Q Is the title of the apartment freehold or leasehold?
The title is strata freehold. Foreigners can purchase property in Japan without restrictions.
Q Is a solicitor required for the purchase? What are the costs?
NISADE strongly advises using a solicitor. There are several English speaking professional solicitors familiar with the Niseko market we can recommend. Depending on the level of advice sought, the price starts from approximately ¥150,000. This generally includes search of title, registration and common advice.
Q What taxes and other costs are involved in purchasing an apartment in Japan?
Contracts in Japan attract stamp duties and real estate transactions also incur property acquisition tax, which is usually up to 1% of market value and calculated by the local government after completion of the project. There are also other smaller local government and registration taxes. Japan has a 5% consumption tax. The sale price of a NISADE apartment includes this consumption tax.
Q What are the agent’s fees?
Real Estate Agent fees in Japan are 3%, paid by both purchaser and developer and a complying fee of ¥60,000 paid by the purchaser. Being the developer, NISADE does not charge agent fees on sales.
Q What about finance? Is finance available for my apartment?
Borrowing in yen obviously hedges against volatility in the currency markets however it is very difficult for non-residents to gain financing from Japanese banks. The National Australian Bank (NAB) and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) offered a Niseko specific yen loan packages. The NAB withdrew late last year and earlier this year the CBA suspended their Niseko finance product subject to regular review.
Q Are there any tax implications to stop double taxation and generally assist in international tax management?
Buying real estate in Japan follows typical requirements with stamp duties and government purchase taxes applicable. For the Singaporean and Australian purchasers, the Japan Tax Treaty applies to prevent double taxation. You will be required to submit a tax return in both your home country and Japan.
Tax treaties also apply to mainland China however Hong Kong is not included in the listed countries. Further information can be obtained from Japan’s Ministry of Finance: www.mof.go.jp/english/index.htm or contact us and we will refer experienced Japanese solicitors or accountants.
Q I understand that there is capital gains tax in Japan, who much is it?
Non-residents rate is between 39% on resale profits within the first 5 years of ownership. After the initial 5 years this drops to 19%.
Q What other taxes are there in Japan?
Fixed asset tax is charged at 1.4% of the local council evaluation. This evaluation of land and building price usually working usually lags true market values by a factor of three or four hence fixed asset tax usually totals approx 0.3% - 0.5% per annum.
Foreigners are charged a 10% tax on rental income profits. However, expenses such as holidaying annually to inspect your investment (flights, meals, local transport etc) can be written off against this tax burden. Also, in the first few years it is possible to dramatically depreciate your property (incl. furniture and fittings) and therefore operate at a tax loss.
Q Can you negative gear income, claim losses or depreciate the apartment?
If your country has a tax treaty with Japan you may be able to claim against the rental income of the apartment.
Q What are the rental returns?
Owners earn 45% -50% of gross rental income, as is fairly standardised in the Niseko property market. Agent letting fees comprise 25%, management fees 10%, and all out outgoing costs including housekeeping, linen, maintenance, electricity, heating, water rates, snow clearing costs, etc add up to between 15 - 20% of gross revenue.
Q How do you market my apartment to ensure that I get maximum returns on my investment?
NISADE uses established relationships with several domestic and international wholesale travel agents. We also promote our properties pro-actively online and receive many direct bookings through our website www.nisekoalpineaccommodation.com. NISADE employs a full time domestic marketing managing to generate occupancy from the Japanese market, especially through the summer season.
Q I can’t speak Japanese. Will it be difficult to buy and the actually own / manage my property?
No. We will introduce you to various English-speaking, Japanese professionals such as lawyers and tax accountants to help you through the purchasing process.
As an owner of NISADE property, you will receive English-language assistance from NISADE’s experienced property management team to help them with any issues regarding your investment. A body corporate will assist in guidance of the property management company should individual issues arise.
The above article is an excerpt from our Niseko Alpine Review newsletter. To sign up for the latest copy subscribe here.