At our company we are experiencing an increasing number of clients with a “second house” management plan.
People from all over the world who come to visit Japan usually choose a hotel for accommodation during their stay. However, as the GDP in many Asian countries has been on the rise, there are more and more people from Asia who buy property in Japan not for investment, but as a residence when they are visiting Tokyo or another Japanese city.
Although Tokyo has seen a great number of recently built hotels (not to mention the ones still under construction) it is still expected to be tough to get a reservation during the Tokyo Olympics 2020. For visitors coming to Japan on a regular basis (even if only once or twice a year), the idea of being able to stay at your destination whenever you want to without having to worry about making a reservation must be tempting. Why not buy a property in Japan as a second house when you have the extra money?
Let’s say that you have already bought a second home in Japan. There are a number of things that need to be taken care of that can be problematic to do on your own, if you live in another country. There are monthly building management fees to be paid, for which you will need a Japanese bank account. However, opening a Japanese bank account without living in Japan is nearly impossible.
Furthermore there are statutory inspections (for smoke detectors, firefighting equipment and drains) for which you (or a proxy) have to personally attend. These inspections take place annually, with the dates being decided by the building management.
Of course, there is also the Japanese government waiting for your tax payments, namely the property acquisition tax (one-time only) as well as the annual property tax and urban planning tax.
Sounds quite complicated, but if you can find a property manager who can take care of all these matters, you are ready to enjoy your own private stay.
By the way, it is good to know that lodging services are not common in Japan and many building management companies forbid Airbnb-like operations. Keep that in mind when you are thinking about how the property could be used during your absence.
But the above mentioned are not all of your problems: every house needs maintenance to keep it in good condition, and this especially proves true in the long and humid Japanese summer.
This summer, Japan has been suffering from an extremely hot period with daily temperatures around 35°C or higher lasting for several weeks.
How nice would it be to arrive home to an air-conditioned room and enjoy a refreshing drink? But if you come back to your second house after an absence of a few months or longer, you might recognize an unpleasant smell when opening the door. This smell probably derives from the drains, which dry out when they are not used for an extended period of time, especially in the summer. I have spoken to professional staff during a drain inspection, and they recommended opening all the taps in an apartment to let the water flow for a short time. This cleans the drains and keeps them in good condition. Ideally, this should be done every month, or at least every two.
If you are thinking about buying a second house and are looking for a property management company, you should make sure that they are able to offer this kind of service. Together with other services like cleaning, opening the windows for air circulation, mailbox and security checks, you can be sure that your property is taken good care of while you are absent and you will always come home to a clean apartment whenever you visit Japan.
Top photo: Atami Moon Light Beach (Wikimedia)
Tokyu Housing Lease Corporation is one of Japan’s leading property management companies.
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