Where can I find rental listings?
Have a look here. In the listings section you can select rental listings using the top right selection box.
How much cheaper is owning really compared to renting?
Mortgage rates are around 2% and rental yields are between 4.5% and 10% depending
on the type of property. Click here for a chart of the rental yields per area. Even including maintenance and taxes owning will cost less than half then renting.
Can foreigners buy property in Japan?
Yes, there are absolutely no legal restrictions for foreigners to own property in Japan.
But getting a local mortgage can be complicated for temporary residents.
Can I get financing?
Japanese banks offer mortgages with very low interest rates when you buy a primary residence.
To qualify you normally need permanent residency and a stable income. If you do not have primary residence yet we might
still be able to get a loan approval under some circumstances. Please contact us for details.
How much can I borrow and do I need a downpayment?
Normally Japanese banks can give you a mortgage betwee 5 to 6 times your annual income.
We advise people to have between 10% to 20% downpayment, but in some cases where the buyer could show solid income we
have seen loans where less than 5% downpayment was required.
How about financing for investment properties?
Japanese banks normally do not offer investment loans to foreign individuals.
But NAB and
HSBC are offering
these loans now. Please contact Richard Henderson at NAB (+81 3 3241 8923)
for details. For investment properties in Tokyo it is possible to get up to 70% financing, even for non-residents. CBA recently stopped offering mortgages.
How about property management?
We offer to handle all property management issues for clients who buy an investment property through us.
Can I finance a renovation?
Yes. If you submit a renovation plan with the mortgage application it is common
to get financing for that as well.
How do I know if the price for a property is reasonable?
We have a database with all listed properties over the last two years. With all
this data we are able to make a much more accurate comparison with the property for sale. Also we can look
at the land values or do a yield analysis using rental listings.
What kind of property should I buy?
In Japan property depreciates quickly. A 30 year old structure is often not worth
more than the land it is standing on, sometimes even less. Rental yields are also higher for older properties.
Therefore from a financial perspective buildings from the 70s and 80s are the best value. Of course if it concerns
a primary residence other priorities, such as comfort and quality of construction might be more important. Properties
from the bubble period (1984-1995) seem to have the best value in this case.
How about earthquakes?
As most of us know a massive earthquake can strike Tokyo at any time. For a primary
residence you would prefer apartments that were built after 1981 when the earthquake standards were upgraded.
Also important is the reputation of the builder. For investment properties it is best to buy older buildings
that have completely depreciated. In some cases land value even exceeds the purchase price as it can be very
difficult to arrange demolition when not every owner is willing to relocate. Another option is to geographically
diversify your purchases. Earthquake insurance is not a realistic option given the high premiums and the likelyhood
of the insurance company going bankrupt after an earthquake.
How high are the taxes?
In this section we describe shortly the different taxes thay you might have to pay in Japan.
Please be aware that the Japanese tax code will have many exemptions and details not mentioned here. Also date calculations
are normally done starting January 1 of the following year and not from the purchase date. For details of the implications of the tax laws on your
individual case please consult a local tax accountant.
Annual Property Tax
Every property owner has to pay this tax every year. The tax is a percentage of the assessed land and building values.
As these assessed values can differ wildly from the real market value, the tax can vary greatly from one property to another.
On average it normally comes down to about 0.3% to 0.5% of the market value each year, but we have seen it as high as 1.2%.
When purchasing a property we will make an accurate estimate of the annual tax for that property before you sign any contract.
This tax is due within a few months after buying a property. It is a one-time only tax and as such should be considered part of
the closing costs. Many brokers will not mention this tax so it can come as a surprise. Like the annual property tax this possession
tax is based on the assessed value and so can vary greatly. Normally it is around 0.5 to 1.0% of the purchase price, but in
rare cases can be as high as 2%. Before signing any contract we will provide you with an estimate of this tax.
There is a small stamp duty payable when purchasing a property. For small properties this tax is 10,000 to 15,000 yen. For properties
over 50 million yen it is 45,000 yen. For deals over 100 million yen it goes up to 80,000 yen.
When using a property as a primary residence you can not deduct the mortgage payments from your income. There is a small tax rebate
on the outstanding mortgage principal, but this tax rebate is being phased out. For investment properties the rent received is taxable as
income, but in that case you can deduct interest and maintenance expenses as well as depreciation and so reducing your payments considerably.
If you are residing outside Japan, you only have to pay national tax and not the local income tax. Also you will only get taxed over
your income in Japan and so your overall tax rate is extremely low, possible below 5%.
Capital Gains Tax
The bad news is that on short term holdings (less than 5 years) the tax rate on capital gains is set quite high at 39% (30% national + 9% local tax).
But the good
news there are ways to reduce it to 15% or less. If the dwelling has been used as a primary residence for at least a year within the last three
years the first 30 million yen capital gains per person is tax free. So a couple owning a house jointly has to make more than 60 million
capital gains before having to pay any tax. You can only use this deduction once every three years. If you own a property more than 5 years
the tax rate goes down to 20% (15% national + 5% local tax). If you are not a resident in Japan you will not have to pay the local tax.
Can you recommend a local English speaking accountant?
Sure, we can recommend Shu Saikawa of Sohotrust. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or +81 3 5408 8477.
Would you be able to assist me for any property outside Tokyo?
Except for one particular beach we only handle properties in the 23 wards of Tokyo. Due to demographic
reasons I can not recommend anyone to buy a property outside of Tokyo,
unless it is because you love to live in the countryside.
Would you be able to assist me for acquiring an auctioned-property?
Technically we could help with foreclosures, but due to the different
nature of this type of properties I strongly discourage anyone
from buying a foreclosure in Japan:
- Bankruptcy is a big shame in Japan, so the family normally helps out and foreclosures are very rare. In Japan most financial problems get solved behind closed doors.
- The foreclosures that do get executed often are caused by a
combination of addiction (gambling, alcohol), mental disease
(Alzheimer) and mafia involvement (Yakuza). Often the family has long
ago disowned the seller.
- The foreclosure process is very long (over 2 years) in which time
normally the yakuza has expropriated the property. This means that when
you buy a property from the court there is a big chance that it has an
unlawful and possibly violent tenant. It is also possible that the original
owner is still there with nowhere else to go.
- As many foreigners do not understand the distinction between
foreclosures in Japan and their own country they tend to have an
exaggerated interest in the limited amount of foreclosures in Japan. This results
in bid prices that are higher than market value (the so-called winner's
- Only foreclosures in the countryside can be interesting, but
realize that most villagers will look negatively at a buyer of a foreclosed property. It requires significant commitment to the local community to
make a successful purchase.