An interview with Yamate Homes President Koji Takeda
Yamate Homes has mostly been working with real estate in Tokyo. How did you get into the resort real estate market?
About five years ago, we were in Niseko (Hokkaido), looking to purchase some resort land and saw the market there was already changing, so we started picking up some properties in the area.
Where are most of your customers from?
In Tokyo, we have Japanese and foreign customers, but resort buyers are 90 percent foreigners; many from Australia and Asia, in particular Hong Kong, often with Japanese spouses. Most of our business is private residential, with some corporate buyers.
On what resort areas do you focus?
Right now, we are concentrating on Niseko, especially the Hanazono and Hirafu areas, and Hakuba (Nagano), mostly Happo-one and Wadano with a few properties in Misorano and other areas. Pricing depends on location and preference. For instance, Hirafu is still the most popular and pricy in Niseko.
Do you feel the market is still growing in Niseko?
It is difficult to say since Hirafu, Annupuri, Hanazono and Higashiyama all are different markets. In general, I don’t believe we have hit the price ceiling there. The prices have increased a lot in the central Hirafu area, but other areas are still growing. Some think Hirafu has maxed out, but it really depends on the property. The number of visitors to the area is still rising each year, and some landmark hotels and resort lots are opening up, which reignites the market.
Do you see any major differences between the real estate markets in Niseko and Hakuba?
There is not a large fundamental difference, but the Hakuba market is relative cheaper because foreign interest in the Hakuba market came later than Niseko. When development began in Niseko, there were virtually no guidelines or building codes, so a lot of condos were built. Since then the local government has begun to create a set of codes for urban planning and to preserve the environment and scenery in thearea. Hakuba maintains a similar set of local regulations but, because there are a number of long-standing hotels and pensions and a limited amount of land available, the situation is different.
Are there any other resort areas about which you are excited?
If I were completely sure of a certain area, I’d keep it to myself (laughs). I’m joking, but there are many other ski resort areas with great potential as some interesting off-the-beaten-path places away from the resorts.
Some areas we are looking at are Hakone, Okinawa, Lake Toya, and Izu, among others. Properties near water are usually a good bet. Any place near the ocean, a river, a snow resort with decent entertainment and the right facilities. It is important to look at the town’s environment and character as well.
For what purpose are people purchasing resort properties?
About half our buyers are purchasing second houses while others as investment properties; however most keep both in mind. Some investors are looking for capital gains and others want a regular rental income. Some also purchase houses to live in or for retirement.
Anything else you would like to add?
Growing up, I toured most of the ski resorts in Honshu and Hokkaido, so I am fortunate to have a good grasp of these areas. We always look forward to introducing these areas to foreign customers, and I hope people can find a comfortable place where they can enjoy the outdoors and take the time to have fun with their properties.
Yamate Homes Corporation
8F Central Shibuya 246 1-1-6, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0002
Tel: (03) 5766-7850
For an extended version of this interview plus a detailed guide to the main areas in Hakuba and Niseko, visit www.japanpropertylistings.com.