A Complete Guide to Japanese Housing Price

Japan has become more and more favored destinations among foreign property buyers. That is partly because of the open real estate policy, any ex-pat can own property here (a privilege that is not feasible in every country). Not to mention the appealing thought of holiday home in this beautiful country or high return rate on investment from a rental property. But how much do you need to pay for a house in Japan? Stay tuned, this location guide will cover the Japanese housing price from apartment to a detached house, newly-built versus pre-owned properties along with other useful financial information.

What affects Japanese housing price?

Location

When it comes to the price of a house, it is not a secret that price in the city center outweighs those in the suburbs or provincial areas. But let’s have a closer look, we can divide the real estate market into three distinct parts. The first part, where houses prices remain almost the same or even increase in the near future, takes up around 10% of the market.

japanese house prices

Real estate property in Shinjuku, Tokyo

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Even though Japan is undergoing a major change related to population, this part is unlikely to be affected. The second category is the largest (70%), which comprises houses with slightly decreasing prices throughout time and this situation is expected to continue. In the bottom section of properties (20%), prices have already fallen, sometimes dramatically with no sign of ceasing. So the best chance for investors when buying a house in Japan is research carefully about the price variance of that property in the recent 5 or 10 years, if there is price prediction, consider it carefully too.

Houses near the station are usually costly

You will also want a place near the station, the most common transportation in Japan. Each one-minute reduction in walking distance from the station means a ¥16,000 per square meter growth in price in the same market. So, the more advantages it has in terms of location and position, the more a house costs.

Position

The wide street is a plus point for a house in the city

Now, if you look for a place to live, there are more important factors than just the foreseeable value of housing location. For example, most people in Japan prefer the house facing south, which means ample natural light into the spaces all day long. Or being situated on a large street, with a width of approximately 6 meters, is total merit for a house in a big city like Tokyo. You won’t have to worry about entering the street or whether it is a one-way road, and the noise of course (since there is too much traffic in any larger street).

Land

price of house in japan

Real estate property with land

Japan is not a large country, and most of the population lives in the cities, therefore land in these areas is literally gold. In particular, 70% of the price of a free-standing house in the capital is for the land itself and the house makes up the rest. The case outside the city is the opposite. The land is unbelievably affordable.

The house condition

how much is a house in japan

10-year-old wooden house in Japan

Another point that has a great impact on Japanese housing price is the condition. A run-down property would cost you almost nothing, then you pay for the land only. Occasionally, you may even find a house with a total price is less than the value of the land. The logic behind this is simple, remember the money and effort you have to spend on demolition and reconstruction of this old house. A basic wood-framed house costs on average 200,000 Yen/sqm to erect, while normal reinforced-concrete houses prices range from 450,000 Yen/sqm to well, a lot. Japanese housing prices will climb according to design and finish, with some luxury custom-builds costing up to 1,000,000 Yen/sqm+.

Average Japanese housing price

Apartment/ Condo

how much does a house cost in japan

A 1 bedroom apartment

The apartment is a common choice for accommodation in the urban areas, but the price can be really varied, depending on which city. Now, Tokyo is famous for its huge expense especially on housing (always listed among top of the world). So compared with most other place in the world, the cost for a house here is pretty high. If you want a more economical option, you should move further to the outskirts or countryside or other cities.

Here’s an overview of the average price per square meter in a few of the largest cities in Japan, to give you a flavor.

City Average housing price per square meter (¥)
Apartment in the city centre Apartment outside the city centre
Japan — country average 955,429.00 536,975.01
Tokyo 1,192,697.88 698,889.95
Yokohama 2,375,000.00 337,500.00
Fukuoka 715,000.00 383,333.33
Osaka 683,220.16 493,191.22
Kobe 550,000.00 400,000.00
Saporo 320,000.00 250,000.00

Source: Numbeo.com.(July 2020)

Secondhand and newly built detached house

Detached houses

Another popular house types in Japan are single-family residences, so-called detached houses. For this type, there is a dilemma between buying a brand new or pre-owned unit. Don’t underrate the secondhand houses. As we mention, the condition of old residences will make it price so cheap that it seems to be barely the land value. Then, you have to spend a little on building and renovation (we will go into detail in the next part). On the other hand, with some luck, you may still find a spick-and-span home for s reasonable price.

