Cornell Real Estate Review


China’s real estate market—including its commercial leasing sector—has grown at a remarkable rate since the late 1980s, notwithstanding the fact that China did not adopt its first modern property law until 2007. Most of China’s recent real estate development thus has occurred in the absence of a comprehensive national property law. China has somehow managed to modernize its real estate market and attract foreign investment despite the fact that its legal system is incompletely developed and characterized by uncertainty.

In an effort to understand how and why investors and other professionals are willing to participate in such an unsettled market, I recently interviewed Chinese and Western experts in the real estate field, including lawyers, judges, developers, bankers, government officials, and academics. This Article summarizes my findings about China’s commercial leasing market. The new property law provides some insight into how China’s real estate market functions, but a full picture requires an understanding of how these professionals have operated in a legally uncertain environment, both before and after the new law became effective.


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