Japan Foreclosed Property 2015-2016 - Buy this 5th edition report!

Over the years, this ebook has been enhanced with additional research to offer a comprehensive appraisal of the Japanese foreclosed property market, as well as offering economic and industry analysis. The author travels to Japan regularly to keep abreast of the local market conditions, and has purchased several foreclosed properties, as well as bidding on others. Japan is one of the few markets offering high-yielding property investment opportunities. Contrary to the 'rural depopulation' scepticism, the urban centres are growing, and they have always been a magnet for expatriates in Asia. Japan is a place where expats, investors (big or small) can make highly profitable real estate investments. Japan is a large market, with a plethora of cheap properties up for tender by the courts. Few other Western nations offer such cheap property so close to major infrastructure. Japan is unique in this respect, and it offers such a different life experience, which also makes it special. There is a plethora of property is depopulating rural areas, however there are fortnightly tenders offering plenty of property in Japan's cities as well. I bought a dormitory 1hr from Tokyo for just $US30,000.
You can view foreclosed properties listed for as little as $US10,000 in Japan thanks to depopulation and a culture that is geared towards working for the state. I bought foreclosed properties in Japan and now I reveal all in our expanded 350+page report. The information you need to know, strategies to apply, where to get help, and the tools to use. We even help you avoid the tsunami and nuclear risks since I was a geologist/mining finance analyst in a past life. Check out the "feedback" in our blog for stories of success by customers of our previous reports.

Download Table of Contents here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Update on the Philippines - liveability

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My annual pilgrimage to the Philippines is over. In conclusion, I found the experience a lot less pleasant this time than previous occasions. The problem remains the under-spending on capital works. Of course this comes down to business confidence in public administration, planning and corruption. The Philippines is poorly administered, and this is particularly a problem in rural areas, where technical expertise is pretty low. The paradox is that the English language skills that makes the Philippines a nice place to invest, actually conspires to make the Philippines a great place to recruit technical skills. This of course leaves the Philippines bereft of technical expertise....until of course - these technicians return home - if they ever do. They are surely a rich source of repatriated earnings. 

I was mainly working in the Philippines on this occasion. The biggest trials were attempting to work in the Calabarzon (Batangas) region after it was struck by a typhoon. It turns out that my host family's neighbour altered the plumbing so the water from their roof went onto ours. This meant at 2AM in the morning, we had a river of water coming through a window. We spent an hour bailing water into buckets before we were able to construct a tarpaulin to drain the water direct into a nearby sink. Clever thinking that saved the furniture. 
I was off however to Manila city the next day. The reason being that the next week left Lipa City without power and therefore running water. I knew that if we lacked power because of a storm, the entire region was the same. That meant crowded coffee shops, where I spend most of my working time. It meant that I'd be competing for power and tables at a coffee shop, and literally would not be able to think because of the noise from 100 youths. 
By going to the family apartment in the city, I was close to a mall, but at the same time able to escape to a quiet Coffee Bean or Starbucks, where I was able to peacefully able to work. My tranquillity was restored. That is not to say that Manila is better in this regard. It really depends on the region being hit and the nature of the natural threat. Manila is subject to inundation along the bay, thanks to big wave action and the poor drainage infrastructure. An added problem is the blocking of the drains with 'crap', i.e. paper waste. Filipinos live by they have a life expectancy of 2 years. They throw rubbish on the streets which gets washed into drains, which blocks drains, and inevitably floods them. The other threat is the lowlands which are vulnerable to rising rivers draining from the north, and from Lake Laguna. Lake Laguna is a large, shallow lake that drains through Manila City to Manila Bay. For this reason, it poses another threat of flooding for low-lying areas. 
On this trip to Manila, I experienced some of the worst traffic I have experienced in years. That is whilst escaping once again to Subic for a birthday party. Subic is moving slowly. This is a large economic zone, and I must say progress inside the economic zone has been slow. Why? Its hard to know. There is talk of the US returning, but I can't see that happening just because the Chinese are now threatening the Philippines sovereignty. The problem with this zone is simply that its degrading faster than they are rebuilding it. The charm of the area is lost on dilapidated buildings. It was never a terribly desirable place to live. Its selling point 20 years ago was the 'quality' US infrastructure. But today, its degraded, and so where is the value proposition? It is solely the opportunity to have infrastructure development controlled by an authority - but there is no reason to expect better from this authority, accountable to a 'public' authority, as opposed to local politicians elected by the local public. I don't see much difference. The good news however is that they are planning with a relatively 'empty' canvass. At the moment its a pretty open canvass. 