Besides, no consumption tax (8%) or depreciation tax is imposed on the pre-owned houses for both buyer and seller. In general, it is a lot cheaper than new ones! In central Tokyo, depending on the age of the house, a 10-year-old one in the 23 wards might sell for usually approximately 5–10% cheaper, and a 30-year-old place is 20–40% less than a newly-built place.

Renovated pre-owned house

According to a recently released report of Tokyo Kantei Market, prices of both new and used single-family houses have been going up in 2019. New houses were sold at the average price of  41,960,000 yen, up 1.3% from the previous year when they were sold for 40,990,000 yen. Used free-standing homes experienced an even bigger climb in price, from  34,370,000 yen in 2018 to JPY 36,850,000 in 2019. Used residences tend to be slightly more spacious as well, at a total land space of 129.4 square meters, and 101.3 square meters for the house. But this is the figure for Japan average. If you want to buy house in Tokyo, you must have a min 56,000,000 yen and a max of almost 200,000,000 yen for a 100m2 detached house.

Construction and renovation cost

House construction in Japan

If the house you nail down is totally dilapidated, there will be another problem to cope with, the construction cost to rebuild it from scratch. Of course, it vastly depends on the features and functions you desire for your house. But I have to say the average cost will be about 25 million to 31 million yen. Only in some cases can you get a better price.

Now, if the house still has some hope for renovation, the cost could be reduced considerably. While this cost varies, mainly of the unit size, scope, and quality, people pay 2 million to do a few basic updates like kitchen and bathroom refurnishment along with the replacement of flooring and wallpapers. In Japan, we often call this reform rather than a renovation. Otherwise to completely transform a typical family house constructed in the 1980s, (including potentially changing the walls and layout) you need a sum of 7 million yen, according to Property Central Japan.

japanese house prices,

House renovation in Japan

However, on average, a used apartment plus the renovation cost is still 10–20% cheaper than a new one. That is why recent years witnessed an upward trend of foreigners buying and renovating old Kyoto machiya (merchant) houses. They then utilize these places as a holiday home or a luxurious tourist destination. If the later is your purpose, I highly recommend you work with a knowledgeable agent who can recommend a property and a reliable construction company that delivers quality work within a budget. Mitsui Home Remodeling advertises a full home renovation based on a 100sqm house for 8.61 million yen, but other companies advertise basic packages starting from 5.75 million Yen.

Loans, Mortgage Interest rate, and more …

In 2019, the entire amount of real estate loans to individuals was JPY 131.1 trillion (US$1.23 trillion), rising by 2.8% during a 1-year period. This took up approximately 23.5% of the country’s GDP in 2018.

Conditions

Normally, anyone aged from 20 to 69 years old is likely to be approved, but you should prepare to fully put down your loan by the age of 75-80 years old. Furthermore, all Japanese banks that lend to foreign residents anticipate you to pay a certain proportion of the property price. The minimum is 10%, but 20-35% is more often required.

In addition, you need at least 2 to 3 years or more of employment in Japan with an annual income of at least 2 million yen.

Types of interest rate

Japanese low loan interest rate

Numerous types of mortgage interest rates are accessible, including floating rate interest, fixed-rate interest for a certain time, and a fixed rate interest for the whole period of the loan type. The interest rates are now the lowest of all time, with fixed rates for 10-year houses mainly possible under 1% for the initial set period. Floating loans can be even lower; for example, MUFJ bank offers 0.65% for a variable loan. Even though this is not fixed and could be increased, in regards to the recent economic situation, many homebuyers seem to anticipate these rates to remain the same for the near future.

