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China News
China Unveils Property-Registration Rules
From the Wall Street Journal of Mon, 22 Dec 2014 05:14:00 EST
A resident holds his granddaughter near apartment blocks in central Beijing. China unveiled rules for a nationwide property-registration system, in a move that could help it control speculation in the massive market and pave the way to charging a property tax.
A resident holds his granddaughter near apartment blocks in central Beijing. China unveiled rules for a nationwide property-registration system, in a move that could help it control speculation in the massive market and pave the way to charging a property tax. Reuters

BEIJING—China unveiled rules for a nationwide property-registration system, in a move that could help it control speculation in the massive market and pave the way to charging a property tax.

The rules for the property-registration system will take effect on March 1, according to a document published on the central government website on Monday. The Ministry of Land and Resources will take the lead in setting up a unified property-registration platform by cooperating with other related departments, it said.

The government has been looking to curb excessive speculation in the property market and to stem official corruption. A lack of transparency in real estate ownership in China has allowed corrupt officials and speculators to acquire multiple properties, contributing to a steep run-up of home prices in the past.

The move could also help China implement a property tax, which it doesn’t currently have in most places. A property tax could also help rein in speculation while giving the government access to an untapped source of wealth. Currently, the property tax is being used on a trial basis in the cities of Shanghai and Chongqing.

Property prices have been weakening as the economy loses momentum. While the tax on property values is a long-term goal, analysts don’t expect it to be rolled out while the key property market is under pressure.

The rules require all levels of governments to share information more effectively to ensure comprehensive coverage of homeownership records.

The information will be available to the government for internal use but public access will be limited. Government departments compiling the data are supposed to keep the information confidential, particularly in the case of state secrets. There was no elaboration on the definition of a state secret in terms of property ownership.

--Grace Zhu contributed to this article.



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