The Landed Newsletter No. 18 April 2017

Welcome!

Landed Newsletter No. 18 looks at Chinese property crackdowns, a Mainland Airbnb knockoff, changes to Singapore's tax code, smart meter ripoffs 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.

Note that from issue No. 18, I have stopped covering monthly sales volumes and similar statistics to focus more on news items.

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Market News

Australia

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned that Australia's housing market is in danger of a correction as housing prices and debt levels continue to rise.

Canada

Canada's new federal budget includes C$39.9 million (US$29.1 million) for Statistics Canada to create a database of every property in Canada, including up-to-date information on sales, foreign ownership and homeowner demographics. That database will make it much easier for the Canadian government to tax profits from home sales.

North Vancouver has decided to allow up to three residences—a home, a secondary suite and a coach house—on every single-family lot in the city.

Amid public protests, the sons of United States President Donald Trump opened a Trump-branded hotel in Vancouver.

A student from Mainland China has filed a class-action lawsuit against British Columbia's foreign buyer property tax. Meanwhile, Toronto is rumored to be considering a similar tax.

As the likelihood of cannabis becoming legal in Canada increases, Vancouver landlords are considering the addition of clauses in residential leases to stop tenants from smoking and growing pot at home.

China

The city of Beijing has increased the minimum down payment for non-ordinary homes—units over 144 square meters or with a price 20% above government guidelines—to 80% and bumped the down payment for ordinary second homes to 60%. The city also banned the sale of tiny apartments.

Shanghai and Beijing punished some of China's top developers, including Vanke and Evergrande, for selling commercial property to residential users.

In March, some 18 Chinese cities introduced market tightening measures, including Guangzhou, which made it illegal to sell a home less than two years after buying it.

One of China's largest developers, Country Garden, has closed the Mainland sales offices of its Forest City project in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The shutdown, which is in response to efforts by Mainland authorities to stem capital outflows, has left some buyers unable to complete their purchases.

Amid protests from the Philippines, China announced plans to build a radar station on Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

China's Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs has created an interactive map showing the average hourly pollution rates of over 4,600 enterprises throughout the country.

Authorities in Wuhe, Anhui, arrested three people for using soil contaminated with heavy metals and industrial waste to make bricks that were used to build houses.

Hong Kong

Subdivided apartments, previously a feature of Hong Kong's poorer neighborhoods, can now be found in middle-class districts like Old Peak Road.

A Mainland developer, Ping An Real Estate Capital, partnered with a local company to win the rights to a site adjacent to the Wong Chuk Hang Mass Transit Railway Station on Hong Kong Island. The transaction—which was estimated to be worth up to HK$9.8 billion (US$1.26 billion)—is the latest high-profile acquisition in Hong Kong by a Mainland company.

China's UnionPay banned  the use of its cards for making down payments on Hong Kong property.

Hong Kong loan sharks have taken to flooding the apartments of borrowers who are late in repaying their loans.

Japan

Japan moved to the highest possible alert level after North Korea fired four ballistic missiles simultaneously into nearby waters. And, in what has been described as the biggest show of force since WW II, Japan announced that it will send its largest warship on a three-month tour of the South China Sea.

Residential land prices in Japan stopped falling for the first time in nine years, with Okinawa recording the highest growth, at 3%.

The government formally approved minpaku and similar Airbnb-style arrangements. But private citizens will only be able to rent their homes for 180 days per year, limiting the appeal of minpaku as a business venture.

Rakukten has launched "Rakupa" an Airbnb-style service that lets users share parking spaces via a smartphone app.

North Korea

Austin Bay looks at the Trump administration's perspective on North Korea. Bay believes that American patience with North Korea is exhausted and all options—including nuclear weapons for Japan and South Korea—are now on the table.

Singapore

Homeowners in Singapore can now sell a property three years after its purchase without incurring extra stamp duty. Previously, the duty applied to properties sold within the first four years.

Singapore has changed the tax laws to make it harder for people to avoid stamp duty by buying and selling companies that own property.

Trends and Ideas

Airbnb

The South China Morning Post has an interesting profile of  Xiaozhu, a Chinese Airbnb-like home-sharing company that claims 10 million active users.

Artificial intelligence

Google is  introducing a service called Tango that uses indoor-mapping technology to allow you to find the items on your shopping list in a store. Tango is being trialled at Loews home improvement stores in the United States.

Internet of Things

U.S. magazine Consumer Reports is creating an open-source industry standard for devices connected to the Internet of Things.

Security researcher Jason Doyle has released a proof of concept hack showing Google Nest’s Dropcam, Dropcam Pro, Nest Cam Outdoor and Nest Cam Indoor security cameras can be disabled by an attacker who is inside their Bluetooth range.

Pricing

The Economist has released its quarterly house price survey, which continues to show Japanese property as a bargain. Canada and New Zealand, however, are dangerously overheated.

Smart meter ripoffs

Researchers in the Netherlands have found that smart electrical meters return wildly inaccurate readings, with a range of -32% to +582%. The six-month-long investigation tested nine brands brands of meters manufactured between 2004 and 2014.

Solar power

Japan's Kaneka Corporation has created a solar power cell with a record-breaking 26.6% efficiency rating. The theoretical maximum is 29%, and every increase in efficiency shortens the payback period for solar installations, making them more financially attractive.

3D printing

A Russian company, Apis Cotr, has developed a technique for "printing" a home in just 24 hours at a cost of US$10,000.

Landed News

PERE China panel discussion on March 2, 2017

I hosted a China panel at the PERE Asia Summit in Hong Kong on March 2, 2017. The panelists were (from left) Ivan Ho, KaiLong Investment; Charles Lam, Baring Private Equity Asia; Adam Metz, The Carlyle Group.

 

Landed Newsletter No. 18 was published on April 3, 2017.