BEIJING, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Six business apartment projects and 15 real estate agent offices in Beijing were punished Monday for violating a government ban aimed at cooling the red-hot housing market.
The six projects, including some belonging to China's top developers Vanke and Evergrande, were banned from sale, while the 15 real estate agent offices were ordered to close shop for overhauls, according to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.
Authorities in Beijing stepped up restrictions on house purchases on Sunday, banning the sale of business apartments to individuals for residence.
The rule says developers shall only sell business apartments to qualified enterprises, public institutions and social organizations. For new business apartment projects yet to be built, the smallest unit for sale should not be less than 500 square meters.
Inspection teams were promptly dispatched on Monday to enforce the ban.
Officials with the city commission warned that real estate agents that mislead individual home buyers by falsely advertising business apartments for residence will be severely punished and can lose their licenses due to the violation.
The punishment addressed a long-held criticism that the housing commission's warnings generally have no teeth.
China has witnessed a property boom for more than a decade, with home prices in many big cities soaring sky high, triggering a fear of an enormous asset bubble that could eventually destabilize the economy.
The country's policymakers announced in December that "houses are for living in, not for speculating with," following a string of cooling measures from buying restrictions to increased down payments.
Beijing scaled up curbing measures in March after second-home prices continued their growth rally in the first few months of this year.