All down

The land ministry released its most recent statistics for land prices nationwide yesterday and it was all down. Average value for commercial properties dropped 5.9 percent from last year and for residential land the drop was 4 percent. It was the second year in a row commercial property dipped and the 18th year in a row for residential properties.

However, the main news was the drop in land values in the three metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. In those three areas, business land prices declined 8.2 percent and commercial prices 5.6 percent, the first drop in four years. Property investment in the big cities has enjoyed a “mini-bubble” lately thanks to foreign companies buying up land and buildings, but since the “Lehman shock” last year most of this foreign money has retreated. In Tokyo, the decline in land values was 8.9 percent.

Some economists believe prices have bottomed out while more pessimistic parties believe they will go lower. Evidence to support the former view is that the vacancy rate in Tokyo has stopped going down and condo sales are improving slightly. Contract closing for new condos has stayed at about 70 percent since the spring.

Of course, outside the cities, things are just getting worse simply because nothing can stop the exodus from rural areas to urban areas.

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