The Landed Newsletter No. 36, October 2018

Welcome!

In Landed Newsletter No. 36, Canadian landlords’ concerns about legal marijuana, using artificial intelligence to predict landslides, higher interest rates and a houseboat crisis in Hong Kong, Chinese investment in Laos 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

New South Wales is introducing electronic conveyancing. Law firm Surry Partners has the details.

Canada

Vancouver rezoned 99% of the area currently reserved for single-family homes to allow the construction of duplexes.

British Columbia's Salt Spring Island is facing a housing crisis that is fueled by illegal vacation rentals and development restrictions. The picturesque island, which is popular among wealthy Canadians and artists, has seen its homeless population top 1%.

B.C. capped the annual amount that landlords can raise residential rents at 2.5%, down from an anticipated 4.5%.

Citylab has a detailed look at plans by Sidewalk Labs, a sister company of Google, for the new smart city in Toronto.

Canada will legalize the possession and cultivation of small quantities of cannabis for personal use on October 17. Legalization is causing headaches for landlords who are worried that marijuana smoke will annoy nonsmokers. There are also concerns that mold from tenants growing marijuana will cause damage and health problems. Law firm EKB looks at the situation for landlords in B.C., a province that is in the forefront of Canada's marijuana industry. Here is a summary of other provinces' regulations.

China

In Beijing, the city land commission announced plans to offer 66 plots that can be developed into 9.3 million square meters of gross floor area, sparking concerns about a property glut.

Hong Kong

For the first time in 12 years, Hong Kong banks raised their prime lending rates. The 12.5 basis point (1/8 of a percentage point) increase follows a rise by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Hong Kong—as well as neighboring Macau and China's Guangdong province—were battered by the most powerful storm in the city's history. Typhoon Mangkhut resulted in no fatalities, but could produce insurance claims of over US$1 billion.

Some 200 Hong Kong families living on houseboats in Discovery Bay have been given three months' notice to vacate the marina where their boats are moored. Living on houseboats is technically illegal in Hong Kong and the city faces a shortage of moorings, leaving the families with nowhere to go. The marina's owner, Hong Kong Resorts, is redeveloping the facility.

Japan

After a summer that saw hundreds of people die in a heatwave, floods and landslides, Kansai was battered by typhoon Jebi. Eleven people died and Kansai International Airport, which sits on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, was flooded in the worst storm to hit Japan in 25 years.

Shortly after Jebi's passage, Hokkaido was rocked by an earthquake that killed 36 people and left large parts of the prefecture without electricity.

Average prices for commercial, residential and industrial properties in Japan rose for the first time in 27 years. Rising tourist numbers in midsize cities, including Hiroshima, Sapporo, Sendai and Fukuoka, contributed to the increase.

Laos

Vientiane is the latest city to benefit from inflows of Chinese money, as well as plans for a rail link to Beijing.

Trends and Ideas

Airbnb

More than 3,000 Airbnb listings have disappeared in Vancouver after the introduction of licensing regulations designed to increase the number of homes available for long-term rentals.

In Australia, the government of New South Wales is introducing a new framework for regulating short-term rentals. Effective next year, hosts in Sydney who are not present may rent their homes for a maximum of 180 days per year.

Bubbles

Swiss bank UBS released a housing price survey that lists Hong Kong, Toronto and Vancouver as being at risk of being in a bubble. No surprises there. But the survey also lists Tokyo as being overvalued and Singapore as being fairly valued.

Debt

Management consultancy McKinsey & Co. has produced an interactive graphic showing how the debt of 51 countries has evolved since 2000. As recent events in Argentina demonstrate, this is something you should consider when buying international real estate.

Technology

Openland, a San Francisco–based startup, raised US$2.25 million and launched its first product, a messaging platform for stakeholders in the real estate development process.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have developed software that uses artificial intelligence and mathematics to predict landslides up to two weeks before they occur.

Amazon announced plans to fund home-building start-up Plant Prefab. It's Amazon's first investment in the prefabricated housing business.

Landed News

Christopher Dillon Interviewed by Edward Chin

On September 2, I was featured in an hour-long, bilingual interview with Edward Chin on his show "Running the Race" on D100, which is subscription-based radio station. The interview—and lot more—is available to subscribers here.

Christopher Dillon speaking at the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong

On September 3, I spoke at a luncheon presentation for the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

Video and a transcript of an earlier version of the Swiss Chamber presentation—delivered at the Foreign Correspondents' Club on June 28—is now available. Entitled "Priced out of Paradise," the presentation offers strategies for buying a home in hyper-expensive cities like Hong Kong, London, New York, Shanghai, Singapore and Vancouver.

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Landed Newsletter No. 36 was published on September 28, 2018.