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Foreign property investment probe in China amid concerns it is fuelling real estate bubble

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce has informed all foreign enterprises that it will be carried out before the end of the year.

But it is not clear what exact information SAIC is seeking.

Last year it carried out a similar survey on the implementation of existing policies restricting foreign investment into the real estate market.

Sources with the SAIC´s Shanghai and Beijing branches maintained that the move was to collect and compile national statistics for internal management.

The Registration of Foreign Invested Enterprises declined to disclose the purpose of the survey.

A package of policies have been mapped out during the last 12 months to prevent an influx of foreign capital into the real estate market including a directive to strengthen the approval and supervision of direct foreign investment in real estate.

In July 2006 China took a major stride to regulate its real estate market and stave off speculative investment by raising the ratio of registered capital in property developers´ overall investment and restrictions on residential property purchases by foreign institutions and individuals.
Only foreign institutions establishing branches or representative offices in China and individuals working or studying in China for more than one year can purchase apartments for their own use.

Official figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, however, unveiled a rapidly expanding inflow of overseas capital into the sector creating the risk of overheating.

Between January and November, real estate developing enterprises used US$53.9 billion of foreign capital, a rise 71.9% from the same period of last year.

Just over US$441 billion flowed into the property sector from home and abroad, up 40.8% in the same period.

Industry insiders say that the governments may be making preparations for making further policy changes.