In 2019, Standard Land Prices for commercial land in Japan’s regional areas recorded a 0.3% increase – the first time positive growth has been seen since 1991.
Land values outside of the three major centers of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya are slowly starting to benefit from the surge in foreign tourist numbers as well as large-scale redevelopment projects. Before investors get too excited, regional land prices are mostly being pulled up by the cities of Sapporo, Sendai, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka. Overall, 54% of commercial survey sites in regional areas saw a drop in land prices and 19% saw no change. Regional areas suffering from a declining population and limited tourism growth are not faring as well as the more urban areas.
Standard Land Prices across all uses nationwide saw an average increase of 0.4%, an improvement from last year’s increase of 0.1%.
Retail land prices increased by an average of 1.7% nationwide, a faster pace than last year 1.1% increase. Japan’s retail and commercial property market has been supported both by increased spending in retail shops by foreign tourists, growing demand for hotels, and an effort by companies to offer more floor space per employee.
Residential land prices declined by 0.1% for the 28th year in a row, although the rate of decline has shrunk from a 0.3% drop seen in 2018. Low unemployment, increasing wages, record low interest rates and home-buyer assistance schemes have been underpinning the residential market.
The three major urban centers saw residential growth of 0.9%, up from 0.7% growth in 2018. Commercial land prices increased by 5.2%, after 4.2% growth in 2018.
On a prefectural level, Okinawa recorded the highest increase in both residential (6.3%) and commercial (12.0%) land prices. Akita Prefecture recorded the greatest decrease for residential (-2.0%) and commercial (-2.1%) land prices.
Residential land prices in Tokyo’s 23 wards increased by an average of 4.6% after a 4.3% increase in 2018. Commercial land prices increased by 8.4% after a 7.2% increase last year. This is the 7th year in a row to see a year-on-year increase for both residential and commercial land prices.
The most expensive residential land in Japan was in Akasaka, Minato-ku, where a recently added survey site had a land price of 4,530,000 Yen/sqm (approx. 3,900 USD/sq.ft). This site is home to the Homat Royal condominium. It is also a Government Assessed Land Value survey site, and recorded an increase of 8.2% to 4,340,000 Yen/sqm earlier this year.
In Chiyoda-ku, average residential land prices were 2,907,500 Yen/sqm (approx. 2,500 USD/sq.ft). In Minato-ku they were 1,894,000 Yen/sqm (approx. 1,635 USD/sq.ft).
The most expensive commercial land in Japan is, as expected, in Ginza. The land price under the Meidi-ya Ginza Building increased by 3.1% to 43,200,000 Yen/sqm (approx. 37,300 USD/sq.ft).
The top residential land price increases in the Kansai area were all located in Kyoto City. In top spot was a site on the eastern side of the Kyoto Imperial Palace in Kamigyo-ku with a 13.8% increase to 455,000 Yen/sqm. In second spot was a 12.7% increase for land on the western side of the Palace. Third and fourth spots went to locations in Higashiyama-ku. The city average was a 2.0% increase, double the increase seen in Osaka City (1.0%) and Kobe City (0.7%). Commercial land prices increased by 11.5% across the city, while one survey site in Gion saw a 41.9% increase.
The powder snow mecca of Niseko drew the highest rate of increase across Japan with 66.7%, an astounding improvement from the already high 33.3 ~ 45.5% growth seen last year. Niseko had approximately 150,000 foreign hotel guests in 2018. Tourists spent a total of 460,000 nights in the town’s various accommodations.
About Standard Land Prices:
Standard Land Prices (kijun-chika) are announced by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) around September each year. They are one of two annually reported land valuations used in Japan, the other being the Government Assessed Land Values (chika-koji). Standard Land Prices are based on a survey date of July 1, while Government Assessed Land Values are based on a January 1 survey date.
The Government Assessed Land Values cover just 1,627 survey sites nationwide with a focus on urban areas in town planning zones, while the Standard Land Prices cover 21,675 survey sites of all types and varieties across Japan, including 3,500 sites located outside of town planning zones with little-to-no development potential and limited opportunities for price increases.
Standard Land Prices tend to follow Government Assessed Land Values, although with less volatility. During the bubble economy, Assessed Land Values increased by more than 20% at one point, while Standard Land Prices increased by around 10%. During the most recent mini-bubble in 2007 and 2008, Assessed Land Values were in the positive territory, while Standard Land Prices remained negative.
Neither of these land valuations represents the true market value of a piece of land and should not be used to decide what a property is worth on the open market. However, they are useful as a general guide and to indicate market trends.
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