How to Get A Free House in Japan? All You Need to Know about “ Free House” in Japan
How to get a free house in Japan? Free houses are being given away in Japan, according to recent headlines from well-known news sources that have gone viral. If one is courageous enough to live outside in the Japanese inaka, they can be heard for a song and fall under the category of “Akiya,” which means “empty house.” How is it possible for a house to be free in Japan, a country with a population density nine times greater than that of the US ($226,800 on average)? It all seemed like it was too good to be true.
Why do so many free houses exist in Japan?
The vast majority of residences in Japan, particularly in the countryside of Kagoshima, Kochi, Tokushima, and Wakayama, are currently alleged to be vacant for various reasons. People are getting older, so most of them have moved to cities. As a result, they are unable to care for the property that they inherited in the 1940s and 1950s. It is understandable that the overwhelming preference of Japanese citizens for freshly constructed dwellings over ancient structures.
Otherwise, other triggers that are less frequently discussed could include the state of the home, the neighborhood, and the property tax. Many buildings were constructed during the boom, which means they are subpar, uninhabitable due to lax building codes, and not meant to stay for very long. Many of them are outdated, undesired, and occasionally abandoned for a long time. These factors typically reduce the estate’s value and deter potential buyers from purchasing the home.
Beyond the boundaries of the land, further issues lie ahead, particularly in rural areas where many establishments providing services and entertainment, such as restaurants, retail malls, hospitals, and educational facilities, are closing.
Even if the house was in good condition, young generations frequently do not want to repopulate in a neighborhood that may not exist soon after moving in or has no long-term development. To handle their new life, they may have to spend hours traveling to their workplace in the next city, work remotely, or establish their own business in the new area.
Another factor contributing to the rise of akiya is money. In fact, property taxes in Japan are not particularly costly when compared to, say, New York or Texas. Nonetheless, many would like to quit since they do not want to pay application costs for an asset they do not utilize.
Furthermore, the government administration passed an edict in 2015 that requires local authorities to assess a punishment on people who do not remove or recondition their holdings. As a result, the primary driver of the akiya wave is that the true owner is unable to declare possession due to tax implications.
The preceding component has resulted in another problem. Consider the fact that property records are rarely updated, the last known owner is deceased or deceased, and no one comes forward to claim the land. Checking the title of holdings is difficult. If you are unable to identify the former owner, shifting ownership to your name will be difficult.
Who Owns Homes That Are Freely Rented Out?
It is fairly common for Japanese in their 40s and 50s to inherit a home. They were frequently homeowners. Although the inherited house may hold many good memories, it may not make sense to preserve it for a variety of reasons (property taxes, upkeep fees, inconvenient location), resulting in an overstock, including free properties.
Japanese abandoned house: Pros and Cons
As with any investment, whether it’s for real estate or stocks, it’s wise to examine the Pros and Cons before making a purchase, which we’ve mentioned below.
1. The Advantages of Purchasing a Japanese Abandoned House
Possessing an Akiya will be fantastic for families looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Additionally, living outside of urban areas will enable your family to dwell on a larger piece of land where you may cultivate and let your kids run around.
Traditional Japanese residences are prevalent in Akiya. Consider buying an Akiya if you enjoy traditional Japanese architecture more than modern Japanese architecture.
As was already mentioned, many rural communities strive to draw new residents. They offer special deals, such as subsidies and tax breaks, when buying an Akiya from their district or prefecture as a result.
For instance, you may be eligible for additional financial aid or monthly mortgage deductions in several provinces for each kid you have.
2. The Drawbacks of Buying an Abandoned House in Japan
Renovation costs can be too expensive. Termites, for example, are the most typical issue that old abandoned properties face. You will need to engage exterminators and refurbish the structure’s wooden parts. There could be additional fees.
All of this might set you back 174,000 JPY ∼ 1321.99 USD or more. Extremely remote from major cities. This is troublesome since it implies that you will have a plethora of career chances when you relocate to your new residence.
Communities that are closed. There are several disadvantages to having close-knit communities, such as natives being suspicious of new occupants. It’s wise to get to know your future neighbors before buying a house so that the transition isn’t too difficult.
How can one acquire a free home in Japan?
Step 1: Start an online property search
You will have to conduct much of your research with individual real estate companies or aggregator websites because, unlike some other nations, Japan lacks a central online database that manages all real estate data.
If you know what to search for, Japan has a wide selection of affordable homes. In fact, there are more real estate firms than convenience stores in Japan. (At first, I didn’t think this was true, but it is!)
Few cater to English speakers, but the majority only provide services in Japanese. To get you started, we have put together a convenient list of English-speaking real estate agents and other experts. If not, Google Translate will be your best friend.
We strongly advise conducting your search on Japanese websites because many of the top offers will only be accessible there. A few recommended Japanese websites are listed below:
AtHome is a sizable listing aggregator site with a great search tool. It has a wide selection, but occasionally has scant information about properties. They typically hand you off to the neighborhood real estate firm in charge of a specific property.
A more compact website with a good search capability. This site occasionally has some hidden gems.
It is advised to first filter homes based on your criteria while trying to buy a home in Japan. Several instances could be:
- House type Price range
- House design (floor plan),
- Area of buildings and land
- Structure components
- Age of the Structure
The search choices on a typical Japanese real estate website are shown in the screenshot below:
Then, it will be easier for you to understand exactly what you’re looking for.
