Chinese buyers, L.A. markets

Chinese residential developers in L.A. are expecting Chinese buyers to constitute up to 40 percent of their clients. Since 2014, Chinese real estate companies have been involved in at least seven of 18 land deals in Los Angeles.  Greenland, a Shanghai-based real estate company, bought a property called “Metropolis” in downtown L.A. near the 110 freeway. This mixed-use project with three towers and 1500 residential units is now under construction. Greenland, the property owner, has the marketing skills to attract the Chinese buyers. The realtor for the Metropolis project said 75 percent of units in one tower had already been sold. Many of those units are going to buyers from China.


The Metropolis project model 

First, Greenland targets Chinese buyers through real estate agents from both China and the U.S. The L’ands Corporation is a Beijing-based company and has years of experience selling luxury houses in China. The advertisements for the Metropolis condominiums have appeared during the Beijing company’s marketing to Chinese buyers. “We are quite confident about the overseas market because more and more Chinese clients consult with us about houses in the U.S., especially California,” said Eason Wang, one of the sales agents in the L’ands Corporation. After Wang posted the Metropolis information in his Wechat account (a Chinese popular social networking account similar to Twitter), several customers were interested, and Wang planned to put the potential buyers in contact with the Los Angeles partner — Douglas Elliman. The main roles of the Chinese real estate agents are the advertiser, the promoter and the connector between the Chinese buyers and the L.A. market. Only the U.S. real estate agents are authorized to sell American houses. The L’ands Corporation will help the potential Chinese buyers arrange the property visits with Douglas Elliman’s L.A. branch in Greenland’s office near the Metropolis project. Douglas Elliman’s team for Greenland, of course, has several Chinese employees who can speak fluent Mandarin.


A screenshot of L’ands Corporation house selling advertisements in Wechat

Greenland, the company behind Metropolis, tries to make its properties more attractive to potential Chinese buyers by linking ownership to citizenship.

It’s called the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, foreign investors are eligible to apply for permanent residence if they invest $500,000 in a company like Greenland in a way that helps create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. Greenland will return the money to investors once the properties they invested in are sold. The Chinese buyer gets to stay in the U.S.



In 2015, more than $25 billion from China flowed into residential real estate in the United States. Chinese consumers bought more U.S. properties than people from any other country. “People move with capital nowadays. If you go to a university in the U.S., you will also consume goods including investment in property. It’s the mobility of capital,” said Yasheng Huang, associate dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management.  “The houses built by Chinese real estate companies could easily own the Chinese buyers’ attention and trust.” But behind the big boom in American real estate investment are worries about the depreciation of China’s currency and an economic slowdown. “There are right reasons for capital movement such as increasing globalization, the mobility of capital and the ability of entrepreneurs,” Huang said. What he worried about were the “wrong reasons” for capital movement such as the lack of confidence in the future of China’s economy.

Corporate travelling: a commute or a commune?

It might be possible that the hospitality industry might be on it’s way to completely revolutionizing itself, as can be seen by the new things that have been trending in hotels in the past year. There has been a shift from focus on factors like luxury, comfort and indulgence to factors like social spaces, high-tech facilitated services, and modern renewable energy driven buildings.

What young corporate travelers today while on business trips or work-related trips look for in a hotel is two things: firstly a smooth and easy stay process and secondly to use the hotel as a platform to socialize, meet people and start building a network. Consequently, hotels have been choosing to capitalize on possible social settings. For example, there has been a concept of ‘living room like lobbies’, which are basically huge lobbies with a lot of communal furniture to promote mingling and socializing. This was started by the Citizen M chain of hotels in Amsterdam, which offers not so luxurious and small rooms but these ‘living room like lobbies’. Shared spaces are not only limited to lobbies: even restaurants and bars can be made to have communal tables and settings rather than the traditional way, lounges, that can usually be accessed by frequent customers can provide a kind of shared entertainment experience and even waiting areas like hallways and elevator could be somehow utilized as collective spaces. A hotel in Frankfurt that opened in March by the Lindenberg brand of hotels has shared leisure places like a communal kitchen that hosts cooking classes, and a jogging club in the garden.

Also, with evolving and fast-changing technology, the younger corporate travelers are used to being associated with user friendly and tech savvy services. For example, many airlines are not just switching to online check in but also e-boarding, which lets you proceed directly to security check: which is a part of making the travel experience smooth and error free. Lesser human involvement in this process implies a more systematic method. The same concept has been extending to the hotel industry: some hotels are now coming up with ideas of e-check in, by which they get their room key cards through an automated system after scanning their identification. This process is both faster and ensures that customers are served in a timely manner or is been informed of an accurate wait time through a computer rather than an estimate by a customer service associate.

