Yuzawa's troubled resort apartments now experiencing a renaissance

The collapsing market for Yuzawa’s cheap ski condos, where a one-bedroom apartment could be purchased for 100,000 Yen (US$760), might have bottomed out, with one local broker reporting that monthly inquiries have doubled since the pandemic started.

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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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Yuzawa's resort condo market facing unique issues

Almost 20% of Japan’s resort apartments are located in the ski resort area of Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture. The town has 58 resort apartment buildings containing approximately 15,000 units. Yuzawa also has the highest percentage of apartments as a share of total households nationwide, with 4 times as many apartments as registered households.

These resort apartments were built during Japan’s bubble economy in the late 1980s, with as many as a third of the resort apartments developed during that era located in Yuzawa. Buildings featured hotel-like facilities such as large hot spring baths, indoor pools, karaoke rooms and restaurants. Some buildings featured maisonette-type apartments over 100 sqm in size that were priced over 100 million Yen when new. However, many of the apartments were only designed to cater to short-term residents, with tiny kitchens with 1 cooktop.

From the 1990s onwards, apartment owners, saddled with high monthly building fees, effectively abandoned their apartments, causing many of the owners associations to face increasing debts from owners who had long-since stopped paying fees.Read more

Prices up in Karuizawa, down in Yuzawa - polarization in Japan's resort market

Japan's resort areas are seeing a dramatic polarization of their property markets. Some areas, such as Karuizawa and Okinawa are seeing prices rise, while other areas are seeing year-on-year falls. Why is this happening?Read more