Returning to Manila, I had the opportunity to drop into San Fernando City, the capital of Pampanga. This is a rather hot place to live, but its also one of the more prosperous areas, and of course it is benefiting from the far better access of a commercial port, fully-utilised US infrastructure, and the Los Angeles precinct, which has preserved all the sordid porn life that was constructed under the US administration. Ayala has constructed a lovely mall in this area, as well as one in Subic zone. 

Having returned to Lipa, I had the opportunity to go to Tagaytay, on the edge of the Taal Volcano. This city, in Cavite is indeed growing relatively strongly. The appeal of Tagaytay is the elevation on the edge of the volcano. It raises the rainfall and cools the city. The problem is that access is poor; thanks largely to the ridges that hinder road development; along with the tedency to allow housing development along the road, so widening roads becomes impossible. Even when you arrive in Tagaytay, you realise that as the place develops, it will be a nightmare to move around, unless of course you live in the centre of it. There are some lovely restaurants in Tagaytay - my favorite being Antonios. Mind you - the presentation of the food was better than the taste on this occasion. The setting however is worth it. Another favorite venue is Vikings in MOA Zone, Manila. This place offers a smortgasboard of foods from many cultures. Best to go on weekdays for a discount. You might need to book. 

Overall, I was not terribly satisfied by my trip to the Philippines. The place is simply failing to improve at a rate that would give me comfort, whilst other places like Malayia, are starting to liberalise their treatment of foreigners. Of course each will get better, but am I prepared to wait for the Philippines to get its act together. I look forward instead to Malaysia improving its act. 

Author Andrew SheldonApplied Critical Thinking | www.SheldonThinks.com

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The appeal of Philippines property

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I have been writing about the appeal of Philippines property for about 7 years now. The Philippines is in the midst of a property rally that will last for another debate. Now, we are seeing signs of serious support for the boom from Asia, and you can expect more interest still from outside the region for several reasons:
1. Rapid population growth - the country's population is growing 2% per annum
2. High urbanisation rate - the nation's population is rapidly descending upon the cities - as is always the case in industrialising economies.
3. Rising incomes - The Philippines holds a unique position in the business outsourcing market. Its people are 'uniquely' friendly, English speakers, and well-placed to serve in various customer service, call centre, sales roles in the future. These skills of course have to develop; but its less of a leap for them than other cultures; which is a 'value distinction'.
4. Visa restrictions - This is plausibly only a short term value, but the Philippines offers the most relaxed visa restrictions in the world. You can stay in the country 18 months before requiring a visa, and there are steps to make it even more liberal. 
5. Safer place - There is reason to think the Philippines is safer. The south has been constrained 'investment wise' by Muslim terrorism and militancy that saw some foreigners subject to extortion, or killed. A truce between the Muslims and the Philippines government is giving people confidence in peace. In any respect, the associated violence has largely been confined to the southern island of Mindanao. Investors might see this as an opportunity in the south, or a tentative reason to stay in the north/central archipelago. 
6. Familiar legal system - People will appreciate the Western legal system, the centrality of the Philippines in Asia. The place has a number of discount airlines servicing it, i.e. Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Tiger Airways, Scoot and others. Corruption remains a problem, but there have been strides at the top to tackle that problem. The chief justice of the country has been impeached, numerous senators implicated, and the plot thickens. None of this really reflects the small investor. 
7. Happy, friendly people - The Filipino is of course a source of joy and a friendly face. They are always a pleasure to be around. 
8. The place - Not the prettiest place in the world - but then expect future development to hold more on offer. Most appealing places these days are products of people's imagination. This imagination is in short supply in the Philippines; and scarcer still outside of Metro Manila. This inevitably means 'the life' sought by foreigners is either in a restricted number of resort centres like Boracay, Bohol, Cebu and Davao, or in the city centres like Ortigas, Makati, the Fort and Trinoma (in Manila), or pplausibly places like Vigan City and Baguio in the north. These developments are invariably controlled by a few very powerful local business people. 
I have said a lot about the Philippines; so feel free to read more. Its early days still given that yields are very attractive, and most of the investment to date has been driven by expats rather than foreigners. Yields remain around 7%, so these countries are cheap - particularly in comparison to other Western nations. Moreover the incomes are rising as fast as the property prices, so yields are largely preserved. We are destined to see more Western money flowing into these countries. A direct investment in property is one of the few effective ways; as well as offering a lifestyle benefit. Being an Australian, living in NZ, I come to the Philippines annually to shop and basically to escape the winter. 

