There is no end in sight to the current construction boom in the ski resort town of Niseko in Hokkaido, with a number of luxury resorts and private villas under development. Spacious homes and apartments can easily fetch upwards of several hundred million Yen (several million USD). Rising construction costs and a labor shortage, however, are putting a strain on developers.
Some owners, in an attempt to offload their apartments in aging ski resort towns, are paying companies to take the properties off their hands. For companies offering this relatively new service, charging fees to the seller is how they balance the risk of holding a property that comes with high running costs and limited resale potential.
How it works
According to the website of a company that specializes in buying up resort apartments, they ask the seller to pay them enough to cover the following:
AYA Niseko, a luxury ski-in ski-out condominium/hotel located on the Grand Hirafu Resort ski slope, opened its doors this month. The 79-unit building is already almost 90% sold out, with the final few apartments expected to sell over the ski season.
The majority of apartments were in the 88 ~ 90 sqm range and priced from 100 ~ 400 million Yen (approx. 850,000 ~ 3.4 million USD), while a 370 sqm penthouse, which has already sold, was priced at 600 million Yen (approx. 5.1 million USD). Apartment prices are similar to what can be found in central Tokyo.
Nagoya-based Resorttrust, Inc. announced plans to open a members-only resort hotel in Kobe’s Rokkosan area. “XIV Rokko Sanctuary Villa” will be a 48-room resort with Japanese restaurant, bar, spa, and shops. It is scheduled to open in March 2018.
The resort has been designed by KKS Group, a specialist architectural firm that has designed numerous hotels around the world including several Shangri-La and Hilton Hotels, the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya, and the Capitol Hotel Tokyu in Tokyo. The design of the hotel is said to be the ‘Imperial Modern’ style which can be seen in some of the old and grand estates in Japan from the early 1900s. Frank Lloyd Wright’s former Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and the former Maeda Residence in Meguro were said to be the inspiration behind the design.
The former chairperson of the owner’s association of a ski resort condominium in Niigata has been accused of allegedly embezzling 1.178 billion Yen (9.6 million USD) from the apartment building’s management and repair fund over the span of sixteen years.
The owner’s association filed a criminal complaint in an attempt to recover the 400 million Yen which falls within the statute of limitations. The former chairman allegedly falsified bank statements after transferring the funds to his personal bank account to purchase shares and make other personal investments.
Niseko Tokyu Resort, part of the Tokyu Group and operator of the Niseku Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu ski resort, will be developing a luxury condominium near the ski field.
Construction is scheduled to begin in July, with completion expected at the end of 2016.
Over the years a number of foreign developers have been steadily building smaller condominiums in the Niseko Hirafu area, but this will be the first project in 20 years that can accommodate over 300 residents.
Beijing-based fund Ittatsu Kokusai are developing an 18-hole private golf course and resort in Kimobetsu, Hokkaido.
Located about 30km east of Niseko, the resort will include 380 vacation home sites designed for wealthy Asian buyers. The project is estimated to cost around 10 billion Yen. The golf course has already been completed and sales will begin on the vacation lots from mid-October.
Huis Ten Bosch is a Dutch-style theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki. Spread over 152 hectares, it is about the same size as the Tokyo Disney Resort.
In addition to the popular theme park, there is also a small enclave of canal-front homes and apartments that can be purchased.
The gated residential estate is called Wassenaar – named after an affluent suburb in The Hague. There are 130 houses and 10 apartment buildings containing 120 apartments housing as many as 800 residents. As Huis Ten Bosch is only 30 minutes from downtown Sasebo, some residents live here full-time while others use their home as a weekender or on holidays. The homes were all designed in keeping with the Dutch theme, and have landscaped gardens, boat moorings and some have swimming pools.
The upscale summer resort area of Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture is seeing its property market rebound as a growing number of older residents from greater Tokyo are move in. In 2015 the extension of the bullet train line will connect Karuizawa with the Hokuriku region, making the area an even more convenient destination.
While the rest of the prefecture is still dealing with sluggish land values, the increase in demand for vacation homes in Karuizawa has started to push land prices upwards.
The town approved 338 holiday homes in 2013, up 9% from the year before.
A leading Chinese television production and distribution company recently announced that they will be developing a luxury resort condominium in Otaru, Hokkaido. The project will be marketed to wealthy Chinese.
HaiRun Movies & TV plan to build a 9-storey building containing 22 condominium apartments, a restaurant, pool, sauna, and party room. Each apartment will have its own private open air bath (rotenburo).