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    Nov 13, 2014

    Paying big for tiny flats to get Beijing school slots


    IT SEEMS the practice of buying property that is close to premium schools - whether to live in or merely for registration purposes - is not just a Singaporean trait.

    A tiny apartment measuring only 4.4 sq m in Xicheng district, Beijing, sold for 1.35 million yuan (S$284,000) recently.

    The small room, located near one of the better primary schools in the Chinese capital, cost 310,000 yuan per sq m.

    "The price of apartments near good schools in Beijing is on the rise against the headwind of the second-hand property market as a result of the strict school admission policy," said a real estate agent surnamed Wang.

    "Obviously, it is not for the buyers to live in. It is for them to apply for their children's household registration to gain admission to the schools nearby."

    Under the current admission policy, primary schools in each educational district in Beijing may only enrol students with a hukou, or household registration, in that area.

    High schools, of which many of the most desirable are in Xicheng, must draw their students from the local primary schools.

    Whether a pupil is accepted by a primary school in the district depends on the hukou.

    "The people who purchased the tiny flat aim to earn a hukou in the district to help their kids get the opportunity to attend good schools in the area," Mr Wang said, adding that the owners would probably sell the flat in a few years, after their child was admitted to the desired school.

    Similar flats in Xicheng have sold for between 12,000 and 140,000 yuan per sq m, according to his company, the Jiuhong real-estate agency.

    A residential compound near Zhongguancun Third Primary School is much sought after for its residents' opportunities to enter the school. Apartments in the compound measuring 45 sq m sell for about 3 million yuan.