Author Andrew SheldonApplied Critical Thinking | www.SheldonThinks.com

Monday, November 11, 2013

The pride of the Filipino - the delusion behind Tacloban storm surge

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In an earlier story on the Philippines, I talked about the absence of critical thinking skills. More 'critically' however is the absence of basic knowledge that would support critical thinking. There are several problems:
1. The Philippines is a culture of 'nice people'. 
2. People think being nice and kind is a good thing
3, People think they are 'only human' so its ok when they are 'not nice' under Christian convention, i.e. So they give themselves the odd day pass. They'll be forgive.

Herein, the Philippines is a sanctimonious Christian country. Their religion is everywhere. Ascend to the top, and there is more Christian paraphernalia than anything else, whether its idols hanging in the taxi, or pictures of Jesus or Mary on some office wall, or Jesus statues in the garden. Whatever it is, its all sanctimonious arrogant and judgment, and its holding the Philippines back in a number of ways. The problem for the Philippines is that the obstacles to the nation are not 'self-evident'. They are not concrete and readily linked to concrete issues. But let's examine the implications:

  1. Filipino 'niceness' - Really they are only nice as long as you are nice to them. You are nice back because they expect you to be nice. And you are nice because you have no reason not to be nice. You even remain nice (as a foreigner) when they invite you into your home, not because you are not nice, but because you don't trust their niceness. You don't want to offend them right? Understandably because if you offend a Filipino, you are in trouble. They are very proud of their 'goodness', to the point of arrogance. Never show that side of them...as they can be very vindictive, and the police in the Philippines are next to useless, so you don't want to give them cause for a grievance. 
  2. Being nice - We have hence realised that being nice is simply not confronting people with expectations or conflicting values. Basically its about talking about frivolous stuff like the weather or sweat foods, or boyfriends, whilst not imposing any expectations that are likely to create conflict. This is why the Filipino is so nice and relaxed. They are mostly poor, and they are surrounded by people who share their poverty. If they are not poor, they are happy because they feel great they are not poor, and they in the last 10-15 years have had the opportunity to experience some aspiration.
  3. Original Sin - Filipinos accept this notion of Original Sin, so they pray a lot when they do something wrong, but it seems they can't rehabilitate or 'self-treat' because they are often dishonest. Middle class people will say that its because they are 'poor', but its actually not that. Being poor is not a reason for crime or unethical thinking, at least not in the Philippines where destitution is not so bad. There is actually plenty of food in the Philippines. People live in ghettos for a chance at aspiration, not because they are poor. They moved to the city to get rich, not to survive. They aspired for more; the problem is they did not know how to do it, or to get it.  It is easier for a Christian to look down upon themselves and their fellow man, because its the ultimate acceptance of one's flaws. It is an act of self-contempt. 
The problem of course is that the Philippines was compelled to accept under the promise of riches and salvation in another world a 'better life'. It was introduced by the Spanish, who sought conquest in foreign lands, because as the poor cousins of Europe, they could not find paths to riches in their own culture. They instead imposed their culture on the collectivist tribes of 'pre-science' tribes of Africa and the Philippines. They already learned that 'fear' is a compelling value proposition to morally apprehensive people. They knew that everyone wants to be good. We are all people of communities, so it was inevitable that we would want to be well-regarded. So the Spanish had their 'sales pitch'. Fear and love. Not fear of anything real; but an imaginative fear. Not love of personal attributes; but love of ghosts whose nature defies nature. Their love existed beyond the realm of reality. You had to accept it on faith. They have nightmares about such fears. They have come to regard fear or nightmares as natural. You can't convince them that fear might not be natural because for everyone they know, its normal. 

