In the latest move to rein in property speculation, China’s State Council announced on Thursday that the government would complete a nationwide registry of real estate ownership by the end of 2014.
With many local governments already limiting purchases of multiple homes to restrict price growth, the national registry would provide the ability to monitor and control ownership at the national level.
Such a national tracking system of who owns what property would also potentially root out corrupt officials such as the infamous “House Sister” who illegally bought up dozens of properties.
And all of this should be good news to anyone hoping to sell real estate outside of China to Chinese investors.
The real estate registry would have the dual effect of making adding transparency to real estate ownership and creating part of the legal infrastructure for implementing a property tax.
With many wealthy people owning homes in multiple cities the new registry will make it easier to enforce restrictions on multiple home ownership at the national level. And more than a few corrupt government officials may face awkward questions about how they and their family members have been able to accumulate collections of apartments and villas across the country.
With many Chinese buyers of foreign real estate listing a desire for a hedge against risk in the China market as one of their primary reasons for taking their money overseas, the potential risk of attracting unwanted scrutiny may intensify this interest in transferring assets away from the watchful eyes of Chinese officials.
The plan for the real estate registry was included in a document of the State Council’s tasks for institutional reform and transforming functions in the next five years, which also laid out deadlines for completing the tasks and the responsible departments.