The Landed Newsletter No. 24 October 2017

Welcome!

In Landed Newsletter No. 24 you can read about higher interest rates and lower prices in Canada, price increases in Japan’s secondary cities, more cooling measures in China, headwinds in Hong Kong’s commercial market 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

Canada

The Bank of Canada raised its prime rate by a quarter percentage point, to 1.0%. Major lenders followed suit, prompting concern that higher interest rates would deter home buyers.

An immigration lawyer claims wealthy foreign nationals are using the new 10-year, multiple-entry visas to move their families to Canada while avoiding Canadian taxes.

In August, the average price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area fell 20% from its peak in April of this year.

One of Canada's best-known authors, Margaret Atwood, and several wealthy neighbors are locked in a dispute over the construction of an eight-story condo near their inner city Toronto homes. In egalitarian Canada, nimbyism doesn't play well.

Pre-sale buyers of a cancelled condo in Vancouver have rejected the developer's compensation offer. China-based Vivagrand offered to return the buyer's deposits with interest and a 50% bonus.

Under proposed new rules, real estate agents in British Columbia will be banned from dual agency, a process where the agent represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction.

China

Five Chinese cities now require buyers of apartments hold the units for up to three years. The market-cooling measures were introduced in Chongqing, Nanning, Nanchang, Changsha and Xian. Meanwhile, banks in large cities such as Beijing are charging first-time buyers a premium over the benchmark lending rate.

This story about the closure of an international hospital in Beijing makes for interesting reading for anyone thinking bending the rules when they invest in China.

In a bid to improve local air quality, 1.8 million households in Hebei Province will switch from coal to natural gas by the end of October.

Hong Kong

In a sign that Hong Kong's commercial property market may be encountering headwinds, the Mandarin Oriental Group cancelled the sale of the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay after bids failed to meet the company's target price. The hotel—which sits on the first piece of land in Hong Kong to be registered—was expected to fetch over HK$30 billion (US$3.8 billion).

The Hong Kong government was pilloried for inexpensively renting land to wealthy people through an opaque system of short-term contracts. Separately, the Lands Department was criticized for ignoring an illegal land use case in the New Territories for two decades.

Carl Frey, a professor at Oxford University predicts that retail work—and retail outlets themselves—will vanish. That poses some interesting questions for cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, where retail is a major employer and shops are among the most expensive real estate. The full report is available here (PDF).

Here's a very cool infographic about Kowloon's infamous walled city, that was originally published in the South China Morning Post.

Indonesia

More than 100,000 people on the island of Bali have been evacuated as Mount Agung threatens to erupt.

Japan

Property prices in Japan's second-tier cities gained 2.8% in the latest government survey, as investors looked for value outside Tokyo.

North Korea fired a second missile over Japan. Like last month's missile test, this one passed over Cape Erimo, about 100 kilometers from Niseko, before landing in the Ocean. Earlier in the month, North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb, it's most powerful weapons test to-date.

Thailand

Thailand will soon allow homeowners to sell electricity that they generate from rooftop solar power installations back to the utility.

Trends and Ideas

Airbnb

A Seattle company will give buyers $50,000 for use as a down payment if the buyers agree to be Airbnb hosts.

This collection of Airbnb horror stories reads like it was prompted by the hotel industry, but makes for an interesting read nonetheless.

Airbnb will expand its inbound and outbound business in China, with plans to triple its staff in China by 2018.

Privacy

All of the major home speaker systems can be hacked with inaudible commands—the equivalent of dog whistles.

Transit

In a survey of 100 countries listing the best cities in which to drive, Tokyo ranked No.4 and Singapore 6th. Vancouver was 48th and Hong Kong a miserable 82nd, behind both Beijing and Shanghai.

Universal Design

Google has announced plans to improve the quality of its mapping service for people in wheelchairs.

Landed News

CanCham property committee presentation Sept. 7 2017

I hosted a panel on Hong Kong real estate for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce on September 7.

On October 12, I'll be moderating a discussion at the PERE Investor Forum in Tokyo.

The Landed books make a great Christmas gift for your favorite investor. Order today!

Landed Newsletter No. 24 was published on September 29, 2017.