How much should be allocated towards large-scale repairs and maintenance on a condo?

On May 11, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) released the results of a survey into the approximate costs of large-scale maintenance and repairs for apartment buildings. The goal of the survey is to provide apartment owners associations with a general idea of what the repair work should cost in an effort to reduce over-charging.

This is a useful guide for potential apartment buyers as you can check the amount of money in a building’s repair reserve fund before purchasing. Some buildings may have ample funds, providing some peace of mind, while others may have very little accumulated which would mean each apartment owner may have to pay out of pocket in the future or necessary maintenance won’t be carried out at all.

Buying an apartment with a garden

Now that we are entering summer, some of you may be looking for apartments with outdoor spaces. If you are buying or renting an apartment in Japan with a garden included there are some key points that you should be aware of.

With apartments, your ownership rights are limited to the interior of the apartment while exterior spaces such as balconies, terraces and gardens are considered part of the building’s communal space. The owner or occupant of each apartment is granted the exclusive right to use the balcony or garden space attached to their apartment. However, the occupant must follow the building’s bylaws which provide rules on how these outdoor spaces can and cannot be used. Barbecues, for example, are almost always banned due to issues regarding open fires and problems from smoke and smells affecting other residents in a building.

New apartment supply in Tokyo’s 23 wards drops 37% from last year

According to the Real Estate Economic Institute, 2,342 brand new apartments were released for sale across greater Tokyo in April, down 35.3% from March and down 14.6% from last year. The reason for the drop in supply is due to a smaller number of large-scale projects on the market compared to this time last year. More of these major projects are expected in the near future, and supply may soon return to normal levels.

The average sale price was 55,480,000 Yen, down 6.3% from last year, while the average price per square meter was 800,000 Yen, down 6.5% from last year.

Housing starts in Kyoto drop 13.1% in 2017 as hotel construction overtakes apartments

Housing starts in Kyoto Prefecture saw a year-on-year drop of 13.1% in 2017 to 14,790 units, the second lowest level seen in the past 10 years. This is also the second year in a row to see a decline in new construction.

This has been attributed to a steep rise in the construction of hotels in Kyoto’s city centre, with developers choosing to focus on building hotels rather than apartment buildings. Construction of apartments has halved as a result. The tourism boom and demand for hotels has put pressure on land prices, causing them to reach a level where the land is no longer profitable for an apartment development. 

No approvals yet under new short-term letting rules in Kyoto

With less than a month until Japan’s nationwide short-term letting (minpaku) law goes into effect, applications from potential hosts in Kyoto City remain in the single digits.

The city’s application desk has received six applications, while zero have been approved. Kyoto City has the strictest minpaku rules in the country, with properties in exclusive residential zones limited to operations for up to 60 days per year between January 15 and March 15 (the winter months). Properties outside those zones that are not occupied by hosts must have a licensed property manager stationed around the clock within a 10 minute radius of each property. There are some exceptions for properties where the host lives on the premises, and for traditional machiya townhouses.

The most expensive districts in Tokyo to buy a new home or apartment

Tokyo Kantei has issued a ranking of the districts across greater Tokyo based on the average price of a brand new home or apartment in 2017.

Minato Ward


In top spot for both lists was Minato ward in central Tokyo where a brand new house had an average price of 120,120,000 Yen (approx. 1.09 million USD) and an average floor area of 106.58 sqm (1,147 sq.ft). A new apartment had an average price of 140,450,000 Yen (approx. 1.28 million USD) and an average size of 75.02 sqm (807 sq.ft).

Tokyo apartment sale prices increase for 67th month

According to REINS, 3,237 second-hand apartments were reported to have sold across greater Tokyo in April, down 15.2% from the previous month but up 2.3% from last year. March is typically the busiest month of the year for apartment sales, so it is normal to see a drop in transactions in the following month. The average sale price was 33,640,000 Yen, down 0.1% from the previous month but up 3.7% from last year. The average price per square meter was 520,400 Yen, down 0.1% from the previous month but up 3.3% from last year. This is the 64th month in a row to see a year-on-year increase in sale prices.

1,679 apartments were sold in the Tokyo metropolitan area, down 15.4% from the previous month but up 4.4% from last year. The average sale price was 41,840,000 Yen, down 1.0% from the previous month but up 2.5% from last year. The average price per square meter was 689,300 Yen, down 1.8% from the previous month but up 1.6% from last year. This is the 67th month in a row to record a year-on-year increase in sale prices.

Historic waterfront properties in Miura at risk of demolition

The University of Tokyo may be planning to demolish their Misaki Marine Biological Station Laboratory building in Kanagawa Prefecture. The 2-storey, 1,000 sqm (10,760 sq.ft) building was built in 1936 and sits on a waterfront location overlooking Shoiso, Aburatsubo and Sagami Bays in Miura. The demolition is likely to also include the 400 sqm Exhibit of Aquatic Species building that was built in 1932. This was one of the Kanto region’s first full-scale aquariums and once drew over 100,000 visitors per year, turning the Aburatsubo area into a sight-seeing destination. 

Price-Earnings Ratios for New Apartments in Tokyo in 2017

According to Tokyo Kantei, the price-earnings ratio (PER) for brand new apartments in the greater Tokyo region was 24.49 in 2017, down from a record high of 28.66 seen in 2016. A PER of 24.49 indicates a gross yield of approximately 4.04%. A PER above 20 will imply a gross yield below 5.00%. In this survey, 90% of locations had PERs of over 20.

The average price of a 70 sqm (753 sq.ft) new apartment in 2017 was 66,840,000 Yen, up 2.9% from 2016, while the average monthly rent was estimated at 224,905 Yen, up 2.5%.