What can you buy in Tokyo for $250,000?

The residential housing market in Tokyo has gotten a lot of media attention lately. Some analysts are saying that Tokyo’s “quiet housing boom” is over, while others see good prospects ahead. That is on the investment front.

In the meantime, consumer surveys (such as this one) indicate that many people think now is a good time to buy a house, as interest rates are at an historic low, and before the planned consumption tax increase in April 2017 from the current 8% to 10%.

(A friend of ours who is house hunting in Tokyo points out what many home buyers are thinking: 8% doesn’t matter when you are buying a pack of gum, but it makes a great deal of difference when you are buying a house. Our friend plans on buying well before next year). Update: since this article was originally posted, our friend has purchased a home over the summer.

We are not saying that “now” is the time to buy, but we wanted to take a look at what you could buy for a somewhat limited budget if you were house hunting now.

First, what is the average price of an apartment (condominium) or house in Tokyo?

According to REINS, the average price of a re-sale apartment sold in the greater Tokyo area in 2015 was 28,860,000 yen ($252,000). The average price in Tokyo (including the 23-wards plus the suburbs) is higher: 34,930,000 yen.

The average price of a re-sale detached house sold in the greater Tokyo area in 2015 was 30,110,000 yen. The average price in Tokyo was 42,940,000 yen.

The examples below assume a limited budget of about 28,600,000 yen (about $250,000 at today’s exchange rate). We provide examples of both apartments and detached single-family homes for various areas in the 23-wards and around Tokyo. Note that we limited the search criteria to the administrative boundaries of Tokyo.

You can get more house for your yen, the further out of the city you buy (i.e. Chiba, Saitma, and Kanagawa prefectures), but this post focuses on Tokyo, so we wanted to present representative of Tokyo homes.

Also, the examples below just consider the listing price, not any taxes or fees. For more information on taxes, please see Guide to Japanese real estate taxes.

Second, can a foreigner buy property in Japan?

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“.

What does “freehold” mean?

In Japan, ownership of property and land on which it sits are separate rights.

You will have either “freehold” or “leasehold” rights (indicated in the “Land Rights” category below).

Freehold: The more common and preferred type of land ownership is freehold. Freehold rights give you complete possession of the land on which your house or apartment sits. In the case of buying an apartment, each individual unit has a percentage of ownership of the land on which the building sits.

Leasehold: Leasehold rights mean that the owners of the building (and units, in the case of an apartment building) may sometimes be required to get the landowner’s approval before they can transfer ownership rights to the property or to sub-lease the apartment. Also, you must get the landowner’s permission before you rebuild the structure on the land.

What about financing?

Please see article for information on the basic requirements for getting a mortgage as a foreigner in Japan.

4-Bedroom House in Machida City

Where: Machida City (western suburb of Tokyo), 37-minute direct ride to Shibuya station on the Den-en-toshi line

Price: 25,000,000 yen ($218,000)

Size and Layout: 93.56 sqm (1,007 sqft) 4SLDK = 4 bedrooms and a storage room in addition to the living and dining room

Floors:  Two

Land Area: 130.77 sqm (1,408 sqft)

Land rights: Freehold

Year Built: 1995

Structure: Wood

Parking: Available

4SLDK house for sale in Machida.

4SLDK house for sale in Machida. To get “more house for your yen,” many people buy in Tokyo’s western suburbs. You give up central-city living for more space. This is a representative example of the kind of house you can buy in Machida, a Tokyo bedroom community.

4-Bedroom House in Setagaya Ward

Where: Setagaya Ward, Tokyo

Price: 29,800,000 yen ($260,000)

Size and Layout: 82.00 sqm (883 sqft) 4DK = 4 bedrooms in addition to the living and dining room

Floors:  Three

Land Area: 42.86 sqm (462 sqft)

Land rights: Freehold

Year Built: 1990

Structure: Wood

Parking: Available

4DK House For Sale in Setagaya Ward Tokyo

4DK House For Sale in Setagaya Ward Tokyo. Setagaya Ward is one of the most popular and desirable places to buy a detached house in Tokyo. Many of the houses here cost at least two or three times our budget of $250,000. This example actually goes over the budget by $10,000! This is a three-story house with the garage, toilet, and bathroom on the first floor. The second floor contains the dining room and kitchen and one bedroom. The three other bedrooms are on the third floor. 


Studio Apartment in Ota Ward

Where: Ota Ward, Heiwa Jima station on the Keikyu Main line

Price: 28,300,000 yen ($247,000)

Size and Layout: 25.52 sqm (275 sqft), 1K = Studio apartment with kitchen

Floor: 2nd floor unit in seven-story building

Land rights: Freehold

Year Built: 2015

Structure: Reinforced concrete

Parking: Available

1K Condo For Sale Heiwajima Tokyo

1K (Studio) Condo for sale in Ota Ward, Tokyo. This is a unit in a building built in 2015 and is a good example of what you can buy in the 23-wards if you wanted to buy new-construction.

2-Bedroom Apartment in Shinjuku Ward

Where: Shinjuku Ward, Yotsuya San Chome station on the Marunouchi subway line. Very desirable location in Shinjuku ward. Nearby: Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo’s top three parks, walkable to Sophia University and central Shinjuku shopping district

Price: 28,800,000 yen ($251,000)

Size and Layout: 54.81 sqm (590 sqft), 2LDK = 2 bedrooms in addition to the living/dining/kitchen area

Floor: 4th floor unit in eight-story building

Land rights: Freehold

Year Built: 1968

Structure: Steel-reinforced concrete

2LDK Apartment For Sale in Shinjuku Ward

2LDK apartment for sale in Shinjuku Ward. This is a good example of what you can buy in the $250,000 price range in a very convenient location. This unit is currently tenanted and is also a good example of an income-investment property. The current gross yield is 7.3%.

Studio Apartment in Roppongi

Where: 1-minute walk from Roppongi Station on the Toei Oedo line. Roppongi is known for its active night scene and more recently the high-end Roppongi Hills shopping/office/entertainment/residential complex

Price: 24,980,000 yen ($218,000)

Size and Layout: 24.42 sqm (263 sqft), 1K = Studio with kitchen

Floor: 4th floor unit in nine-story building

Land rights: Freehold

Year Built: 1980

Structure: Steel-reinforced concrete

1K For Sale in Roppongi

Studio for sale in Roppongi. The apartment being sold is currently under renovation and will be completed in March 2016. 

You may also be interested in: What can you buy in Kyoto for $200,000?

Article top photo: A house for sale in Hachioji, Tokyo