Shanghai became the most attractive real estate market in Asia in 2016

Shanghai replaced Tokyo as the first destination for real estate investment in Asia in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to statistics from JLL, a professional investment management firm specializing in real estate services.

Globally, Shanghai was last year the fifth destination of property investment, after New York, London, Los Angeles and Paris.

According to JLL, the strong performance of Shanghai real estate market was pulled up by strong transactions, such as the $ 2.91 billion investment by ARA Asset Management in the Century Link complex last October. It was the largest real estate transaction in a single location in the Asia-Pacific region in 2016.

In the real estate sales sector, the largest transaction in 2016 was the $ 825 million purchase by Chongbang Real Estate Development of 80% stake in Jinqiao Life Hub in Shanghai.

“Chinese capital was the main driver of real estate volumes in 2016, with domestic investors often outnumbering foreign investors. We believe that China, especially in first-tier cities, remains attractive to foreign investors as the market matures, “said Zhou Zhifeng, China’s director of research at JLL.

According to JLL data, the total volume of real estate transactions in the Asia-Pacific region in the fourth quarter increased 21% year-on-year and 5% year-on-year. The total volume of real estate transactions in the fourth quarter was $ 15.5 billion in China, exceeding $ 7.4 billion in South Korea and $ 7.2 billion in Japan.

Shanghai's famous Nanjing Road

Will Shanghai real estate be as expensive as London and Paris?

For the past five years, Shanghai apartment prices have been soaring. Between November 2015 and November 2016, prices rose in 12 major cities in the country to 12.6%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. And in some cities, this figure can be multiplied by two. In Beijing, the increase was 26.4% in 12 months, in Shanghai it was 29%, and in Shenzhen 27.9%. In the center of Shanghai, apartments easily exceeds 100,000 yuan per square meter, about 13,600 euros. In comparison, according to figures published by the NBS last November, a house or flat in London costs approximately 10,500 euros per square meter (15,000 in the upper-class districts of Kensington and Chelsea), when Paris runs around 8 500 euros per square meter. In the end, property prices in Shanghai exceed those of the most expensive borough of the French capital, the 6th district with an average price per square meter of 12,000 euros.

The gap is widening

However, if real estate prices can be similar to these European cities and Shanghai, the average monthly income remains well below those in the UK or France: 8,664 yuan, roughly 1,150 euros. The surge in prices is, therefore, a major concern not only for the population but also for economists.

The gap between rural and urban areas is widening. More and more employees working in large cities have to move out of the city to afford a home. Real estate prices are only amplifying wealth gaps. According to Li Shi, a professor of economics at the Normal University of Beijing, this gap has multiplied by four during the last decade due to the fast growth of the property sector.

China has come to this point because of the government’s policy of transferring ownership of apartments held by labour units to tenants in the late 1990s at very low prices. A wave of urban residents thus became owners, leading to a gradual increase in prices, while in the countryside local governments still own most of the lands.

Find more information about Shanghai real estate here.

As the Chinese economy continues its structural slowdown, it will face significant challenges in 2017.

China’s economic slowdown

For the past 3 years, China has been experiencing a gradual drop of its GDP growth rate. According to experts, the economic slowdown is the result of the gradual slowdown in labor force growth (reinforced by the impact of the one-child policy) and the inevitable decline in productivity gains, as the economy is becoming more mature.

The credit boom and its consequences

While credit has steadily increased in recent years, much faster than the economic growth, corporate debt already reached 168% of the GDP in the third quarter of 2016, or nearly $ 18.5 trillion. With such a strong and rapid increase in credit, many unprofitable firms may find it difficult to finance in the event of tighter monetary policy in China. Credit is already getting stricter as the government decided in December to focus on risk reduction and financial stability, to the detriment of economic growth, implying measures to curb the credit. As a result, the amount of doubtful loans (loans with little chance of being repaid) may prove to be higher than what the official figures suggest. A phenomenon that could cause trouble…

The appreciation of the dollar against the yuan

Yuan weakened against US Dollar
Chinese Yuan Keeps Depreciating Against US Dollar

While the yuan (or renminbi, “currency of the people”) has already lost nearly 6% against the dollar in 2016, the upward trajectory of the US currency is a major challenge for Beijing. As China massively bought yuan currency to support its exchange rate, its foreign exchange reserves have melted by nearly $ 1 trillion, to $ 3 trillion in just two years. Beijing could also defend the yuan by implementing monetary tightening policy, but the room for maneuver of the PBOC (the country’s central bank) is limited, because of the size of the credit. The situation could be very worrying for the PBOC if the Federal Reserve (the US central bank) keep raising its exchange rate in 2017 as it has already been initiated by new Donald Trump government.

