The Landed Newsletter No. 27 January 2018


Landed Newsletter No. 27 looks at housing statistics in Canada, military land in Hong Kong, Jakarta’s subsidence problem, tighter Airbnb rules in Japan and Singapore, smart home security breaches 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


Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released the results of a survey showing that 4.8% of the homes in the Vancouver census area were owned by nonresidents of Canada. However, 20% of the city's newly built condominiums had foreign owners.

A federal court upheld a decision by Canada’s Competition Tribunal ordering the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) to allow its members to share sales histories of listed properties online. The TREB is expected to appeal the ruling, which would pave the way for far greater price transparency throughout Canada.

Law firm Thorsteinssons reviewed Vancouver's new empty home tax and concluded "A flaw in the scheme of the tax makes it a serious risk for virtually anyone who buys a home in Vancouver after 2017."

Developers say Vancouver's bureaucracy is making it impossible to build the affordable rental units that are at the heart of the city's new housing plan.

More than 40% of the breadwinners in high net worth households that recently migrated to Canada have departed the country, often leaving families behind. Most of the so-called astronaut families are from Hong Kong and the Mainland.


According to Reuters, a growing number of Chinese people buying property in Australia are defaulting on their purchases because they cannot get money out of the Mainland.

China's second-largest lender is offering homeowners a one-off payment in exchange for the right to rent out their homes, in bid to expand the country's rental market.

Hong Kong

Reuters looks at the real estate in Hong Kong—much of it underused—that is controlled by the People's Liberation Army. Covering 2,700 hectares and valued at US$100 billion, the land was occupied by the British military before the handover in 1997.

The MTR's Shatin to Central rail line will cost HK$87.32 billion (US$11.17 billion), HK$16.5 billion over the original budget, making it the most expensive rail project in Hong Kong's history. The MTR is a major player in the Hong Kong real estate business.


Jakarta is sinking faster than any other city on earth, as a result of bad urban planning, over-population and climate change.


In 2017, Japan will record the fewest births since the government began keeping records in 1899.

Between January and March 2018, Tokyo residents will take part in drills simulating a nuclear attack by North Korea.

The New York Times published a long-form story about the elderly people living in Japan's danchi apartment blocks. Highly recommended.

Japan's abandoned house (akiya) problem has become so bad that Fuji TV recently ran a special entitled Please Tear Down My House.


With 61 deaths so far this year, the Philippines is the world's deadliest country when it comes to land disputes.

Trends and Ideas


In Australia, a tribunal ruled that Airbnb rentals cannot be banned in apartment blocks.

Xiaozhu—an Airbnb-style home-sharing company in China—will test smart locks that can be opened by scanning tenants’ faces. The locks are designed to meet China's identity verification laws.

In the first case of its kind, two men in Singapore were charged with renting their homes through Airbnb. New laws were introduced in June making it illegal to rent homes for less than three months.

Japanese cities are introducing local Airbnb regulations that will greatly restrict homeowners' ability to offer their homes as short-term rentals.

In the United States, there has been a surge in the number of cases of hosts recording their guests with hidden video cameras.


A law firm bought a private jet to ferry lawyers back and forth to Silicon Valley from Houston, Texas, where commercial real estate is 43% cheaper and salaries are 52% lower. The jet cost US$3 million and $2,500 an hour to operate, and even with those overheads, the Texans can undercut Silicon Valley firms.


New British research suggests that poor urban air quality may erase the health benefits of a daily walk among elderly people.

Smart homes

German authorities are drafting a law to make manufacturers include a "back door" in phones, computers, internet-of-things products and other devices, that law enforcement agencies could use to gain access to data on those devices. This is a bad, if well-intentioned, idea because if the police have this ability, criminals will have it soon after.

A reporter tries Amazon Key—technology that lets Amazon open the front door of your home to allow their delivery personnel inside—and is unimpressed. He also asks if Key is designed to help Amazon exclude competing service providers from your home.

A security researcher reports on the process of alerting Apple to a vulnerability in its Smart Kit home automation package. The results are not encouraging. This comes on the heels of Apple admitting that it throttles the performance of old iPhones.


Two heterosexual Irish men have married, taking advantage of new same-sex marriage laws to avoid €50,000 in inheritance tax on a house.

Urban planning

Bicycle lanes exacerbate cities' traffic and pollution problems, according to a Canadian energy researcher.

Landed News

The second edition of Landed Japan is now at the typesetter. I'll announce launch events in Hong Kong and Tokyo shortly. Watch this space for details.

In the meantime, thank you for reading the Landed Newsletter in 2017. Please share this newsletter with anyone who might enjoy it.

Finally, here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!

Landed Newsletter No. 27 was published on December 27, 2017.