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Buying Property In Japan

Buying Property in Japan

There are many reasons to consider moving to the Land of the Rising Sun, with its temples, cherry blossoms, and society devoted to beauty and social harmony.

Japan offers rich culture and heritage, a strong economy, superb cuisine, a healthy lifestyle, and one of the world’s longest life expectancies.

As a foreigner, you might be interested in buying property in Japan as a home to work and live there, as a pied-à-terre for when you visit, or as a real estate investment. This article will tell you what you need to know about purchasing property in the country so that you can make Japan a more permanent part of your life.

Can Gaijin Buy Property in Japan?

Yes, the simple answer is that foreigners — or gaijin as they are known in Japanese — can buy property in Japan. When it comes to real estate, the same rules apply to both Japanese and foreigners; there are no restrictions on this under Japanese law. In fact, Japan is one of the few Asian countries where you can own land on a freehold basis. In addition, there are no requirements for citizenship or residence visa.

However, there are still peculiarities in the buying process that you should be aware of. Particularly, there might be a lack of qualified bilingual lawyers, or you may need to overcome some hurdles on your way of getting financing. Bear in mind that buying a home or other property will not help you with your legal residence status.

How You Buy Property in Japan

While Japan may have a different real estate process than you are used to in your country, the good news is that it is a well-defined process with help in place to pave the way for foreigners interested in buying here.

One of the first things you should do is hire a local real estate broker. Rarely will a buyer and seller get in direct contact during the buying process; almost all communication is handled through the brokers. You will also not need to get a real estate lawyer since the brokers will take care of the legalities themselves.

Japanese real estate brokers also provide:

  • Translations of important documents
  • Local intelligence about neighborhoods
  • Professional advice about property price levels, market trends, and transaction activities
  • Help to view properties
  • Help to handle negotiations and any formalities with the seller

After discussing your preferred price range, market trends, and transaction activities with the broker, you will be asked to sign an agency/broker agreement, usually specifying a brokerage commission of 3%.

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Other Important Matters to Consider when Buying Property in Japan

Receive an Explanation of Important Matters. Yes, this is the literal translation of a very important document, as its name suggests, called the Explanation of Important Matters (juuyou jikou setsumeisho). This needs to be carefully reviewed by the buyer before closing the deal since it contains all information pertinent to the purchase, such as:

  • Existing mortgages registered to the property
  • Any boundary disputes
  • Liens
  • Management fees
  • Broken items

This is a big document, which often runs up to 100 pages, and must be delivered to the buyer and explained verbally.

Execute the Contract for Your Property in Japan

Once you are satisfied with the Explanation of Important Matters, it is time to sign the legally binding purchase agreement. Some of the documents you will probably need to include with the purchase agreement are:

  • A copy of your passport
  • Value of the stamp duty
  • A registration certificate
  • A seal (inkan)
  • Information from the inspection report

Final Settlement

Finally, you will go to the bank to settle the property-buying process handled by a judicial scrivener (shihoushoushi). You will transfer the outstanding balance for the home to the seller’s bank account and then receive the transfer of the title of the property and the keys to your new home.

Immigration Considerations for Property Owners in Japan

Buying a property in Japan does not give the foreigner an automatic right to residence. Most immigration-related matters are looked after by the Immigration Bureau (nyukoku kanrikyoku), which has branches across Japan.

Non-Japanese are allowed to apply for permanent residence if they have conducted themselves well in the country and show they have enough assets or the means to support themselves. They also need to have lived in Japan for a certain number of years, which might be one to five years for highly skilled professionals and spouses of Japanese nationals. For others, the residence requirement might be 10 years.

Foreigners who are married to a Japanese national or a permanent resident of Japan can get a spouse visa, which is granted in periods of six months or one, three, or five years (and might be extended) and allows them to engage in any legally paid activity in the country.

Expats who have resided at least five years in Japan (fewer if they are married to a Japanese national) and meet certain criteria can apply to become naturalized Japanese citizens, providing they renounce citizenship in their home countries.

Immigrating to a different country, such as Japan, can be a complex undertaking. Especially if you are physically outside of the country, language barriers and timezones can present significant challenges to making informed decisions. Get real time answers from licensed Japanese Immigration Advisors and browse qualified Advisors who can provide tailored consultations for immigration issues and other matters related to relocating to Japan on Relocate, an independent marketplace for global migration.

Where to purchase a home in Japan?

When buying a property in Japan, keep in mind there is a big difference between a home in a major urban center, such as Tokyo or Osaka, and in the country.

But you might be able to find great deals in the country because many young people are moving to the cities for the work opportunities and excitement they can find there, leaving behind their family homes.

Property-Buying Costs in Japan

To buy a home, apartment, or condominium in Japan, some of the major costs include:

  • Brokerage fee: 3% of purchase price, plus 60,000 Yen, plus consumption tax
  • Acquisition fee: A one-time payment two to three months after title registration based on the government’s assessment of the building and the property value
  • Stamp duty: Levied on documents of contracts and agreements, payable at title registration.
  • Judicial scrivener fee: The fees to these professionals who help buyers with property registration procedures vary according to property type, assessed value, and if registration of a mortgage is needed.

Relocate Can Help Your Japanese Dream Come True

Finding a house, buying it, and arranging for a permit to reside in Japan can take a lot of work and planning to make it happen with a hitch. To ensure that you have all the advice and information you need, tap into the resources of Relocate’s independent marketplace. Here, you can request consultations with knowledgeable Advisors in Japan or submit general inquiries through our platform.

Make informed decisions about the process of buying a house and moving to Japan, so you can go about your business of enjoying the experience of living where the sun rises, and harmony prevails.

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