Hidden Wealth

Homes Incorporated: Offshore Ownership of Real Estate in the U.K.

Ownership of real estate through corporations in offshore tax havens creates opportunities for tax evasion and money laundering and may have undesirable effects in housing markets. In this paper, we study offshore ownership of real estate in the United Kingdom by combining several data sources on real estate transactions, prices, and both nominal and ultimate ownership. We provide (i) descriptive evidence on the prevalence of offshore ownership across time, space, and market segments, (ii) document that both taxation and secrecy are important motives for the beneficial owners behind such investments, and (iii) show that offshore ownership can have significant real effects in housing markets.