Now, the people of Northern Europe took a different tact. They rejected religion, or more broadly mysticism, not because they are less fearful, but because they found something more valued - opportunity, comfort and efficacy in thinking, competing and succeeding. It was only the rare person who found some useful product. By overtime, the habit and valued utility of their discoveries came to be broadly appreciated by everyone. For the religious, this was squalid materialism. In fairness, when the idea was first hatched in the Industrial Revolution, it probably looked squalid, turgid, exploitive and opportunistic, as people struggled to overturn their destitute lives and desperately sought to acquire some efficacy amidst their tragic lives. The first efficacy they needed to develop was 'knowledge', and in most cases that meant science. Next, they needed to come to learn the value of methodology, and that meant self-discipline, self-reflecting, and a constant process of self-improvement. Now, this was a source of frustration for them too. They were accustomed to instant gratification. They wanted or expected instant gratification. The word of 'success' would travel, but the knowledge of how to do it would take even longer. Soon the governments came to appreciate the value of these people to financing the development or protection of their country. The vast economic surpluses they produced would be extorted by politicians to defend their nations. Eventually the number of wealthy became so seductive to the politicians that they would play off capitalist against capitalist, or worker against capitalist. They soon realised they could not do this much longer without losing credibility, so they specialised. We saw the development of Conservatives (preserving the power of the landed class) and Democrats (asserting the rights to wealth they didn't produce). This was a sordid game that saw everyone lose because:
1. For the wealthy - it made them fear the loss of wealth - so they became very tragic and apprehensive about the extortive power of politicians in their capacity to mobilise labour. They responded in their interests by simply paying off the representatives of labour. It demanded a rhetoric be retained...'down with the rich'; but it also demanded an acceptance of their value. In time, these labour politicians would become rich, so they inevitably turned conservative...or just remained 'stealthy hypocrites'. Anyway, they didn't care because they were wealthy. They dare never to betray that trust because labour supporters might kill them. 
2. For the poor - they wanted the comforts of the rich. They of course didn't want or expect to wait decades for it. They wanted it today, and labour leaders promised it today, by offering a rationalisation which would convey an entitlement for it. 

The history of the Filipino is well-understood. The people have been subjugated by dictators, Spanish pastors and kings, seduced by Americans, belittled by the Japanese. Now, washed away by a storm surge. A big beach way. The final indignity. No one feels proud when one's balance is undercut by a surging wave. Its funny when its 0.5m. When its 6 metres tall and kills, you might have a different perception. The thing is - this was 'easy knowledge'. This should have been commonly knowledge and understood knowledge for the people of Tacloban, in the Philippines. Some 10,000 killed is a gross indignity for a people who clearly lack the education to survive. Its not just an indignity that befalls third world countries. NZ suffered an earthquake in Christchurch in 2009. A surprise perhaps, but their were warnings, and they were ignored. People lived in the now, and ignored the risks. In comparison, they were smaller risks than the Philippines, and harder to avoid. This is the travesty of the Philippines storm surge. This risk was easily understood and avoided. You just knew to stay away from the beach. They even telecast it; but no one cared whether people understood ore not. People were indifferent to the risk or vulnerability of others. Perhaps because people who give so little consideration to ideas, who so little value education, they minimalised the importance of the information. You might have expected the government to elevate the risk. The warnings were not heeded. 