The real estate industry could slow down

One of the major pillar of China’s economic growth has been the development of the real estate sector over the past 10 years. In 2016, Chinese real estate grew strong, both in terms of construction and price increases. To cool down the overheated property market, local authorities have increased the share of minimum input required to purchase a property in order to lighten the use of mortgages. Consequently, the growth of the housing sector should slow down in the coming year.

Donald Trump threaten Chinese exports

donald trumpDonald Trump claimed during the election campaign that he would declare China a country manipulating his currency once he has become president and would impose heavy duties (up to 45%!) on US imports of Chinese goods.

In the end, China’s growth should continue to slow down in 2017 and the country will likely go through hard times in the coming months.

There have been a lot of concerns about the Chinese debt which is mostly the consequence of a real estate crisis. The real estate industry is largely responsible for the financial crisis that has hit the financial sector in summer 2015 in China.

Here is an interesting analysis from McKinsey about what are experts call the “Chinese real estate bubble” in most tier-1 and -2 cities. 80% of these cities have experienced a continuous increase in housing prices for at least five years. East and Southern China are the regions where prices have reached the highest level. According to a recent report from McKinsey, prices should keep rising for the coming year.

anti-traffic bus

Many countries have probably dreamed of it, China did it: an anti-traffic bus. The project was presented during a test performed at the high-tech fair in Beijing.
In order to avoid traffic jams, this mega bus forms a two-meter high bridge above the road and is wide enough to let two lines of cars pass underneath. It is also very long – 22 meters – and can carry about 1,400 passengers. The bus would require special elevated stations for people to get in and out. It is also equipped with emergency slides like those in aircraft in case of an accident. With its futuristic and minimal design, the bus can reach a maximum speed of 60 km/h and runs exclusively on electric power.

Criticism from Chinese government

The project was mostly ignored by international media, but many criticisms came from the official Chinese press. The first concern brought up is the length of the bus that would be a problem when turning. It would also be unable to go under bridges.
Another problem is the cost: this project is very expensive. The company that designed it said they need more than 500 million dollars to make it happen. They would need partners in local governments and investors as well, and that is the real problem. Indeed, the government does not seem to support the project for the reasons above and also because the company didn’t advise the local authority about the project.

Support from the people

On Weibo – the Chinese Twitter – Internet users were more supportive. Firstly because China is facing a major pollution problem and this environment-friendly bus appears as an attempt to solve this problem. Secondly, there are already too many cars on the roads and traffic jams are a recurring issue in China. In 2010, one traffic jam even lasted for 10 days!
This anti-cap bus would be a great solution; this is probably why the prestigious American magazine Time chose the Chinese mega bus as one of the best inventions of 2010, year of its creation.

Impressive construction site in Tianjin, northern China
Impressive construction site in Tianjin, northern China

The recovery of the housing sector is still ongoing in China but at a slower pace in June, with fewer cities showing an increase in new home prices compared with the previous month, according to figures released on Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Out of the 70 medium and large cities, 55 recorded a rise in new home prices last month, compare to 60 in May, said the NBS. In addition, 10 cities showed a decline in prices, against 4 in May.

New home prices surged 48.4% year on year in the southern city of Shenzhen last month, the most significant increase among all major cities but lower than the 54% rise recorded in May. Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou home prices are respectively up 33.8%, 22.4% and 19.5% year on year. Jinzhou, a second-tier city located in northeastern China, experienced the largest decrease year on year with 3.5%.

Regarding the existing homes, prices rose in 48 cities fell in 14 cities in June compare to the previous month, against 49 and 13 in May.

After over a year of price cooling, the Chinese real estate market began to recover in the second half of 2015, thanks to government support measures, including a decrease in the interest rate and the deposit.

However, cities are not equal before the recovery: in developed regions, the rise in prices was very noticeable while a considerable amount of properties are still unsold in less developed areas. This contrast has prompted local authorities to use different methods: Shenzhen and Shanghai have stepped up measures to curb speculation and contain the risks of bubbles, while smaller cities are exploring new ways to boost house sales.

