How the UK Government is Clamping Down on Overseas Real Estate Investment


Between managing the fall-out from the Brexit vote, triggering Article 50 and attempting to negate the stagnation of real wage growth, the UK government has had very little spare time in the last year.

It has still managed to implement strategies to help restore balance to the property market, however, primarily increasing the amount of new-build construction projects in a bid to reverse the chronic shortage of supply and disproportionate price growth.

Not only this, but it has also tackled overseas real estate investment in recent times, by creating far greater transparency surrounding the ownership of buildings. This has been welcomed by many, but the question that remains is how will it impact on the current market?

What Steps Have the Government Taken, and Why?

In March, the government published plans for a public register of beneficial owners of UK real estate, and more specifically properties that are owned by overseas companies. The register will also include a list of beneficial owners of overseas firms that have links to public government contracts, creating a comprehensive and transparent document that minimises corruption and prevents individuals from using real estate to launder money.

The move comes after a law enforcement agency report, which revealed that UK property with a cumulative value of £180 million had direct links to the suspected proceeds of corruption dating back to 2004.

What Impact Will the Register Have on the Property Market?

The register, which is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, has two core objectives. Firstly, it will make it harder for owners to launder ill-gotten gains through UK real estate, while also targeting any semblance of corruption that exists between private and public sector contractors. Given that 75% of the properties investigated by the UK’s law enforcement agencies were using overseas firm to hide true ownership details or government links, this is a long overdue measure that will restore integrity and transparency to the market.

Interestingly, the register will also help to underline the credibility of reputable home buyers like Flying Homes and distinguish them above less creditable companies. This is great news for the owners of reputable real estate and home buying service providers, while it will also help customers to make informed decisions when selecting the companies that they partner with.

Coming Full Circle: How the Register Can Help to Resolve the Housing Crisis

Finally, it is worth noting that Transparency International UK have also warned that the sheer level of money laundered through property (especially in the capital) was actively contributing to the housing crisis. It is certainly helping to increase prices at a disproportionate rate, so regulating this should help to streamline international purchases and restore a natural sense of order.

In short, this represents a progressive and positive step from the UK government, which will deliver a much-needed boost to domestic home buying firms and citizens alike. It will also help to protect the integrity of the property market, which in recent times has emerged as a significant target for criminals with large amounts of money to launder.

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