The Philippines has a history of abuse; but the greatest travesty is self-abuse. The travesty is relying on someone else to make your life better. It is commonplace to rely on a wealthy relative abroad, to gamble away the family fortune, to drink senseless without a regard for the future. This 'care free attitude' is destined to keep the Philippines in the third world. The Philippines has one of the poorest work ethics in the third world, so it fails to attract investment from around the world. Why? Because the poor Filipino does not think about the future. They want instant gratification; they won't invest in education. They are 'living in the now'.Aspiration is dirty, and they distrust it. This does not stop them from stooping to guilt their family members into providing them some gratuity. A dying relative is good news. It gives you evidence or a rationale for mooching off a relative. Please uncle, can I have some money for 'lolo', he is dying of bladder infection. Gold mine! They even hit up their bosses as well. Yep, same story. It works so well. Most often they use that story just before leaving the company; maybe to go abroad themselves. 

The Tacloban storm surge was a case of politics gone wrong. Politicians are however a legacy of values, and those values are 'renounce! Renounce! Renounce! Renounce any expectation of better for self or others. Renounce the mind. Live in the 'now', and renounce responsibility. Whether the expectation is that God take care of you, or the government, its a massive betrayal of human nature and personal responsibility. Death is the final or ultimate price, but almost as insidious is the prospect of a life half-lived. The opportunity cost of not developing one's mind, and the price of not finding a sense of pride and efficacy in one's mind. This is the greatest price people pay because its ultimately what stops them aspiring, achieving, searching or accepting responsibility. One does not achieve that sense of efficacy by giving up. One does not discover its value by giving up. The crisis is actually not in the parents of the Philippines, for if you think about it:
1. They were never an industrialised, modern disciplined economy
2. Their values were modelled or influenced by the Spanish - who would go down in history as the 'economic laggards' of Europe. They'd be better off if they had been invaded by Japan. Pity it was Spain. Of course this is a gross justification, and its fair to say that its not true of all Filipinos either. But it is a force within the community which pulls at everyone...and most people succumb. Family is important to them. 

What Tacloban was a mistake that showed the vulnerability of the Philippines to basic weather phenomenon. People will say this was an unprecedented storm. Its not the point. Buildings can be protected and lives can be saved through effective planning. Building a storm surge resistant wall might not have been a priority; but ensuring adequate planning was 'monumentally' critical It clearly was not done. This is a testament to that care-free, indulgent Filipino attitude, that allows standards to slip. Whether its emergency planning, or simply being at an appointment on time. It demands a change in values...It becomes ever more pressing when lives are being lost. But more importantly, Filipinos need to appreciate the value of thinking for its own reward - success, certainty. They do not have to avoid aspiration, they don't have to fail in business. They don't have to rely on hand-outs from brothers abroad. They don't have to wait for governments to give them an opportunity. They don't have to wait for God. He's not coming. His promises expired 2000 years ago. It was a rort. You were an unintended externality. The Romans only intended to fool the Israelites. That's history, but I want to return to the topic of science. History is hard. Humans are complex. Before you study history; come to respect facts by studying science. Learn discipline by studying 'engineering'. More than the importance of saving lives is the more basic and important value of knowing how to live as a human being. Religion gives you a value system fit for a wounded dog; the life of a human demands not faith, but a disciplined application of your mind. Its critical lessons are already states - beyond the capacity to solve problems and anticipate them. They give you a respect for facts and the objective realness of existence. Engineering for discipline and philosophy for moral imperatives; but that's a big ask for a society that renounces its collective responsibility to think. You have a leader who has finally recognised the need for objective justice. This is not 'forward-looking' economic management; but its a start. Don't just build roads; build minds. You can waste billions are they Americans have done and achieve nothing more in education. Or you can simply change your mind and transform the world. That choice is open to everyone. 
Critical thinking skills is another thing; but its nothing more than an intellectual honesty that is a derivative of objective science. Being self-critical as well as being critical of others is a moral imperative for the Philippines. Not as an evasion of responsibility; but as an abject respect for facts and justice. Honest people want the facts; only dishonest or apprehensive people seek to evade them. People with reasonable expectations, who live by their own values and judgement, don't accept others opinions without filtering them through their own minds. That's not arrogance; its personal responsibility. 

