How To Find The Abandoned Homes (Akiya 空き家) in Japan

  • Advice

Abandoned Home in Japan

"Abandoned Home in Japan" by David A. LaSpina is licensed under CC 2.0

Lately there has been a lot of talk about the Akiya (空き家) or abandoned or vacant homes located in Japan. It is estimated that there are around 8 million abandoned homes in Japan at this time. It has been reported that the governments of certain prefectures are giving incentives to customers to purchase these homes for nearly nothing, and in some cases for free! But what's the real story?

At first glance the number of abandoned homes may seem shocking. However, when you take a closer look you can find that some of the homes aren't really "abandoned". They are simply "vacant" at the moment. Some of the reasons for this are several. The owner may have inherited this home from a relative who passed away and they are living in another prefecture. The owner could have just finished a contract with a tenant who was renting the property and the property is now currently vacant as the owner is looking for a new renter. There could also be many other reasons for this.

Currently, there are many "Akiya Banks" or Abandoned Homes Websites offering the chance to buy homes for little to nothing. While this may at first seem attractive for the price there are many things to consider when purchasing one of these homes.

1. Maintenance

Many of these homes have sat vacant for years and are in a state of total disrepair. Many of the properties are not able to be lived in at their current condition and would require extensive rehabilitation. By the time you spend the money on repairing the house you may have found you could have purchased a brand new home instead.

2. Location 

The majority of these homes are located in the "Inaka" or Country Side areas of Japan. Because of the often undesirable location, lack of economic growth or jobs in the area, many younger people are opting to not consider living in these homes. Instead they would rather live in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka.

3. Taxes 

The price of tax is higher on a building than on vacant land. Therefore many owners who inherited the property may not want to go through the burden of paying tax on a property they have no desire to live in and may be too difficult to sell because of the undesirable location.

In addition to the items mentioned above, each prefecture has different rules in place to qualify for the government homes. For example, you may have to be under 40 years old and have a family to qualify for one of the Akiya Homes through the government. You may be required to live in the Prefecture for a minimum of 20 years in order to obtain the home at the price set by the government. Another prefecture may require you to repair the home up to a certain condition. There are many other rules in place that may make it difficult or more trouble than it's worth. Like the saying goes, "If something is too good to be true, it probably is!"

However if you're still set on finding an abandoned or vacant home in Japan, keep reading below.

40% of Japanese Residents Live Near an Abandoned Home

Currently we do not assist with the Government Akiya Homes but we can help you find a suitable Vacant property for sale by the owner at a reasonable price. If you are absolutely set on an Akiya you can find newly listed ones for sale at this Japanese website.

How do I find vacant properties in Japan?

For foreigners looking for properties in Japan, it is highly recommended to use a real estate agent. From their extensive database and expertise with Japanese and the local area, they will be able to provide you with various properties that you would not be able to find on your own.

However, it is a fact that, in Japan, there are few real estate agents with English-speaking staff to accommodate foreigners. In this regard, SEKAI Property is one of the few agents based in Tokyo dedicated to foreign clients. With staff fluent in English and Japanese, they will make the process of buying a property run smooth.

What is the process of buying a vacant property in Japan?

The process of buying a vacant property in Japan can be divided into four main steps. First, choose a property through consulting a real estate agent. Second, apply for your property of choice through a “Purchase Application Document” (買付証明書) Third, sign the “Sales Agreement Contract” (売買契約書). Last, close the contract by receiving the keys to your new home.

For a more detailed explanation of purchasing real estate in Japan, click here.

Are there regulations when foreigners buy vacant properties in Japan?

There are no regulations when foreigners buy vacant properties in Japan.

How much is needed when buying a vacant property in Japan?

Apart from the price of the property, you will need to pay for:

-Stamp Duty: around 15,000 to 20,000 JPY

-Various taxes: around 400,000 JPY in total

-Registration and License Tax: 0.4~2% of the assessed value

-Management Fee: around 17,000 JPY

-Agent commission fee: 3% of the assessed value + 60,000 JPY + consumption tax

-Judicial Scrivener fee: from 52,500 JPY

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What are the taxes included when buying a vacant property in Japan?

-Fixed Asset Tax/City Planning Tax (固定資産税 koteishisanzei・都市計画税 toshikeikakuzei): The taxes, usually charged together, can be paid annually or quarterly.

-Property Acquisition Tax: If bought for residential purposes, this will be excluded.

-Registration and License Tax: Charged during the property registration process.

What documents are necessary when buying a vacant property in Japan?

-Passport copy


An affidavit must include your name, address, date of birth, nationality, and signature. Furthermore, the document must be notarized. Contact your local public office for more information.

What does “viewing” mean?

Called ”nairan” (内覧) in Japanese, viewing is the process of visiting a property you are interested in purchasing. This is a good opportunity to view the inside of your potential home and check if there are utilities that need repairing.

It is also recommended to view the surrounding neighborhood and check if the property is nearby bus or train stations.

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Can I purchase a home without coming to Japan?

In Japan, signing a contract legally requires the buyer to hear the “Explanation of Important Matters” and sign the contract. However, there are two options that allow a person to make a contract without coming to Japan.

Firstly, through preparing a Power of Attorney (委任状 ininjo), you can permit an acquaintance or relative to represent you in signing the contract.

Secondly, you can use a remote closing service in Japan, such as Escrow Agent Japan, that will conduct (for a fee) hear the “Explanation of Important Matters” in your place.

How are my property rights registered?

From the day of settlement, the ownership will belong to the buyer. However, before the keys are given, the Judicial Scrivener (who will be on the day of closing) will have to register the owner and property in documents such as the Certified Copy of Registry (登記簿謄本 tokibotohon).

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Can I rent out a property I bought in Japan? Who can help me with that?

A property management company will provide service for renting properties. For their service, on average they will charge 5% of the rental fee on a monthly basis.

What is the outlook for Japan's real estate market now? Will it go up or down?

Tokyo is still maintaining the interest of foreign investors, while areas such as Osaka are increasingly gaining popularity as well. Furthermore, due to the upcoming 2020 Olympics, tourism in Japan has seen a record high. The economy of Japan is expected to only go up for the next few years. For a more in-depth analysis of Japan’s market situation, click here.

If you have any questions or would like to arrange a viewing, please feel free to contact us!

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