What are akiya houses & how can you buy one? 

25 Dec 2023
8 mins read
Written by Riona lye

You know how it is these days, right? Rent’s going through the roof and mortgage interest isn’t far behind. It’s got us all on the hunt for a bargain property. That’s where Japan comes in – more specifically, the world of akiya.

We’re about to take you on a little journey, diving deep into what these Japanese homes are all about, why they’re up for grabs, and how you can snag one. And don’t worry, we’ll clear up any confusion about whether you, as a foreigner, can own one and if it’s worth taking the plunge.

What is akiya?

So, have you come across this term “akiya” before? It’s Japanese for “empty house,” and it’s quite the hot topic over in Japan right now. You’d be surprised! On smaller islands like Shikoku and Kyushu, almost 20% of houses are just… well, sitting there, empty.

These akiya houses often take you back in time, with their traditional wooden frames, clay walls, paper screens, and tatami mats. But they’re not always up to snuff when it comes to earthquake building codes.

But this isn’t just about old, traditional houses. The situation has gotten so out of hand that even houses built in the last few decades are being left deserted. There are all sorts of reasons – people leaving the countryside, owners passing away, or maybe something happened in the house that makes it hard to sell.

So, you’re intrigued and want to find an akiya for sale?

Well, your first stop should be an akiya bank. And nope, don’t get it twisted – an akiya bank isn’t where you go to take out a loan for your fixer-upper. It’s your one-stop shop for finding these empty houses!

What is akiya bank?

So, imagine trying to check out all these empty houses one by one. It’d be like looking for a needle in a haystack, right? That’s where Akiya banks come into play.

Think of Akiya banks as your typical real estate websites, but with a unique spin. These were set up by local authorities who are trying to revive their regions and tackle this growing issue of empty homes. You can browse through listings that show pictures of the properties, their size, location, and price, pretty much like any other property website.

But wait a minute, there’s a hook. These Akiya banks can be a little crafty. They might not always be completely honest about the condition of these homes. So, buyer beware!

How much is an akiya?

So, you’re probably thinking, since these akiya are likely in need of some love, they should be practically free, right? Kinda like those one-euro houses in Italy? Well, it’s a mixed bag, really.

Sure, you might stumble upon a few akiya houses that are virtually given away. But most akiya houses for sale listed will set you back anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 USD. Not exactly pocket change, huh?

How to buy akiya in Japan?

Ready to find your first akiya for sale? Your first move is to find an akiya bank and sign yourself up.

Just a heads up though, every local area has its own rules when it comes to joining these banks. And, well, Japan does love its traditions, including a fondness for good ol’ paperwork. So don’t be taken aback if the process involves printing, stamping, scanning, and even penning a letter to the mayor (yup, you heard that right) just to get access to the akiya bank. On the flip side, some places might just have you fill out an online form and you’re good to go.

Once you’re in, it’s time to get your wish list sorted – think location, price, must-haves, and areas where you’re willing to compromise.

One thing to remember, most of these akiya houses aren’t exactly in the heart of Tokyo or Osaka. They’re usually tucked away from the bustling cities which means transport, building regulations for natural disasters, and local amenities might not be as handy as you’d find in the city. So, keep that in mind while browsing!

Can foreigners buy Akiya in Japan?

So, you’re ready to type “akiya Japan” into your search engine? Wait a sec. You might be wondering, “Can foreigners buy akiya?”

Good news! You don’t have to be a Japanese citizen or even hold a Japanese visa to buy any akiya for sale. That being said, it’s a whole lot easier if you’ve got a good chunk of money saved up. Why? Well, getting a mortgage loan can be a bit tricky unless you’re a citizen or married to one.

And if you’re breaking out in a cold sweat over the language barrier, breathe easy. There are akiya Japan listings available in English too. So, no need to panic!

Akiya listings in English

Akiya listings in English works just like their Japanese counterparts. Check out some examples:

  • Akiya and Inaka
  • Koryoya
  • akiya japan.com
  • all akiyas
  • akiyabanks.com

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are plenty more out there!

Should I buy an akiya house?

Thinking about buying an akiya house? Well, let’s pump the brakes for a moment. The real questions you need to ask yourself are “Can I afford an akiya house?” and “Am I eligible to buy one in Japan?”

Sure, these properties are often dirt cheap or even free. But don’t let that fool you – just like those one-euro houses, it’s the renovations that’ll really hit your wallet. You’re looking at costs anywhere from 3 to 5 times akiya Japan price for a complete overhaul. Sometimes, you might even decide to tear it down and start fresh.

And don’t forget about the extra money you’ll have to shell out for an expert to assess the building’s integrity and make sure it meets the latest building codes. You might also need to check the soil to ensure it’s not on unstable ground like reclaimed land or flood plains.

Buying an akiya for sale isn’t just about the property, either. There are usually prerequisites, especially in rural areas. For example, you’ll need to live in and renovate the house. Some contracts might even specify that the owner needs to be of a certain age, have a family, or children of a certain age.

Oh, and the paperwork! You might need to hire a translator to help with your documents. Even if you think your Japanese is up to standards, remember that legal documents can stump even native speakers. Plus, there are extra taxes and stamp duties to consider.

And that’s all before you’ve even set foot in your new home! Once you start renovating, don’t be surprised if more hidden costs pop up. Japan has four distinct seasons, and if your house is built into a hill or near the sea, it could turn into a giant freezer, making heating a nightmare (or the opposite, a sauna).

But hey, we might be painting a pretty grim picture here. If you’re a sucker for a project, can handle the potential pitfalls, and have enough money, transforming an akiya house could be a real feather in your cap.

Imagine turning it into a cozy retreat away from the hustle and bustle, or even a place to grow your own veggies.

If Japan doesn’t work out, remember there are similar opportunities in other countries too. So, keep your options open!

Are akiya houses haunted?

One of the first questions folks usually ask about these akiya houses for sale is why they’re abandoned or sold for at such cheap prices.

Well, some of them fall into a category called ‘jiko bukken’, which is kind of like being on a property blacklist. This usually means something pretty nasty has happened there, like a fatality or a serious accident. And if you’re the superstitious type, or from a culture that believes vacant houses attract unwanted spectral guests, you might get uncomfortable.

But the real scary stuff here isn’t about ghosts or bad vibes. It’s about the cold, hard cash you’ll need to fix up these often-dilapidated homes. That’s the stuff of real nightmares!

Before you go…

If you’re on the hunt for akiya houses for sale, you’re probably considering an investment in a foreign property outside your home country. And that means you’ll need a reliable online money transfer service to handle your funds.

Here’s where Instarem comes into play.

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Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned. 

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