This is not the first natural disaster for the Philippines. The Philippines as a poor country is more vulnerable than Western countries, but its not without means. The distinctiveness of a 'modern economy' is not simply buildings and infrastructure; its the capacity to which it thinks and anticipate. NZ, as a Western culture, paid the price of ignoring scientific advice when it experienced at earthquake. Governments cannot be trusted as custodians. People need to develop their own minds, and NZ is not the standard. It lies in an idea; projected by too few human beings. 
PS: This blog was not edited...I could care less about the logic of English. It may have spelling issues. It serves no purpose to be strictly correct with arbitrary rules of English when ideas are properly understood in their context. A disclaimer for Filipino English teachers (or liberals). In Western society, it is the liberal who facilitates and sanctions and mobilises the extortion racket that imposes monetary expectations upon the wealthy. This class of people is still so small in the Philippines. Do you best to avoid their grievance impact because its more insidious than religion. It is however similarly an assault on your mind and independence. It gives you a carte blanche justification for stealing the products of others mind.

Author Andrew SheldonApplied Critical Thinking | www.SheldonThinks.com

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gates open to foreign investment in the Philippines

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The Philippines government has further opened the doors to Westerners in a move that is destined to cause dramatic changes in the nation in several respects:
1. Boost condo investment by foreigners as they see the Philippines increasingly as an investment destination
2. Boost foreigner relationships with Filipinos
3. Boost retirements in the Philippines
4. Boost the appeal of the Philippines as a holiday destination
5. Boost the appeal of resort accommodation and lifestyle provisioning

The move by the Philippines government is to offer foreigners a rolling opportunity to obtain a 6-month visa in the nation, with the prospect of up to a 36-month stay. This is big news when you consider:
1. The dismay of many Western governments for their country, or their governments
2. The lower cost of living in the Philippines, i.e. The relative ease for foreigners to set up residence and live off pensions, or otherwise live off the land.
3. The spectre of Western governments struggling with the pension obligations of their citizens

Now, in fairness, the Philippines is not exactly ready or 'to Western standards' when it comes to lifestyle. i.e. The problems as I see it are the following:
1. The enfranchisement of the Philippines - that has turned the country into a boring experience. The exception of course is in the national capital and a few tourist centres. 
2. The pollution and the dire state of infrastructure. In this respect matters are getting dramatically better. i.e. The Fort City in Manila is a new modern city, and less corruption and strong economic growth has resulted in visible improvements. 
3. The traffic problem is still there as prosperous Filipinos are buying cars. This is a global issue of course. Few cities are very good at controlling traffic. Hold a thought for Manila's transit network. Its jeepney and bus networks are good value and efficient, and I'd expect similar from its rail service as it expands. 

Expect Metro Manila to be the 'Tokyo of the South' with rail networks connecting people quickly to different parts of the city. Manila has little love of rail now, but watch as that crowded network rapidly expands. That will occur because of the traffic, but also because the government has just greatly raised the fares, which will precipitate more spending rail connections. The implications is, you need a Philippines Property Guide, and you need to buy property investments in the right location to benefit from these shifts....I'd say with some urgency, as there will be a rapid rise in demand. Expect an Asian property demand. The Philippines and Indonesia already have among the most appealing yields in Asia (excluding Japan)...around 7%.

