Sumitomo to redevelop former Floracion Hotel in Omotesando

Sumitomo Realty & Development has acquired the former Hotel Floracion Aoyama in Omotesando and plans to redevelop the site, although details on the future project have yet to be announced. Demolition of the 3 ~ 6 storey building is expected to take place between March and August.

The 5,700 sqm site is a 5 minute walk from Omotesando Station. A freehold land parcel of this size and this close to Omotesando Station is incredibly rare.

Only 0.9% of new apartments supplied in Tokyo in 2017 were over 100 sqm (1,076 sq.ft) in size

Finding a large apartment to buy in Tokyo can be a lot more challenging than many foreign buyers may initially realize. This is due to the fact that the majority of Japanese developers focus on building smaller apartments to cater to domestic demand. A typical three bedroom apartment for a Japanese family would be around 70 sqm (753 sq.ft).

According to Tokyo Kantei, only 0.9% of the new apartments supplied across greater Tokyo in 2017 were over 100 sqm (1,076 sq.ft) in size, up 0.1 points from 2016 but down 0.5 points from 2015.

90.3% of the apartments were under 80 sqm (861 sq.ft) in size.

Construction starts on Omotesando public housing redevelopment

Construction on the Kita Aoyama 3 Chome District Project began on March 1. This is the redevelopment of the former Aoyama Kitamachi Apaato public housing complex located just behind Omotesando Station.

The redevelopment is being carried out under a joint venture between Tokyo Tatemono, Mitsui Fudosan, Mitsui Fudosan Residential and Kajima Corporation. The exterior has been designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates – the same architect as the nearby Olympic Stadium which is currently under construction.

Only 0.3% of Japan’s apartment buildings approve of short-term letting

[LEFT] Signs at the concierge desk of an apartment building in Osaka (Image via the Asahi Shimbun); [RIGHT] A sign in the elevator of a Tokyo apartment building warns that short-term letting and share houses are banned.

A survey of condominium management associations across Japan has found that only 0.3% have decided to allow Airbnb-type short term letting. Over 80% have already updated building bylaws to ban any of these ‘minpaku’ rentals, while the remainder are still in the process of making a decision.

Asakusa’s Ryounkaku Tower foundations unearthed at construction site

Red-brick foundations of the Ryounkaku Tower in Asakusa were unearthed in a construction site in February. News of the discovery quickly spread, with a number of people visiting the site to catch a glimpse of the long-lost tower’s traces.

According to the Taito-ku Board of Education, similar red-brick foundations were found in a construction site nearby in 1980. However, since the remains are not considered cultural property and are not in particularly good condition, there are no heritage protections or limitations to restrict the construction work. A 3-storey retail building is planned for the site.

Central Tokyo office rents increase for 49th month in a row

The average monthly office rent in central Tokyo’s business districts was 19,338 Yen per Tsubo (approx. 5,860 Yen/sqm) in January, up 4.1% from last year and the 49th month in a row to see a year-on-year increase. This is the highest level seen since October 2009. Office rents are now up 19.3% from their recent low of 16,207 Yen/Tsubo seen in December 2013, but are still 15.5% below a previous record high in mid-2008.

Vacancy rates were down 0.67 points from last year to 3.07%. This is similar to levels last seen in 2007 and a marked improvement from the average 8 ~ 9% vacancy rate seen between 2010 and 2014.

Prices for investment-grade properties could be reaching their limit

The average price of a second-hand apartment in Tokyo’s 23 wards has been steadily increasing since the end of 2012. In contrast to strong growth in sale prices, the rental market has lagged behind, with rent levels remaining relatively flat. Unless disposable incomes start to rise, it may be difficult for rents to increase at the same rate as sale prices.

Rising sale prices and flat rents have resulted in rental yields on investment-grade apartments hitting new lows. An investment-grade apartment is designed primarily for investors looking to rent out the unit to a tenant rather than home buyers. Apartments tend to be smaller in size and in buildings with fewer amenities and a cheaper finish. The market price of an investment-grade apartment will depend not only on comparable transactions, but also its current or expected yield.

Price of a new apartment in Japan reaches highest level in recorded history

The average price of brand new apartment released for sale across Japan hit a historic high in 2017. According to the Real Estate Economic Institute, the average price nationwide was 47,390,000 Yen, up 3.9% from 2016 and the highest price seen since record keeping began in 1973. A previous high of 46,180,000 Yen was last recorded in 2015.

The average price per square meter was 696,000 Yen, up 6.3% from 2016 and also the highest price on record. The previous record-high was 694,000 Yen/sqm in 1990.