Overseas ownership of UK property triples over last decade

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Overseas ownership of UK property triples over last decade

Foreign ownership of properties in England and Wales has trebled since 2010 from 88,000 to nearly 250,000, according to new analysis by the Centre for Public Data.

Exactly 247,016 titles across England & Wales are now registered to individuals with an overseas correspondence address, nearly 1% of all registered titles compared to 0.4% in 2010.

The data was obtained via Freedom of information requests covering previously unpublished data from HM Land Registry on the number of property titles owned by individuals with an overseas correspondence address.

'The Government should start by bringing forward the draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill, to improve the transparency of property."

Three-quarters of the titles are registered to individuals with addresses in just 20 countries, with the main groups being the Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories, namely Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and the British Virgin Islands, and also South-East Asia and the Middle East, and English-speaking countries.

Anna Powell-Smith, director of the Centre for Public Data, said: "There are long-standing concerns about the role the UK property market plays as a vehicle for tax avoidance and corruption. So the fact that many of these titles are registered in tax havens is alarming.

"There are also concerns about the impact overseas buyers are having on the affordability of housing, with second homes often scooped up as an asset.
"We urgently need better data about housing demand to properly understand the factors driving our broken housing market.

'The Government should start by bringing forward the draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill, to improve the transparency of property."

The growth in titles registered in Northern cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Salford and Leeds has also been notable, particularly since 2016.
The Centre for Public Data said previous studies of the effect of such buyers on local markets have been limited, based on small samples or anecdotal evidence.

"The purpose of our work is to enable more systematic and better informed work on affordability, which we hope will support better-evidenced policy responses."

To see the full breakdown of jurisdictions in the research report, click here:
https://www.centreforpublicdata.org/property-data-overseas-individuals#data

It further said rising house prices in the UK are often attributed in part to purchases by overseas individual buyers.

"However, gaps in published official data hamper our understanding of such purchases, with previous analysis of the number and effect of overseas buyers being based on small samples or anecdotal reports.

"While official data on titles in England & Wales registered to companies based overseas has been published since 2017, there is no equivalent official data for titles registered to individuals based overseas - not even the total number of such titles.

"We obtained previously unpublished data from HM Land Registry on the number of property titles owned by individuals with an overseas correspondence address - such an address indicates that the owner intends to be based overseas to a significant extent."

Its recommendations were:

  • The lack of official data on this topic reflects a broader lack of high-quality evidence on factors affecting demand for UK property. We recommend measures to improve data availability in a range of areas, including:
  • The Government should prioritise the Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill (to which it has already committed), which will create better data on the nature of property owned via overseas corporate structures;
  • The Government should progress its proposed measures to create a public register of options and contracts over land;
  • The Government should improve published official data on the count and location of buy-to-let mortgages;
  • HM Land Registry should publish data on individual overseas ownership annually as experimental statistics.

Recently formed CFPD said it is non-partisan and non-aligned, working with a board and group of informal advisors to develop its strategy.

Its founder Anna Powell-Smith is a data scientist and policy analyst. She was previously chief product officer at a successful British data visualisation startup, founding chief technical officer at the University of Oxford's Evidence-Based Medicine DataLab, and developer on the data science team at the Government Digital Service.