The Landed Newsletter No. 15 January 2017

Welcome!

Landed Newsletter No. 15 looks at new taxes and incentives in Vancouver; land lease renewals in China; Airbnb's overtures to city governments; a new airport in Thailand; and much more.

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The Landed Newsletter highlights news and resources that you can use to make better real estate decisions, whether you are buying, renting or investing. With a focus on Asia and the Pacific Rim, The Landed Newsletter covers trends, legal and environmental developments and technology.

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Market News

Australia

A consortium led by Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, won permission to buy the Kidman Ranch in Australia, after two earlier offers were rejected by the federal government. Rinhart will own 67% of the ranch, while 33% will be held by Shanghai CRED. Kidman is one of the world's largest cattle ranches.

Canada

The Royal Bank of Canada's latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report [PDF] shows that owning a home at market price in Canada in the third quarter of 2016 was the least affordable in nearly eight years. Affordability continues to decline in Toronto, while Vancouver remains one of the least affordable cities in Canada.

The British Columbia government has launched a program to help first-time buyers, with up to C$37,500 (US$28,000) in interest-free loans on homes valued up to C$750,000. Applicants must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident with an annual household income below C$150,000.

Property taxes in Vancouver will increase 3.9% next year. Of that amount, 0.5% is being described as the "fentanyl tax," which will finance programs to deal with the city's drug problem. In the first 11 months of 2016, 164 people in Vancouver died from drug overdoses.

A citizen-led campaign in the Vancouver area called Lonely Homes is tracking empty homes by monitoring uncut lawns and accumulated mail. The group hopes the government will use the data, which is collected online, to improve housing policy.

China

The central government confirmed that homeowners will not need renew or pay fees to extend land leases for their homes. Land underneath Chinese homes is leased from the government, usually for 70 years, but cities such as Wenzhou issued 20-year leases. The decision is a temporary measure until a law is enacted.

New home prices in Shanghai dropped 0.1% in November, the first month-on-month drop in 21 months. New home prices in China's tier 1 cities—Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen—increased 0.1% in November.

China strengthened its grip on its territory in the South China Sea with the debut of daily charter civilian flights between Haikou, Hainan, and Woody Island. Later in the same week, China's sole aircraft carrier conducted exercises around Taiwan, which China considers to be a renegade province.

Shanghai-based developer CIFI Holdings forfeited a 374 million yuan (US$54 million) deposit when it allegedly failed to meet the terms of land purchase tender. The punishment is seen as unusually severe, reflecting a the government's commitment to cooling the property market.

Beijing and other cities in northern China ended 2016 and began the new year under a blanket of air pollution so thick that authorities were forced to close highways and cancel flights.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong home prices hit record highs in November, despite an increase in the stamp duty. November's rise marks the eighth consecutive month of gains.

One-third of the mini-storage facilities inspected after an inferno killed two firefighters last year contravene fire safety regulations. A trade body said the industry was "on the verge of collapse" because the required changes were too difficult to carry out.

Chun Wo Property has launched the TPlus apartments in Tuen Mun, which are reputed to be the smallest ever offered in Hong Kong. After deducting the balcony, kitchen and bathroom, occcupants will have 50 square feet (4.6 square meters) of living space.

Hong Kong and Shenzhen will jointly run a technology park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, a 100 hectare plot between the two cities that was created when the Shenzhen River was straightened.

The Hong Kong government is unlikely to reach its goal of building 280,000 public housing apartments over the next decade, according to Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung. At present, the government has identified land for only 236,000 apartments.

The Ombudsman slammed the Buildings Department for taking too long to handle orders to remove illegal structures. In one case, the Buildings Department took seven years to inform the Lands Registry of an order to remove an illegal structure, by which time the property had been sold to another owner, who had to pay to have the structure demolished.

Japan

Japan's birthrate is believed to have fallen below 1 million in 2016. It's the first time there were fewer than a million births since the government began collecting data in 1899.

Japan experienced the largest growth in the number of American retirees—at 42%—and more than any other country from 2010 to 2014, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration.

The U.S. military returned 4,000 hectares of land in Okinawa that had been used as a jungle-warfare training area to the Japanese government.

Thailand

Bangkok Airways is in talks with Phang Nga Province to build an airport north of Phuket. The 320-hectare, single-runway facility would relieve pressure on Phuket airport.

Trends and Ideas

Airbnb

Evicted tenants in San Francisco are hiring private investigators to show that their former apartments are being used as Airbnb rentals.

In a conciliatory move, Airbnb dropped a lawsuit against New York City and agreed to enforce rental restrictions in London and Amsterdam, two key markets for the company.

Good ideas

Citylab has a list of the 10 best ideas of 2016, ranging from building preschools on urban farms in London to using vacant lots in Detroit as rain gardens that absorb excess rainfall.

Institutional investment

The California Public Employees' Retirement System is restructuring its US$300 billion portfolio to increase the proportion invested in real estate and infrastructure from 1% to 2%. The largest public pension fund in the United States, CalPERS returned 0.61% last year, compared with a target of 7.5%. Many pension funds in the U.S. and elsewhere face similar shortfalls.

Land use

Heidelberg University has published an interactive map that shows the land use and land cover for any area on earth, based on data from OpenStreetMap.

Smart homes

A security specialist reports that smart electricity meters are often "dangerously insecure" and a single line of computer code could shut off the power to your home or cause a fire.

Technology

Builders in the United States have found a new marketing angle: healthy homes that feature improved ventilation, water and air filtration systems, and low-emission materials. The builders are targeting professional athletes as well as worried moms with their new products.

Spain has unveiled the world's first 3D printed pedestrian bridge. The 12-meter concrete span is in Alcobendas.

Landed Newsletter No. 15 was published on January 4, 2017.