“HOW I BOUGHT MY FIRST FLAT IN TOKYO”

“HOW I BOUGHT MY FIRST FLAT IN TOKYO”

Canadian property author cum entrepreneur Christopher Dillon narrates how he bought his first apartment in Tokyo.

CONCRETE ACTION

Back in May 2010, it was time to use what I had learned when researching on my book on how to navigate through the Complexities of Japanese Real Estate. I decided to buy an apartment in Tokyo. With Erik Oskamp, an agent I had met while researching my book, I spent the afternoon of September 30, 2010, looking at apartments in Nakano-ku, in Tokyo’s western suburbs, and in Itabashi-ku, Adachiku and Katsushika-ku in the north.

The apartments were 16–42 sqms in size and 22–36 years old. Some buildings had hundreds of units, while others had fewer than 40, and the group included buildings made of steel-reinforced concrete as well as steel frame construction.

All were priced at less than ¥6 million and served by a train or subway line, although one apartment was a 20-minute walk from the nearest station. In Japan, prospective buyers cannot view the inside of tenanted apartments. But we were able to walk around the neighbourhoods, some of which were quasi-industrial. Overflowing mailboxes indicated buildings with high vacancy rates, while rust stains and peeling paint suggested maintenance problems.

I short-listed three apartments and, on October 1, made an offer for one in Itabashi-ku. The offer, which was 5% less than the asking price, was rejected, and I subsequently met the original ¥4.2 million asking price. When that offer was accepted, I started doing the paperwork, which included a notarized declaration that I was not a resident of Japan.

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