The Landed Newsletter No. 20, June 2017

Welcome!

Landed Newsletter No. 20 looks at Airbnb returns in Hong Kong, flooding in Canada, the health benefits of a green environment, fake fingerprints 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

Australia will fine foreign owners who leave homes empty for more than six months.

National broadcaster ABC reports that Mainland Chinese buyers are leaving the Melbourne apartment market because of difficulties arranging financing.

Canada

After a closely fought election, British Columbia's NDP and Green parties came to a power-sharing agreement. Both parties plan to increase taxes on foreign buyers.

A homeowner who hired a contractor and a well-drilling company "on a handshake" has left the City of Vancouver with a C$10 million (US$7.4 million) bill after the drilling company pierced an aquifer creating a 2-million-liter-per-day flood and the risk of a sinkhole swallowing 12 nearby homes. The homeowner, contractor and drilling company have disappeared.

Metro Vancouver now has more seniors aged over 65 than children under 15.

New Vancouver bylaws make carbon monoxide alarms mandatory for residential buildings with fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage.

A federal judge has blocked an attempt by the Musqueam First Nation's band to increase annual land lease payments for 74 homeowners from an average of C$10,000 to $80,000. Leaseholders will now pay $25,000 per year.

Granville Island 2040, a planning project commissioned by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, has released its final recommendations for the revitalization of Vancouver's Granville Island (PDF, 50MB).

A division of Alphabet, corporate parent of Google, has applied to develop a 12-acre (5-hectare) zone in downtown Toronto as a smart city. Sidewalk Labs LLC plans to build the area "from the internet up."

It what is believed to be the first case of its kind in Canada, a Toronto-area landlord has been successfully sued by his tenants for violating their religious rights by refusing to remove his shoes before entering their home.

Ottawa and Montreal were hit by severe flooding. Up to 1,400 homeowners in Gatineau, Quebec, will not be allowed to rebuild their damaged homes, which are located in floodplains.

China

In response to central government moves to cool China's property market, real estate agents have begun cutting their commission rates.

Beijing and Shanghai banned the sale of apartments built on land zoned for commercial use, causing protests from people who had purchased apartments but were unable to obtain financing to complete the transaction. Beijing later reversed the ban.

Hong Kong

The city's de facto central bank, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), cut the amount of money banks could lend to developers for construction financing. The HKMA also tightened lending rules for home buyers with existing mortgages and offshore income. Several Hong Kong banks raised their rates for Hibor-based mortgages by 10 basis points.

Henderson Land paid HK$23.3 billion (US$3 billion) for the Murray Road car park, making the site the world's most expensive plot of commercial land.

Green groups were outraged when the government commissioned the non-profit Housing Society to study the feasibility of building apartments on the fringes of country parks.

Indonesia

Jakarta's former governor Ahok was sentenced to two years in jail after being convicted of blasphemy. Ahok subsequently declined to appeal the sentence. Bachtiar Nasir, the Islamist leader who was behind Ahok's conviction, said his next target was economic inequality.

Japan

Japan's Diet passed a law that will create a system to register abandoned properties, renovate them and rent them to low-income families and elderly people.

Condominium sales in Tokyo are slowing as investor interest increases in Osaka.

Trends and Ideas

Airbnb

The South China Morning Post looks at returns on Airbnb rentals in Hong Kong.

Biometrics

Researchers at New York University and Michigan State University created a set of "Masterprints"—fake fingerprints with enough common elements that they can fool scanners on mobile phones about 65% of the time. It's a safe bet that the same technology can fool fingerprint-based door locks.

Greenery

Living in a green environment has health benefits. An eight-year study of 108,000 nurses in the United States found that women living around greenery had a 12% lower death rate than those living in less-green environments.

Middle-class housing

San Francisco is building 130–150 rental apartments for teachers who cannot otherwise afford to live in the city. The announcement follows news reports of a public school math teacher in the city who is homeless.

Urban transport

The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy published a report on how vehicle electrification, automation and sharing will shape urban transportation by 2050.

San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee introduced legislation banning delivery robots from the city's sidewalks. Yee is concerned that the robots could be a safety hazard for children and the elderly.

Landed News

CanCham/KPMG briefing on Canadian and United States Property, Hong Kong, May 2017
On May 25, 2017, I moderated a panel discussion about investing in Canadian and United States real estate with (from right) KPMG's Roger Power and Lorne Burns, and Colliers' Nigel Smith. The panel was organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and KPMG.

Landed Newsletter No. 20 was published on June 1, 2017.