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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Taxation for Non-Residents of the Philippines

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If you are considering retiring or living in the Philippines you will want to familiarise yourself with the taxation laws. The Philippines actually has very favourable laws for taxation. This I guess is in support of all those expats who are so keen to remit funds.
Most foreigners in the Philippines live there on tourist visas, so they are effectively non-residents.
Here is an extract from the Philippines Law website:

Section 23. General Principles of Income Taxation in the Philippines.
Except when otherwise provided in this Code:

(A) A citizen of the Philippines residing therein is taxable on all income derived from sources within and without the Philippines;
(B) A nonresident citizen is taxable only on income derived from sources within the Philippines;
(C) An individual citizen of the Philippines who is working and deriving income from abroad as an overseas contract worker is taxable only on income derived from sources within the Philippines: Provided, That a seaman who is a citizen of the Philippines and who receives compensation for services rendered abroad as a member of the complement of a vessel engaged exclusively in international trade shall be treated as an overseas contract worker;
(D) An alien individual, whether a resident or not of the Philippines, is taxable only on income derived from sources within the Philippines;
(E) A domestic corporation is taxable on all income derived from sources within and without the Philippines; and
(F) A foreign corporation, whether engaged or not in trade or business in the Philippines, is taxable only on income derived from sources within the Philippines.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Antipolo, Pasig, Cainta, Marikina

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Typhoon Ketsana's devastation is the worst in the last 40 years in Metro Manila. My partner and I almost bought a 2 br condo unit in Pasig, Riverfront Residences. We're lucky we didn't.

Pasig was one of the most badly hit areas where flood waters reached up to 4ft in 6 hours on September 25, 2009. Antipolo, Cainta and Marikina are the other cities that were drastically damaged and submerged. If you were to buy property in the Philippines, do not buy in these areas. On top of sewage and drainage problems, these places are near rivers and dams. They are overly populated as well. It's quite disheartening that many new real estate developments were concentrated in these areas and many people bought new houses just recently.

The current death toll in Metro Manila is 246. Many people died in their own homes as they weren't able to escape in time. Nobody expected the surge of water. Local officials had to let water out of the dams, fearing they would burst. One person died inside his car as the waters buried the streets. Many countries have provided overwhelming donations to aid the Philippine government in their relief operations:

Australia - AUD $1 Million
USA - USD $10,000
Japan - USD $220,000 worth of goods
Vietnam - USD $208,000 worth of rice
Korea - USD $330,000

For more information about the flooding in Manila, click here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Healthy job creation in the Philippines

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I have long believed that the Philippines will weather the current recession better than most countries. By any standard the Philippines is well-placed. The most important factors are:
1. Strong remittances - the recession has not greatly decreased remittances from abroad
2. Mining - Mineral prices have collapsed but they still offer attractive returns
3. Tourism - The Philippines is at the cheaper end of the market, so it is unlikely to suffer
4. Structural shift in employment - There is a structural shift in jobs from foreign call centres to the Philippines.
5. Population growth of 2% per annum in the Philippines
6. Healthy economy - the government is in pretty good shape. There is no huge overhang of public or private sector debt like the bad old days. For this reason I suggest the Philippines will be looking at a property boom like Thailand in a few years.

In recent times I've seen continued moves by western firms to shift some of their call centre activities to the Philippines. The latest is Vodafone Australia and about two months ago Telecom NZ were doing the same thing. Expect more of this type of behaviour, and it will increasingly involve smaller companies outsourcing call centre activities.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rebuilding the Philippines - start with the maids

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In the Philippines its common to have maids. Some households treat maids better than others. Relationships can range from 'almost close family members' to 'peasants held in contempt. Those that treat maids well tend to have respectful and real relationships with them. Often the households will even support the maid towards further education.
The flip side is that there are Filipino households which treat their maids with contempt. This is apparent in how they treat them and judge them. For those who would treat maids with contempt I would offer the following advice:
1. They are often poor in character, stucture, goals and lacking education through no fault of their own.
2. The way they treat you is a testimony to how you treat them.
3. The household is in the position of power, and thus in the best position to renegotiate the relationship.
4. Maid's are cheap not because their labour is worth so little, but because the marginal value of cash earnings is disproportionately high, and because of the disparity of income as a result of corruption and missed opportunities.

