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Nov 25, 2020

Buying a used house

With being at home and covid everywhere, I’ve been thinking a lot about buying a used house and stop paying all this 70,000¥ Rent. I don’t have PR but I applied in summer. My Japanese is basic so I’m a little worried there may be fine print that I miss when buying. Anything I should look out for when buying? How about when getting a loan? Anything I should be specially aware of? I could buy cash if it’s 10 or less million but I don’t want to put all/most of my savings into something so....so serious. My partner is also a foreigner.

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15 Answers


  • Saitama

    on Nov 25

    Your rent is REALLY cheap :-o Where would you be purchasing? We are in Saitama. We bought a second hand house. We didn't tear it down and rebuild another, which is what most people do around here. So our mortgage is for the land / second hand house. We had a huge down payment so its a lot lot cheaper (and shorter) than the average mortgage around here, but even at that its more than your rent!! Just something to consider as you start on this journey. Best of luck.

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  • helloalissa

    on Nov 26

    I've seen bits of a Youtuber talking about his experience doing just that (in English), renovating also. If you can find a good deal on an aki-ya the city is trying to get rid of, maybe not a bad idea. A previous coworker got a used house in Fukuoka City for 30 million (3000 man yen) for reference, but depending on area, size, and especially age and condition of the house, prices will be different. I'd ask around and see what info you can find online going over the process. I think about this too... but we just moved, so not for a while.

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  • JapanRamen

    on Nov 26

    Just one thing to keep in mind is to not see this purchase as in investment. From what I have seen, houses do not really gain value here, so I hope you have found a place you really like for settling down.

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  • genkidesu

    on Nov 30

    Coming from a double foreigner couple too, it's something I briefly entertained the idea of. I honestly think that if you're not here permanently (ie. with a Japanese spouse), then it's probably going to be more headache than it's worth - especially depending on where you're located. Houses in Niigata, for instance, are relatively inexpensive -- but if we were to move, we'd potentially be selling at a loss...depopulation is such a big thing out here. I'm content with renting right now - it's the most logical choice for my personal circumstance right now. Plus as JapanRamen mentioned, I don't think the market here is geared towards making big profits off buying/selling property like is the case for many countries, my home of Australia included in that.

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  • TonetoEdo

    on Nov 30

    Like you, I'm curious about homeownership. A blog I've been following for years is "Cat foreheads and rabbit hutches". It's a chronicle of a couple who write about buying real estate in Japan. https://catforehead.com/ I lived in rented houses for a few years. It's a lot of trouble - maintaining, cleaning, and managing neighborhood issues, which can be fun and exhausting.

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  • ConeHead

    on Dec 1

    I am looking in the Tohoku area for purchasing. I understand that it will not be an investment at all, but im looking in a good area near schools so if in the event we have to up and go at least would be valuable. We saw some for 20,000,000yen 4LDK 50 tsubo and less than 10 years old. In this case, what would be the best downpayment starting price? I was thinking a million downpayment. My real goal is to cut down on the rent price by about half. I have still waiting on PR where the interest rate I heard is about 0.7%. Homewonership is such an adult thing to do that I am so scared. Especially because we are not from this country......but I keep reminding myself, we are adults.

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  • ConeHead

    on Dec 1

    @Saitama I am looking in tohoku, aomori. How much was your downpayment? Like, what %age. Did you ahve to do A LOT of reno? Im thinking if we have to, i'll just diy to save on cost.

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  • ConeHead

    on Dec 1

    @JapanRamen Oh yes I was very surrpised by that when we started researching earlier this year. And hardly anyone buys used houses. it is such a waste.

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  • helloalissa

    on Dec 1

    I think it's a waste too, so many building materials going to the landfill. The thing is, homes aren't built to last more than about 50 years here. Renovation is really cool in theory, but even buying move in ready, you don't easily have extra time to keep up on all the maintenance. (Unless your full time job is renovating the house.) The fact is, people can probably have a new home designed and built for 20,000,000 in that area, which explains why they don't buy used. I think I'd go that route and choose exactly what I want. (Some proper insulation, for one thing!)

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  • JapanRamen

    on Dec 1

    @ConeHead Very much agreed, especially when so many houses are still perfectly fine and beautiful, and definitely livable. This is, however, a country where people change cars more often than I buy new shoes... Got a friend recently who told me "yea my car is old. I got it last year" lol

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  • genkidesu

    on Dec 2

    @helloalissa this might be a dumb question but I'm sure someone here knows the answer to it...why are houses here built for such short lifespans? Does it have something to do with the likelihood of destruction anyway from earthquakes, floods, etc? I'm so curious about the mindset behind it...

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  • ConeHead

    on Dec 3

    @genkidesu I honestly don’t know. I’ve asked my neighbors but all they say is ‘you can design what you want’. But......all theirs houses look exactly the same to me.

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  • helloalissa

    on Dec 4

    @genkidesu My (Japanese) husband said, "I have no idea." haha. About the lifespan of homes, I can only guess that it's cultural. Like the same reason people rarely steal, don't like to buy used things, and believe that even a house has some kind of spirit. So living in the house another family has lived in (and possibly done bad things in) would be a bit weird then. What doesn't make sense (for my theory) is, what about apartments that people come and go to live in? Although places where someone has died are an absolute no way, including apartments. Apparently there are websites where you can look this up.

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  • genkidesu

    on Dec 4

    @helloalissa that's actually an interesting insight...I've laughed here when I've bought used books, for instance, off Amazon. The description will say "Used - Very Good" for the condition, and you'd think it was a brand new book. It's so interesting to me that there's that stigma behind used stuff, but it is a fascinating cultural phenomenon. The couple that owned the house we rent got divorced and moved out/went their separate ways. Our rent is really cheap (58,000 yen/month for a 6DK). Maybe bad juju = cheap rents!

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  • Kobakko

    on Dec 9

    I think one reason why used houses aren't a thing in Japan may be because you can't sell your parents' house right after they are deceased. It has to do with Buddhism. It takes two years before it's an option. After two years of being abandoned, it is highly likely that mould and mice have done enough damage to the house to render it impossible to live in. To restore it to its old splendor (and yeah, cheap material isn't easily restored to any glamorous splendor) costs about as much as building a new house. In that case, building a new house (as helloalissa suggested: with insulation!) is a more comfortable route to a more comfortable home, I guess. Also, as the culture has changed and houses aren't used by 3+ generations, a lot of old houses are simply too big for nowadays families. Genkidesu probably doesn't really need all of the 6DK bedrooms (you could start Airbnbing, though...) and I suppose it's difficult to heat up more than one or two rooms. But at least, the previous owners were able to rent out the house right away, so there was probably no time for a mouse-invasion or mould-attack. As for water pipes and the wooden foundation of the house (termite damage!!) and other stuff, you really need to ask a pro to make sure you know what you're getting. Another thing to consider is how much koteishisanzei you will have to pay annually. If the house or land is big and in an expensive area, the bill may be extremely high!!! For example, a 60s qm house in Setagayaku may cost more than 200.000 yen yearly in tax. If you build a new house, the tax may be reduced for several years after by half. If it's barrier-free you may get a reduction for as long as ten years... If you aren't sure about whether buying an older house, you should really get a Japanese friend to help with the decision as so many factors contribute to whether it's worthwhile. 70.000 yen of rent aren't exactly cheap, but at least EVERYTHING is included. And you're free.

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