Damage done

The Japan Housing Finance Association recently revised its guidelines for disaster loans. Previously, the government would have to assess whether or not a particular disaster was big enough to warrant lending money to people whose homes were lost or damaged. But as of June 15, any natural disaster qualifies for a loan. And it’s just in time. The torrential downpour that hit Yamaguchi Prefecture yesterday destroyed a number of homes and damaged countless others. Read More

Taking on heirs

On July 17 the Finance Ministry announced that in fiscal 2008 the amount of money the government received for sales of property it owned and which wasn’t in use was ¥66.5 billion, a 60 percent drop from the previous fiscal year. This is sort of serious since in 2005 the government, in order to reduce its debt, set a goal of raising ¥2.1 trillion over the next ten years from sales of government land, whether in use (think: those postal insurance hotels) or not in use. In 2006 and 2007, the government made about ¥220 billion per year in land sales and hoped to get at least ¥100 billion in 2008, but the recession and its attendant effect on land prices put a crimp in that plan. Of incidental interest to this blog is the fact that of the land owned by the government, 4,105 plots were obtained through payment in lieu of inheritance taxes, and that at the end of 2008 the combined book value of this property was ¥403.8 billion. Read More

New leases on life

According to the website of the housing newsletter Jutaku Shinpo, during FY 2008 88.5 percent of the rental properties in Japan were occupied. Moreover, during that time 91.6 percent of these properties decreased their rents. Perhaps this astonishing statistic should be taken with a grain of salt since the newsletter’s survey, which was conducted among rental property management companies, only had a 26 percent response rate. Nevertheless, it’s startling. Read More

Short stories

A self-contained community in the town of Nisshin in Aichi Prefecture is taking one of its residents to court, along with his father-in-law, who owns the land, and Sumitomo Real Estate. When the neighborhood was established in 1974, the developer stipulated that no structure would be more than two stories, and everyone who moved in had to sign a pledge to that effect. The defendant in the suit wants to build a three-story house on land owned by his father-in-law, who signed a similar pledge some years ago, after it was incorporated into the neighborhood’s own rules. The community wants to stop him. Read More


When you buy a condo in Japan, you have to pay two monthly management fees for as long as you live there. The first is a normal maintenance fee for things like cleaning in and around the common areas and keeping the elevators running properly, ranging anywhere from ¥15,000 to ¥40,000 a month. The second is a “repair” fee, for when more extensive maintenance work, such as painting and remodeling, of common areas are required–normally, ¥6,000 to ¥20,000 a month. Usually, the developer of the condominium selects a building management company at the time of construction, which means the eventual buyers have no say in who looks after these payments and orders up the work. It’s not like a coop in the US. After all the homeowners move in they form an association and appoint one of their members as the representative to deal with the management company. The potential for abuse is ripe, as shown by a recent news item. Read More


Last night on the TV Tokyo news show Business Satellite, there was a report about used condos. The report said that during the first five months of the year 12,000 new condos went on sale of which 70 percent were actually sold. More importantly, 13,000 used condos were sold during this period. Real estate and housing industry people see this as a “trend” toward better sales of used condos. Read More