Home prices in 100 major cities climbed year on year for a third straight month in February. The government measures seem to have had a marked and immediate impact, with a surge in residential purchases being recorded in the past week, before the new measures come into effect. Real estate agents were particularly noting the large number of Beijing buyers looking to purchase in Shenzhen, citing the favorable air conditions as Beijingers seek to flee worsening smog in the Capital.
Another notable and surprising effect has been the sudden increase in the divorce rate, with Shanghai, Guangzhou, Harbin and Ningbo marriage registry offices all swamped with divorce applications as couples with two properties aim to separate their ownership. An exemption to the tax is available to those selling their main home and if owned for over 5 years. Couples are allowed to remarry.
Failed marriages are on the rise in the mainland with about 2.87 million couples divorcing in 2011, up 7.3% from 2010. He Zhangbiao of Shanghai’s Civil Affairs Bureau added a word of caution to married women, “Some men might trick their wives into getting a divorce using the tax as an excuse. But they might have a mistress and truly want a divorce”.