Photo credit: Reuters, Nir Elias.

Fearful of a U.S.-style real-estate collapse, China has doused the country’s sizzling housing market with new rules aimed at cooling property speculation, reports the LA Times. The measures, which include raising minimum down payments and restricting purchases of second homes, are already forcing investors to the sidelines. Now policymakers reportedly are planning to add a more powerful tool: a general property tax that would make it more expensive for investors to own multiple units. Speculators have bought millions of homes and apartments in China, pushing up prices and helping fuel a housing crisis, because many of those units sit vacant. Chinese buyers currently pay a one-time transaction fee when they purchase real estate. But local governments do not assess annual levies like their counterparts in the United States and other developed nations do. Pilot property-tax programs now are under consideration in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chongqing, a sprawling municipality of 30 million in southwestern China, according to Chinese media reports.

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