Step 2: Contact the agent and go see the property
You’ve chosen a few places to visit, which is fantastic! Contacting the realtor to confirm that the homes you are interested in are still available is the next step. It’s conceivable that the house has already been sold as several well-known Japanese real estate websites only update their inventory once or twice a month. You must make contact to confirm that the property is still available.
The next step is to check that everything is exactly as described. Before moving forward with the purchase, we firmly advise making a personal visit to the home to avoid disappointment or perhaps being taken advantage of.
You should check for problems like structural flaws or damage, warped or slanted floors, roof leaks, or termite damage. Additionally, you should examine the foundation, plumbing, plumbing fixtures, and boundary markings twice.
You’ll be able to get a sense of the neighborhood and surroundings by physically seeing the property.
Here are some queries you might think about posing to the representative at this stage:
- How much do annual property taxes cost? (固定資産税）
- If we pay cash, is there flexibility for negotiating on the price? (we questioned the realtor about this before making an offer, and it enabled me to significantly reduce the sale price.)
- Has there ever been an incident on this property? (Fatalities, suicides, crime scenes, etc.) Legally, the real estate business is required to inform you of any recent events.
Even though the two years have already passed, they will probably give you the entire history if you ask.
Step 3: Make An Offer And Negotiate
Once you’re confident that everything is in order, you should make a formal offer. You must complete a purchase application form provided by your real estate agency with details regarding your offer price, payment method, delivery date, and any additional sale conditions you may have. The seller will then receive the form.
If there are several potential purchasers for newly constructed or highly sought-after properties, a lottery will be performed to select the successful bidder (this is much less common with older properties).
At this stage, there can be some back-and-forth discussion concerning particular clauses in the contract.
The procedure might frequently be less formal than this. For instance, the agent may receive your initial offer by phone or email and then forward it to the seller.
Step 4: Get All the Paperwork Ready, Send the Money, and Sign the Contract
You can proceed to sign the contract if your offer is approved. Depending on whether you currently reside in Japan or not, you will now need to compile a number of required documents. Those who reside in Japan will require:
- Residency permit
- A proof of residence
- Seal or seal certificate
Those without a residency requirement will require:
- Your passport and a government-issued affidavit from your native nation
A written declaration submitted under oath known as an affidavit is used to further establish your signature, residence, legal status, and identity. Typically, you can obtain this document from a government office before your trip to Japan or at the embassy of your home country in Japan.
There will be a formal transfer of title of the land or building following the completion of all paperwork and the signing of the contract.
Step 5: Obtain keys and final paperwork, pay other taxes and expenses
The seller will be paid the total sales price of the property, typically by bank transfer but occasionally in cash, and you’ll receive a receipt. Typically, the buyer and seller attend this meeting, which takes place in the real estate agency’s office. The house’s keys will now be given to you at this point.
Congratulations! At this time, you will have obtained full ownership of your own home in Japanese! You will receive all of the property’s documentation in addition to the keys.
Warranties, user guides, and any management guidelines for using the property’s amenities and equipment are all included in the property documents.
*Note: Procedures when dealing with real estate often require specialized knowledge, and it is difficult, though not impossible, for a layperson to proceed alone.
Therefore, it is common to ask a judicial scrivener or broker to prepare documents and register on your behalf. In such cases, the following costs are generally incurred.
Broker’s commission: If the transaction amount exceeds 4 million yen, “transaction amount x 3% + 60,000 yen” + 10% consumption tax; if the transaction amount exceeds 2 million yen and is less than 4 million yen, “transaction amount x 4% + 20,000 yen” + 10% consumption tax; if the transaction amount is less than 2 million yen, “transaction amount x 5%” + 10% consumption tax
1. Is Japan giving away free homes?
The government of Japan is providing low-cost or even free housing as well as incentives to entice new inhabitants because there are over eight million abandoned dwellings in the country.
2. Why is Japan selling foreclosed houses?
Houses left empty due to suicides, violent deaths, or murder are one cause of the growth in abandoned homes. Selling these properties is challenging since many Japanese people believe that relocating into such homes or even building new ones on the same plot will bring bad luck.
3. Can foreigners buy abandoned houses in Japan?
Foreigners, or “gaijin,” can buy Akiya properties just like any other real estate property. When it came to buying real estate, both Japanese and foreigners had to follow the same laws. There are no restrictions, unlike in other Asian countries, and you can own land on a freehold basis.
4. Can foreigner have house in Japan?
In contrast to other countries, Japan has no restrictions on foreigners based on their status as permanent residents, Japanese nationality, or type of visa. Consequently, both land and structures may be owned by foreigners in Japan as real estate.
5. Which country gives free houses?
Finland addresses homelessness by providing apartments to anyone in need. Although there is a worldwide problem with homelessness, Finland is setting the bar with a scheme that might provide a long-term solution. The Northern European country implemented the “Housing First” strategy in 2008.
6. Do people in Japan have the option of residing in abandoned homes?
Purchasing a property in Japan, whether abandoned or not, does not provide you automatic residency status. While a foreigner can purchase one of these residences, there are some limits to be aware of. Some contracts for the purchase of an akiya, for example, oblige the buyer to dwell in the house permanently.
After reading this article, you can answer this question “How to get a free house in Japan”? Getting or purchasing free properties in Japan necessitates a long-term investment of time, effort, and money. And, because property values rarely rise, think carefully before making any decisions.