A super luxury hotel opened its door last week on the Bund, the renowned European-style waterfront in Shanghai. Wanda Reign is the first seven stars hotel to open in China and one of the few of its kind in the world.

Wanda Reign bar offering a great view on Shanghai financial center Lujiazui
Wanda Reign lounge bar offers a great view on Shanghai financial center Lujiazui

The owner is none other than Wang Sicong, son of the real estate tycoon and China’s wealthiest man Wang Jianlin, founder of Dalian Wanda Group, the biggest real estate company in China.

The hotel looks like an art and antique museum due to the numerous unique pieces created by contemporary Chinese artists. The staff outfits have been designed by Laurence Xu, the first Chinese designer to integrate Paris Fashion Week.

Each of the 193 rooms features an iPad, and the decoration is very much inspired by an Art Deco aesthetic offering a choice of two styles: modern glamour beige and dark mahogany brown with Magnolia patterns. Besides, bathrooms come with Hermes and L’Occitane items.

For the wealthiest, we recommend the 288sqm Chairman suite which comprises a lounge, a dining room, a cellar, a bar, an office, a huge bedroom, a sauna and a Jacuzzi.

To top it all, the rooftop terrace features a restaurant led by the French chef Marc Meneau. For those seeking more local flavours, Wanda Reign also boasts a traditional Chinese and a Japanese restaurants.

To celebrate the launch of the hotel, some rooms are currently available at $453 per night.


Chinese Company Unveils World’s First Passenger Drone
Chinese Company Unveils World’s First Passenger Drone

In 2015, Dajiang Innovation owned about seventy percent of the consumer market for drones. The seventy percent share of the market has however been dwindling as time passes by with many startups trying to challenge Dajiang’s dominance.

A Low Cost Strategy

The startups strategy has been to release low-cost products to try to swivel the market their way. Despite their relentless efforts, experts have predicted that the startups will never have the capability of gaining a significant share of the market.

Zero Zero Robotics, one of the many startups clogging the market, is in the process of making a model of a drone that will be different from DJI’s four propeller drones. The company hails from Beijing and has a funding of approximately twenty-five million dollars. Zero Zero Robotics also released a Hover Camera in the recent past whose price prediction was below six hundred dollars. Weighing at about half a pound, the drone can fit in a trouser pocket. More on drones pour les débutants!

Many replicas and Mini Drones Hitting the Market


the phantom 3 version pro from DJI
The phantom 3 version pro from DJI

This drone is an addition to many other low-cost drones from other startups like Xiro and Ehang in the Chinese market. The three companies are not the least of Daijang’s worries as Xiaomi has filed twenty drone technology patents to date and plans to release a drone model this current year. The model is rumoured to retail at two hundred dollars upon its release to the market. DJI’s most affordable product retails at 499 dollars. The 200-dollar model will cause a stir in the market.

Chip Manufacturing Companies

Chip manufacturing companies have turned their attention to the lucrative drone market in China and are combining with the start-ups to come up with more advanced drones. The latest DJI’s Phantom model that boasts of having the ability to navigate around obstacles in flight paths will face stiff competition from the Xero Ying’s model and Hover camera that are using chips that allow them to have the same feature.

The chip manufacturing companies are a huge force not to be ignored.
The increased competition for the drone market has forced DJI to delve into commercial models. The IDC estimates that the commercial models market will get to thirty percent by the year 2019. Expectations are that in future, the media, real estate, law enforcement and mapping companies will provide a market for the drones.

Innovation Will Prevail

With an aim to be above the rest in the commercial market, Ehang launched a drone-powered by electricity and had the ability to carry a human being for short flights. The product is still a work in progress, and the company is working hard to turn it into a finished product.

Despite the increased competition, the Chinese drone market is expected to boom in 2017. With the coming up of many drone manufacturing companies and improved technology, it is anticipated that the prices will drop consequently attracting low-end consumers. The increased technology will enable the drones to handle more functions and consequently attract consumers from all sectors of the economy.

incredible aerial shots from Reunion Island
Incredible aerial shots from Reunion Island

Despite the clogging, the Chinese drone market will continue to increase. Drone technology is still at an infant stage and with its growth will come more selling opportunities. As of now, Daijang will continue holding the bigger share of the market until the day that the startups will have a solid foundation to keep with the increasingly complex business.
Visit for the latest drone and quadcopter news on the French market!