I have empathy for one maid I am aware of. She grew up in a family of 5. They were poor because their parents had too many children. They cannot afford birth control, and having a subjectivist philosophy it was easy for the parents to dismiss the consequences of their actions. They cannot afford abortion, and it would attract criticism/judgement from the family and community, so instead they have excess children living in poverty. They were homeless at one point until the father became a jeepney driver.
This particular maid was only offered a basic education because the parents could only afford to send two children to college. When one of those children fell pregnant, there was a fight resulting in the two oldest children leaving and not finishing their study. The other kids were thus denied a great opportunity, for support from their oldest siblings.
The 3rd daughter (in focus) lived and continued her schooling with her grandma until she fell ill. She had to drop schooling and find a job. Eventually she ended up as a maid with the host family. The maid is actually quite smart, with a positive outlook. The household tended to have many maids, and some had stolen money and possessions, but otherwise not conveyed much responsibility. I would however argue that these maids are often treated as a 'collective' with contempt. I would challenge households to:
1. Recognise that maid's are individuals, they have aspirations, needs and a social context. You cannot barr them from seeing guys (because you are worried they will bring the guys home, or that they will fall pregnant). You can only help them to make better decisions.
2. Recognise that maid's provide a higher level of relationship than their pet dog. I for one don't understand the appeal of pets when you can have a higher level of relationship with a human being (maids). People spend silly amounts of money on dogs when there are maids from broken homes who need nuturing. This is a great opportunity for people, particularly wives whose children have left home
3. Maids cheat, lie and manipulate generally because that behaviour has been modelled by their parents, or because they feel vulnerable or open to attack. Many housewives make the mistake of not considering the reasons for the maid's actions.

For example with the maid in focus. The household had gone to their child's wedding. They returned from the wedding to find that the maid had not come home. They were knocking for 20 minutes, finally awakening the grandmother to open the gate. Certainly they were inconvenienced by the maid leaving the house. But in such instances, what is forgotten is the context. The housewife did not call the maid to tell her that they were coming home, so she could be there to open the gate. Instead the housewife assumed the power to demand that the maid must be home, and give them notice that she was going out. The maid did not do that.
Looking at the context, you can understand her rebellious or inconsiderate act. She was discouraged from seeing guys. Her parents had not called her on her birthday, though other maids in the neighbourhood invited her out to drink. They drank to excess, so the owner of the house encouraged her to stay the night. It was a reasonable 'indiscretion' given the controls the owner had put in place. She did not invite strangers into the home. She locked up the home. More importantly, because the housewife on this occasion did not ridicule her, but asked why she was not home, she hear her explanation, and saw some 'reasonable' consideration in it.