Fees

You have to calculate the number of taxes (typically around 6%) and the 3% plus  60,000 brokerage fee and the consumption tax to get the final cost of a house. This will need to be paid to the agent, as well as being counted to your down payment.

Loan amount

Up to JPY 100,000,000 or JPY500,000,000

As a hidden rule, banks in Japan will let you borrow around about eight times your income in a year. The total amount of the loan repayment a year (debt-to-income ratio) should be within a general range of around 25%–35% of one’s annual income.

Loan lifetime

From 1–35 years

Return on investment for a rental property

According to Global Property Guide, in downtown Tokyo, overall rental yields – the rate of return fetched on the purchase price of a lease property, excluding tax, vacancy costs, and other costs – vary from 3.4% to 5.4%. Yields are fairly higher on mini condos. Yields on the tiniest condos are 5.42%, a decent yield. However, the more compact the apartments are, the more maintenance needs to be done, so a better yield is explained.

Now, there are several ways to earn such a yield.  To purchase a property aboard is such an investment. In this case, it can be lent out and bring you a sustainable income from the rental price, along with any profit from a rise in the value of the property.

The housing types and locations affect rental prices vastly. This table below will give you more information about Japanese housing price in different large cities,  both in the suburb and center and of various sizes.

City Average monthly rental costs (¥)
1-bed apartment in the city centre 1-bed apartment outside the city centre 3-bed apartment in the city centre 2-bed apartment outside of the city centre
Japan — country average 87,583.72 58,146.12 193,975.33 112,851.24
Tokyo 129,208.46 76,792.09 315,006.81 161,248.24
Yokohama 117,500.00 81,875.00 278,333.33 142,857.14
Fukuoka 67,218.75 47,187.50 151,666.67 82,428.57
Osaka 73,846.15 54,571.43 157,272.73 109,166.67
Kobe 92,500.00 59,166.67 197,500.00 98,333.33
Saporo 68,513.33 45,000.00 90,000.00 67,000.00

Source: Numbeo.com.(July 2020)

What about reselling the house?

Flip and resell a home, though, would hardly make a profit due to the expensive renovations — but renting does. For instance, in the distorted Tokyo property real estate market, while home on the outskirts can fetch as low as 3-4 million yens, a house of the same size in the heart of Tokyo can be sold for 50-60 million yens at ease — in other words, 15-20 times the price. But rents in the suburban area of the capital are not 20 times cheaper than in central Tokyo, frequently closer to 5-6 times. Overhaul and lending out a cheaply purchased akiya can create gross yields of 10% (before taxes and other costs). After retrieving your primary costs, you may still put your refurbished home on sales and earn a profit or a break-even price.

FAQs

Can a foreigner buy a house in Japan?

A lot of foreigners own properties in Japan

Yes, definitely yes. A foreigner can get both land and properties ownership in Japan. There is no requirement for citizenship or residence visa. Both you and the local will go through the same simple procedure. Compared to other countries where real estate possession is much more difficult, Japan is a truly distinctive and desired nation for buying houses. To find out more, please visit the article Buying A House In Japan As A Foreigner – A Detailed Answer

How much is the average Japanese housing price?

For the national real estate markets surveyed, the average Japanese housing price of a new house listed for sale in Japan is ¥35,760,000 (about $337,000). But the number changes a lot based on the location and some other matter we mentioned. You can get a better deal in the countryside and expect a shocking price in Tokyo.

How much is a house in Japan in the US dollar?

The prices mentioned in the article are in Yen, but you can easily convert it to USD by Google or website like xe.com. In July 2020, 1 yen is equal to 0.0095 USD, which means an average 2 bedroom apartment in Tokyo costs you ¥56,760,000 (about $533,500). The price for a newly built 100m2 detached house here is more or less 100 million yen ($947395).

Is housing expensive in Japan?

It really depends. Except for central Tokyo and some big cities like Yokohama or Osaka, Japanese housing price, in general, is quite more affordable, especially in the suburbs, small towns.

About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.