Shanghai and Beijing markets are heating up- Guest Blog post by Murray Smith of ChinaRealEstateNow.com

We have personally witnessed an increase in property values in Shanghai over the past few months; especially on high-end properties. Our employees and partners in China have seen investors from all over the world beginning to pick of the pace of purchasing again. When the banking crisis started back in October, many investors were sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what was going to happen. That time has passed, and foreigners (especially Hong Kongese) are buying into Shanghai and Beijing again. If you were to walk any street right now in Shanghai or Beijing, you would have no idea of any “world financial crisis”. Business is booming in most parts of China right now.

The following article confirms it:



Switzerland is an amazingly beautiful country. Swiss Alps, lush mountain scenery, and gorgeous waterways. There is an open attitude that is favorable for the many investment opportunities for the foreign investor. Many companies are attracted to Switzerland and have taken advantage of owning businesses there. The incentives for companies doing business in Switzerland are low corporate taxes, exceptional infrastructure, and a very productive work force. Companies such as Dow, Phillip Morris, General Motors, Gillette and Proctor and Gamble have all set up offices in Switzerland. Switzerland has offered many benefits to companies and to the foreign investor. Laws and cantons, regulate the rules and incentives for foreign investment. Seek advice before you invest or purchase, though, and make sure that you have a clear understanding of all the regulations in Switzerland. Just like any other country they have their own rules and regulations. Foreign exchange markets in Switzerland are free and uncontrolled.

Buying Property. To purchase real estate the foreign investor needs to obtain a permit from the Cantonal and Federal Authorities before the purchase. Under the regulation (persons abroad)  this can be an individual or a legal entity. Note if it is property bought as a primary residence and being occupied as such, no permission is required (Except in certain areas or if your land is larger than 3000m2). In Switzerland all letters of intent or contracts need to be notarized, and deeds need to be recorded in the acquisition of property.

In Ski Resort areas and other jurisdictions or type of property being purchased, there are certain restrictions that may apply. Foreign buyers are required to obtain permission to purchase in the form of a permit. Be aware that sometimes these permits can take a long time to obtain.  The favorable Swiss Mortgage is 60- 80% LTV at a rate of 3% approx ( Adjustable rates) in Swiss Francs. Typically terms are for 30 years up to 80% LTV, up to age 70.

Example of Real Estate Investment. 4 bd 1 bth, 100 meters from ski lift, Euros Swiss Franc 250,000. This chalet has character. There are some real buys left in the Switzerland market. The Swiss property is considered by most to be a stable investment. There are many areas with quality construction. Villar is a favorite destination for many and it is only 90 minutes from the Geneva Airport. Switzerland also has excellent train connections as well.

India is growing very rapidly. With the “flattening” of the world happening at a shocking rate. I’m sure most of you have dealt with a company who has decided to outsource their service department to India. In fact the job market in India is continuing to grow while the market in America is continuing to decline. In the past decade alone the Indian Foreign Exchange reserve has increased over 250 billion dollars!

So why not go to India and invest there? With a GDP growth rate of 9.4% in 2006-07, the economy is among the fastest growing in the world. India’s GDP in terms of USD exchange-rate is US$1.089 trillion which makes it the world’s fourth largest GDP at US$4.726 trillion. India also has the second larger job force! Merrill Lynch forecasts that the Indian realty sector will grow from $12 billion in 2005 to $90 billion by 2015. In Fact Michael Smith who is head of the Asian real estate investment banking at Goldman Sachs calls “India the most exciting real estate market in Asia,” adding “It’s one of the last major countries in Asia with an improving market” Which is exciting to hear in light of America’s most recent economic issues.

India is a beautiful country filled with white sandy beaches, beautiful mountains and exciting shopping. Plus who wouldn’t want to own part of a country that’s home to the Taj Mahal? So here are some guidelines for those looking to invest; Foreign citizens of Non-Indian origin (whether resident in India or not) and foreign companies including trusts, societies and associations incorporated/ registered abroad will be permitted by Reserve Bank, on application, to acquire immovable property in India, provided the following conditions are satisfied:

1) The property to be purchased is for residential use only.
2) The consideration for purchase of the property is met out of foreign exchange remitted from abroad in any convertible currency through normal banking channels.

