Brutalist house for sale in Kichijoji

A brutalist-style concrete house designed by Yoji Watanabe and built in 1966 is on the market for sale in Kichijoji. This one is very likely to be demolished if not purchased by a collector.

Why would it be demolished? 

As is the case with the vast majority of older homes, it is just being listed for sale as the land only with an ‘old structure included’. The expectation in the real estate industry here is that any buyer would only be interested in the land, demolishing whatever house or building was atop it in order to build something newer (and likely larger).

Free house

The only benefit to this market practice is that the home is essentially thrown in for free, with the property listed at the land price only. In some cases, and with buildings that are costly to demolish, the land might be priced a little bit below market price to account for the potential demolition costs. 

Quite often, however, the older homes are swiftly demolished prior to the land going on the market as it is generally easier to sell a vacant lot than one with some old, costly-to-demolish structure atop it.

And the downside? Banks typically don’t provide home loans for older houses leaving limited financing options for anyone who wants to keep the house. They do, however, provide home loans if a buyer was to demolish and build something new. In that case, a bank would require a buyer to submit house plans to the bank before the loan will be approved. A requirement of the loan may also be that construction starts within a certain time frame.

About the house

The listing agents have not provided any details on the house or architect. Again, due to the nature of the real estate industry. However, we knew from previous research that this was the ‘Steamer Basket House’ (seirō-no-ie), so named for its resemblance to a traditional lacquerware stacked container. 

The 3-story home was designed for a family of five, with a living/dining/kitchen space on the ground floor opening onto a terrace and yard, with tatami bedrooms on floors 2 and 3 above. 

This is the first Watanabe-designed house we have seen listed for sale. He designed maybe 14 known houses, plus his own home-office, of which 6 were in Tokyo. A number have since been demolished.

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