Go west (and south)

Despite all the Japanese government’s tax and other incentives to get people to buy and/or build new homes, the domestic housing market continues to shrink. Last year, less than 800,000 homes were built, the lowest number since the peak in 1993. So major home manufacturers and builders are looking abroad for greener pastures and even greener consumers. Sekisui House, whose sales have dropped 60 percent since 1993, has made a concerted push into Australia, where the population is increasing thanks to immigration. Sekisui is building both single-family homes and condominiums. They use the same materials and the same methods that they use in Japan, but the exteriors have been adapted for Australian tastes. In 2009, Sekisui built 6,600 units in the suburbs of Sydney alone. One wonders how the Australians feel about Japan’s box-like interior layouts and ugly unit baths.

Next, it’s onward to Russia and China. Daiwa House is building a lot of rental apartments in Shanghai, though mainly for Japanese expats. Many Japanese contractors are concentrating their efforts on the upscale Chinese market–homes in the ¥90 million range. Hitachi and Toto are also making inroads as subcontractors.

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