Japan Real estate: Housing prices overview

TransferWise content team
05.20.19
6 minute read

Whether you’re an expat already, looking for a second home for family vacations, or want a smart investment, buying real estate in Japan can be a good move. Prices are relatively high, especially in the cities, but there’s a wide range of average costs depending on where you look, and whether you want a rural hideaway or an apartment in the heart of the action.

Research is key to getting a good deal when buying property overseas. You’ll need to choose a location and property type — and you’ll also want to work out how best to make international payments to avoid high bank fees and keep the costs down. This handy guide has all you need to get started, from a rundown of average costs and rental yields, to ideas about how to lower the price of sending and receiving international payments for your real estate. Using a service such as TransferWise can cut down the costs of buying your real estate significantly. Or if you’re renting out, you may end up with more money in your pocket by receiving transfers through this innovative company.

Average prices by city

As you might expect, the cost of housing in Japan varies widely. Tokyo and Osaka frequently appear in lists of the most expensive places to live in the world. So it’s no surprise that on a global scale, real estate costs there are fairly high. If you’re looking for a bargain you might consider choosing a home in a more rural area or choosing one of the smaller towns or cities Japan has to offer.

If you’re considering buying a property for yourself as a vacation home or an investment, you’ll already know how important it is to research the costs in advance, including looking at the price of suburban living compared to choosing an apartment in the city centre.

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
Japan — country average Apartment in city centre: ¥867,796.08 Apartment outside the city centre: ¥449,696.95
Tokyo Apartment in city centre: ¥1,158,370.89 Apartment outside the city centre: ¥588,030.27
Osaka Apartment in city centre: ¥515,150.00 Apartment outside the city centre: ¥400,000.00
Fukuoka Apartment in city centre: ¥625,000.00 Apartment outside the city centre: ¥300,000.00
Yokohama Apartment in city centre: ¥800,000.00 Apartment outside the city centre: ¥300,000.00

The data used is taken from Numbeo.com. This site provides dynamic pricing data across a number of different areas, to allow comparison of costs of living in different cities and countries around the world. Data is provided in real time by people living in these areas, and so will reflect the constant changes in market pricing.

The figures provided here are accurate at the time of research, 8th April 2019. For the most up to date costs of real estate in your chosen area, head over to Numbeo.com, where you can review and compare prices in the cities you’re interested in.

Buying your property from abroad

If you’re buying a property overseas you might find that you need to make one or more international transfers to cover the deposit, legal fees or other associated costs. Sending money internationally with a traditional bank can work out to be expensive — and it’s seldom quick. If you’re sending a large payment to secure your new home, it’s more important than ever to find a convenient, safe and cost effective way to do so.

For many customers looking for quick, cheap and secure international transfers, the new borderless account from TransferWise is a perfect solution. You can open your account online, and make and receive payments in foreign currencies easily. All currency conversion is done using the mid-market exchange rate with no markup and just a transparent upfront fee.

This can often be a cheaper alternative than using your regular bank — and because TransferWise uses the same sort of security that traditional banks do, you’ll also know your money is in good hands. In fact, over 4 million customers have trusted TransferWise to make international payments, so far — that’s a lot of happy customers, and over $2 billion moved every month.

Japan rental yields

How much are the rental yields?

One reason to buy a property overseas is as an investment. In this case, you might choose to rent it out and benefit from the income, as well as any capital gain from an overall rise in the value of the property.

Rental prices vary across different housing types and locations. To give a meaningful comparison, we picked city centre and suburban apartments of different sizes, across major cities in Japan, again using data from Numbeo.com. Here’s what we found.¹

City Average monthly rental costs
Japan — country average 1 bed apartment in city centre: ¥86,722.781 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥59,125.19 3 bed apartment in city centre: ¥ 195,212.293 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥108,758.63
Tokyo 1 bed apartment in city centre: ¥119,000.001 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥75,444.44 3 bed apartment in city centre: ¥274,125.003 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥146,500.00
Osaka 1 bed apartment in city centre: ¥74,500.001 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥52,933.33 3 bed apartment in city centre: ¥ 133,636.363 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥103,333.33
Fukuoka 1 bed apartment in city centre: ¥57,550.001 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥36,666.67 3 bed apartment in city centre: ¥130,000.003 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥77,180.00
Yokohama 1 bed apartment in city centre: ¥110,000.001 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥77,500.00 3 bed apartment in city centre: ¥280,000.003 bed apartment outside the city centre: ¥149,166.67

If you’re renting out an overseas property and collecting your payments in a foreign currency, you might find that you save time and money using TransferWise. You can receive your rental payments through them, with the money converted using the mid-market exchange rate. Then simply withdraw your dollars to your regular bank account, or spend it from the borderless account using your linked debit card to make ATM withdrawals and payments on the go.

Getting a mortgage in Japan

If you want to get a mortgage in Japan as a foreigner, you’ll find that eligibility criteria are fairly tight. Doing some early research is a smart idea.

Typical requirements, to qualify for a mortgage loan in Japan include the following:

  • Age 20–65 when opening the mortgage
  • Annual income requirement, usually JPY2,000,000–JPY5,000,000 depending on the institution
  • 2 to 3 years of continuous employment history in Japan
  • You may also need to take out a life insurance product

In general terms mortgage rates in Japan are low, but the products available to foreign buyers in Japan might not offer the very best terms out there. You’ll need to talk to the bank of your choice to understand exactly what you’ll be able to secure, but long term fixed interest mortgages may come in at 1.2%–2% interest, floating rate products with preferential interest may be available as low as 0.5%, up to 2.48% interest.²

Construction activity data

Although the amount of housing construction started on a month by month basis in Japan tends to fluctuate, the overall trend since early 2018 has been for more properties to be built, after decrease in activity in 2017. Industry commentators suggest that demand for new housing continues to outstrip supply, with investors still active in the sector during 2019.³ ⁴

Investing in real estate — either as a family home, a summer house or a rental property — is a popular choice for many. If you’re buying abroad, it is important to get to know the local market before you make the leap. It’s also crucial to find safe, cheap and fast ways to make and receive overseas payments. Check out the options available from TransferWise, whether it’s just their cheap international money transfer or their multi-currency account to see if you can save compared to using your regular bank.


Sources:

  1. https://www.numbeo.com/property-investment/
  2. https://www.realestate-tokyo.com/buy/loan-info/
  3. https://www.cbre.co.jp/en/research-reports/Japan-Real-Estate-Market-Outlook-2019
  4. https://tradingeconomics.com/japan/housing-starts

All sources last checked 9 April 2019


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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