UK: Can a non-UK national purchase UK properties?

Yes. UK government does not place any requirement on buyer's civil or residential status, nor is there any requirement on visa. 

UK: Where can I find the actual sold property prices?

The development of UK real estate market is rather mature, and the policy of sold property price registration has been in place for over 2 decades.

The real estate transaction is very free, transparent and open.

You can google search the house price or click here: UK House Price Index

UK: Why do we need to go through anti-money laundering investigations when purchasing a UK, despite the purchase price is relatively small?

Because it has happened several times that illicit money is remitted by ways of purchasing UK properties, 'Transparency International' has urged the UK to strictly ban on any possible money laundery.  

Hence, the UK government regulates that when a foreign person or entity purchases a UK property, one must undergo an anti-money laundering investigation.

UK: What is a 'SIPP'?

A SIPP is a type of personal pension scheme. 
The SIPP itself is a pension ‘wrapper’ that holds investments until retirement and the investor starts to draw a pension income. 
Most SIPPs allow investment in a range of assets including commercial property not just in an insurance backed fund provided by an insurer. 
SIPPs are designed for people who want to manage their own fund by dealing with, and switching, their investments when they choose.
They may have higher charges than other personal pensions or stakeholder pensions. 
As with any pension fund, the investor cannot take money from the fund until the age of 55. 
SIPPs often fall to be treated as insurance products, as they normally carry an element of contingency insurance within a package, which also makes provision for funds to buy an annuity to provide a pension payment to sustain the pensioner after retirement. 
Charges made by IFAs, brokers and other intermediaries, normally collected as commission from the premium (contributions) will be exempt under the VAT Act 1994 Schedule 9, Group 2, Item 4 if they relate to an intermediary service in connection with the provision of the SIPP.

The charges made to a SIPP customer may however, include initial and annual charges for the management of the customer’s investment portfolio rather than relating to a specific supply of the pension. 
Therefore, these charges would normally be taxable for VAT purposes.

Details to be found on: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/vatfinmanual/vatfin5700.htm

Exclusive News

Real estate investors look to Southeast Asia
〔THE CHINA POST〕 TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Facing a low-performing local real estate market, Taiwanese investors are reportedly putting their money abroad in up-and-coming development properties throughout Southeast Asia. Two large international real estate firms hosted separate press conferences on Tuesday to analyze the latest trend in real estate purchases. According to Executive Director David Chin (泰啟松) of Asia Pacific International Property, the firm, which specializes in real estate transactions in the Asia-Pacific region, made nearly NT$7.3 billion in sales.