• How to Buy Property in Tokyo: A Complete Guide

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    Tokyo is the financial hub and the most popular city for foreigners in Japan.

    Due to its great size, prices differ much between different areas. It’s important that you study well in advance, before buying a property in this city.

    In this article I explain the basics when buying property in Tokyo.

    Property market in Tokyo

    It might not come as a surprise that property prices and rental yields are highest in Tokyo, compared to other cities in Japan.

    Tokyo is the capital, the largest city and the most popular city among foreigners.

    It offers all the amenities and luxuries of modern life, and was ranked as the safest city in the world by The Safe Cities Index.

    Dailymail has also listed Tokyo as the best city to live, leaving behind the major cities in Europe and North America.

    Tokyo attracts more foreigners

    Even when the native population is in decline, there is a significant increase in the number of foreigners living in Japan, mainly in Tokyo.

    The past years, there’s been a big year-on-year increase of foreigners living in Japan, the numbers are currently the highest historically. Tokyo outperforms the average value in Japan with a couple of percentage points.

    Personally, I’ve visited Nagoya, Kuwana, Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. I preferable like Tokyo and would probably move there, if I went to Japan.

    At the moment I’m writing this article, almost 1/4 of all foreigners reside in the greater Tokyo area, which speaks for itself.

    Tokyo property prices

    It’s not surprising why prices are more expensive in Tokyo, as it’s the most sought after city among foreigners and locals.

    In fact, the influx of foreign individuals and investors help to drive Tokyo’s robust real estate market.

    According to a report by the Real Estate Economic Institute (JREI), the prices of newly-built condominiums are expected to rise in the coming years, but with a slower pace compared to the last few years.

    Instead, Osaka is on the rise and a city you shouldn’t neglect.

    As the local government is spending much on infrastructure in Tokyo, preparing for the 2020 summer Olympics, prices are expected to rise further.

    buying-property-tokyo

    We saw the same phenomena in Athens and Beijing, where prices increased much when these cities were hosting the Olympics.

    Rental yields are also fairly good in Tokyo, at least compared to places like Singapore and Taipei, and is between 3-5%.

    The average price per square meter ranges from around USD 9000-15000, which is higher than other cities, but lower than other Asian financial hubs, like Hong Kong.

    All in all, with steadily increasing property prices, a big influx of foreigners and high rental yields, Tokyo will continue to perform fairly well in the coming years.

    An investment in Tokyo can be good over the long term, but only if you look for safe investments and have a decent amount of cash.

    The big increase in property prices the last few years created a significant difference between the prices in Tokyo and other cities.

    For example:

    The prices in the central 6 wards are almost twice as high compared to Osaka, the second most expensive city after Tokyo.

    Compared with Yokohama and Nagoya, the prices are almost three times as high.

    If you find Tokyo too expensive, there are significantly cheaper options available.

    Where should I buy property in Tokyo?

    Tokyo is huge and a densely populated city (however, not as densely populated as Manila).

    You can easily get lost if you’re new in the city.

    For administration purposes, Tokyo is divided into 23 administrative wards, each consisting of several neighborhoods and business districts.

    The most popular wards among foreigners are: Chiyoda, Minato, Chuo, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Roppongi, Azabu, Aoyama, Ebisu Hiro, and Lidabashi.

    If you’re planning to buy property in Tokyo, the area you choose will have a significant impact on the price you pay.

    For example:

    The average asking price for a 70 square meter apartment in the 23 wards of Tokyo is around USD 450,000, but the average price in the six central wards is around USD 630,000.

    The six central wards are Shibuya, Bunkyo, Shinjuku, Minato, Chuo, and Chiyoda.

    Let’s have a look at the prices at some of the most popular areas.

    Shinjuku

    You can find the highest proportion of foreigners living in this central ward. In fact, around 10% of the people living here are foreigners.

    As there’s a significant increase in the number of foreigners living in Tokyo on a year-to-year basis, more foreigners look for properties here.

    Also, many Koreans decide to invest here as Tokyo’s Korea Town is located in this ward.

    The train station in Shinjuku is ranked as one of the busiest in the world, while the ward is also rated as the busiest commercial and business centers in Japan.

    Therefore, prices are generally higher here compared to other parts of the city.

    In fact, if you compare prices with other than the six central wards, there’s a price difference of up to 30-50%.

    The average rent here is also higher than other parts of the city and around USD 2000 for a 2 bedroom apartment.

    Azabu Juban (Minato)

    You can find most of the foreign embassies situated in Azabu Juban, that’s also one of the reasons why there’s a higher concentration of foreigners in this area.

    Azabu Juban is also known for having many international schools, making it a good option for families and expats.

    Again, as this is a centrally located ward, offering all the modern day luxuries and having embassies, top schools, shopping malls, and other amenities, it’s also expensive.

    Property prices are high compared to other wards while the average rent is around USD 4000 for a 2 bedroom apartment, making it one of the most expensive wards in the country.

    Ebisu (Shibuya)

    Ebisu is the most popular neighborhood in the central Shibuya ward.

    With easy access to public transportation and all the modern day luxuries and amenities, this area is densely populated with foreigners and locals.

    The prices here are also high, like in the other 6 central wards. The average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is around USD 2000.

    Jiyugaoka

    This calm and quiet area is located a ten minutes walk from Shibuya and known as Tokyo’s Little Europe, due to the high number of residents from Europe.

    You can find hundreds of high-end boutiques, large shopping malls, and European style restaurants in this area.

    Due to its close proximity with the Shibuya’s main business district, it’s a highly desired residential area.

    Property prices here are also high, but not as high as in Azabu and Shinjuku.

    The average rent is lower than the busy business districts, averaging at USD 1300 for a 2 bedroom apartment.

    Minato

    The most expensive neighborhood in Tokyo, Motoazabu, is situated in the Minato ward.

    This hilly area is filled with embassies, parks, and top international schools. You can also find a lot of foreigners in this area as well, especially expats with families.

    Minato is the most expensive ward in the city, 6 of the 10 most expensive neighborhoods are located here, rental yields are also high in Minato.

    Real estate agents

    Buying property in Japan without an experienced local real estate agent can be a difficult task.

    Tokyo is huge, learning about each neighborhood and prospects of future growth is difficult for a foreigner, without seeking help from a professional.

    That’s why I recommend you to work with a real estate agent in Japan. They can also help you to overcome language barriers.

    Working with a good real estate agent is more important in Tokyo, due to the big price differences in the city.

    Some of the most popular real estate agents in Tokyo are:

    • JLL Japan
    • Ken Corporation
    • Colliers
    • Cushman & Wakefield

    Conclusion

    Tokyo is the most popular city among foreigners in Japan, with a big influx of foreign and local investors, it’s not surprising why prices are generally higher here.

    It’s the most expensive city in Japan, if you look for cheaper property you should look at places like Nagoya, where you can gain greater yields.

    I hope you found this article interesting and wish you good luck with your future property investments.

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