With economic uncertainty throughout the market, blood pressures running high and Japan and much of the world mired in a recession, could now be the time to buy? Or is waiting out this storm a better option?
“The year 2009 offers a buying opportunity we haven’t seen in 10 years. People forced to sell and bankruptcies have created an opportunity to pick up properties at fire sale prices,” says Jason Holt, CEO of EastEdge Partners.
Simon Jackson, President of the NorthPoint Network, puts this opportunity in historical terms. “This is 1998 all over again. In 1998, Japan’s GDP took its biggest hit in history and came on the back of economic crises in Thailand and South Korea that brought Japan screeching to a halt. That prompted some of the best property buys in Japan in recent history. They say history doesn’t repeat itself. But, in 2009, history has.”
He goes on to point out the Golden Rule for buyers, “If you like it, buy it.” These thoughts are echoed by nearly every person in the industry we talk to. “If you like the area, now is a great time to buy. The prices are artificially low,” according to Charlie Dawson, Sales Associate at Niseko Real Estate.
Some of those to whom we talked pointed out other economic advantages of buying in this market. “Interest rates are particularly low (around 1-3% on short-term fixed rate mortgages), and lower than in many western countries,” argues Mark Chapman, a buyer who purchased recently in Ishikari’s exclusive Sweden Hills area. On top of generally favorable interest rates, a number of people remarked about the benefits of the trying to purchase Australian-held Japanese properties.
“Buying from Australian sellers at the moment can be mutually beneficial. Property prices are low, but Australian sellers can make that up quickly on the exchange rate which has seen the Australian dollar weaken 40% versus the yen. Buyers benefit in turn from the low property prices caused by the turmoil in the market,” notes Graeme Glen, Sales Manager at West Canada Properties.
Certainly, the faint of heart may be hesitant to jump into the property market at this time, but for those who study the market and hire a good agent, this may be the best time in years for buying the property of your dreams.