What's in the laundromat? Mapping and characterising offshore owned domestic property in London

Bourne, Jonathan, Ingianni, Andrea and Mckenzie, Rex (2022) What's in the laundromat? Mapping and characterising offshore owned domestic property in London. arXiv,


The UK, particularly London, is a global hub for money laundering, a significant portion of which uses domestic property. However, understanding the distribution and characteristics of offshore domestic property in the UK is challenging due to data availability. This paper attempts to remedy that situation by enhancing a publicly available dataset of UK property owned by offshore companies. We create a data processing pipeline which draws on several datasets and machine learning techniques to create a parsed set of addresses classified into six use classes. The enhanced dataset contains 138,000 properties 44,000 more than the original dataset. The majority are domestic (95k), with a disproportionate amount of those in London (42k). The average offshore domestic property in London is worth 1.33 million GBP collectively this amounts to approximately 56 Billion GBP. We perform an in-depth analysis of the offshore domestic property in London, comparing the price, distribution and entropy/concentration with Airbnb property, low-use/empty property and conventional domestic property. We estimate that the total amount of offshore, low-use and airbnb property in London is between 144,000 and 164,000 and that they are collectively worth between 145-174 billion GBP. Furthermore, offshore domestic property is more expensive and has higher entropy/concentration than all other property types. In addition, we identify two different types of offshore property, nested and individual, which have different price and distribution characteristics. Finally, we release the enhanced offshore property dataset, the complete low-use London dataset and the pipeline for creating the enhanced dataset to reduce the barriers to studying this topic.

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