To stimulate their local economies, many governments are loosening or temporarily suspending foreign property ownership restrictions, reports Christina S.N. Lewis of the Wall Street Journal
. Among them are Australia, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and China.
For example, last January Beijing issued a one-year suspension of a one-year residency requirement for foreigners to buy a house. BVI announced a new 90-day automatic approval for a landholder license. And the Cayman Islands temporarily lowered rates on their real estate transfer “stamp duty” taxes, including a reduction of up to 7.5 percent on waterfront property. The country’s real estate brokers association announced a 20 percent rebate on commissions through September 30.
India and Turkey already made significant changes in recent years to loosen their foreign investment restrictions. Numerous other countries, including the Philippines, are currently considering measures to stimulate foreign investment in real estate.
Restrictions on foreign ownership exist primarily in emerging property markets. Most Western European countries do not restrict foreign nationals from owning real estate. Notable exceptions are Austria and Switzerland.