Free homes! But wait – only if you are of working age

Homes in Tokyo are pretty expensive. It’s easily on the top of any world city ranking for house prices.

According to an article in resources.realestate.co.jp, the average price for a new home in Tokyo is US$603,000 (RM2.5 million). While size wasn’t mentioned, the Japanese are not known for their love of huge houses.

On a year to year basis, the price of homes in Japan has shot up by 8.5%.

However, Japan is also an ageing nation which means that the young population is actually fewer than those who are old. Japan’s median age is 46 years.

In 2017, Japan’s population actually dropped by nearly 400,000.

According to businessinsider.my, the number of babies born in 2017 was 946,060. The number of deaths was 1.3 million. This means Japan’s population fell by a whopping 394,373 people in that year alone.

An article in japantimes.co.jp, said what this means for Japan as a nation, is that many old homes have now been abandoned, especially in towns where the working population is equal to those over 64 years old.

What is happening is that some towns are now offering homes as a way to lure the younger population back.

In fact the young have been told that if they stayed in these homes for 15 years, the homes may be transferred to them.

Two awesome things can be concluded from this move.

Town planners have become creative and clever. Luring the younger population back will rejuvenate the town.

Second, the younger generation who are struggling to buy an expensive home to grow their family can actually own one now for almost free. Here’s why – the town will provide up ¥2 million for renovations.

There are definitely requirements to follow: some of these programmes are geared towards married couples aged 45 or below, and families with parents 50 years old or below with a child who is of junior high school age or younger.

Malaysia has around 20 years more to go before it reaches “ageing nation” status but if we look at some older towns, this same problem Japan is facing is also happening here today.

One day if property prices are totally out of reach for some households, it will actually be possible for the government to step in and implement something similar.

Many of these smaller towns are connected via trunk roads and many have attractions which could be a selling point for more visitors. They however need a younger population to maximise the potential of these visitors.

Relying on just the 65-year-olds to open shops or restaurants or even businesses is going to be tough. Some schools in these small towns may have fewer students than the number of teachers.

There are opportunities for the government to start thinking and learning from advanced nations like Japan who are already facing this situation today. Waiting may not be an option.

This article first appeared in kopiandproperty.com

Charles Tan blogs at property investment site kopiandproperty. He dislikes property speculators and disagrees that renting is better than buying. He thinks it’s either property or poverty. He is presently the CEO of an auction house auctioning assets beyond just properties.