Who is buying our land?

Michael Aliber considers the value of the Deeds Registry wanting to track the race and nationality of land purchasers. He notes that the Deeds Registry was created to ensure a legal record of property rights, and that despite the usefulness of its data - to estate agents and valuers - it was not created to generate data for policy purposes. That said, he then asks why the Deeds Registry indeed does not consider the other uses its data could serve, such as the recording of the municipality in which a transfer occurs.

The addition of just this single piece of information would for instance give the municipalities an ability to estimate the value of their tax base, thereby assisting the entire local government system. Moving on from this idea, he then examines the usefulness of using the Deeds Registry to record race. He feels it is a blunt instrument, as surely the Department of Land Affairs knows how much land is being acquired by blacks through its own interventions. Further, the kind of information necessary to really keep track is not the type which the Deeds Registry can be expected to record.
Nevertheless there are possibly three good reasons for amending the deeds data capture system:

  • It could keep track of the extent to which land reform land reverts back to white owners;
  • It could give an indication as to how much land passes into black ownership outside of its land reform programme; and
  • It could keep track of foreign purchases.
Unfortunately there are two challenges and one concern. The first challenge is how to capture the data retrospectively and the second is the fact that about 17% of South Africa's privately owned land is registered in the name of some legal entity. Dr Aliber's concern is with the purposes and interpretation of such data.

Full article on July HSRC Review

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