Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has announced that it will now make “for sale” and “for rent” public assets searchable online on the akiya (vacant house) websites currently operated by HOMES (Lifull) and AtHome. These public assets include such things as old school buildings and government dormitories that could potentially be turned into guest houses for tourists and lodging for foreign guest workers; as well as publicly held land.
Making it easier to search for public assets available for sale
Currently, to find out about local government assets for sale, you would have to contact the relevant government office directly or visit each individual municipality’s website. Since there are hundreds of municipalities around Japan handling the sale of local public assets, there is currently no way to do an efficient nationwide search. Also, the information disclosed by each municipality and search fields, if any, varies depending on the municipality.
The MLIT is changing this by giving both HOMES and AtHome a mandate to expand their websites to include the listing of “for sale” and “for rent” public assets.
Still in the beginning stages
The MLIT is also operating a new separate website (in Japanese), called the Public Real Estate PRE Portal Site, to collect and coordinate the copious new information coming out from the 558 municipalities and local governments, including information about new assets for sale, new assets up for public bid, etc.
They are also helping the many municipalities that are actively seeking investment proposals from private companies.
In the future, the MLIT intends to standardize and publish information on all for-sale public assets nationwide in a searchable database. At present the project is still in the beginning phase. However, the MLIT intends to lobby municipalities to list as many for-sale public assets as possible.
More information about the different bidding processes, specific municipality rules, etc. can be found at the MLIT’s Japanese language website: Public Real Estate PRE Portal Site
Online Search for Vacant Homes in Japan
You can search for vacant and abandoned homes in Japan on the following websites (in Japanese):
Ay the end of 2018, there were about 9,000 akiya properties listed on the two sites, with over 1,300 completed sales transactions. Notably, all of Japan’s 558 municipalities and local governments are participating in providing akiya information to these websites.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, there were approximately 8.2 million akiya in 2013. In 2018, this number likely exceeded 10 million. Moreover, some think tanks forecast that by 2033, over 30% of all Japanese homes will be abandoned and vacant.
However, there are a number of issues to consider before you buy a vacant house. We cover this topic in depth here: What you should know before you buy a vacant house in Japan
You may also be interested in: What to do with Tokyo’s hundreds of thousands of abandoned homes. (This article covers the issue of akiya as it relates specifically to Tokyo and various initiatives taken by local governments).
Source: MLIT press release (in Japanese)