Ever imagined moving across the world and starting a new life? Maybe you're already a wifi warrior and your backpack is your office. Perhaps you've just decided it's time to invest in some real estate.
Whatever your situation, it turns out Japan has the answer. This real estate site has compiled hundreds of abandoned homes throughout Japan, many of which are listed for $0.
TL;DR With around 8 million unoccupied homes across Japan, people have started to "sell" their properties for $0 just to get rid of them!
There are a lot of factors that have led to "8 million" unoccupied properties across Japan. First, Japan is a culture of "superstitions," or beliefs about the impression of the person who previously inhabited a property.
Many of these abandoned homes were left empty after death, by suicide or simply old age. These kinds of circumstances often factor into the marketablility of a home, regardless of country.
Also, the demolition of a home is expensive, so sellers opt for trying to sell properties as "fixer-uppers" instead of tearing down homes to sell empty lots. Japan also has a "decades-old tax break" that favours construction over selling vacant lots. The property tax of a vacant lot is, "six times the level of those with buildings," according to The Japan Times, making it extremely expensive to own an empty lot while trying to sell it.
Enter Ieichiba.com. The site was started by Tetsuya Fujiki, an architect and real estate consultant, who saw this market as a huge opportunity. The site aims to connect individuals who own one of these abandoned homes with individuals who are looking for inexpensive and unique investments.
If you're checking it out I recommend doing so on a browser that will allow you to translate the page.
While some of these properties may have been through less-than ideal situations with their previous owners, you can always call up someone like Kon at Outlet Real Estate Co. to perform a ritual that will cleanse the property of any negative energy.
Based on the little research I did about Canadians buying property in Japan, it seems to be an easy process. Japan has seen an increase in foregin purchases of property since 2012 and the country is happy to have the influx of foreign investment.
The biggest hurdle will certainly be dealing with the language barrier. Also, a purchase of land does not exempt you from visa requirements. Canadians are currently offered a 3-month (90 day) tourist visa upon arrival to Japan.
So if you were to make a purchase, you'd have to consider weekend trips to Seoul, Shanghai or other neighbouring countries to clear your passport for another 90 days. Experts also recommend doing your financing off-shore, meaning in Canada, as Japanese banks require tax returns to approve housing loan.
Another option is to apply for a work visa. Prospective applicants can review this page from the government of Canada for more information.
Visa applications and travel will, of course, present additional costs to interested Canadians.
So why on earth would you want to move to Japan? Well, the culture is one-of-a-kind, there are beaches as well as ski resorts, and it's a well-known destination for foodies. Did you know that, according to The Globe and Mail, there are more three-star Michelin restaurants in Tokyo "than any other city in the world?"
Plus, if you consider yourself a handyman or woman, you'll be given the opportunity to restore a beautiful old Japanese home to call your own. Many of the homes listed on Ieichiba.com boast beautiful interiors with intricate ancient woodwork. Many of these places are gorgeous but require a little loving before they are move-in ready.
Many of these homes were left empty for so long because they were inherited and simply never needed, and thus never used. Familial ties are often taken a little more seriously in countries like Japan than the Western world. For the owners of these homes, it was a point of parental respect that they not be sold. But even an uninhabited home costs money and children are coming to terms with the idea of parting with a home that holds childhood memories.