Didi Chuxing raised $7.3 billion in last funding round

The Chinese taxicab company Didi Chuxing Technology raised $7.3 billion last week in its latest investment round, said the firm in an official announcement.

Didi Chuxing, the direct competitor of the American company Uber in the Chinese market, raised $4.5 billion from investors including Apple for $1 billion and China Life Insurance. Tencent and Alibaba also took part in the funding of the Chinese firm now valued at $28 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Beside, Didi Chuxing sealed a deal with China Merchant Bank to obtain a syndicated loan of up to $2.5 billion.

According to Cheng Wei, co-founder and CEO of Didi Chuxing, efforts will focus on R&D, Big data and user experience.

The Beijing-based company is aiming to go public next year in New York stock exchange, said Bloomberg.

Brexit to increase foreign real estate investment in UK

On Thursday 23 June, many Britons voted for Brexit to protect their economy from non-British investors. The fall of the pound following the referendum, however, appears as a great opportunity for many foreign investors.

The decision of the British to leave the EU last week has triggered a political and financial earthquake with the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and the collapse of the stock market after the pound sterling lost 8.8% against the US dollar.

Many analysts predict a decline in property prices while potential buyers postpone transactions due to the general uncertainty of stock market. For foreign investors, however, it seems to be the right time to find some great deals.

“Anyone who does not use the pound will see an opportunity” said N. Brooke, chairman of Professional Property Services, a consulting firm specialized I real estate investment based in Shanghai.

asian property buyer

Interest from China, Hong Kong and Singapore

Former President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a British organization that promotes the real estate industry, Brooke said that some of its wealthy customers from Hong Kong and China are already seeking new investment opportunities in the UK.

For international real estate company Knight Frank, even if it is too early to assess the impact of the British referendum, the drop of the pound will definitely lead to a significant gain in purchasing power of foreign investors.

People from China, Hong Kong and Singapore already have a solid experience in real estate investments in UK, particularly in London. The Chinese international property portal expects a 30% increase in queries for properties in UK in June compared to May.

Property prices in London are among the highest in the world. With the referendum, the residential market should fall by 5% across the UK, and even in London, according to KPMG consulting group.

Retail: China’s Suning to Expand, America’s Best Buy to Slow Down

China is now the world’s largest market for electronics with 1.29 billion phone users and 200 million computer users in 2016. As a consequence, domestic and foreign electronics retailers such as Suning and Best buy are focusing their effort in expanding their network in key locations to gain market shares.

Suning Appliance Co, the Nanjing-based retailer, said in a statement that it had raised CNY2.43 billion (US$350 million) by issuing 54 million shares to six institutions for outlet expansion. With this money, Suning will open 250 outlets nationwide in China, set up a logistics center in Shenyang of Liaoning Province and buy facilities for two flagship stores in Shanghai and Wuhan.

According to Suning, new outlets are expected to generate CNY18.63 billion in revenue annually. It has started construction work of five logistics centers and is choosing locations for the other four more. Currently, the company runs large logistics hubs in Beijing, Hangzhou and Nanjing.

American consumer electronics retailer Best Buy released a statement recently announcing best buy china that it would cut back spending by about 50 percent in 2015, including a “substantial reduction in new store openings in China, the United States and Canada.” Thus it is expected that Best Buy’s expansion plan in China would be slowed down.

On the other hand, according to the president of Best Buy Asia, the company is not gearing down its expansion but rather planning to increase its store number in the next six year.

Best Buy entered Chinese market by opening its first store in China in 2006 and started to expand in this October. Four stores and one store have been opened in Shanghai and Beijing, respectively.

Gome Electrical Appliance Holdings Ltd, China’s biggest electrical retailer, has spent CNY541 million (USD75 million) for a 10.7% stake in Sanlian Commerce Co Ltd, a major appliance retailer in the province, becoming new owner of Sanlian.

After Sanlian Commerce originally sold the stake to Shandong Longjidao Construction Co at an auction on February 2016, Gome then acquired all of Longjidao several days later to become the real owner of the Sanlian stake.

With the acquisition, Gome could enhance its sales in Shandong while Sanlian could share Gome’s market resources with independent operation. According to a statement, Gome won’t open franchise stores in the province to avoid competition with Sanlian.