New housing starts down 2.3% in 2018

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), there were 942,370 new housing starts across Japan in 2018, a 2.3% drop from 2017 and the second year in a row to see a decline. 

Homes built for rent, including ‘apaato’ type blocks of flats dropped 5.5% to 396,404 units. This is the first decline in 7 years. The MLIT suggests the drop in supply is due both to a slow down following the rapid construction in response to inheritance tax changes, along with the recent share house / whole-building investment scam that has seen lending conditions for investment properties tighten considerably. 

Order-built homes for owner-occupiers dropped by 0.4% to 283,235 units. Apartments built for sale dropped by 3.8% to 110,510 units. Detached homes built for sale increased by 3.0% to 142,393 units. 

The greater Tokyo region saw a 4.9% drop in housing starts, with condo-type apartments down 14.8%, homes built for rent down 4.9%, while order-built homes were down just 0.9%. The Chubu region, which includes Nagoya, saw a 27.5% increase in housing starts for condo-type apartments, while the Kinki region, which includes Osaka, saw a 21.3% increase. 

New homes are also getting smaller, with an average size of 79.91 sqm (860 sq.ft) in 2018. This is the 5th year in a row to see a year-on-year decrease in the average size of a house or apartment. New homes are about 18% smaller on average than they were in 2000. 

Data: MLIT, January 31, 2019.

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