Lastly, there has been a growing concern for the depletion of resources on our planet and towards issues like global warming and melting of glaciers. This concern will be more and more reinforced every year, and renewable energy is starting to be seen as the future. Young corporate travelers who are usually recent college graduates are very informed about environmental issues and since they will be the ones to actually live through an energy crisis if it were ever to happen, they are very attracted to businesses that are renewable energy driven. Though not many hotels have had a goal to achieve this, it might be something they might consider in the future.

These concepts could soon make a lot of existing luxury hotel chains obsolete, or force them to go through very expensive refurbishments that might take a while and cause the hotel to be out of business for a while, which might not be something they could afford. However, it would be intriguing to see if these small but still significant changes could have a great impact and actually revolutionize the hospitality industry.

Uber: Win for the riders, loss for the drivers



Uber just completed 2 billion rides on July of 2016 internationally, proving as consumers’ best friend when it comes to transportation.

To the majority of the Trojans, Uber is an excellent app.

Thanks to the recent program between USC and Uber, the Trojans have been saving money and going home safely after late excursions.

Proving how Uber is the students’ beloved smartphone app, the recent findings in Uber demand curve shows how Uber service is more beneficial to the customers than the drivers and the company itself.


Uber, Steven Levitte (author of Freakonomics), and other researchers mapped out Uber demand curve to investigate the impact Uber has brought to the consumer welfare. If the researchers were to map demand curve for regular transportation service, it could have been harder because there is more than one factor. For the transportation service like Taxi, the price may be affected by not only the supply of the drivers but also by the weather, time of the day and other competing services. Different from aforementioned factors affecting transportation demands, Uber’s metrics are unique in two folds: 1. Uber records every occasion where a customer declines the offered price with regular factors such as the time, place, price, and a surge factor; 2. Uber rounds up or down to one decimal place the surge factor it generates to determine how much to charge customers for a given trip.

The Study looked into 48 million ride interactions over the first 24 weeks of last year from Uber’s four biggest U.S. markets: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles. According to the data, the customers follow through 62% of the time without surge pricing (which is almost 80% of the time), and 39% when the surge is above 2 (3.5% of the time). The demand did not match the price. In simple economics, the demand should be high as the supply is scarce; however, the Uber data shows the opposite. As shown in the graph, the demand decreased by 40% as the price doubled.

On the conclusion of the study, the authors stated that Uber demand curve is highly inelastic and made $6.8 billion consumer surplus last year alone. This surplus is twice greater than how much the drivers were paid and six times what Uber itself earned last year. This may be a good news for the college students whose goal is always to save money, but it is clearly not a great news for Uber which has lost $1.2 billion in the first half of 2016.

San Francisco and its Sleeping Bag Situation


Although it’s been called the “most expensive city in the U.S.”, San Francisco homeowners are challenged with an issue more prevalent than just the neighborhoods steep price tag — homelessness.

According to a recent study by the California Budget Center, the city ranks first in California for economic inequality. With the average household income of the top 1% ($3.6 million) reaching 44 times that of the bottom 99% ($81,094), it’s clear that there is a serious housing and wealth disparity in the city.

While San Francisco is known for its free-thinking, diverse, and innovative culture, the city has long struggled with the issue of homelessness despite spending upwards of $240 million every year to tackle it. Moreover, it is estimated that the 1,600 chronically homeless people cost the approximately $80,000 each per year, with the number rising to $150,000 for the 338 considered “most needy” in the public health database.

The irony of the situation lies in the fact that while San Francisco is deemed as being a progressive, welcoming, and moderately warm city this also means that that there continues to be a large influx of homeless people to the city each year. Which, in turn, poses major challenges to both policy makers and residents who are already battling with the cities extremely expensive housing market.












In order to tackle the issue of homelessness in San Francisco and create serious change, policy makers need to look at the issue from both the homeowner and humanitarian perspective.

On the one hand, while it is understandable that homeowners are becoming increasingly frustrated with the issues, lawmakers cannot solely listen to residents complaining about having old mattresses lying outside their $4 million dollar walkup. Similarly, increasing budgets for welfare and rehabilitation programs will not be beneficial if there is not the infrastructure and culture to do so.

Maybe what the city really needs is a change of mindset — in both how people and policy makers view and understand the issue of homelessness?

It is not as simple as just ‘creating housing and offering programs’… it will take an entire community.



San Francisco has become one huge metaphor for economic inequality in America

Government and NGOs Fight Homelessness in San Francisco: Is it Working?