The unfortunate part in this negotiation is that the housewife failed to take responsibility. The maid is entitled to have a personal life, and every opportunity should be maid to offer flexible free time. You cannot impose your standards on the maid. You have to negotiate the standards. A good standard might be established through discussions with other maids. Maybe the households could jointly organise a maid's night off, or a maid's union in the village. If these actions were taken, many people fear the maid's would demand more. Well maybe they are entitled to that power. Afterall in a sense they have the power to disceive, to abuse something more precious to the household - sacred possessions like jewellery, privacy, money, reputation. These things are more likely to stay in tact if the housewife does not abuse the maid because of their 'market power'. Their power is even greater than some housewifes realise. Some are cute enough and innocent enough to court the favour of the wife's husband. In the Philippines I often hear of maid's getting pregnant because they have had an affair with the wife's husband. Its not necessarily a vindictive act. Its just as probable that he was more fair minded than his wife. This occurs because the husband has learned not to criticise the wife because she considers household matters her responsibility, and is perhaps not open to interference.
There is a history of modelled behaviour on both sides of the relationship. The wife needs to be validated for any improvement she makes, but so does the maid. Particularly the maid given the historical legacy of contempt they have been held in. Housewifes are reluctant to redefine the relationship by apologising. Since they are educated, they should actually expect more of themselves. If they want to not just look 'classy' for the outside world in terms of managing their 'appearances', they are forgetting that the greater 'class' is conveyed in private when people are not looking. All sorts of infidelity and indiscretions are going on in houses around the Philippines. This culture has too much class-distinction. There is an entrenched culture of subjugation which creates victims and perpetrators. The implication is that higher levels of organisation are not possible. How can you trust workers who hold you in contempt. You can't.
I argue however that the Philippines ethic is ripe for companies to profit from the redefinition of the household-maid, employer-employee, tax spender-tax payer relationship. Until those relationships are based on respect, then the producitive capacity of this country will be constrained. I applaud Filipino values because I have never encountered a culture so willing to change than others. I find it very easy to work with Filipinos. If you try to save time by cutting corners, you will end up losing. You need to redefine the culture, and that takes time. The Chinese have been here over a hundred years, and they still use the perpetrator-victim model which lacks intellectual vigour and empathy. I have little regard for Chinese management. Just look at the lack of training in SM and Robinson's malls. Wrong culture, wrong values. Power highly centralised.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Philippines - The Killing Fields

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Gaving lived in the Philippines and travelled there several times, both as a single guy, and in a relationship, I can say that the Philippines is a dangerous place for foreigners. The Philippines is a collectivist country like the rest of Asia, however its even more dangerous because of its Western influence. A great many Filipino men resent the Western influence, because it is historically linked with their psychological repression and economic marginalisation.

When you consider the location of assaults and murders, they tend to occur in the 'Western districts', or areas which attract a lot of money. This makes the following places particularly dangerous:
1. Metro Manila
2. Angeles City
3. Boracay Beach Resorts
4. Subic
5. Cebu
6. Puerto Galera
7. Batangas

Performing a search on Google of Australians killed in the Philippines alone reveals a long list. I'm sure there are many more Germans, Swiss, Dutch, Brits, etc. The nature of the killings tend to be for a variety of reasons:
1. Robbery and aggravated assault
2. Assassination - unprovoked gun shot
3. Hate crime or revenge, sometimes in response to business success
4. Drug related

It is common for Filipinos to conspire with others, whether friends or family to kill foreign partners. The issues are sometimes divorce, property settlement, revenge for adultery, or just resentment. The Philippines is a poor and desperate place, and because of the Catholicism, there is a high incidence of rationalisation and delusion. Don't expect reason to prevail. Passions and blood are thicker than water and logic. It is a very self-indulgent culture. The brutality and the spontaneity of the crime is remarkable. The envy of some Filipinos for Western cash is well understood. Filipinos are perhaps the most brand-conscious people on Earth, more so than the Japanese. It does not help matters that foreigners seem to prey on the uneducated class, looking for some trophy GF. This is a solid basis for a relationship of disrespect. If this is your choice, then you might want to rethink living in the Philippines. Of course that decision depends on your confidence and personal context. Support from the partner's family is critical.

It is very easy to annoy poor Filipinos, and earn their resentment, particularly if you are living in communities where you are mixing closely with them. Apartment complexes offer some element of anonymity, but all it takes is a sarcastic gesture to a taxi driver with gambling debts or drug/alcohol problem to find yourself in danger. Support from a Filipino family is key. If you need to throw money around to appease people, you are not being treated with respect, nor helping them. They will resent you for it.

Filipinos are superficially very easy-going people like Australians. But for some of them, the depth of their resentment and delusion is remarkable. There is often a large number of them who simply see foreigners as a source of money, and more concerning is that this attutude is not discouraged, in fact it's lauded as 'economic necessity'. I've had Filipino brothers introducing their sisters to me many times, in the hope of deriving some benefit from me. There would be more cases if they had more confidence in their English.