3) Income accruing by way of rent from the property purchased, or the sale proceeds of such property/income arising out of investment of such sale proceeds at any future date shall be credited only to the Ordinary Non-resident Rupee (NRO) account of the non-resident purchaser.

Iceland is a country in Northern Europe.You can play golf 24/7 in the summer, that is if you don’t mind 15 degrees. It has a population of 316,000, and a land area of 103,000 KM. Its capital city is Reykjavik. It is made up of volcanic mountains which plateau into sand fields and glacier rivers flow into the sea. In the past its only industry was fishing and agriculture. Then in the 20th Century Iceland’s economy developed rather quickly. Economic reforms have been a positive impact with free trade in the European Economic Area. New economic fields are in service, finance, and various industries.

Today Iceland has some of the world’s highest levels of economic freedoms. It is among the top 10 richest countries in the world. According to Human Development Index, Iceland is the most developed country in the world. Investment incentives are low corporation tax, competitive labor costs, payroll costs, and low energy prices. Many communities offer incentives, such as grants through the New Business Venture Fund and Science Fund. Special incentives are granted for TV and Film Production.

Restrictions on Foreign Investment. Under the European Economic Area Agreement Investment in Iceland By EEA residents is in principle free status. Non residents may invest in a business enterprise by adhering to their laws and acquisition of licenses required by law. The fishing industries are reserved for residents of Iceland.

Property Purchase Laws. Investment in real properties are open to individuals and legal entities under the Convention of European Free Trade Association. You can enter the country on a 6 month stay to take a look at this beautiful country. After that you need to apply for residency or permission to stay. The registration of a deed for real property without permission is dependent on the holder of the right presenting a special declaration. The ministry of justice may grant exemptions.

Germany, not just a place for great beer and sausage? Turns out it’s also on the rise to be one of the hottest investment locations to date. Germany is home to the largest national economy in Europe and the third largest in the world. Nearly five percent of international direct investment flows into Germany and in just 2006 alone, that number totaled 30 billion Euros. Germany also happens to be home to the world’s largest wind farm and solar power plant. In fact, in 2007 it generated an impressive 14% of the country’s total electricity consumption. As if all of this wasn’t impressive enough, Germany once again retained its position as the world’s number one exporter in 2007.

#1 in the world for Exportation!? The country is also the only G7 state which has increased its share of world trade in the last 10 years. They offer incentives to many potential investors, ranging from cash support to reimbursement for labor and R&D. Germany has made great strides to significantly reduce its corporate tax levels, which is helping companies invest, and secure new business. Their goal is to improve the general tax framework and keep indirect labor costs down all in an effort to open its doors to more investors. Add to this their superior health and education provisions, beautiful landscapes, and their vibrant cultural scene; and it’s no wonder why more than seven million foreigners have made their homes in Germany. So now that I’ve started to convince you to consider Germany as your next place of residency, what’s next?

No restrictions on foreign ownership. You’ll be happy to know that there are no legal restrictions on non-Germans owning property. The only bar to foreign ownership of property might lie in the financial institutions that offer mortgages. They might require a higher down payment because of the lack of a long-term financial track record. So what’s it going to cost? Interest rates for mortgages are presently below the long time average, ranging between 4.90 percent and 6.15 percent, depending to some degree on the duration of the financing plan. Most mortgages are for 10 or 20 years.

