Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo’

Money isn’t everything for renters…or is it?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The real estate information magazine At Home has released the results of a survey it conducted in December among 600 people who are looking for rental apartments in Tokyo’s 23 wards. The main purpose of the survey is to find out how much people compromised when selecting an apartment, the idea being that, especially for young persons, there is no such thing as an ideal affordable apartment in Tokyo, so which criteria were respondents most willing to compromise on and which ones were they totally unwilling to compromise on? They were not allowed to say rental amount, size of apartment or surrounding environment, probably because everyone compromises on those three.

You can't get that here

The number one answer (30.3 percent) in terms of what they would compromise on was distance from the nearest train station, which tends to be the most reliable criterion in Tokyo for determining cost of a rental. The second most common answer was age of the apartment. However, when it came to criteria they wouldn’t compromise on — for this question respondents were allowed to give multiple answers — the number one answer, once again, was distance from station (72.2 percent), with separate bath and toilet and higher than second floor tied for second place. The third answer was age of apartment. When asked what upper limit they would settle for in terms of distance from the nearest train station, 39.1 percent said between ten and fifteen minutes and 31.8 percent said between five and ten minutes.

Nevertheless, the main criterion for compromise is always the price of rent. Among the single persons surveyed (average age 31; average salary ¥5 million) the average rent they were “looking for” was ¥89,000 a month, but for the apartment sizes they desired the average rent in realistic terms was calculated by At Home to be about ¥128,000. For married respondents (average age 33; average salary of householder ¥7.4 million) the difference between what they want to pay and what they would realistically pay was about the same, ¥39,000. That would seem to represent the perception gap regardless of income bracket.

At Home concluded that 40 percent of people looking for an apartment in Tokyo “have to compromise even before they start looking,” and when asked if they thought that life was all about compromise, 60 percent answered “yes.”

Annals of cheap:

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Redecorate your one-room apartment in retro (read: cramped) style!

“Deflation” continues to be the word on everyone’s lips when they talk about Japan’s economic problems, but so far one area has resisted the price-reduction trend: apartment rents. That may be finally changing. According to a recent article in the Tokyo Shimbun, it is now possible to find a one-room apartment with bath and toilet in the 23 wards of Tokyo for less than ¥50,000 a month. Generally speaking, since the mid-’80s the only units in the center of the city that were less than ¥50,000 were those in old wooden apartment buildings with communal toilets and no bath, meaning you had to patronize the local sento (public bath). Tokyo Shimbun credits the rise of the Internet with the reduction in rent, since more real estate companies are publicizing properties on the net and, as a result, apartment-seekers have more of an opportunity to compare prices. Before the Internet, you had to basically visit every real estate office in the area where you wanted to live, which is a time-consuming endeavor.

One young entrepreneur, Kenji Yoshioka, is already profiting from the trend. A former employee for an investment fund who handled real estate, the 33-year-old set up a company called A Power Home last April and launched a website called Yachin Go-man-en Ika that advertises only apartments which are ¥50,000 a month or less. He was responding to the reality that younger full-time workers were less well off than their predecessors, who had bigger benefit packages, more assured salaries and, most importantly, the use of company housing. Young people wanted cheap apartments near their workplaces but didn’t want to give up basic amenities, like a private toilet and bath. Yoshioka decided to collect this information in one easy-to-navigate website. It was an immediate hit and in October he even set up his own real estate company.

In most cases, the cheap apartments that Yoshioka publicizes are “sleeping,” meaning that they’ve been vacant for some time. Normally when people go to realtors and specifically ask for apartments that are less than ¥50,000, the agents turn them away because the commission isn’t really worth the time and effort. Landlords, however, are desperate to rent such places and many have remodeled them to make them more attractive while keeping prices affordable, adding things like sound-proofing and even elevators. Many attempt to attract women tenants (who make up more than 50 percent of single apartment-seekers looking for cheaper units) by allowing pets. Tokyo Shimbun mentions a one-room apartment with a loft, kitchen, unit bath-with-toilet, and even a window only ten minutes walk from Itabashi Station that costs ¥48,000 a month. There are even some properties listed for as low as ¥30,000 that have baths and toilets.

According to the real estate research company Home’s, the average rent for a one-room apartment in Tokyo has decreased by 5.3 percent in the last year alone. In addition, security deposits on such units have decreased by 8 percent and gift money by 11 percent. Since the vacancy rate for apartments in general in Tokyo is more than 10 percent (undoubtedly higher for cheap one-rooms) it’s not likely that rents will go up in the near future.


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