The Landed Newsletter No. 31, May 2018

Welcome!

In Landed Newsletter No. 31 read about a North Korean property boom, efforts to cool the Chinese and New Zealand markets, new Airbnb laws in Japan, an island-wide shutdown of Boracay, resistance to new taxes in Vancouver, Alexa hacks and IoT leaks, 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 government inquiry found that Australian banks were guilty of a range of housing-related malpractices, such as giving 80,000 customers bad advice and withdrawing advice fees from the accounts of dead clients.

Canada

Vancouver expects to collect C$30 million (US$23 million) from the new empty homes tax. Homeowners, meanwhile, are protesting audits by the city and a new schools tax.

The Royal Bank of Canada says that housing affordability in Vancouver is the worst in Canadian history.

If you thought that toxic waste on housing sites only happened in developing countries, this story from Edmonton might come as a surprise.

The University of Winnipeg has produced an interactive map and other resources to show how climate change is expected to affect Canada

China

Mainland developers are taking smaller profits—and in some cases, losses—and building rental accommodations in accordance with instructions from Xi Jinping.

The Shanghai government reversed a decision to revoke the household registration of citizens who who have overseas residency.

The South China Morning Post looks at efforts to end the sham marriages and divorces that people have long used to evade China's property regulations.

Police in the United States have raided more than 100 Chinese-owned homes in seven California counties that were hosting marijuana grow operations.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong government launched a public consultation on ways to increase the land supply for housing. One option, reclaiming the 170 acre Hong Kong Golf Club, has provoked violent protests. Many of the other options, including building homes on top of Hong Kong's container terminal, are unlikely to succeed. The MTR, meanwhile, has proposed building towns on the Mainland for Hong Kong people.

From mid-July, travelers entering and departing Hong Kong must declare if they are carrying more than HK$120,000 (US$15,300) in cash.

Homeowners and businesses will soon be able to install solar panels and sell electricity back to the city's electricity companies at up to five times the current retail price. The vast majority of people Hong Kong live in apartments, limiting the scheme's appeal to homeowners, particularly those in rural areas.

Japan

Japan's bank regulator has launched an emergency investigation into Suruga bank's financing of a chain of women-only share houses.

The Japanese government announced the details of new Airbnb regulations (see below).

North Korea

North Korea is building homes and apartments, including high-rise buildings in Pyeongyang, for entrepreneurs who have made money in the country's emerging market economy. North Korean real estate has also attracted interest from Chinese investors.

New Zealand

Law firm Cavell Leitch looks at proposed changes to the Overseas Investment Act  that could have a dramatic effect on nonresidents' ability to buy real estate in New Zealand.

The Philippines

The Island of Boracay in the Philippines

President Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay for six months, claiming that untreated sewage being dumped near the resort island had turned it into a "cesspool." I have heard unconfirmed reports that local governments are also cracking down on illegal beach-side structures in Puerto Gallera.

Singapore

After years of stagnation, residential property prices in Singapore are showing signs of life.

Thailand

More than 3,000 Chang Mai residents protested the construction of luxury homes for judges and court staff on Doi Suthep, a mountain that is considered to be sacred

Trends and Ideas

Airbnb

Airbnb hosts in Japan are preparing for new national regulations that will take effect on June 15, as well as tough local regulations. Seven Eleven stores in Japan will provide automated guest-reception services to home-sharing services like Airbnb. Meanwhile, two hosts that I spoke to were looking for loopholes in the new regulations, but said they were willing to walk away from the short-term rental business if they had to comply with the new laws.

Hosts in Vancouver will be required to display a business license number in their listings. The article includes a summary of current regulations government short-term rentals in Vancouver.

Sick building syndrome

The Mosaic Foundation has published an interesting look at the causes of and science behind sick building syndrome.

Smart homes

Researchers at Princeton University released an "IoT Inspector" that tracks how IoT-enabled devices communicate with the outside world. The inspector discovered that devices, such as smart TVs, connect with a surprisingly large number of third parties and often lacked basic encryption and authentication capabilities.

A proof-of-concept hack has been released that demonstrates how an Amazon Alexa can eavesdrop on homeowners and transcribe their conversations.

3D "printed" homes

Researchers in France have unveiled what they claim is the world's first 3D printed home. Tenants will move into the home, which took 18 days to print, in June.

Landed News

I will be interviewed by Peter Lewis on RTHK's Money Talk Xtra about buying a home in Japan on May 5.

I spoke at an investigative journalism conference at Waseda University in Tokyo on April 28. The session, which was attended by journalists from top Japanese news outlets, including the Asahi Shimbun, Kyodo News and NHK, was led by my friend Jun Homma of Nikkei Real Estate Market Report.

Speaker badge for J-Forum 2018 at Waseda University

Launch events in Hong Kong and Tokyo for Landed Japan are now being finalized. Watch this space for details.

Finally, I have longstanding relationships with agents in both Hong Kong and Japan. Contact me if you'd like an introduction.

Landed Newsletter No. 31 was published on May 3, 2018.