Green Asia

Surging Tokyo property prices squeeze out young professionals

Foreigners have piled more than 1.8 trillion yen into Japanese real estate since 2019, outstripping flows from institutional investors, property funds, and corporations, according to consultancy Cushman & Wakefield.

And there is more to come. Funds from property speculators have piled up over the pandemic, and Japan looks to be a prime destination in Asia for it to land, said Cushman & Wakefield director Mari Kumagai.

“If they want to keep the money in Asia Pacific, it tends to be either Australia or Singapore or Japan,” Kumagai said, adding that Japan was the most attractive of the three, based on value stability and size of the economy.

Average condo prices in central Tokyo were bumped up in the past year by a large supply of high-end residences hitting the market. Emblematic of that is the new Azabudai Hills complex, featuring the country’s largest office tower and about 1,400 residential units.

The Azabudai project, which looms over the iconic Tokyo Tower, is catching the attention of investors in Taiwan, said Wang Mao San, president of Shingi-fusaya Realty.

Super wealthy Taiwanese are snapping up Tokyo properties worth more than 100 million yen for second homes, he said, while regular rich investors focus on condos in the 30 million to 70 million yen range in Tokyo and the western metropolis of Osaka.

“In Japan, the political and economical situation is stable,” Wang said about the attractiveness of the market. “Tokyo is still not that expensive compared to other big cities like Hong Kong and London.”

A luxury condo in Tokyo’s high-end Motoazabu area is priced at less than half that of Hong Kong and 45 per cent cheaper than London, according to the Japan Real Estate Institute data.

That’s cold comfort for Mari Mochizuki, a single mother and salesperson for a music company who’s been hunting in vain for an apartment big enough for her piano and perhaps the addition of a cat.

The 39-year-old is eager to find a place that will hold its resale value in case she has to move for work. But the options she’s seen in the city centre are either too pricey or worn out, pushing her search area to the northern edges of the capital.

“It seems like prices for every apartment of decent size are blindly going up, even those out-of-the-way areas or with surprisingly cheap interiors,” she said.

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