7.56 million and counting

Anybody home?

In an otherwise unexceptional news item about local governments fixing up abandoned properties in order to rent them out cheap and thus attract newcomers to their dwindling communities, this little nugget of economic foreboding was revealed. Although it’s no mystery that vacant homes are on the rise in Japan, the number was specified in a new survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. In 2009, the ministry found, 7.56 million residences in Japan were unoccupied, accounting for 13 percent of all houses and apartments in Japan. That’s a 15 percent increase since 2004. In some prefectures, the vacancy rate is as much as 20 percent, and the ministry predicts that the number will only rise, which you don’t need to be a Nostradamus to figure out. The population is dropping and there’s just no market for old homes anyway because the government only cares about building new homes and condominiums.

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2 comments

  1. Jeffrey · January 19, 2011

    “The population is dropping and there’s just no market for old homes anyway because the government only cares about building new homes and condominiums. ”

    Is this really still the case? I worked in Japan from 1995 to 1998 for a building materials exporter. My first stint in Japan had been about a decade earlier. I saw a substantial increase in building quality in that intervening decade with SFR construction by 1998 now of a quality so that the structure actually added value to the residential package of land and house.

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    • catforehead · January 19, 2011

      Certainly the quality of new Japanese homes is better than the quality of Japanese homes built in the 60s and 70s and 80s, but the point is that there’s no viable market for older homes in Japan except maybe in the major cities, and even there the value of a property is based mainly on the land, not the structure. For a variety of reasons, but mainly because of government policy, when people buy homes they want new ones, and with the population peaking a few years ago there will be more and more unsellable homes entering the market from now on, as the statistics show.

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