Beijing vows to establish nationwide property registry by 2020

Database is seen as way to ensure development is stable and to keep track of corrupt officials

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 4:59am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 6:03am

The mainland has vowed to establish a nationwide real estate registry system before 2020 as a long-term regulating mechanism for the stable development of the property market, according to a newly released urbanisation plan.

The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council jointly released the landmark urbanisation plan for 2014-2020 on Sunday.

"[We] will establish a unified registry system for land-based real estate, implement a nationwide housing information network and push forward the information sharing among government organisations," the plan stated.

Last November, the State Council appointed the Ministry of Land and Resources as the single agency responsible for the property registration of land, buildings, prairies, forests and coastal waters.

Jiang Daming, minister of land and resources, said last week that real estate registry bureaus would be set up in some cities and the ministry would release detailed guidelines in June. Local media reported that Nanjing , Ningbo and Zhengzhou had been selected as the pilot cities for the real estate registry.

"The timetable sounds reasonable, as China has limited experience on this and some difficulties were encountered before," said Li Jingguo, a property researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Beijing started building a nationwide housing information network in 2011, but progress has been much slower than expected, media reports have said.

The government had planned to develop a network encompassing 500 major cities by last June, but local media said that just over 60 cities have been plugged into the network so far.

"A nationwide housing information network is crucial for the country's long-term property market regulation. Without a complete database, the central government's policies might miss [the expected] targets," said Li. For example, only when such a system exists could the central government fulfil a plan to roll out the tax on properties that are not a person's primary residence. It seems no plan is in the works to tax people's main residence on the national level, Li added.

The central government has said the public would be allowed to inquire about the information to "safeguard their legitimate rights".

Li believed there would still be some restrictions. "For example, normal people won't be allowed to check how many properties [are] under one specific person's name, to protect people's privacy," he said. "But anti-graft organisations can get access to the database and corrupt officials will have no place to hide their illegal properties."

Corrupt officials have been known to conceal vast property empires. Last February, senior Lufeng police official Zhao Haibin was sacked after it was revealed that he owned 192 houses in Huizhou as well as properties in Shenzhen and Zhuhai .