Miyagi Prefecture’s vacancy rate set to rise

Local governments in Miyagi Prefecture are paying close attention to vacancy rate trends as demand for temporary housing following the Tohoku disaster is expected to be short-lived.

The prefecture has a vacancy rate of 9.4%, making it the lowest in Japan and the only prefecture with a single digit vacancy rate. The low number of vacant houses, however, can be largely attributed to a steep rise demand for temporary housing from residents displaced by the 2011 Tohoku disaster.

There are concerns that the vacancy rate will start to climb again as the public housing projects built for these residents are gradually completed.

In Sendai City, there was a steep contraction in the residential vacancy rate following the 2011 disaster, but this trend is expected to reverse. Sendai-based real estate companies are predicting vacancy rates to increase as more and more new homes are built.

A survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications found that the nationwide vacancy rate was 13.5% in 2013. Miyagi’s vacancy rate of 9.4% is less than half of Yamanashi Prefecture (22.0%), and is down 4.3 points from the previous survey in 2008.

Within Miyagi Prefecture, the number of homes that were vacant due to being listed for sale had dropped by 3,000 homes between 2008 and 2013. Vacant residential rental properties also declined by 40,300 units over the same period.

Sendai City saw an influx of housing demand from displaced residents of nearby coastal areas that were struck by the tsunami. This demand is for temporary rental accommodation and the number of vacant homes is expected to increase as displaced residents move into their newly completed homes.

Residential vacancy rates in Tohoku in 2013:

  • Aomori: 13.8% (81,200 empty homes)
  • Iwate: 13.8% (76,300 empty homes)
  • Miyagi: 9.4% (96,900 empty homes)
  • Akita: 12.7% (56,600 empty homes)
  • Yamagata: 10.7% (46,100 empty homes)
  • Fukushima: 11.7% (91,800 empty homes)

Sources: The Kahoku Shimpo, June 14, 2015.