No disclosure requirements for natural deaths, MLIT

On October 8, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) announced the new guidelines for disclosing stigmatized properties to future tenants and buyers. Up until this point, there have been no clear rules on when or what to disclose to a potential occupant, leaving it up to the real estate brokers to follow their own practices. This has been a frequent cause of trouble and confusion.

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13-year home loan tax deduction deadline is November 30

With the deadline to apply for the 13-year home loan income tax deduction coming this November, should buyers rush in to purchase or wait to see if it is extended? This scheme allows homebuyers to deduct a percentage of their home loan balance from their income taxes each year for 10 ~ 13 years (the 3-year extension is the one with the looming deadline).

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Looking for land? You might need to knock down a house first

A former Geisha house in Shibuya. Sold last year for the land, with the house demolished shortly after.

If you are looking for land to build a house or other building on in Japan, particularly in a city, you may find lots are small in size while supply is limited. Of Japan’s total land size of 37,800,000 hectares, 66% is forest and 12% is farmland. Land for building purposes comprises 1,960,000 hectares or just 5% of the total – and that includes land that is already built on. The remainder is roads, rivers and waterways, and fields.

In an urban location, most of the land is already occupied, so domestic buyers will also consider lots with existing buildings that they can demolish. This is unavoidable in an area with a short supply of listings. If you limit yourself only to vacant lots, you may find very few options. 

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Looking to buy a large apartment in Tokyo? This is why you might be having difficulty

Houses and apartments in Japan are typically on the small side. The standard size of a three-bedroom apartment might be around 70 sqm, and a two-bedroom apartment in the 50 ~ 60 sqm range. Detached homes might be under 100 sqm, spread over three floors and including the car park. There are larger homes and apartments to be found, but buyers need to be aware that the availability of these larger properties is very limited.

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Why a newer apartment may cost up to 4x the price of an older one

In Tokyo’s 23 wards, an apartment less than 5 years old sold for 49% more per square meter than one over 30 years old. In other words, an old apartment is about half the price of a new one on a price-per-square-meter basis. The difference was highest in Saitama Prefecture where an apartment under 5 years old sold for 3.7 times that of one over 30 years old.

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The problem with trying to buy an abandoned ‘akiya’

The Japanese countryside is dotted with old, rambling shacks and farmhouses that look empty and abandoned. They can even be found in urban settings. You may think it’s a simple process of just pulling the title with the owner’s name on it, giving them a call and offering a few Yen to take the old home off their hands. And voila, you now have a charming fixer-upper of your own?

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