Real Estate Registration in Japan
Japan’s real estate registration system treats buildings and land separately, each with their own documents. Smaller, single plots are easy enough to register. However, larger properties tend to be spread out over several parcels, each with their own documentation. In either case, you’ll want to secure each of these unless you want to argue with neighbors over property lines.
Curiously, Japanese law does not require building registration. That being said, building registration needs to take place as a prerequisite to purchasing real estate in order to ensure a secure transfer of ownership.
For plots with multiple buildings, each standing structure often has its own registration documents. It is also common for newer additions or sometimes entire buildings to be unregistered. Conversely, sometimes buildings that have been demolished still retain registration. As you can see, this can easily become quite complex.
There are several documents required for building registration. Confirmed building surveys, verified construction documents, certificates confirming build approvals, and more can all be part of the puzzle. Collecting these documents and starting the registration process may take weeks, or months, but is very much worth it.
It is highly important to clarify a property’s registration status, especially if you want to secure financing. Banks will not approve finance for properties without the required documentation, making your only option a cash transaction. That being said, the buyer can leverage any insufficient documentation that is uncovered to negotiate price.
While Japan also issues deeds, the national real estate registration system is the primary source of ownership confirmation. Thus, to ascertain available avenues for secure ownership transfer, you must first determine current registration, and then rectify any discrepancies.