Japan’s Stigmatized Properties and Why They’re Cheap to Buy or Rent

  • In Japan, properties the place a demise has occurred carry a stigma that may make the house arduous to promote.
  • However some brokers are making a profession out of getting these “stigmatized” properties off the market.
  • One knowledgeable estimates that a few of these homes can have their costs lowered by as a lot as 50%.

The primary time Koji Hanahara stepped into one among Japan’s “stigmatized properties,” it was the scene of a lonely demise. An aged man had died alone in his condominium, and his physique was solely found two months later.

It was unnerving, but it surely reminded Hanahara of why he selected to do what he did. Because the CEO of Marks Co., a Japanese real-estate firm that focuses on cleansing, renovating, and promoting stigmatized properties, it is his job to get these homes again onto the market once more — regardless of their historical past. 

“I believed I needs to be the one to do it. At the moment, I spotted once more that it’s my mission to assist as many individuals as doable,” Hanahara informed Insider.

Constructing a enterprise round ‘accident properties’ which might be arduous to promote

The time period “jiko bukken” — which interprets to “stigmatized property” or “accident property” — is mostly used to explain a property the place a suicide, homicide, or pure demise has occurred.

“In Japan, it’s stated that there are about 30,000 lonely deaths at house, about 13,000 suicides a yr, and about 2,000 homicides and hearth deaths a yr, making it a complete of 45,000,” Hanahara stated. “Not all these properties are rented or bought, however the present scenario is that there are a lot of accident properties.”

Not solely can these homes be arduous to wash, however the stigma makes them nearly inconceivable to promote.

“In Japan, many individuals have the impression that accident properties are ‘scary,’ ‘ghostly,’ and ‘soiled,’ which makes them exclude accident properties when selecting actual property,” Hanahara stated.

Whereas most real-estate brokers need to keep away from sharing grisly particulars, Hanahara does fairly the other.

Koji Hanahara, the CEO of Japanese real-estate company Marks Co.

Koji Hanahara, the CEO of Japanese real-estate firm Marks Co.

Marks Co.

After working at a building firm for residential properties, Hanahara began his personal real-estate company, Marks Co., in 2016. He pivoted to specializing in stigmatized properties in 2019.

The itemizing info on his firm’s web site, Jobutsu Actual Property, features a room description and particulars of how and when the earlier proprietor died. “Suicide in December 2018” reads one itemizing presently obtainable for 26.8 million yen, or $194,857. “The previous proprietor died indoors in 2014” reads one other that is available on the market for 21.8 million yen.

Cheaper to lease or purchase

Regardless of the stigma that is connected to those homes, there is a large plus level for consumers and renters: worth.

Hanahara estimates that properties the place lonely deaths have occurred are inclined to have costs lowered by 5 to 10%, whereas homes the place suicides have occurred are inclined to have costs lowered by 20 to 30%. The costs of homes the place murders have occurred could be lowered by as a lot as 50%, he added.

On the Jobutsu web site, a 29-square-meter stigmatized apartment condominium in Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, prices 21.8 million yen. A non-stigmatized apartment of the identical measurement in the identical location prices 27.6 million yen, per knowledge from the Japanese real-estate platform Utinokati.

Google Maps Street View of the apartment block where Pawlus-Ono lived with her family

Google Maps Road View of the condominium block the place Pawlus-Ono lived along with her household

Google Maps

For some younger households, a budget lease is engaging. Kasia Pawlus-Ono, a Polish stay-at-home mother, moved to Japan from Australia along with her Japanese husband and their daughter in 2019.

They lived in a stigmatized property in Hanamigawa, within the Chiba prefecture, from March 2019 to Could 2021. The previous tenant was a younger mom who had died in the home, Pawlus-Ono stated.

