London -- ground zero for financial shenanigans, money-laundering, and the conversion of housing from a human necessity to an asset-class -- has spent decades converting itself to an inert, open-air vault full of status-displaying safe-deposit boxes owned by offshore criminals and oligarchs who "improve" their empty properties with absurd fripperies to make them more flippable come the day that their local warlord purges them and they need the ready cash.
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A new Florida law redefines the reach of beachfront property owners' claims to "the land above the mean high-tide level." This seemingly innocuous change means that private property owners -- and their patrolling rent-a-cops -- will have vastly expanded powers to kick members of the public off of public beaches.
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Donald Trump's budget sought to punish blue states by removing income tax deductions for mortgage interest on high-ticket real estate; this was enough to prick the Manhattan property bubble, with co-op and condo sales volume dropping 25% year-on-year for Q1/18; the majority of red ink is in the luxury property market, where Q1 prices fell 15% year-on-year.
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London's housing bubble has appeared unprickable, stabilised by influxes of offshore money from "investors" who saw property in the capital as a safe, easily liquidated bet even after the 2008 crisis when the rest of the UK saw housing prices tumble.
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In a world of expensive urbanization where the spiraling cost of basic shelter has forced ever-more people into debt and fuelled a speculative global bubble of criminal money-launderers who use luxury housing as empty safe-deposit boxes in the sky, London is ground zero. Read the rest
Shelter is a human necessity second only to food on Maslow's hierarchy of needs; but it's also an asset-class that is increasingly relied upon by the world's super-rich for money-laundering, rent-extraction and simple investment -- this creates a dilemma for governments, who are under pressure to ratchet up the cost of a fundamental human necessity in order to enrich a minority of wealthy land- and property-owners. Read the rest
A new Transparency International report ranks the world's most superheated urban property markets to find the most corrupt and finds that Australia is a playground for offshore criminals looking to launder their money, because "real estate agents are not subject to the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering and CounterTerrorism Financing Act 2006," thus, "70 per cent of Chinese buyers pay in cash and they represent the largest proportion of foreign purchases in the country." Read the rest
More news on the Chinese crackdown on money-laundering and its impact on the global property bubble: the controls the Chinese government has put on "capital outflows" (taking money out of China) are actually working, and there's been a mass exodus of Chinese property buyers from the market, with many abandoning six-figure down payments because they can't smuggle enough money out of the country to make the installment payments. Read the rest
After N2SUB posted a thoughtful, negative review of Ham Radio Deluxe, the company responded to his open trouble ticket with instructions that tricked him into bricking his software, caused his software to stop working in the guise of fixing his problem, then told him they'd done it on purpose, sent him a note implying it had been deliberate and stating he wouldn't be welcome to use their software anymore unless he deleted his review, and threatened to sue him. Read the rest
New Yorkers renting in the Trump Place buildings on the upper west side have forced the building's owner to take Trump's name off their homes. Read the rest
(found this hanging from my front door-knob) Read the rest
Vancouver has been wracked by a white-hot property bubble driven primarily by offshore speculators, mostly Chinese, who have driven up the price of housing beyond the means of working Vancouverites, crippling the city's daily life as workers, students and families struggle to find somewhere -- anywhere -- to live. Read the rest
In 1978, California ballot initiative Proposition 13 capped property taxes at 1% of assessed value and increases at 2% per year, creating a massive hole in the ability of cities to fund their operations, which has only been partially plugged by hiking sales taxes and utility rates, regressive moves that disproportionately shift the burden of civic services to low-income households. Read the rest
A Russian home-buyer pulled out of a "agreed offer" of £6.95m for a six bedroom Kensington flat, now it's listed for £6.75m; a three-bedroom in Swiss Cottage is down to £1.05m from £1.5m; a £1.1m 2-bedroom in Whitechapel is now £720,000; a 2bm maisonette in Notting Hill fell from £1.59m to £1.35mk; a £1.3m 5br in St. Reatham is down to £850,000 and estate agents have mutually agreed to go back to calling it Streatham. Read the rest
It's an open secret that the world's luxury property boom is being driven by crooked rich people in the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa who have looted their homelands and want to stash the money out of reach of any new dictators who might come along and change which oligarchs are favored and which are not. Read the rest
Articles in the UK
press describe fraudsters who used public document registries to steal entire houses, using forged documents to list the houses for sale, transferring title to them, and disappearing (or attempting to) with a lot of money in their pockets.
The UK humour site Daily Mash nails the UK's transformation into a Torified, bank-centric place where the need for shelter is a vulnerability to exploit in order to enrich yourself at the expense of the people around you with a brilliant short piece: "Tories to build thousands of affordable second homes." Read the rest