Can foreign non-residents own free-hold title in Japan?

Yes, for almost all property types. Exceptions include:

  • lease-hold property at the base of Annupuri Resort
  • farm land, which is difficult to purchase even for Japanese without a farming background. It is not impossible, but the hurdles are very high.
What is purchase processing real estate in Niseko?

A typical sale in Niseko involves a 10~20% deposit within 2 weeks, and settlement in 30~60 days. After terms are agreed, the Sales and Purchase Agreement and the Statement of Important Matters are drafted, and presented by the agent(s) involved to both buyer and seller for confirmation.

In Japan, it is very common for the contracts to be prepared by the real estate agency, and the Important Matters must be prepared by a licensed realtor. Our contracts are based on Japanese law, and fully translated into English.

  1. Agreement of terms
  2. Review of Sales and Purchase Agreement and Statement of Important Matters
  3. Transfer of Deposit funds and 50% of agent’s commission to the designated account. To allow time for bank delays, please remit funds one week prior to deposit.
  4. Electronic signature and initials on the contracts (unless otherwise requested) by buyer and seller. Local agents place their company seals last, and the final bound document is then posted back to the buyer and seller.
  5. Upon confirmation of the seller signature by the buyer, the buyer will direct the solicitor to release the deposit to the seller.
  1. Remittance of settlement funds and 50% of the agent’s fee to the designated account. Included in the remittance are one-time fees like stamp duty, contract stamp duty, acquisition tax, as well as your pro-rated portion of the annual fixed-assets tax (property tax). To allow time for bank delays, please remit funds one week prior to settlement.
  2. Delivery of a Statutory Declaration and Power of Attorney to the solicitor, to enact the title transfer and registration. Please deliver to the solicitor no later than 2 weeks before settlement.
  3. Solicitor confirms all necessary documents, transfers settlement funds to the seller, and completes the title transfer (registration takes 5 business days).
Is bank financing possible for the property?

We have never heard of Japanese banks lending to foreign non-residents. Some clients have been successful organising yen loans with overseas banks, but currently there are no offshore banks offering mortgages on the property.

Is there a local solicitor to handle the title transfer?

Taiga Real Estate recommends the English speaking Kutchan firm Mina Kamuy Legal Services to represent you and handle the title transfer (other solicitors are also welcome). Solicitor Satoshi Yoshida has handled most of the property transactions in the Niseko area, and works with most property agencies in Niseko. The solicitor confirms that all mortgages and liens have been cleared from the property, can provide an impartial review of the contracts, and completes the title deed registration.

What are the building restrictions in Niseko?

The resort areas of Hirafu and Hanazono fall within the Kutchan Town Quasi-City Planning District (PDF), and restrictions vary on the specific neighbourhood. For the majority of buyers:

Centre Village (Upper Hirafu Village and along Route 343):

  • Footprint (Building to Land Ratio): 40%
  • Volume (Floor Area Ratio): 300%
  • Height: 22m maximum

Pension Village (Middle and Lower Hirafu Village)

  • Footprint (Building to Land Ratio): 50%
  • Volume (Floor Area Ratio): 200%
  • Height: 13m maximum

The resort areas of Niseko Village (Higashiyama), land near to Annupuri Resort, and Moiwa Resort fall within the Niseko Town Quasi-City Planning District (PDF).

  • Footprint (Building to Land Ratio): 50%
  • Volume (Floor Area Ratio): 200%
  • Height: 15m maximum

Please also note that some of the above areas are also affected by the Semi-National Park rules that cover Mt. Annupuri. In some cases snow and building setbacks may also affect the achievable volume and height. You can also review the current building and development code on the Kutchan Town website and Niseko Town (PDF). Please enquire if you need more information.

What are the sales associated costs?
  • Real Estate Agent Commission - 3% of sale price, plus a flat fee of 60,000 yen, plus consumption tax.
  • Solicitor Fee - Variable depending on the size of the transaction.
  • Title Registration Stamp Duty - Land 1.5%, Building 2% (of the government assessed Standard Value)
  • Acquisition Tax - Land 3%, Building 4% (of the government assessed Standard Value, usually much less than market value)
  • Annual Fixed Assets Tax (Property Tax) - 1.4% of the property value (government assessed Standard Value). Payable pro-rata for the current year.
  • Contract Stamp Duty
  • Paper and Postal Charges
  • Bank Charges
How is my property tax calculated?

Annual Fixed Assets Tax (Property Tax) is levied 1.4% of the property value (government assessed Standard Value) for a full calendar year. When purchasing, it is payable pro-rata for the current year.

Non-residents of Japan are required to appoint a local tax agent. This could be your property management company or an accountant. Taiga Real Estate can also fill this role for our clients.

Are there local management companies to take care of my property?

There are numerous local companies with fully bilingual services, offering management of both letting and non-letting properties.

How do I sell my Niseko property?

Taiga Real Estate will actively promote your listing on our website, in our regular newsletters, and also work with our extensive network of Niseko real estate agencies and also overseas property agents. We provide full valuations based on historical transaction prices and also emerging trends. Since transaction prices are not a matter of public record in Japan, only a company with both feet on the ground can fully understand the real market. Please enquire, and we will help you to sell your property.

Who is buying property in Niseko?

In the resort areas of Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village (Higashiyama), Annupuri, and Moiwa, there has been a lot of overseas investment in the past 10 years. Most of these buyers are "lifestyle" investors, who want a holiday house that they can also rent out for a little bit of revenue. The majority have families, and use the property during winter to ski and snowboard in Niseko. In early 2000s, the majority of buyers were Australian, but over the past 8 years the market has shifted towards Asia. Currently there is a lot of investment from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and recently Thailand and Indonesia. The diversification has brought stability from regional economic shocks.

What is the future trend?

Investment until now has been driven by individuals and smaller developers. The next stage will see larger developers investing heavily into Niseko. In the main resort of Hirafu, the biggest and best hotel sites have yet to be developed, but planning is currently underway. Niseko Village, owned by the Malaysian company YTL, has already started development. Hanazono Resort (owned by PCPD of Hong Kong) also has a very large development plan.