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Real Estate Business in Japan can be Enlivening, Challenging and Rewarding

Feb 27, 2008
Japan is an archipelago in the Pacific, separated from the eastern coastline of Asia by the Sea of Japan. The country's four main islands are Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido. It is the largest and most varied economy in Asia. The people are courteous, hardworking, and diligent. They are especially known for their warmth and hospitality.

The real estate business is fast recovering from a decade old slump that cut down the value of properties by about 75 percent. Rental income rates in the country are still higher than borrowing costs and interest rates will most certainly increase. The real estate business in Japan is showing clear signs of an emerging recovery from its recent decline.

All real estate with a prospective to generate outside income and/or revenue for the owner of the real property can be called commercial real estate. It includes many property types such as office buildings, apartment units, retail properties, condominiums and even plain land.

Any property having the potential to generate revenue may be called commercial real estate. Apart from the property types listed above, capital gains and income by way of rent can also be acquired through investment in niche properties. A career in this field is likely to take hours of coursework and a satisfactory pass in one or more licensing exams.

Investing in the country's real estate is a bold move, one that is extremely advantageous if carried out correctly. Anyone can acquire a property on the island. Investors must keep in mind that it is somewhat difficult to obtain a loan from a bank nowadays. Needless to say, it is rather impossible for a foreigner without a proper visa and a steady job to get a loan. However, if you are rich enough to buy your property without having to avail a loan, then the problem is solved.

Commercial properties yield a steady cash flow, especially when lease contracts are made long-term. High income is expected throughout the contract period. As a rule, tenants are responsible for the maintenance of the property and they default less frequently on payments.

How much income would you be able to generate from investing in a property in Japan? That depends on the area in which you want to invest your money. Tokyo is certainly the most expensive. Prices, as a rule, decrease steadily as the distance to the capital center increases. Old buildings are substantially cheaper than newly constructed ones. Remote areas such as Hokkaido and Tohoku, or regions such as Yamaguchi and Shimane can be especially cheap. In certain areas, local governments offer land for free to those who are willing to settle there for a number of years. Investors can easily get an idea of prices by checking with country-wide search engines.

In the mid-80's, the country's real estate market was excessively regulated and difficult to penetrate. Many factors have played in the easing of those regulations and Japan has now become a more open economy. Developments in technology and the Internet and internal changes in the economy have opened the Japanese market in many directions - telecommunication industry, medical equipments and pharmaceuticals industry, energy production, information technology industry, insurance industry, and financial services.

The striking 70 percent fall in the commercial real estate costs from their height in the early 1990's shows the extent to which a loan supply imbalance can affect real economic activity. This loan supply shock and its impact on construction activity in major commercial real estate markets have affected the economy adversely.

Companies and investors that are keen on entering the market can benefit by finding a reliable, well-reputed distributor or agent to represent them in the market. It is also very important to develop business contacts through regular personal visits. Japanese give a high degree of importance to personal relationships. You need much patience and repeated follow-up actions to clinch a real estate deal. If you are a foreigner entering in commercial real estate in Japan, it is a good idea to hire a professional interpreter, as many Japanese businessmen and executives do not speak English.
About the Author
Wantanee Khamkongkaew is an independent author evaluating and commenting on leading International Property Consultants in Asia and Greater China , especially CB Richard Ellis.
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