The Landed Newsletter No. 26 December 2017

Welcome!

Landed Newsletter No. 26 announces a second edition of Landed Japan, new housing policies in Canada, blockchain and new cyber-threats in real estate 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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Second Edition of Landed Japan

A second edition of Landed Japan will be published early next year. The new book covers key developments since the first edition was released in 2010—including Abenomics, Fukushima, the 2020 Olympics and legalized gaming—and features new chapters on Hokkaido, Greater Tokyo, Nagoya, Kansai, Fukuoka and Okinawa.

The second edition has updated case studies and describes new financing options for buyers. It also covers opportunities surrounding major infrastructure projects, as well as risks such as empty homes (akiya), asbestos and radon. For the first time, Landed Japan has extensive checklists for buyers.

See below for more Landed news.

Market News

Canada

Canada announced a 10-year, C$40 billion (US$31.5 billion) national housing strategy that includes rental subsidies for low-income families.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a report noting that household debt in Canada is 101% of gross domestic product, the highest among 28 OECD countries. The report observes, "Research points to a number of links between high indebtedness and the risks of severe recessions."

British Columbia banned dual agency, which occurs when a real estate agent acts for both the buyer and the seller in a transaction.

A B.C. judge ruled that a woman who purchased a home in North Vancouver but failed to complete the sale after the foreign buyer tax took effect had breached her contract. The buyer, who is Korean, lost her C$180,000 deposit.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the City of Vancouver is liable for damages because it delayed an application to demolish a historic house until the City had passed heritage-protection rules.

Vancouver announced a 10-year housing strategy with a goal of building 72,000 new homes, increasing the availability of affordable housing and taming speculation.

China

A 3.6-hectare plot in Beijing failed to find a buyer in a land auction, in a sign the government's market-cooling measures are taking effect.

According to agency Knight Frank, prices for luxury property in Guangzhou rose faster than in any other city during the first nine months of 2017.

Hong Kong

In a rare piece of good news for Hong Kong's environment, a High Court judge blocked plans to build small houses for indigenous villagers in three country park enclaves.

The Audit Commission slammed the government's lack of progress in fixing Hong Kong's deed registration system. Efforts to modernize the system—which many people view as a rent-seeking scheme for Hong Kong's solicitors—have been going on since 1988.

An unidentified buyer paid HK$1.16 billion (US$149 million) for two apartments on the Peak, setting a new record for Hong Kong residential real estate.

Japan

Reuters reports on a Tokyo doctor who helps terminally ill people die at home. This is a growing trend, due to Japan's aging population and shortage of hospice beds. It poses challenges for landlords, due to superstitions about death.

The Japanese government announced plans to crack down on foreign ownership of remote islands.

Curbed has a long-form profile of Japan's prefabricated home manufacturers, including Muji, PanaHome and Sekisui House.

New research from the U.K.'s Bristol University suggests a mass evacuation should not be conducted after a large nuclear accident, which is what happened after the Fukushima disaster.

Japanese companies invested US$2.12 billion in overseas property in the first nine months of 2017, up 60% from the same period in 2016. These numbers are consistent with the interest in international real estate that I saw at the PERE conference in Tokyo in October.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Herald has an interactive map of 699 buildings in Wellington that have un-reinforced masonry and other problems that make them vulnerable to an earthquake.

Trends and Ideas

Airbnb

Japanese regulators raided Airbnb's offices in Tokyo over alleged violations of Japan's antitrust laws.

Vancouver introduced Airbnb regulations. Effective April 1, homeowners or tenants can rent out part or all of their principal homes after getting a C$49 annual license and paying a one-time $54 activation fee. Short-term rentals are banned for secondary homes, secondary suites and laneway homes.

Blockchain

Etherparty has an infographic explaining how blockchain-based smart contracts work. This technology has great potential to increase transparency and efficiency and reduce costs.

Climate change

Moody's warned coastal communities in the United States that it would cut their credit rating if the cities did not address climate change. A lower credit rating makes it more expensive for cities to borrow money.

Crime

Criminals in the United States are hacking the email accounts of real estate agents and title companies and diverting buyers' funds to fictitious bank accounts. It's worth remembering that email is about as secure as a postcard.

Smart cities

Microsoft founder Bill Gates bought 25,000 acres (10,117 hectares) of land in Arizona, where he plans to build a smart city.

Smart homes

Commercial operators are grappling with many of the same concerns as homeowners when it comes to the cyber-security of smart buildings. With commercial buildings, however, the cost of a security breach can be much higher.

A security vulnerability has been discovered in "Amazon Key," a service that lets homeowners remotely allow delivery people into their homes. The vulnerability lets rogue couriers disable a security camera opposite the home's front door.

Solar energy

Manufacturers are scrambling after prices of polysilicon, a key component of photovoltaic cells, jumped 35% after environmental regulators in China shut down several factories.

Landed News

On November 29, I moderated two panel discussions at the MIPIM Asia conference in Hong Kong. One session covered China's Belt and Road Initiative with the founder of Shui On Group and Chairman of Hong Kong's Trade Development Council, Vincent Lo, and architect Nicholas Ho.

From left, Vincent Lo, Christopher Dillon and Nicholas Ho.
At the MIPIM Asia Summit on November 29, 2017, with Vincent Lo of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and architect Nicholas Ho.

The second session was about marketing cities, and featured speakers from Paris, Manchester and Brisbane.

The Mayors' Think Tank at the MIPIM Asia Summit
Moderating the Mayors' Think Tank at the MIPIM Asia Summit in Hong Kong on November 29, 2017

Landed Newsletter No. 26 was published on November 30, 2017.