Interest in Tokyo investment properties has surged this year among foreign buyers due to the weak yen, and inquiries for investment properties on Real Estate Japan have also experienced a healthy jump.
In this post, we give a brief overview of why investment properties in Tokyo have been popular for years among buyers, both foreign and domestic.
To start, let’s answer one of the first questions that may come to mind if you’re a foreigner looking to buy property in Tokyo.
Yes. You can buy property in Japan regardless of your nationality or country of origin. There are also no residency requirements for buying real estate in Japan. Securing financing as a resident foreigner is more complicated. For info on financing, please see “Basic Requirements for Getting a Mortgage as a Foreigner in Japan.”
For more in-depth information, please considering attending one of our free webinars on how to buy property in Japan as a foreigner.
Now let’s get back to to Tokyo investment properties.
Why Tokyo is advantageous for income property investment
Tokyo’s population is growing
Although the population of Japan is declining, Tokyo’s population is forecast to continue growing in the near future.
In the latest forecast, the government estimated that the population of the entire city of Tokyo will peak in 2025, at about 14,171,000. The population of the city’s 23 wards is expected to continue growing until 2030, peaking at 9,790,900, while Tokyo’s western suburbs, also known as the Tama region, has already peaked and is expected to continue declining. Demand for rental condominiums is expected to grow inline with population growth, particularly in the 23 wards.
Currently, the population of Tokyo stands at 14,029,726 (June 1, 2022), almost reaching the government’s forecast for 2025, and an increase of 12,780 people compared to the same month last year.
Single- and two-person households are growing
Population growth in Tokyo will be led by single-person and two-person households, not nuclear family or two-generation households.
The number of households is forecast to peak in 2035, when about 7,237,000 households will comprise Tokyo’s population. After 2035, this number is forecast to decline. By 2040, the government expects the city will have about 7,215,000 households, which would be an increase of 7.8% compared to the number of households in 2015.
The number of households is forecast to grow in the 23 wards of Tokyo but to decrease in the western suburbs and islands. By 2040, there will be about 5,322,000 households in the 23 wards, an increase of 11%, or about 528,000, compared to 2015. However, the western suburbs and Tokyo islands are expected to lose about 0.2% in the number of households compared to 2015.
Many ward governments in Tokyo have ordinances related to one-room (1R) condominium properties that are meant to limit the construction of 1R condominiums, in favor of larger family-sized apartments. The purpose of the ordinances is to increase the supply of family-friendly properties but one (perhaps unintended) effect is that in many neighborhoods, there is an undersupply of smaller units suitable for single-person households.
These trends suggest an investment strategy focused on rental condominiums suitable for single-person and two-person households.
Neighborhood redevelopment is going strong
The Tokyo metropolitan government has committed to a master plan for long-term development and redevelopment of major stations and neighborhoods in both the 23 wards and western suburbs. Some of these projects are being carried out in partnership with private rail companies and developers. Others are private initiatives.
For example, the Toranomon Azabudai project is the brainchild of Mori Living. This is a massive undertaking that will encompass 8.1 hectares (81,000 square meters) in central Minato-ku. It will include offices, residential units, commercial facilities, a hotel, cultural facilities and an international school.
Other well-known examples include the neighborhoods around Hibiya, Shibuya, Tokyo station, Otemachi, Ikebukuro and Shinagawa. Redevelopment, of course, improves livability and adds to the neighborhood amenities, which increases demand for housing. Projects carried out at major stations also have positive effects for local stations along train lines connecting to the hub.
Steady investment income and estimated gross yields
Tokyo investment properties offer very steady investment income in a stable legal, political and economic environment. However, buyers of investment properties in Japan should not expect appreciation in asset values.
Newer properties have higher average sale prices than older properties, with respect to both buyer-occupied and investment real estate.
Older properties in the Tokyo wards tend to hold value more than those in the Tokyo western suburbs, but in general, a typical investment property that was built 20 years ago will be worth only about 43.6% of a comparable new property, if we take 2020 as the base year, for example.
It’s important to point out that this is aggregate data. Average sales prices will vary a lot depending on many factors, including location, construction materials and the type of property (single unit condominium, whole building manshon-type condominium, whole building apartment, for example).
Older properties will tend to have higher yields. The table below shows typical average gross yields by year of construction. In general, income properties in Tokyo provide very steady yields due to the demographic and demand and supply factors discussed above.
You will also see different estimated gross yields depending on what data set you look at. The data below is within the average range of what you can expect for single-unit properties. Older whole-building apartment buildings will have at least double-digit estimated yields.
Where to invest in Tokyo
Where are the best places to buy an investment property in Tokyo?
Location is everything in real estate and where you choose to buy will depend a lot on your investment objectives and risk tolerance.
We can’t emphasis enough the importance of using a local bilingual agent. They will be the best source of information about current market trends in specific neighborhoods, help you find the most suitable properties for your objectives and work with you throughout the transaction.
That being said, there are a a few demographic trends that are worth keeping in mind.
The total population of Tokyo’s 23 Wards is expected to peak at about 9.79 million in 2030, then start to decline to about 9.52 million by 2040.
In terms of long-term rental demand we would expect the Tokyo 23 Wards to have greater demand than the western suburbs.
Generally speaking, buyers looking for stable income in neighborhoods with great amenities and transportation, the central five wards (Minato, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Chuo and Chiyoda) are considered the best neighborhoods. However, yields tend to be lower in the central wards because property values are much higher than for the rest of the city.
For those looking for higher yields and lower property values, apartments outside the city center, especially in northern and eastern Tokyo offer a great balance of low initial cost and relatively high yields.
In this article we’ve only given a very rough overview of some of the advantages and trends in the Tokyo residential investment property market. We recommend following our blog for more information about buying property in Japan and consulting a qualified local agent to get information specific to your investment needs.
Tokyo population summary of forecast results, Toko metropolitan government (PDF in Japanese)
Tokyo population as of June 1, 2022 (PDF in Japanese)
Tokyo redevelopment summary (PDF in English)
収益物権市場動向年間レポート2020 (Income producing property market trends annual report for 2020), Kenbeya.com (PDF in Japanese)
Lead image: Tokyo skyline with Tokyo SkyTree, iStock/ASMR
All of the agents who list properties on realestate.co.jp are bilingual in Japanese and English. Some agents can also handle inquiries in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and other languages. Please click on the links below to see their listings:
Yes. You can buy property in Japan regardless of your nationality or country of origin. There are also no residency requirements for buying real estate in Japan. Securing financing as a resident foreigner is more complicated. For info on financing, please see Basic Requirements for Getting a Mortgage as a Foreigner in Japan
Please see our seminar page for a current list of seminars on: how to buy a home in Japan, investing in Japanese real estate for beginners, how to apply for permanent residency in Japan, how to sell property in Japan, and much more.
Please see this article for information on: Getting a property loan as a foreigner in Japan
Please see our step-by-step guide: Guide to Buying Property in Japan
See how much you can borrow and your monthly payments in yen: Yen Mortgage Loan Calculator
For information about purchase and brokerage fees: Breakdown of real estate purchase fees and taxes in Japan
Need to Know
Leasehold rights in Japan: Advantages and disadvantages
7 reasons why foreigners are interested in buy a home in Japan, especially now – March 2022 Update
Average price of an apartment in Japan by prefecture – 2022 Ranking
Bilingual Real Estate Agent in Tokyo Answers Your FAQs on Buying and Managing an Investment Property
Real Estate Japan is pleased to offer free, no obligation appraisals for owners of property in Japan. Please click here and fill out the form: How much is my property worth?
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