The interiors of Pawlus-Ono's apartment when they were moving in

The interiors of Pawlus-Ono’s condominium after they have been shifting in

Kasia Pawlus-Ono

“It was round 25,000 yen when it was half-priced,” Pawlus-Ono informed Insider. “We paid one yr of the lease principally up ahead, as a result of it was half worth from the unique due to the stigmatized property standing.”

In distinction, the common month-to-month lease for an condominium in Hanamigawa is 56,084 yen, per Utinokati.

“I’d say it was a constructive expertise as a result of our neighbors have been positive. It additionally appeared like they have been fairly pleased that somebody moved in as a result of for them it was unusual that it was empty for therefore lengthy,” Pawlus-Ono stated. She added that her lease went again its common worth — about 50,000 yen — after a yr.

Lease might recuperate over time, but it surely does not imply brokers now not should notify future tenants in regards to the incident. Japan’s Constructing Heaps and Buildings Transaction Enterprise Regulation prohibits realtors from deliberately withholding info in regards to the properties they’re promoting, Hanahara stated. And in October, new pointers from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism specified that brokers should disclose deaths if they’d been well-known incidents, concerned foul play, or have a big decision-making impression. Realtors should additionally disclose all previous deaths, no matter their nature, if tenants ask.

Interior of Rothman's apartment

Inside of Rothman’s condominium.

Scott Rothman

Scott Rothman, a technical director from the USA, moved right into a stigmatized studio condominium in Shibuya, Tokyo, in September 2017. He lived there for barely over three years. 

“I received I feel two free months of lease and the lease was fairly discounted,” Rothman informed Insider. “The worth was method higher than I ever may have truly afforded and I even received a few free home equipment out of it.” 

The earlier tenant was an older girl who had died of pure causes in the home, Rothman stated: “I used to be weighing the professionals and cons of the condominium once I thought, ‘Individuals should die someplace? What is the distinction?'”

How you can discover stigmatized properties in Japan

Individuals may discover stigmatized properties in Japan on an internet site referred to as Oshimaland.

The location maps stigmatized properties and supplies the small print and date of the incident that occurred there. Nonetheless, it isn’t an official report; anybody can submit entries to the positioning, web site creator Teru Oshima informed Insider. 

“Landlords have an incentive to examine the web site since all the pieces that is written on it has a adverse impression on the costs of their belongings,” Oshima stated. “They will ship me emails, put up feedback, ship direct messages by means of Twitter or Fb or some other path to contact me to appropriate the knowledge if it isn’t true.”

Screen grab of Oshimaland website

Display screen seize of Oshimaland web site


Marks Co. receives about two to a few notifications about potential property listings in a day, most of which come instantly from the kinfolk of the deceased. The corporate additionally works with funeral homes and particular cleansing corporations to search for extra properties, Hanahara stated.

By way of tenants, he is seen a development of individuals of their 20s and 30s, single moms, and single girls dwelling in stigmatized homes. And whereas the discounted pricing is one cause these flats could be interesting — Tokyo, for instance, is the fourth-most costly metropolis on the planet to buy property — it isn’t solely about cash.

“If you consider dwelling in an accident property, you might have the thought that you’re selecting the accident property as a result of you haven’t any cash,” Hanahara stated. However the property might need different interesting perks, reminiscent of being situated close to public transport or in a brand new constructing, he added.

Some real-estate brokers have reservations about coping with stigmatized properties. 

“I do know there may be sure demand, but it surely’s actually dangerous,” Yuki Yanagita, a gross sales consultant from real-estate firm J&F Plaza, informed Insider. J&F Plaza focuses on serving to foreigners discover property in Japan.

Together with a smaller pool of consumers, the price of deep cleansing the home is borne by the company — one thing not each firm is keen to tackle, Yanagita stated. Individuals in Japan usually additionally intently affiliate stigmatized properties with the paranormal, he added.

However as for Hanahara, his aim is step in and deal with precisely the stage of the method that others keep away from. 

“We are going to assist those that are keen to promote their accident property proper from the stage when the accident occurred,” Hanahara stated.

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