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Unified Real Estate Registration from a Rational Perspective

2017-04-11No. of Hits:539Author:Nanfang Daily

Housing price and property, by playing a big part in the livelihood of ordinary families, often arouse public debate on related national policies. It's revealed by an official from the Ministry of Land and Resources of P.R.C that, by the end of this year, great efforts will be made to enable the access of all counties and cities to national information platform, to realize "four-in-one" objective, that is, united real estate registration agency, register books, registration basis and information platform. The news stirs public controversy and concern speculation, among others, "will house property be tracked by real-name owner" upon implementation of united national networking by the year end? Is this a sign of upcoming property tax? "Will housing price fall overnight", as foretold by Mr. Pan Shiyi, Chairman and Co-CEO, SOHO China?

Logically, it's understandable to connect united real estate registration with "house property tracked by real-name owner" and take it as "a terminator of corruption". Over the years, we've seen a lot of corrupt officials who're dubbed as "Uncle Houses", "Aunt Houses", things like that. It's natural for us to wonder, if we have one system, in which we can enter the real name of anybody, to take a clear look at the house properties registered under his/her name in different places, then corrupt officials as unlawful owners will be tracked and brought to justice. However, audience who have watched the first episode of the teleplay In The Name Of People will recall the scenario of Zhao, a division head receiving ¥230 million bribed money, who hides his illegal profits in the villa registered in the name of his direct relative. This case is typical, in that, not only some corrupt officials can register their house properties under the name of others, but also "Uncle Houses" and "Aunt Houses", voluntarily or involuntarily, involve in accomplice with the corrupted. So, if united real estate registration will help deter and investigate property-related corruption, we should not simply correlate such a registration policy to anti-corruption campaign, or more frankly, anti-corruption is not the primary function and real intention of united real estate registration.

Looking back to Interim Regulation on Real Estate Registration enacted from March 01, 2015, the term "real estate" is defined as "land, sea and fixtures such as buildings, forests etc. thereon", and the purpose is "to integrate responsibilities for real estate registration, standardize registration behavior, facilitate public application for real estate registration, and protect the owners' legal interests."Obviously, national networking of real estate registration has coverage beyond house property itself. Under the condition of market economy, property right and protection are a fundamental system. It's told that "people with immovable property hold on perseverance". By unifying clear-cut real estate registration, it helps avoid various disputes arising from crossing and conflict of ownership, and ensure property safety of related party in real estate transaction. It's specified in the Property Law of the People's Republic of China enacted in 2007, that real estate registration system should be established, in particular, in the context of Interim Regulation on Real Estate Registration, actually as the extension to the Property Law. To realize national networking of real estate registration, it follows natural law and international practice in relation to real estate, and will also integrate similar duties decentralized among various government departments to the maximum extent, transform government functions, and ultimately enhance administrative efficiency.

Is national networking of real estate registration intended to introduce property tax, and consequently play down housing price? Undoubtedly, unified real estate registration will help to know the details on the owner's condition of assets, and facilitate government administration including property-specific taxation. It should be noted, however, that property tax is piloted in individual regions, Law on Real Estate Tax has been included in the legislation planning of NPC Standing Committee for the coming five years, and housing price has been soared in many regions, this is especially true in large cities with first access to national information platform of unified real estate registration. After all, housing price rise or fall is more a problem of unbalanced market supply and demand, although such "demand" of house property does not necessarily originate from residential use. Moreover, property tax, as a national policy involving all families, is faced with many legislative problems in the aspects of legitimacy, tax rate etc., also, the operability of property tax is uncertain in terms of enforcement and realization of legislative intent.

Therefore, debate on unified real estate registration should probably focus on the policy. As for the progress, some observers have noticed that, from 2007 to now, unified real estate registration system has been pushed on at a pace slower than expected, which is related, to some extent, to short of funds for infrastructure construction in some remote regions, absence of coordination and interfacing among government departments, lack of data sharing etc. Another understanding in this aspect is "human resistance", that is, some officials worry about their legal property "be disclosed publicly", or those who manage to hide illegal property. However, as proved by the fate of "division head Zhao", it's impossible for any lawbreaker to cover up the fact of wrongdoing; for the owner of legal property, on the other hand, real legislative intent of either Property Law of the People's Republic of China or Interim Regulation on Real Estate Registration is to protect due rights and interests of each law-abiding citizen, on a fair and impartial basis. Of course, responsible government departments are reminded of the unavoidable problem of effective protection of personal information safety, upon national networking of unified real estate registration.

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