Risks

Japanese Real Estate Essentials: City Planning Law for the residential districts.

The city planning law, which was created by the ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, exist to regulate urban development.

The law divides all Japan into mainly two parts; city planning area which is regulated by the city planning law and the non-city planning area which is not regulated by this law.

The law defines 12 zoning districts within urbanization promotion areas.

Of these zoning districts, three have a primary effect on real estate projects residential district, commercial districts and industrial district.

Specific regulations for each district such as allowable use, building coverage ratio and floor area ratio are defined by the building standards law.

When you buy a property in Japan, it is very important to know which district your property exists.

Because each district is highly regulated by the specifics of city planning law(and building standards law)

and such regulations always affect the neighbourhood.

The law regulates the hight, allowable use, building coverage ratio, floor area ratio, type of the business and the size of the business and so on.

For example, you can not open a restaurant in category 1 low-rise exclusive residential districts.

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Real estate investment in Japan : Beautiful Stories, Hard Realities

Beautiful Stories, Hard Realities

Real estate agents/realtors are always holding seminars in Tokyo, Osaka and elsewhere, luring in amateur investors (for Japanese investors so far)

and telling them beautiful stories of how this person or that person got rich in the property market.

I never exaggerate such successes in my seminars, although of course they do exist.

Instead, I always tell the audience true stories from my experience and those of other clients and inexperienced investors, and in particular about the mistakes made.

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Buying a very affordable condominium in Japan ?: Do the due diligence

Irresistible ?

I receive a number of inquiries about very affordable and yet old condominiums from foreign nationals.

They don’t know much about Japanese market.

Japan is facing serious social issues including ageing society and shrinking population.

And old condominiums are facing similar realities especially in the regional areas.

I am not saying all old condominiums are risky but please do not jump at the gun only because they are cheap.

You need to carefully investigate the property and check the potential risks.

Real estates are totally controlled by the market mechanism and they are cheap for a reason.

That said, if you carefully search, you could get a relatively good investment.

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How the commission for agents (realtors) works in Japan ?: Risks you should watch (YouTube)

How the commission for agents (realtors) work in Japan ?
The system is very different from that of USA.

In the US, sellers pay the commission to the sellers agents (listing agents) and buyers don’t pay the commission.

(Later, sellers agents split the commission with buyers agents)

In Japan, a buyer pays the 3% commission to buyers agent and a seller pays the same 3% to sellers agent (listing agent)

3% is the statutory rate and not negotiable (it is but I don’t negotiate).

Japan has been infamous for the problem of “dual agency”.

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Is it a good investment ? Due Diligence For high-rise condominium buyers : What You Need to Check

High-rise condominiums sometimes meet fierce resistance from residents who believe their neighborhoods are being overwhelmed by soaring glass towers.

In Japan, a number of rich and famous are living in those high rise condominiums.
But are they really good investment ? What are the potential risks ?

The higher that buildings can stretch into the sky, the more money that developers can command for sweeping views.

Those luxury condominiums are called ‘tower mansion’ in Japan.

I know it sounds very confusing.

In Japan mansions aren’t massive houses and estates for the rich and famous.

They are conventional apartments for regular people

(manshon ~ マンション).

Japanese mansions are the equivalent of condominiums.

People buy them to live in or rent out.

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Controversial argument: Where are the places you don’t want to live in Tokyo ?

 

(Machida)

Moving into a new place can be an exciting yet expensive decision.

It is essential that you view the property in person as the photos may (or may not) do the property justice.

You may be able to identify issues that are not present in the photos, which may not be up to date.

Visiting the property gives you a feel for the location and the neighbourhood.

In any cities, there are some neighbourhoods where you don’t walk in the middle of night alone.

In fact, in Tokyo there is almost none.

Maybe you may feel weird if you walk on the street early in the morning in Shinjuku Kabukicho but you won’t feel

extreme insecurity.

I recently read a book written by a guy called ‘Masayoshi Osaka’. The book is called ‘Where are the places you don’t

want to live in greater Tokyo ?’  It is highly controversial and full of prejudice such as race, income and business.

He is a reasonably well-known blogger, originally from Osaka.

He is running a media company “Tokyo Deep Guide” , which is the extreme biased media.

The media shines light not on the positive side of the cities/towns in Tokyo but on the negative side.

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Financing your real estate investment in Japan: Suruga bank scandal. Is it facing the risk of contraction ?

Pressure mounts to enact inquiry by FSA on other banks ?

Recently the Financial Services Agency (FSA) ordered Suruga Bank to stop extending fresh loans for real estate investment for six months, over its improper practices related to such financing.
In recent years, the FSA has strengthened its oversight of surveillance over building financing for rental houses that have spread as tax saving measures for inheritance tax. There are an increasing number of examples of building properties in areas with low rental demand and inability to obtain enough rent income assumed by increasing vacancy.
There are cases in which loans can not be repaid and leading to the foreclosures.
Those who are affluent with the upscale property have been targeted by the developers of new apartment buildings and the real estate companies.
Since around 2010, these developers and real estate companies have focused not only on loans involved in landowner’s tax saving measures but also on loans to individuals who do not own the land with limited self-funding. Then shared house scandal involving Suruga bank and Smart days (operator of shared house) exposed to the light in early 2018.Read more

Buying a house in Japan ? Here’s all-too common mistakes to avoid


We don’t need to tell you about the brilliance of Japan quality: detailed, good service and competitive price etc etc.  
But for how good Japan quality in general is, it’s equally easy to screw up. Badly.
Japan’s real estate industry and construction industry are full of fraudulent companies.
A number of them are rogue (of course, there are good and trustworthy companies, too.)
You need to be very careful to deal with them.
When you build your brand-new house in Japan, you must be extra mindful because it could be a disaster if it goes wrong.
It is widely known to the industry professionals that the laws are not necessarily protecting the consumers
(customers).
Why is the owner (consumer) in so disadvantageous position ?

There are five main reasons.
1.The industry is not seeking a repeat business so they don’t look after customers well
2. High overhead cost
3. The related laws have many loopholes
4. The owner(customer) trusts the contractor  (real estate agents and builders included) too much
5. Victim’s tragic stories are not widely reported in the media.

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Pitfall of the condo unit investment in Japan : Management company and work matter

There are many apartment buildings which are failing in the their management in Japan.If you live in the apartment buildings you have to be cautiously attentive how your building is managed.

What about the property for the investment ?

KENBIYA (major Japanese property web site) recently wrote an interesting story about the management of the residential buildings (both for living and investment) 

As an investor, perhaps the management of the building does not seem to be your business but I have to warn you that actually the management of many residential buildings for the investment is more likely to
be failing.

But Why  ?

The reason is very simple. Owners (investors) don’t care because they don’t live there.
In some cases monthly management fee (管理費)is not paid by many owners, management fee (fund) is spent improperly. In some cases someone took the money and run away.

Case 1
Serious trouble of the property for investment that were built the bubble period.
One of the relatively common examples is the an apartment in Tokyo, which is close to the city center.
These buildings (usually with units of studios) were built as a tax saving measure for salaried workers in the bubble period.

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