Who can buy property in Japan?
There are no legal restrictions on foreigners owning real estate property in Japan. Same rules apply for Japanese citizens and foreigners when buying a property. Moreover - Japan is one of the few Asian countries offering freehold ownership structure which is appealing to a lot of foreign buyers and investors.
There is no path to citizenship or residency through a house purchase alone. On the other hand there is also no need to apply for any type of residency before being able to buy a property - it can even be done on a tourist visa!
Property purchase process
Choose a location and property
Familiarise yourself with the country and it´s different regions before making a decision. Look at the properties available according to the requirements and budget you have. It is recommended to hire the services of a real estate agent, who can also act as the buyer´s translator. It always helps if you know Japanese yourself as the best deals in the market are usually not marketed in English.
Regions that are popular amongst investors and other foreigner buyers:
- Tokyo - Tokyo, the bustling capital of Japan, is a blend of ultramodern technology and rich traditions. Skyscrapers and neon lights fill the skyline, while historic temples and shrines offer moments of serene reflection. The city´s diverse neighborhoods, from the fashion-forward streets of Shibuya to the historic Asakusa district, have something to offer to all tastes.
- Hokkaido - Hokkaido is the largest and northernmost island of Japan. It´s known for its beautiful natural scenery, mountains, forests and lakes - it´s a year-round paradise for nature enthusiasts. Hokkaido is also home to many hot springs and ski resorts. Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is known for its beer festival and its ramen.
- Osaka - Osaka, Japan´s second-largest city, is a vibrant hub of commerce and culture. The Dotonbori district is famous for its neon signs and bustling nightlife.
- Nagoya - An industrial center (home to the Toyota Motor Corporation and Panasonic) that is also renowned for its historical significance, exemplified by the famous Nagoya Castle.
When searching for properties online, consider these sources:
To compare price data about any specific region that interests you, visit this site, created by Japan´s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
Visit properties and submit letter of intent
Try to visit as many properties as you can to get the best picture of the market situation and the neighbourhood. Once you have settled on a property that you would like to purchase, you need to submit a letter of intent which is not binding but rather a starting point for negotiations and to show your strong interest in acquiring the property.
Due diligence and financing
If the price negotiations have been successful, it is important to carry out due diligence about the property. At this stage, if needed, you can also negotiate financing with local banks to get preapproval for a mortgage. Keep in mind that if you are not a permanent resident of Japan, securing a loan will be very difficult.
A Juyoujikou-Setsumeisho (similar to a Property Disclosure Statement or Seller´s Real Property Disclosure Statement) is drafted by the seller´s estate agent. This is document is required by law and needs to include all the information about the property that the buyer might need to make a decision. If you are not comfortable with such documentation, it´s best to source local legal help who specialises in this matter.
Paying a deposit and finalizing the contract
The purchase contract is drafted once a deal is settled and the documents are satisfactory. After this a 10% deposit is expected from the buyer before the contract date.
During closing, the title is transferred. Both parties should have certificates of their seal impressions. Stamps are obtained, and government fees and taxes are paid to register the title.
The last step is to pay the remaining balance.
The whole process of registering property has six procedures, which can be completed in around 12 days.
How much does it cost to buy property in Japan?
|Stamp Duty||0.01% - 0.20%||buyer|
|Real Estate Agent´s Fee||3.15% + JPY63,000 (US$534)||buyer|
|Costs paid by buyer|
|Costs paid by seller||0%|
|ROUNDTRIP TRANSACTION COSTS||13.26% - 13.45%|
Source: Global Property Guide
Footnotes to transaction costs table
The round trip transaction costs include all costs of buying and then re-selling a property - lawyers´ fees, notaries´ fees, registration fees, taxes, agents´ fees, etc.
Sales of buildings are subject to consumption tax, which is levied at a flat rate of 5%. Sales of land are exempted from consumption tax.
The 5% consumption tax rate is composed of 4% national consumption tax and 1% local consumption tax.
Acquisition tax is levied at a flat rate of 4% for land. The tax is levied on the valuation of the property as determined by local government agencies, which is usually around 60% to 80% of the market value of the property.
Acquisition tax is levied at a flat rate of 4% for nonresidential buildings.
Registration tax is levied at a flat rate of 2% for land, and 2% for buildings. The tax is levied on the valuation of the property as determined by local government agencies, which is usually around 60% to 80% of the market value of the property.
A reduced registration tax rate of 1.50% may be applicable for purchased land until 31 March 2013.
Stamp duty is levied on deed of contracts concerning transfer of real estate properties.
|Property Value, JPY (US$)||Rate, JPY (US$)|
|Up to 10,000 (US$92)||0|
|10,000 - 100,000 (US$917)||200 (US$1.83)|
|100,000 - 500,000 (US$4,587)||400 (US$4)|
|500,000 - 1 million (US$9,174)||1,000 (US$9)|
|1 million - 5 million (US$45,872)||2,000 (US$18)|
|5 million - 10 million (US$91,743)||10,000 (US$92)|
|10 million - 50 million (US$458,716)||15,000 (US$138)|
|50 million - 100 million (US$917,431)||45,000 (US$413)|
|100 million - 500 million (US$4,587,156)||80,000 (US$734)|
|500 million - 1 billion (US$9,174,312)||180,000 (US$1,651)|
|1 billion - 5 billion (US$45,871,560)||360,000 (US$3,303)|
|Over 5 billion (US$45,871,560)||540,000 (US$4,954)|
|No stated property value||200 (US$1.83)|
Judicial Scrivener Fees
A judicial scrivener (shiho shoshi) is a paralegal who settles and registers property transactions. Judicial scrivener fees are negotiable but are typically around 0.10% of the property value.
Real Estate Agent´s Fee
Real estate agent´s fee are set at 3.15% of the sales price of the property, plus JPY63,000 (US$578).