Having said that, you play a large role in bringing problems upon yourself. Staying in Manila on one occasion I was returning back to my hotel after a night at a club. I had not drunk a lot, but getting into a taxi I saw the taxi driver signal to another guy, whom I suspect was to follow. This suspicion was proven when I noticed that he was taken me the wrong way. I took over direction to avoid him going down a dark alley. This was at 2AM in the morning. I don't go clubbing anymore, but it does highlight the risk of getting into cabs late at night. I knew the streets in this area.

Just yesterday an Australian was killed in Aklan, which if I remember correctly is on Panay Island in the Visayan Island Group of the central Philippines. The Filipino simply got up and shot this Australian sitting at another table. It's fair to say that some foreigners behave terribly in their host country. I've seen an Australian bar owner in Subic encouraging his staff to take their shirts off to give his patrons some tittilating pleasure. They girls might joke about it, but clearly this guy has a conflict of interest because he doesn't pay them well to perform such actions, in an instance where there is considerable social pressure and the threat of job loss. This was a pub, not a girlie bar. The reality is that this guy was likely paying kickbacks to a local official.

Anyway, it's worth assessing the risks of living in the Philippines before living there, or buying property. If you are part of a supportive family with decent values makes all the difference. Since meeting my partner it's rare that I am alone, so there is far less risk. I feel like I have joined a new family. The extended family are less hospitable, seeing me as a cash cow, howover the immediate family is impressive. For cases of killings of foreigners, refer to the following websites:
1. Australian in custody dispute
2. Australian's home invaded
3. Australian in custody dispute
4. Australian car ambushed (this was an NPA communist guerilla attack)

On reflection however these people have probably been living in the Philippines for 10-12 years. Perhaps the greatest concern is threat of being targeted. Clearly having local support makes a difference. I tend to travel around the Philippines with a Filipino family, and the father is a policeman so I feel pretty safe. I'm more worried about his driving :)

In fairness to the Philippines, the prospects for living are far better if you stay in safer districts, associate with good people, avoid going out to bars late at night, avoid aggravating people. I might add that such incidents are common in other countries, e.g. My friend was assaulted getting out of a taxi in Vietnam, high crimes are common in Thailand. My only experience with crime was being king-hit by a Pacific Islander in Sydney, my home town, trying to defend a friend who said something (which I was not aware of). But otherwise I've not had a problem in Australia, though I lived in safe North Shore area.

Interestingly in Googling for this post I came across 2 Filipinos killed in Australian bushfires, so I would suggest perhaps the greater threat in Australia is natural disasters because a great many people die from them not knowing the risk, and the risk is likely greater for foreigners not aware of the dangers. The other natural danger is Australia beaches, where many Asians are not aware of the strong rips (under-currents) capable of pulling them out to sea. Oh, and then there is the box jellyfish and sea snakes. Not as poisonous, but far more common is the Brown Snake, and a range of other snakes. I'd stay in the Philippines. It's way safer there.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Need an online digital map of the Philippines

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Google, Yahoo et al struggle to to role out services globally. For this reason it sometimes comes down to people power to complete such tasks. There is a dedicated group of people and supporters in the Philippines doing just that at www.openstreetmap.org.ph. If you are interested in contributing I recommend buying a Garmin Etrex Cx global positioning device, and downloading the free map rendering software from EasyGPS. Even if you need a street map to find your friend's place, you can zoom to the right size, find the PrintScreen (PrtSc) button on your computer and past into MS PAINT software, so you can print off your own map after any editing you want to do. If you want to render your own trails/tracks and waypoints on your map, there are products like OZExplorer which allow you to do that. Just to start you off, here is a map of Manila.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Would I recommend living in the Philippines?