The most appealing places are city (Manila, Davao, Cebu) and inner city areas (Subic, Lipa, Tagaytay, Eton City, etc). Now, Manila is essentially a collection of village cities like Tokyo, just starting to be connected by rail.  Major developers are building new 'cute' local residential villages, however there are major hubs like Ortigas, Trinoma, Mall of Asia (on Manila Bay) and Makati. Makati City is the traditional centre of business, however that might be expected to change, as new industries overtake old, and even old businesses seek 'new infrastructural developments, rather than being imprisoned in anachronistic centres. The GreenBelt shopping centre in Makati City however retains some appeal. These areas are appealing because they are destined to attract the 'culture' and services that Westerners desire. Unfortunately, outside of Manila, its very much 'franchise' city because these places are simply poor, and correspondingly under-capitalised. This might change with more foreigners, as existing tourist havens built by foreigners have shown.

The other appealing aspect of the Philippines is:
1. Relatively 'hard currency' compared to Japanese Yen, the Euro and USD
2. Rapid population growth of 2%
3. Rapid rates of urbanisation
4. Rapid growth in incomes due to call centres, business outsourcing
5. Proximity to Asian growth centres
6. English is one of the 2 national languages (along with Tagalog)
7. Increasingly 'open gate' policy to foreigners

It does not get any better than in the Philippines; and we saw this trend start 8 year ago. My partner and I bought property for P700/m2; its not worth P2100/m2 based on an offer from a recent prospective buyer. That is a far higher rate of property price appreciation than in the West; and it will continue as interest rates are only now getting really cheap. This has all the makings of a property boom!

You can buy a condo in Manila from P2mil ($US40,000) upwards, though it depends on standards and target market. If you buy in down-market location, you will be tolerating over-use of services by poor relatives from the rural areas. i.e. You might find people parking in your car spot, being noisy, hanging out their laundry; not to mention the cheap dowdy looking fa├žade of the property. Invest smart

Author Andrew SheldonApplied Critical Thinking | www.SheldonThinks.com

Monday, June 24, 2013

Placing Philippines property investment in its historic context

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I had some feedback from a reader. 
"Hi Andrew. Many years ago, I stumbled across your blog on investing and property. I also noticed you lived in Japan for sometime. I quite liked your thinking and analysis....I have family and business commitments in Japan. Currently I'm based in China. I'm looking for an investment property but am thinking Malaysia or Indonesia now. I can afford Australia but its still 40-60% overvalued in my opinion". 
Well I think Indonesia is a frontrunner with the Philippines. I prefer the Philippines because:
1. I think its a more trusted 'English' jurisdiction, though condos less reason for concern perhaps if you deal with major developers
2. Visa restrictions - I think foreigner demand like yourself is a big part of any property market, so tight visa restrictions in those countries give the upper hand to the Philippines. You can stay in the Philippines for 18mths before you have to leave. Now, that might not bother you if you are always flying around anyway, but it will impact on demand for property if you are looking for capital growth. It might not preclude Indonesia, since Indonesia might go the same way, however it might convince you to defer that 'Indonesian option'.
3. The Philippines is getting a big boost from remittances - these people work everywhere - relatives abroad
4. The Philippines is big in business-outsourced-process (BPO) market, and increasingly its teaching English as well, as many Chinese, Koreans and others come hear or communicate over the internet for anything from $3-7 per hour. 
5. The current Aquino administration has greatly cut corruption, so Western corporations are taking more interest. There is still a lot of government waste, and that will probably remain until the employment slack is absorbed.
6. The Philippines has a loose zoning regime, so if this is not the case in Indonesia, this might impact on people's decisions, but since foreigners' can't buy property unless they are married to a local, this might not help anyone. 

