Expatify

Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Buying Real Estate in Japan

Buying real estate in Japan is difficult. Real estate in Japan is pretty expensive, and the most expensive place is Tokyo. Because Japan is highly populated and very little of its land is livable, most settled places are crowded, and living spaces are very small by most standards. Houses are constantly rebuilt in Japan because of natural disasters. A building that is over 30 years old is considered to be old, but the older ones are cheaper. Keep in mind that Japan is very earthquake prone so nothing guarantees that your property will last into the future.

Attorneys and Real Estate Agents

It is a good idea to get a Japanese lawyer or representative who is fluent in Japanese. The lawyer can also help you with bureaucratic duties, like transferring the property into your name. They can also help you with any legal research of the property.

In Japan, you’ll usually have to buy real estate through a broker, dealer or developer. It is not common at all to buy from owners.

Rules, Regulations and Restrictions

Legally, there are no written restrictions against foreigners owning property. However, the social system often protects Japan against foreigners from buying real estate. Japanese culture is known to be very protective of itself, and even xenophobic. It helps a lot of you are fluent in Japanese as well.

Another factor that gets in the way is the fact that it is very difficult to obtain a loan from a Japanese bank, even for Japanese citizens. Japanese people will usually only buy real estate once, and then spend the rest of their lives paying it off. For foreigners to obtain a loan from a Japanese bank, it is often necessary that you have a visa to legally reside in Japan, along with a stable job. It’s difficult for Japanese people to buy real estate, so that means it’s even more difficult for foreigners to do so.

You can increase your chances of obtaining a loan/buying property if you have family in Japan; you have adapted yourself to the Japanese lifestyle; you have good credit history; do not intend to return to your home country after you pay your loan off; have a stable job in Japan that will continue into the future. It may be hard to convince bank representatives of your reasons.

Rather than obtaining a loan from a bank, some foreigners choose to get one from the Public Housing Loan Corporation. They are a bit more expensive than banks, but they are directed toward mortgages.

General Process

Though difficult, some foreigners are able to pursue the process of buying real estate in Japan.

First, you should obviously settle on a property. Next, you should submit a purchasing application to the seller. After you submit the application, then a legal representative must go to you and explain the background of the property and the payment method.

After everything is explained to you, then you and the seller are required to sign the purchase contract. You must pay a stamp duty and usually put down a 10% deposit. Then you or your financer must start to pay the amount of the price due to the seller.

After this, you will have to start dealing with the bank. You must forward a copy of the contract, as well as the property certificate, to the bank. You must pay a number of legal and administrative fees along with this. After this, the remaining balance of any fees must be settled.

The next process is the bureaucratic measures. A legal scrivener must set up the transfer of ownership, retention of ownership and mortgage. After the title is transferred into your name, you’ll be required to pay a number of taxes.

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