercial real estate is allowed for foreigners. This is because it’s viewed as bringing in outside money, which is something that the Chinese government is aiming to do more of. There is also a restriction on the type of home you can purchase in China. This is not something that you can do in every province, but in the coastal areas. You’re allowed to buy a single-family home in the city, something that many expats are doing.

Wrapping Up

There are many things that differ when buying a home in China, including the types of properties available, the process of purchasing and the types of documents required. This article covered these and more, including the fact that foreigners are allowed to purchase single-family homes in the city, but only in the coastal areas. If you’re interested in buying a property in China, it’s important to understand the differences between buying a home in other countries. This will help you find the right property for you in the right area.

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