A Sip Of Matcha

Published: Monday November 10, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday November 10, 2014 MYT 9:09:57 AM

Selling new residential properties in Japan

For sale: A man holding a placard notifying passers-by of an open house for viewing.

For sale: A man holding a placard notifying passers-by of an open house for viewing.

Housing demand remains robust in Japan.

When a Japanese woman I first befriended in Japan told me that she lived in a manshon, I really thought it was a mansion. Later, I learnt that manshons in Japanese are residential buildings that mainly have steel reinforced concrete constructions and usually comprise more than three storeys. Manshons are more expensive than apartments because of the stronger and sturdier building materials used.

When I lived in a rented apartment, telemarketers used to call me and tried to interest me in buying a manshon. The word manshon usually refers to a condominium or an upscale apartment building.

Apaato (the Japanese abbreviation for apartments) are what I would call two-storey flats. They are normally rented out.

According to Wikipedia, residences predominant in contemporary Japan fall into two categories: single-family detached houses and multi-unit buildings (either under self-ownership, or owned by an individual or corporation and rented out to tenants).

Four years ago, my sister-in-law demolished her old house. Her daughter, an architect, designed their own house and hired a housing company to build it. They had to live in a rented apartment for about five months while waiting for their house to be ready.

Ready-built houses which look similar, but command different prices due to differences in room size.
Ready-built houses which look similar, but command different prices due to differences in room size.

In recent years, sales of new residential properties, especially ready-built ones, have been flourishing. This is probably due to the extended mortgage benefits of tax deductions and the advantages of purchasing them before the consumption tax is raised in the near future.

It takes several months to build a house. The price varies according to the type and size, land, location and infrastructure accessibility. The ready-built residences are usually equipped with basic items such as sinks, kitchen countertops and bathtubs. Although the land and house are sold as a package, they are considered two purchases and the property taxes are assessed accordingly.

Near my house stood an open parking lot for rent. It was idle for a period before three single detached houses were built on it.

When construction work first started, an employee set up a tent with a table and chairs to attend to interested customers. After the foundation and framework were laid, pre-fabricated parts were installed.

The houses are now ready for sale. Besides banners to advertise the houses, a signboard has been put up and attached with a transparent plastic box containing flyers.

I have never seen property for sale advertised in the newspapers – perhaps due to the high cost of advertising. Instead, huge flyers are inserted inside newspapers delivered to houses, or dropped into mailboxes.

Many years ago in Yokohama, I came across a man sitting on a chair, holding up a placard that read: “Open house for viewing.” This mode of promotion still exists.

One man hung an advertisement poster from his neck while distributing flyers. A woman stood with a placard as she gave out flyers to passers-by and persuaded them to view the model room of a manshon.

Recently, developers have resorted to using traffic cones to advertise the sale of brand new residences in Yokohama. On the pavements or along the roadside are laminated posters which are taped together and placed over the cones. Some displayed the price and location, while others illustrated the floor plans and model rooms as well. Why, a few cones even had flyers slotted in between the posters.

When the new houses in my vicinity were up for sale, on both sides of the road were cones with posters bearing arrow signs to the location.

Two months back, I visited a new housing site near my place and chatted with a salesman there. He had set up a table and chairs for interested buyers.

“The houses look quite similar, but the prices are different because of the size of the rooms, car parks and surrounding spaces,” he explained.

It seems that it is illegal to place cones with posters advertising the sale of property. If any complaint is lodged for obstruction of traffic, the police may issue a warning or impose a fine on the home-builder. The same goes for hoisting banners or placing posters on utility poles.

The law notwithstanding, I still see such advertising tactics being used on cones.

Sarah Mori, a Malaysian married to a Japanese, resides in Japan.

Tags / Keywords: japan, housing, property

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