Japan is the third largest economy in the world! Many investors and others want to get in on this fantastic economy by investing in real estate in Japan.
Where to Search for Real Estate in Japan
The first important thing to realize about real estate in Japan is that the markets are entirely aimed towards Japanese people. That means the markets are in Japanese.
You can not look for Japanese real estate in English.
Do not try it! If you do you’ll find English-focused real estate sites that mark up prices dramatically and don’t show the true housing market. All Japanese English real estate sites will emphasize high-margin apartments in foreigner-heavy areas like Roppongi, whereas using a real Japanese real estate site will show you properties from Akihabara to Shinjuku to anywhere else.
Searching on Japanese Real Estate Sites
You will need to use a Japanese real estate site like athome to search for properties. There are downsides to looking for properties in Japan – while they are a very technologically advanced society, many of their websites are terribly out of date.
If you use Realtor.com in the US to find properties you just type a location and properties are shown in seconds. It’s not the same in Japan. You have to go through several steps.
The first step is choosing Buy vs Rent. Then you have to click a city on a very old map instead of just being able to click a live map of anywhere in Japan.
Then you choose whether or not to search based on train stop or by street location. This is actually meant to be quite convenient for Japanese customers, because it’s important to choose an apartment that is on a train line that goes directly to your work site. But if you are not super familiar with the Japanese train system then it will be difficult to use the system.
So you’ll choose a city, you’ll choose a train line, and then you’ll choose the train stops you want to search near.
This can actually be more convenient than a map because map distance doesn’t take into account train stations. But a map combined with this train system search would be more convenient if you are familiar with certain areas that you want to be near.
Can a foreigner buy houses and apartments in Japan?
Yes! And with almost no restrictions! There is no citizenship nor residency requirement for purchasing property in Japan, and the procedures are exactly the same as for a Japanese buyer. This means that the Japanese real estate market is entirely open to outside investors.
The harder part is finding a good realtor or real estate agent who speaks English and can communicate well with you. You’ll need them for all the paperwork, in addition to the many questions you are sure to have.