Real estate registry system to be unified

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, November 21, 2013
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The government has announced plans to consolidate various real estate registration offices into one body, establishing a single information-sharing platform.

The planned reforms are aimed at providing better protection for the property rights of citizens, while establishing the foundation for a possible tax levy.

The decision was announced at Wednesday's executive meeting of the State Council, the nation's Cabinet. The Ministry of Land and Resources will supervise the registration of real estate nationwide, including housing, forests and sea, according to an official statement.

The move is expected to end the inefficiencies of the existing scenario, by which various kinds of real estate are registered under different government agencies.

Under the new plan, a "basic platform" will be established on which real estate approval, transactions and registration information can be shared by different agencies, thus eliminating the "isolated information islands".

Analysts said part of the program has already been implemented in rural areas, where a national delimitation and documentation campaign aims to clarify who owns what. The countryside is notorious for its lack of clarity, due largely to the system of collective ownership.

However, real estate ownership issues require clarification in urban areas too.

Liu Weimin, a real estate researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said that the first and most difficult thing to do during the redevelopment of urban shantytowns is to clarify who owns what property. Many old houses were originally built as collective accommodation for factory workers and later changed hands several times without ownership ever being properly established.

"This move is also conducive to the building of a unified market economy, because clear property rights are the bedrock of the efficient running of a market economy," said Liu.

He said clarity on property ownership could also lay the foundations for the levying of property-related taxes, a policy announced among the decisions of the Third Plenary Meeting of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

"But the public should not worry too much about this, because clear property rights would benefit ordinary people. For example, a person could mortgage their home or car to secure a bank loan, even if they are far from their hometown," said Liu.

Chen Jie, a real estate research professor with Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said unified real estate registration is a precondition for building a property and land tax system.

Zhu Lijia, a professor of public administration studies at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the proposed system would help curb corruption. Under the current system, it is difficult to track cases of officials owning multiple properties in several cities.

The State Council said the proposed system would make it easier for individuals and institutions to obtain information relating to property ownership and questions of criminality or corruption.

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