Following an Akiya & Inaka Buyer Journey

When making an Akiya purchase our clients often ask us one thing consistently, “What will this project entail, and how much will it cost?”

We are committed to helping our clients understand what we do every step of the way, so today we would like to walk you through an actual Akiya purchase case study.

Step 1: Understanding Client Needs

The story starts on the sandy beaches of the Chiba Prefecture. The client, an American, a long-term resident of Japan, wanted to be farther away from the big city of Tokyo, and closer to the beach.

Upon engagement (with us), the client paid ¥220,000 to begin their search for a Japanese countryside property. We began by listening to the client’s ideal property through video chats and a questionnaire, and set off to identify 5 Akiya properties that met the client’s criteria.

This was a very time-consuming process, and Akiya & Inaka’s consultants reviewed hundreds of Japanese countryside properties across Chiba to identify 5 that met the client’s stated criteria.

Step 2: Akiya Property Visit

From the results, the client identified one Akiya property that was within walking distance from a popular beach on the coast of Chiba’s Boso Peninsula, and we set a date to view it. For the viewing, the client paid ¥132,000 for a day trip that took us to the Akiya, which had been built by a Tokyo-based family and used as a vacation home for the past 40 years.

Step 3: Inspection Assurance

Upon arriving at the Akiya (with the client and a family member), there was immediately a good sense that it met the client’s goals and expectations. While there were quite a few areas that the client wanted to renovate, the location and the build quality looked pretty solid.

However, while we noted that everything looked as advertised, we took some extra steps to confirm that there weren’t any issues with the building and land. The client opted to commission a building and land inspection, at an additional ¥132,000 Yen, conducted by a reputable Tokyo-based architecture firm.

The building inspection itself was quite cool and involved conducting tests using lasers to measure the floor height at various points in the house to determine whether the building was standing flat. The lasers also told us whether the door frames and other structural elements were straight. In addition to these tests, the building inspector looked at the exterior, under the floor, and the roof and used tools to measure the level of moisture and check for pitfalls such as termite damage, wood rot, or roof leaks.

The land inspection is also a thorough test of ground quality. Japan, being a country full of hills and valleys, has many properties that are built on some form of landfill to create a flat foundation. Sometimes this is done properly, but other times the ground is loose and can cause the house to tilt, which for obvious reasons is not good. Also, being close to the beach, ground quality can sometimes be dubious. The inspector used the Swedish weight-sounding test (SWS) to measure the degree of soil compaction, which tells us how solid (or not) the land is across different points of the property.

Step 4: Price Negotiation

So, what did the inspection result in? Luckily, no problems occurred in either test, and a written report confirmed this result. However, the architect, a close colleague of Akiya & Inaka, did point out some areas that necessitated repair in the near term. We discussed this with the client, who decided that this was okay but wanted the sale price to better reflect these required improvements.

Then, we initiated negotiations via our real estate brokerage partner STK Properties. From the original sale price of ¥8,000,000, we successfully negotiated the price and arrived at a final negotiated price of ¥6,000,000. Then, a deal was made.

Step 5: Ownership Transition

In the end, there were two steps to this brokerage: contract and closing. The client paid Akiya & Inaka ¥330,000 for our assistance in facilitating the transaction, and the standard 3% brokerage fee to STK Properties. As the client was on an overseas business trip on the day of the contract signing, we conducted the transaction remotely on behalf of our client. The down payment was the usual 10% of the purchase price or ¥600,000

After the contract signing, the next step was to decide what to do with the previous owner’s belongings inside the property. At Akiya & Inaka, we were committed to sustainability, so we always encouraged our clients to consider receiving some of the belongings that the owner did not want to keep, which helped the seller reduce disposal costs and score some cool furniture and appliances for the buyer. We were able to get some choice vintage swag for our client, and the unwanted items were disposed of by the seller.

Step 6: Closing the Deal

Then closing came for this Akiya purchase, and the client paid the remaining balance of ¥5,400,000 plus supporting fees of Akiya & Inaka and STK Properties. With keys in hand, the client could complete the Akiya purchase process without issue. Once the transaction was completed, our legal services partner STK Legal obtained the necessary documents for registering the change of ownership with Japan’s Ministry of Justice, which was completed without issue.

So, there you have it. In the span of a few months, the client’s dream home was found, inspected, and purchased straightforwardly without any caveats or surprises. That is exactly what we were committed to facilitating at Akiya & Inaka.