Niseko’s luxury hotel and villa boom continues

There is no end in sight to the current construction boom in the ski resort town of Niseko in Hokkaido, with a number of luxury resorts and private villas under development. Spacious homes and apartments can easily fetch upwards of several hundred million Yen (several million USD). Rising construction costs and a labor shortage, however, are putting a strain on developers.

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Desperate sellers in ski resort town forced to pay buyers to offload apartments

Some owners, in an attempt to offload their apartments in aging ski resort towns, are paying companies to take the properties off their hands. For companies offering this relatively new service, charging fees to the seller is how they balance the risk of holding a property that comes with high running costs and limited resale potential.

How it works

According to the website of a company that specializes in buying up resort apartments, they ask the seller to pay them enough to cover the following:

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Resort condominiums seeing renewed demand but prices remain down

Biwako Urban Resort

Resort condominiums built during the peak of Japan’s bubble economy in the late 1980s are finally starting to see renewed demand. This time around the buyers are not investors, but are people looking for a permanent residence in which to spend their retirement years.

Alongside Lake Biwa’s shoreline stands the Biwako Urban Resort. The resort condominium was built between 1989 and 1991 and contains 770 units in three 15-storey towers. When it was first built, Moriyama City guidelines prohibited the units to be used for personal residences. Owners could only use them as holiday villas. Because of the ‘resort condo’ designation, the developer received several allowances including only requiring car parking for up to 50% of the apartments. The non-residence rules were also written into the building’s management bylaws, although demand from some residents has seen this clause removed from one of the three towers.

The number of residents who call this building their permanent home now numbers over 300.

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Large-scale resort/apartment complex planned for Yokosuka

Yokosuka Uraga Resort

After sitting idle for almost 25 years, a large-scale resort/apartment complex may finally be built at the eastern side of the City Marina Velasis in Yokosuka. The 8 hectare site was once the Sumitomo Heavy Industries Kawama Factory and ship building yards.

In 1989, Sumitomo’s SHI Resort Development planned to build a 700-unit resort condominium complex, but the collapse of the property bubble put their plans on indefinite hold. Sumitomo later sold the land and yacht harbour to Unimat. In 1993, approval was granted to built the Velasis Uraga apartment blocks which were completed in 2001. There were also plans to develop the eastern side, but construction stalled over 10 years ago and the land has remained vacant.

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