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Share house investment scam sees bank share price dive 20% in one day

The scandal surrounding a failed share house developer continues to grow this month as more information about dodgy spruiking tactics and falsified documents comes to light. As many as 700 investors from a single share house developer are facing potential bankruptcy, but the number of victims could easily rise as other investment-spruiking companies are put under the spotlight.

A lawyer representing a class action by investors against the Tokyo-based share house company alleges that the inflated price of the share houses sold to investors was determined by the maximum amount that the bank was willing to lend a buyer, rather than the true market price. A gross return was 8 ~ 9% was then applied to the sale price, even if it was higher than the market rent. The buyer would buy under the assumption that they could rely on stable, guaranteed rents that would provide them with a cash surplus each month. The high yield was only possible because the share house operator was providing a rental guarantee that far exceeded the rent they were receiving – causing the operator to lose money each month.

Bidding restarted for Sengaku-ji Station high-rise apartment tower

A 160m tall apartment tower is planned for a site located above Sengaku-ji Station in Minato-ku, Tokyo. The project covers a 13,000 sqm site located on the eastern side of the Daiichi-Keihin Road, with the Yamanote train tracks running along the western side. This is reclaimed land that was once part of Tokyo Bay.

In February it was announced that a joint venture between Kajima Corporation, Tokyu Land and Keikyu Corporation had successfully bid on the development. On April 4, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced that their bid was disqualified after charges were filed against an executive from Kajima Corporation for allegedly colluding on a bid for the new high-speed maglev train. 

48-yr old Tokiwamatsu House condo being redeveloped

Tokiwamatsu House, a vintage condominium located a 10 minute walk south of Omotesando Station, is being redeveloped into a new apartment building. Demolition of the existing building is expected to be finished by late August.

The former block of apartments was developed by Sumitomo and built in 1970. It included 62 apartments on 8 floors with sizes ranging from 37 ~ 122 sqm (398 ~ 1,313 sq.ft). The most recent reported sale was a large apartment on a low floor that sold early last year for around 770,000 Yen/sqm, which is less than half of what a similarly-sized brand new apartment would cost in this neighbourhood.

Ace Hotel to open hotel in Kyoto’s historic Shinpukan building

Ace Hotel, a boutique hotel chain headquartered in Portland, is making its first foray in the Asian market with the opening of a hotel in Kyoto next year. The 213-room Ace Hotel Kyoto will be the main part of the historic Shinpukan redevelopment. With architect Kengo Kuma leading the project’s design, the hotel will incorporate the existing building’s early 20th century architectural elements with contemporary styling. The building is the perfect fit for the hotelier’s brand which focuses on reviving and repurposing older and more character-filled buildings.

Tokyo apartment sale prices increase for 66th month

According to REINS, 3,819 second-hand apartments were reported to have sold across greater Tokyo in March, up 11.5% from the previous month and up 2.7% from last year. The average sale price was 33,690,000 Yen, up 0.5% from the previous month and up 7.1% from last year. The average price per square meter was 521,100 Yen, up 1.8% from the previous month and up 5.7% from last year. This is the 63rd month in a row to see a year-on-year increase in sale prices.

Chuo-ku to remove floor area ratio allowances to curb population growth

Tokyo’s Chuo ward is planning to abolish the floor area ratio (FAR) allowances in an attempt to curb the district’s rapid population growth. Up until now, a FAR allowance of as much as 20 ~ 40% could be given to residential developments in certain zones. For example, if a developer chose to build a new apartment building in Tsukiji or Kyobashi, the normal FAR for the land might be increased from its current limit of 500% to 700%, allowing a much larger building. 

Renovation company Intellex joins Kyoto guesthouse market

Intellex’s first guesthouse, located near Kiyomizu Temple.

Intellex, a property renovation giant, announced their entrance into Kyoto’s guesthouse market. The company will start buying traditional machiya townhouses, renovate them and operate them as licensed guesthouses for tourists who want to rent an entire house for the duration of their stay. The project cost is estimated at 480 million Yen (approx. 4.5 million USD) to be spread across five guesthouses.

Their first guesthouse is a 100-year old, 2-storey machiya house located alongside Chawan-zaka, the road that leads up to Kiyomizu Temple. It has a total building size of 111 sqm (1,194 sq.ft) and can host groups of up to 10 guests. Nightly rates range from 36,000 ~ 60,000 Yen and up, depending on the season and number of guests.

Home buyers and sellers: Building inspection guidelines introduced this month

From April 1st, 2018, licensed real estate agencies must include a clause in agency agreements with buyers and sellers that make note of home inspections. The added clause will indicate (1) whether the real estate company has an affiliated home inspection agent that they have a referral program with, and (2) if a home inspection has been carried out within the past 12 months and the main details of those inspection results.

If an inspection has been carried out, the contract of sale will have a clause whereby the seller and buyer both confirm the results of the inspection. An outline of the results will also be included in the Explanation of Important Matters documentation which is read to the buyer before contract documents are signed.

It is important to note that there is no obligation or requirement for a seller to carry out a home inspection, although it is hoped that the revision will make more consumers aware of building inspections. A seller might choose to carry out an inspection when listing their home for sale to provide some comfort to potential buyers.

30% of old buildings in Tokyo at risk of collapse in strong earthquake

The New Shimbashi Building (c1971) poses a high risk of collapse in a major earthquake. There are plans to eventually redevelop this building into a high-rise although negotiations with land-owners are taking longer than anticipated.

On March 29, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government released data from earthquake resistance inspections on public buildings built to the old ‘kyu-taishin’ earthquake codes (pre-May 1981). A total of 251 kyu-taishin buildings, representing a third of the total, were determined pose some risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake producing a seismic intensity scale (shindo) of a 6-upper or above. Of those, 156 were found to be at high risk of collapse.

The publication of this data is the result of a revision to the Act for Promotion of Renovation for Earthquake-Resistant Buildings that was introduced in November 2013. Under this revision, public buildings used by an unspecified number of people, such as hotels and commercial facilities, with a floor area over 10,000 sqm and built to the old kyu-taishin earthquake codes are obligated to carry out earthquake resistance inspections, the results of which are made public. This also applies to old buildings located alongside emergency roads. Although the revision requires building owners to carry out inspections, there are no obligations or requirements to conduct the retrofitting.