For reasons that should be talked about by someone with more knowledge about this sort of thing, the government’s latest figures for sales of previously lived in homes are from 2003. In that year, 13 percent of home sales were for previously lived in residences, compared to 78 percent in the US, 89 percent in the UK, and 66 percent in France.
It would nice to have more recent figures, especially since the land ministry started a 10-year plan in 2006 to increase the remodeling rate for older homes (both condos and single family houses) from 2.4 percent to 5 percent for the purpose of boosting the used housing market to 23 percent.
Of course, the best way to boost the used housing market is to get the price down, and, not surprisingly, used home prices have been dropping steadily for the past year or so. Consequently, sales of used condos and houses in the Tokyo metropolitan area started rising last spring, a trend that has sparked a call for better home inspection services.
A new NPO called the Japan Home Inspectors Association, which is made up of people with architects licenses, will start conducting tests this fall to certify inspectors to check used houses. About 500 people are expected to take the test of which about 50 will probably be certified. These inspectors, the association assures us, will not have any relationship with realtors or developers. They will only make their services available to buyers of properties who want to assess the structural integrity of the home they intend to buy (or have already bought, depending on the circumstances). Since the fee for an inspection will cost anywhere from ¥50,000 to ¥200,000, it’s an investment that potential homeowners will likely consider very carefully. But the sooner such a practice becomes normalized, the sooner quality will improve. It is estimated that there are some 6,000 independent home inspectors in the U.S.