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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Japan has millions of vacant homes you can buy for next to nothing

While the US faces low inventory, Japan's aging, dwindling population has led to a dramatic rise in vacant — “akiya” — homes
December 29, 2018 04:00PM

Shinjuku (Credit from back: Morio, iStock)

The U.S. housing market is dealing with low inventory — especially in major metro areas — but that’s not the case in Japan.

The world’s third-largest economy has a growing stock of vacant homes, thanks to an aging and dwindling population, according to CNBC. Many of the empty properties are located in rural towns, but some others are in cities like Tokyo.

These homes are being listed at steep discounts — and even free — through websites called “akiya banks,” which are often set up by local governments and communities dealing with the growing stock of abandoned homes.

Akiya means “vacant home” in Japanese. Many properties are listed because their often older owners don’t want to pay property taxes or can’t keep maintain them.

Many of the homes need a healthy dose of TLC, but can be bought for nothing more than taxes and fees.

There were 8.2 million vacant homes in Japan in 2013, or 13.52 percent of the housing stock. That’s up from around 7.6 million, or 13.14 percent of the housing stock, in 2008. The number could exceed 20 percent of housing stock by 2033.

Tokyo had the lowest percentage of vacant homes in the country, at around 11.1 percent. [CNBC] — Dennis Lynch