Abandoned houses in Japan, investment opportunity for foreigners. NDA NNRT | mix

There are approximately 10 million abandoned houses in Japan, known as ‘Akiya’, available free of charge or priced between 5,000 and 100,000 euros, an investment opportunity for foreign owners wishing to settle in the Asian country. This is the case of Anton Warman, a 31-year-old model born in Stockholm, who has turned this type of house not only into his home, but also into his business and is dedicated to advising other expats who want to do the same. want. Through him Youtube channel And his new book, where he explains how to make money renovating abandoned houses in Japan.

“I’m not rich and I can’t afford a designer home, and I believe this home has character and history and it feels good to be able to preserve it,” he says of one of those homes. Explains in an interview with EFE what he has. Reconstructed.

The house in question is an 88-year-old, two-storey, 90 square meter house located in the central district of Sangenjaya, which had been vacant for ten years after the death of its previous owner, and which was purchased by Warman His four successors have renovated it combining Japanese and Nordic styles.

The project took over 1,500 hours a year and cost approximately 50,000 euros, ending with an open space and wooden finishes, a style that is in contrast to new buildings in Japan, which are usually prefabricated. And they are not designed to last more than several decades.

When asked about his advice to other foreigners, Varman was blunt: “The most important thing is to spend time in Japan first. If you can only come for a few weeks, why buy a house you can’t maintain?”

For him, finding an ‘aqiya’ to invest in involves research work, where he goes door-to-door and asks his neighbors about houses where no one lives, something that can only be done Is when “You also contribute something to the community”. ,

an expanding market

According to the latest data from the Ministry of the Interior, 10% of the Japanese population is now over 80 years old, so it is expected that more and more ‘akiya’ will be abandoned not only in small towns, but also in big cities. Like Tokyo.

This is a problem because if homes are abandoned for too long they can become unusable or dangerous to neighbors. “There comes a time when the house cannot be recovered and has to be demolished,” says Varman.

With the aim of avoiding this point of no return, the company Akia & Inaka was born in August 2020, at a time when many people were looking for affordable shelter in rural areas during the pandemic.

Company co-founder, Parker J. “We’ve spent years researching the problem of empty homes in Japan and realized this could be a way to encourage people to explore beyond metropolitan areas,” Allen tells EFE.

This company has helped hundreds of customers find an ‘Akia’ that suits their needs and budget, in a country where it is very difficult to buy a property if you are not a permanent resident.

“We’ve found mountaintop properties for those who want to escape the sweltering heat, beachside properties for ocean lovers and bucolic cottages for nature lovers. Every client has an idea of ​​what their ideal home would be like and our job is to help with the buying process,” he says.

Most of Akia & Inaka’s clients have a budget between 10 to 30 million yen (61,000 to 185,000 euros) and prefer not to be involved in major renovation work. “While many people are looking for cheap homes in Japan, the reality is that you get what you pay for,” the businessman explains.

According to a 2018 survey by the Japanese government, more than 8 million households were classified as ‘akiya’ at that time, while recent estimates are closer to 10 million, meaning that about 12.9% of households in Japan are already classified as ‘akiya’. It is considered abandoned.

The Asian Country Research Institute also estimates that if the current trajectory continues, 30% of homes in Japan will be abandoned by 2038, amounting to about 22 million properties.

J. Allen concluded, “Many of these homes are not in a position to sell, while others are not on the market for various reasons, so the government should encourage buyers and sellers to help solve the problem.”

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