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Rules for realty registration

2014-12-23 10:49 China Daily Web Editor: Qin Dexing

On Monday, the State Council, China's cabinet, finally published the Provisional Regulations on Real Estate Registration, which will come into effect on March 1 next year. The rules involve the registration of land, waters, forestry and real estate, and many cherish the hope that it will help lay bare how many houses officials have hidden under their own names and the names of their relatives, or even ghost names.

In the past six years since a registration system was first mentioned, many have talked about the possibility of it becoming an effective tool to uncover the wealth that corrupt officials hide in the form of property.

Yet a look at the detailed articles of the published regulation suggests such an expectation may be too optimistic and it might have been too narrow an interpretation of what the rules intend to achieve.

None of the articles explicitly states that it is a compulsory obligation for all citizens to have their properties registered. And it goes without saying that those who have real estate certificates for the houses they have bought should have their detailed information already registered with the management departments of various governments.

And as far as the houses paid for with illegal gains are concerned, it should not be difficult for investigators to trace the properties back to a corrupt element no matter whose name is on the ownership certificate.

However, it is too naive to believe that the new real estate registration system will have an immediate effect in lending a helping hand to the anti-graft fight by laying bare the properties of corrupt elements.

The registration system protects the information applicants register about their properties. It is not a system whereby anyone can look up how many houses a particular person has under his or her name.

The integration of information on immovable properties, housing in particular, held by different government departments, should make it possible for the registration system in the future to squeeze the space for corrupt officials to hide the properties they have illegally got.

But what the registration system intends to achieve, as the rules show, is in essence the integration of the information about housing and other immovable properties in a single register so that the unified management of such information can be realized. It may possibly pave the road for the levying of a property tax, which will hopefully help regulate the housing market by levying incremental taxes on second, third or more homes a person owns. Meanwhile, for how the system will work, we have to wait for the details as to its implementation.

Other Views

Base for healthy housing market

As the real estate registration regulation comes into effect, information about property ownership will be available nationwide; that's the prerequisite for collecting a tax on property ownership, instead of property trade. Only with this change in the tax system will people buy houses to live in rather than to earn profits, which, in turn will stabilize housing prices.

Guo Yi, marketing supervisor at Yahao Real Estate Selling and Consulting Solution Agency, ifeng.com, Dec 22

Media reports use "controlling housing prices" in their headlines for the introduction of the regulation, which is a serious misunderstanding of the move. Actually, the regulation aims, above everything else, to protect private properties; how could they think about depriving house owners of their properties? That's absurd.

Chen Huai, a former policy researcher at Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, 163.com, Dec 22

A property ownership registration regulation is a key foundation stone for China's market economy; like all civil laws, it will protect the market economy, effectively protect ordinary people's property rights, and increase the convenience of buying and selling. The introduction of the regulation marks a giant step forward on the path of rule of law.

  china.com.cn, Dec 22

A symbol of the government's determination to control the property market, the new real estate registration regulation will have a heavy psychological influence upon the people, and make them believe the government will take harsh measures to stabilize housing prices. The supply of secondhand apartments in metropolises and major big cities is increasing, and this trend is likely to continue.

Zhang Dawei, chief analyst at Centaline Property, people.com.cn, Dec 22

Merely registering nationwide property ownership won't influence the realty market, but policies adopted on the information collected, such as a property tax, will. Besides, as many expect, the process will help fight graft, corrupt officials will face heavier pressure because they can no longer hide property registered to their families.

Peng Peng, independent realty analyst, fang.com, Dec 22

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