Property deals in Beijing done directly between individuals without the intermediation of an agent must in future be registered online, according to the latest regulatory change announced by the city's municipal government. The new regulation was announced last week and will require individuals to register their privately concluded transactions on the website of the local authority from today. Property agents said transactions done without agents' help had previously required no such registration. Sales in the primary market are automatically registered online, although buyers in the secondary market have rarely registered their transactions on the government website. The city government said the measure would ensure unscrupulous owners did not sell the same unit to more than one buyer and that it would help prospective buyers check transaction details on the unit, thus increasing market transparency. Li Wenjie, a general manager at Centaline (China) in Beijing, welcomed the new policy. Mr Li said on the mainland, property agents also acted as settlement agents who were responsible for holding deposits made by prospective buyers and handing the money over to the sellers when the transaction was completed. In some cases, property agents used the deposits held in trust to speculate on the market, a malpractice that the new policy could prevent from happening, he said. However, a property agent who asked not to be identified said the policy's goal was to stop people buying second properties for investment. Such speculators would no longer be able to cover up their deals once transactions were registered online, as it would be easier for the government to check how many units a buyer owned, the agent said. 'However, people cannot be prevented from registering transactions at a lower acquisition price to pay a lower appreciation tax under the new rule,' he said. An agent said prices registered on deals for tax purposes could be up to 40 per cent below actual prices paid.