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There are a great many Westerners considering a relationship with a woman in the Philippines. There is a charming aspect to Filipinos I must concern. There are a great many who have a sense of entitlement, who are ambitiously intent on accessing you cash flow, but still others who are productive, hard working people of good intent. Whether you have an educated partner, or have met a factory-worker prepared to work 3 jobs, the challenge is finding a suitable and respecting partner in shark-infested waters.
The next challenge is deciding whether to live there. If you are intent on having a relationship with a Filipino, I firmly recommend living there for a period in order to grasp their context, to understand their culture, and if you have the time, to learn their language. Aside from understanding her culture, I find this a desirable opportunity to have a life experience abroad, as well as an opportunity to develop a business if opportunities are available to you.
The questions you should be asking are: Do you have the capital? Are you leaving a better life for a lesser one? Are you turning your back on more opportunities than you are creating? Are you more valuable after this experience or less? Do you have a contingency plan?
Most people that move to the Philippines seem intent on retirement. That strikes me as an empty existence, since I cannot imagine not working. The goal to me is to work with reasonable people under reasonable rules. The appeal of the Philippines is that unreasonable rules are more easily avoided, and there are fewer rules besides. That is both a risk and a benefit. You don’t get fines for speeding, but there is little protection if your neighbour sets up a piggery next door. There is a security risk in the sense that life means less in the Philippines, but there is a benefit in as much as you mean more to them alive rather than dead. But only to a point. Like in business you have to have a strategy to preserve your value. You weaken your prospects if you teach them what you know, unless you first teach them a new model for self-respect. They are a more collectivist country than yours, so you need to embrace a ‘growth’ strategy which allows them to respect you for the difference you have made to their life. At the same time you need to break down the myth of social cohesion in the Philippines.
Many Westerners like the idea of employing locals in some small business. There are several challenges that you need to consider. Educated Filipinos want Western opportunities, so they want to travel abroad, so by employing them you are likely to experience high staff turnover. Employing poor, unskilled Filipinos and you will need to engage in a higher level of education than you might have considered. You will first have to teach them food and personal hygiene, ethical conduct, long range, conceptual thinking so they don’t burn their bridges by cheating on you in the first instance. I don’t know many Westerners who are ready for that. Most Westerners are more intent on just preserving the password on their bank account. That works to some extent, and you can surely tolerate a little pilfering. The question is – Did you not want relationships based on respect? Were you not investing in progress and prosperity? At least this is my ‘growth’ strategy. Some of you might be satisfied to spend your life surrounded by pretty girls. I however could never close my mind to the lack of respect often lacking from such relationships. So on reflection managing Filipinos might be too hard. It need not be, but if you don’t have a capable, trusted Filipino partner, with a similarly supportive Filipino family, I think you are destined for failure.
You might also be interested in establishing a business such as internet cafes, resort, etc. A great many years ago many Westerners came to establish resorts, and few made money from them. The primary problem was the poor economy in a political unstable context. So where might you put your money? I would probably avoid the local stock market unless you approach it as a pure trader or refrain from investing in anything less than the top 20 stocks. The best opportunities for foreigners are of course providing services to foreigners abroad. You cannot compete with the locals in small businesses like food, internet services, unless you look at serving foreign markets. You will just not make enough money to match your higher expectancies. If you can manage Filipinos then you might excel by managing a range of businesses or franchises. You will however need to understand the local business culture. That takes years.
Some people might actually prefer to live in several countries as I tend to do. I spread my time between Japan, the Philippines, Australia and NZ. Your personal context will differ from mine. If you are French, then you might like Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines; if you have lived in Japan as I have, then Japan appeals a great deal, and being an Australian, NZ makes a lot of sense. Visa rules differ but for Westerners the Philippines is the best (18mths, with unlimited re-entry), followed by Japan, Australia and NZ (3mths).
I don’t think you have to rush to buy anywhere at the moment, though I think Australia and NZ present excellent opportunities to convert foreign currency, as these currencies are too cheap, particularly the AUD. Australian property is still too pricey, unless you are looking at rural areas. You can rent cheaply in the Philippines, usually on 12 month leases, but I would be inclined to use the market weakness as an excuse to negotiate a 6-month agreement, and I would be travelling around, trying to determine which area was the best location. Cebu, Manila, Vigan, Davao and Lipa City are probably good choices to at least sample.