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Rumored Home-Buying Loophole Leads To Tidal Wave Of Divorce In China

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

As property prices rise, Chinese couples are getting divorced to get their hands on cheaper homes.

With Chinese housing prices skyrocketing across the country, Chinese people are searching for new ways to skirt the government home-buying restrictions and acquire homes without paying significant down payments, the Global Times revealed Tuesday.

Housing prices surged to their highest levels in six years last month, according to Bloomberg. Housing prices rose in 64 out of 70 cities at an average of 1.2 percent between July and August, and the value of home sales increased by 33 percent over the figure from the same period last year.

To curb market instability, many cities have implemented stricter home buying restrictions and raised minimum payments. In Shanghai, buyers need to put down 30 percent of the cost for their first home. Second and third homes require down payments of 50 and 70 percent respectively.

In response to a rumor that individuals who have been divorced for less than a year can get around the restrictions, a large number of Chinese couples have been filing for “fake divorces.” Some people also see getting “divorced” as a way to get past home-buying taxes and school district price surges. Authorities have already discredited these rumors, but that has not yet slowed the “divorce” trend.

“They still live a normal married life. The only thing that is different is what’s written on their marriage documents,” a Beijing resident told the Global Times, “Some are even expecting their second child.” Courts do not investigate the validity of the divorce, so people use this option to get around what they see as an obvious loophole permitting easy and cheap access to real estate.

A recent survey revealed that housing prices in Chinese cities like Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai are among the highest in the world.

In Shenzhen, divorces are up 46 percent over last year’s figure. At the same time, home sales have gone up 41 percent, reports Sohu News. Many of these divorces are potentially “fake divorces” by overeager home buyers interested in making a profit off of the current housing market.

“Society has a tendency to worship money, and some people use all means to accumulate wealth, even at the cost of their families,” Beijing Institute of Technology professor Hu Xingdou told the Global Times.

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