Most of these issues favour the Philippines over Indonesia, though I know Indonesia has also lagged...and it has perhaps also made some progress with corruption. Maybe the smog over Singapore says something else....a brush fire out of control :)
Personally though the beaches of islands in Bali probably have more appeal. You might find it comes down to the particular context of the opportunity, i.e. a bottom-up investment decision, taking the view that maybe both places merit consideration. For instance, Bohol in the Philippines is reputed to have good beaches, its close to Cebu, and a Japanese aid organisation is building an international airport there. Such infrastructure development might spell another tourist mecca like Boracay. 

As a side note, I think Australia is over-valued in some respects, but that's not to say I think property prices in Australia are going to collapse. I would however argue that:
1. Australia is vulnerable, and Asia is not on fundamentals
2. Asia has more growth upside
3. Business prospects are better in Asia....but its hard to go past Australia as a place to live if you don't mind an American-style fascist government

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Japanese funds new Manila light rail lines

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The Japanese government under its aid development program is offering support to the Philippines government to develop a 2nd line under the Manila Light Rail Transit (LRT) program. This is the 3rd project after Japan helped fund the first light rail line in 1984, and the second MRT-2 in 2003. The 3rd rail line, referred to as MRT-3, was completed in 1999 using private funding under the 'Build-Operate-Transfer' (BOT) route. 
The funds will probably be used to fund the extension of the Yellow and Purple lines into the outer areas of Greater Manila. This will mean beyond the current terminal stations of Santalan (Yellow Line Extension) will be extended to Bacoor City) and Baclaran (Purple Line Extension) will extend the line to Rizal. These developments will of course ease congestion on the highways, as well as offering better connections to the city. Eventually it seems probable that the Yellow Line will extend to Batangas City, and that the Purple Line will circum-navigate Lake Laguna, whilst its western extension goes north to San Fernando and beyond. This is of course speculation and probably another 10 years away in terms of development scheduling.

Asian property markets outperforming Japan Foreclosed Guide Philippines Property Guide

Bohol development underwritten by Japanese

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The latest news is that the Japanese government has approved $570 million in aid for the Philippines to build a new airport on Panglao Island, an island connected by a bridge to the city of Tagbilaran, on the greater island of Bohol. Bohol is a growing tourist attraction, both for Filipinos and Westerners. The island has however been a relatively under-capitalised centre for resort development in the past, but that seems destined to change. The Japanese of course will be keen to reform their welfare system, and I can't help thinking they have grander plans for a 'retirement centre' for elderly Japanese. Might Bohol be a gateway for Japan? Might we in future see Filipinos offering care to Japanese retirees/invalids by day, and working in Japanese-supporting call centres by night? 
There is the added value of tourism to the Philippines. The island of Bohol has a great expanse of white sand beaches, and it helps that Cebu, another popular nearby island is also an easy connection by ferry. I fully expect that the island will become a huge exotic paradise holiday resort to mirror the development of Boracay, which is by far dominated by Filipino developers. Bohol offers far greater potential because its larger. This should add to the appeal of the place, as there will be no doubt a dispersal of developments around the coastlines of Tangbilaran City. 

What is the message to investors? Now is the time to buy a beach strip of land and build a resort. I imagine there will be a raft of opportunities for condominium developments as well. An SM or Robinsons Mall, which have long spread from the major cities, will surely be coming to the island of Panglao. 

Japan had earlier expressed interest in funding an upgrade of the Legaspi City airport; so I'm not sure what to make of this development. Perhaps the aid agency through otherwise of the opportunity given that natural disasters have been an issue of late. Legaspi City is next to Mayon Volcano. This near-perfect conical peak was probably part of the appeal, but after the Japanese tsunami, perhaps it became the reason for an aversion to the city. I've not heard more on that proposal. 

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