The Landed Newsletter No. 32, June 2018

Welcome!

In Landed Newsletter No. 32, read about booming property markets in Hong Kong and Cambodia; falling prices in Canada and Australia; Airbnb’s challenges in Japan and China; Seasteading in French Polynesia; and: Is Alexa bugging you?

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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

Taxes on absentee owners and higher capital gains taxes for foreign buyers are cooling Australia's housing market. The median home price in Sydney fell to A$878,000 (US$665,000) in March, down 0.3% from February and 2.1% from a year earlier.

Australia will ban the use of cash in transactions over A$10,000. The new rules, which target the underground economy, take effect on July 1, 2019.

Cambodia

Phnom Penh is in the midst of a real estate boom that is being fueled by Mainland buyers. By the end of 2018, the number of luxury apartments is expected to reach 22,828, up from 8,942 today.

Canada

Canadian tax authorities have tightened reporting and enforcement activities for people flipping, renting and renovating real estate. In the last financial year the government assessed an additional C$102 million (US$80 million) in taxes and C$19 million in penalties.

Government regulations add C$464,000 to the cost of a new home in Vancouver, according to a new report by the C.D. Howe Institute, a Canadian thinktank.

Nearly two-thirds of the people paying British Columbia's new anti-speculation tax will be residents, according to the provincial finance minister.

In April, the average selling price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area fell more than 12%, year-on-year, to C$805,000.

China

In May, China landed bombers on disputed islands in the South China Sea and two U.S. warships sailed near islands claimed by China, prompting a furious response from Beijing.

Hainan Island will make it easier for foreign workers, including people from Hong Kong and Taiwan, to buy a home in the newly designated free-trade zone.

Maps Mania published an interesting look at land claims by China and other countries in the South China Sea. The post includes research by Reuters, Al Jeezera, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and Earthrise Media.

Hong Kong

Forty-eight floors in the world's most expensive office tower, which was purchased in 2017 for a staggering HK$40.2 billion (US$5.2 billion), are back on the market.

In April, residential property prices in Hong Kong rose for the 25th consecutive month, driven in part by the city's construction costs, which trail only New York and San Francisco.

Japan

The president of Suruga Bank admitted that staff had falsified documents in the 'share house' scandal that saw the bank issue ¥203.5 billion (US$1.85 billion) in loans to 1,258 individuals.

In what may be a template for Japan's depopulated villages and rural areas, Chicago offered 3,200 vacant lots for sale for US$1 each.

With the advent of Airbnb and similar services, average hotel room rates fell 9.4% in the year ended March 31, with weekend prices (which are often higher than weekday rates in Japan) falling 7% over the past two years. Japan's new Airbnb law takes effect on June 15.

Malaysia

After the surprise electoral victory of 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, Mainland Chinese buyers are concerned about the future of their property in Malaysia.

Mahatir has announced plans to cancel a high-speed rail line between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and to enlarge Middle Rocks, an outcrop off Singapore that Malaysia was awarded in a 2008 ruling by the International Court of Justice.

Vietnam

Law firm Duane Morris looks at foreigners marrying Vietnamese nationals to buy land.

Trends and Ideas

Airbnb

Bloomberg has a long look at Airbnb's challenges in China and the company's decision to go it alone in the PRC.

Airbnb will report the income of hosts in Denmark to that country's tax authorities. It's the first agreement of its kind for Airbnb.

Building technology

Researchers at the University of Exeter have discovered a technique to add graphene to concrete, doubling the concrete's strength and reducing carbon emissions from the manufacturing process.

California will become first U.S. state to mandate solar panels on new homes. But one noted energy economist points out that  residential rooftop solar panels are not a cost-effective way of generating electricity.

Empty nest syndrome

When nothing else would convince him to leave the family home, a New York State couple obtained an eviction order against their 30-year-old son. The mind boggles...

Gentrification

The Indeed Hiring Lab looks at the jobs that are popular and scarce in expensive U.S. cities. Most of the missing jobs are related to building and construction. It would be interesting to see how gentrification affects white-collar, skilled workers like teachers and nurses.

Seasteading

French Polynesia is partnering with Blue Frontiers and the Seasteading Institute to create a Floating Island Project that will have 300 homes on a self-governing enclave that uses a cryptocurrency called Varyon.

Smart homes

If you're searching for an excuse to avoid having an Alexa or similar device in your home, here are two more. A woman in Portland, Oregon, discovered that her Alexa had recorded private conversations with her husband and emailed them to random person who was in the family's contact list. And researchers have discovered that Alexa and Siri can be manipulated by inaudible commands.

Landed News

Media coverage

I was interviewed by Peter Lewis on RTHK's Money Talk Xtra about buying a home in Japan on May 12. A podcast is available here.

I was interviewed in the May 1 edition of Squarefoot magazine about residential real estate in Hong Kong (PDF, 1 mb).

Speaking events

On June 15, I will be in Tokyo speaking at an event organized by the American Chamber of Commerce Japan. The event is about investing in Japanese real estate.

On June 28, I'll be speaking at a lunch event at the Foreign Correspondent's Club in Hong Kong. My presentation is entitled "Priced-out of Paradise."

Patreon

Instead of running ads in the newsletter, I've opened an account at the micro-donation site Patreon. Drop by and say hello!

Odds and ends

It's taken a while, but the print edition of Landed Japan is finally available from Amazon Japan.

To keep this newsletter ad-free, please share it with a friend, buy a book or visit my Patreon page. Thanks!

Landed Newsletter No. 32 was published on May 31, 2018.