A home in Queen St, Grange Villa, County Durham, sold for £19,000 With property prices soaring, you may not have realised you can buy a home for as little as £19,000. During the month February, a County Durham home was the cheapest house to be sold across England and […]
Frontmen for shell companies could face jail in UK property crackdown
Frontmen of foreign shell companies that are used to hide the true ownership of some of London’s most expensive properties could face up to two years in jail and unlimited fines under new government plans. The government announced the new sanctions on Thursday as it unveiled plans to set out draft laws this summer to lift the secrecy surrounding foreign ownership of billions of pounds worth of British property.
Under the draft laws, foreign companies must disclose who ultimately owns their properties. The plans follow new rules on ownership and control of UK companies that were introduced in 2016. Questions surrounding secret and offshore ownership were highlighted by revelations from the Paradise Papers, published in the Guardian. However, the timetable for the new property register had been subject to numerous delays and even a threat of rebellion by two Tory peers, who put forward an amendment to the sanctions and anti-money-laundering bill in January.
Facing a potential defeat, the government announced that it would table draft legislation by this summer, though transparency campaigners have said this will still in practice delay an operational register until 2021.
Property prices in London logged their sharpest falls in the first three months of this year since the start of 2011, according to Thursday’s regional price index from financial services company IHS Markit and U.K. bank and mortgage lender Halifax. Though most regions and countries across the U.K. registered annual price inflation in residential real estate, London saw a 3.8% fall in prices compared to the same time frame last year, the report said.
Prices in the neighboring region of South East England performed marginally better but remained almost flat, increasing 0.3%, while a little further afield, property prices in the South West saw rises of just 1.9%. But it was the East Midlands and East Anglia that had the highest price rises, up 7.3% and 7.2% respectively, followed by Scotland (6.7%) and Yorkshire & Humberside (6.1%). London failed to fare any better in the short-term as prices fell 3.2% from the previous quarter, the largest quarterly decline in prices in nine years, according to the report.
The North West was right behind the capital, logging house price falls of 3%, while there was a fall of 1.5% in the South East and a decline of 1.1% in the South West since the tail-end of last year. The North of England saw its prices rise the most, up 4.5% since last quarter, followed by East Anglia and the East Midlands, where prices increased 2.2% and 1.8% respectively.
“The subdued performance of the U.K. housing market, especially in the South of England, seems to reflect a general lack of appetite amongst households at present for activity related to major purchases in line with the general squeeze on real incomes seen in recent months,” said Paul Smith, economics director at IHS Markit, in the report.
UK: New Compulsory Register Of Beneficial Owners Of Overseas Entities Holding UK Real Estate
The government has recently published its response to a call for evidence on the proposed UK register of beneficial ownership for overseas entities (the “OEBO register”) with implications for overseas entities that currently, or in the future propose to, own or lease UK real estate, as well as lenders lending to such overseas investors.
The OEBO register will be the first of its kind in the world. It will be available for the public to view online at no cost and will, when reviewed alongside publicly available Land Registry title documents, reveal legal and beneficial owners of all registered UK property. The new register will create an additional layer of due diligence on future UK property transactions, it could impede transactions if not complied with and it will impose an initial and ongoing compliance burden on those owning and leasing registered UK property.
Failure to comply with the new regime will result in criminal liability. With a draft Bill intended to be published in summer 2018, it is expected the OEBO register will become operational in 2021. We set out below the proposed scope of the OEBO register regime and next steps for those affected.
The “Amazon of China” to sell UK properties online
International properties in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom will now be available for sale on JD.com, due to an unprecedented deal struck between the e-commerce giant and Juwai.com – the largest real estate website in China.
The two companies sealed the deal at a lavish signing ceremony, and the integration became accessible to buyers in April.
Skimming through JD.com, the website offers visitors everything from household items, to clothes, electronics, food and drink, and now properties. JD serves 292.5 million customers, who will now be able to view international real estate listings. Should they show an interest, a Juwai representative will contact the customer offering assistance and the opportunity to complete the purchase.
CEO of Juwai.com Carrie Law said of the collaboration: “We are truly excited to be launching this partnership with JD.com, which is not just one of China’s but one of the globe’s most advanced commerce and e-commerce companies.
“This partnership with JD.com is incredibly innovative and exciting on one level, but on a deeper level it simply represents Juwai.com continuing to fulfil its core mission of helping Chinese become global residents and investors.”