Shifts in Japan’s real estate market as country opens up to foreign workforce

As Japan gradually realises the need for foreign additions to their workforce, the number of expatriates working in Japan has reached the 1 million mark.

But it is not an easy task for foreigners seeking temporary housing in Japan. And this is where foreign property companies come in. With a $4 million in investment monies from Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten, a Singapore startup, MetroResidences, has launched in Tokyo. It links up property owners in Japan with tenants seeking medium- to long-stays. Currently, home-sharing sites such as Airbnb cap the number of days of rental at 180 per year based on rules in Japan.

MetroResidences started in Singapore in 2014 and currently has listings in Minato and Shibuya wards, areas popular with expatriates. The company prides themselves in offering quality properties with good value for money. In Singapore, they have over 400 listings and an average occupancy rate of 85%. In Japan, where most of the foreign-housing are facilitated by serviced apartment agencies such as Fraser and Ascott, MetroResidences aims to provide a one-stop platform for furnished apartments suitable for junior to mid-level executives. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in sight and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s vision for Tokyo to be a financial centre, property rental market’s potential seems promising.

How would this increase in demand for rental properties affect property investment in Japan. Are there now more possibilities for investors and will this increase the ease of buying properties in Japan?