Real Estate in Germany. Before going into the typical cost of German homes, it must be taken into consideration that homes in Germany, and all other European countries, tend to be smaller than American or Canadian ones. Bear in mind that the more than 80 million people in Germany live on a land surface only 1/35th that of the U.S., which has a population of about 300 million. That means that the Germans have only 1/9th as much living space. As a result much of that land  happens to be heavily developed, so home prices tend to be slightly higher. But if a bargain is what you are looking for the city-state of Bremen is one of the least expensive of the larger cities. At the other end of the scale the Bavarian capital of Munich is by far the most expensive. The price per square meter for privately owned property was only €975 in Bremen compared to around €2,050 in Munich. Keeping in mind the booming economy and ever increasing vocational opportunities even if you choose the higher initial investment the long term return promises to still be very rewarding. So Germany- more than a great place to find a pub? I would say so.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has a plan. They have marketing representatives in 35 overseas offices around the world. This year tourism generated 600 Billion Baht in revenue from 15.48 million arrivals. Thailand is an amazing country, and the value for the money is ranked #1 by Future Brand Index and its hospitality and authentic culture have maintained a high revenue for tourism. It is a well known shoppers paradise and a great place to enjoy the night life.

Thailand is in the heart of East Asia. A beautiful tropical paradise with property prices that are still very affordable, but with prices growing 10-15% per year it might not be for much longer. One property hot spot is located on the east coast of Thailand.  Rayong is referred to as “The Thailand Riviera.” With its white sand beaches it is truly a beautiful get away. Rayong is a very popular destination for those wanting a paradise escape. A tranquil fishing village with succulent seafood dishes, Rayong is located only 2 hours from Bangkok.

Today Thailand is rebuilding both it’s tourist facilities and it’s tourism reputation. Swedish engineers and architects have inspected and passed newly built hotels. Beach or inland homes with spectacular views are in high demand. And with a very lush country with flowering grounds, forest, and beautiful beaches there are lots of new resorts are being built here. Thailand also enjoys very friendly people and very rich delicious food. A great place to visit and a great place to invest in, means you need to keep Thailand on your list of destinations to discover.

Methods of Owning Land in Thailand. Foreigners can own land in Thailand, but are limited to investments of 40 million Baht or more provided it is used for residential purposes. Buying property with a limited liability company is one of the most popular methods for foreign investors.

*Photo curtesy of M.E.R.V at VirtualTourist.com

Canada Property Market Continues to Boom. The signs are strong for the Canadian real estate market . Financial analysts say that the market is still set for continued growth. Calgary has experienced a price explosion and Edmonton is a hot market as well. Property prices rose 15.5% in the 2007. Rising real estate prices and rising rental rates and demand are making Canada a prime market.

In the St. John area of British Columbia, the government has a commitment to spend some fifty million dollars, on the infrastructure improvements. A new natural gas plant is being developed 45 minutes outside of the Ft. St. John area. Alberta is also a great investment area. Property prices surged 20% in 2007. Alberta has been the second fastest growing area in Canada for 5 years straight. The IT industry is booming in Ontario and has a strong student housing market. Property prices are continuing to grow here as well.

Affordable property can be found in another growing area. Nova Scotia Canada is a great market, and affordable. Another affordable area is the city of Saskatoon, it is a growing and upcoming city. Saskatoon is known as the city of beautiful bridges. Saskatoon has less than 1% vacancy rates and the demand for rentals continue to grow. It is a great area for apartment and or condominium investments. The city is rural, but is considered one of the world’s biggest agricultural biotechnology centers. It has a population of around 200,000. It also offers a large student population, and a variety of International companies offer economic stability to this region. A couple of the big international companies in the area are Cameco and Potash Corp. Along with the stability they offer, these international companies big in higher paying jobs.

With property values rising at a steady rate, this is a very aggressive market. Many investors are looking at Canada as a great investment opportunity. English  is spoken by most of Canada’s population, and is the national language of Canada, along with French which is spoken more commonly in the East. Canadian tourism is growing nearly 4 % per annum, and Canada holds 2.9% of the worlds total tourism demand. The country’s real estate market is strong and continues to grow. Properties range from 2 Bd Town-homes $235,000 – $600,000 Lake front Homes in Saskatoon. Here is a great property in Ontario. It is an entire Island 9+ Acres with a beautiful main Lodge, high ceilings, tongue and grove woodwork and 10 cabins 2700 ft of shoreline, fishing, and hunting. A great get away estate or resort opportunity for only 1,500,000.