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La Cañada High School

Japan gives away free homes

Are you tired of searching for expensive apartments in LA? Do you want to live in Japan? Then you’re in luck, because there are empty homes in Japan, or akiya, up for grabs that are either almost or completely free. According to a 2013 government report, there are 8 million homes that are currently not occupied. Of the 8 million homes, a quarter of those homes are not up for sale and are labeled as “forever deserted.”

The massive number of available homes is due to Japan’s aging population and superstition. According to The Japan Times, more than a quarter of Japan’s population is 65 years old or older. In addition, young adults are waiting longer to start families or avoiding it all together.

“In 2017, 606,863 couples married, and the marriage rate was 4.9 percent,” according to the 2018 Statistical Handbook of Japan.

Japanese superstitions believe that properties that were vacated due to suicide, lonely deaths, or murder will bring bad luck to whoever lives in them.

Why is the government of Japan selling so many inexpensive homes? While one factor is the large amount of empty homes, there are also factors like the social and economic impact they have on the country. Vacant houses are prone to catching on fire, visually unappealing and targets of vandalism, which can decrease the value of surrounding real estate.

“These abandoned homes are toxic assets — they’re costly to maintain or to tear down. But a simple renovation could turn them into moneymakers,” the head of Rakuten Lifull Stay Inc. Munekatsu Ota told the Japan Times.

Fujitsu Research Institute recently released evidence showing that empty homes will grow to more than 20 million by 2033 — making up almost a third of all homes nationwide. This, along with the population, which is expected to decline 30 percent by 2065, according to the Nomura Research Institute, will lead to an superfluous amount of unoccupied homes.

Another real estate agent expressed his opinion on unfilled homes.

“Many homes in rural areas are literally worthless. It’s a burden for owners and some are even willing to pay to get rid of them,” Kon, head of the Outlet Real Estate Company said. “Such properties aren’t on the market because they’re not worth the effort for brokers.”

However, some people view the empty homes as an opportunity. Tetsuya Fujiki, an architect and real estate consultant, created a website called Ieichiba in 2015. This allowed owners of vacant properties to showcase their homes and negotiate directly with potential buyers. It ended up garnering popularity very quickly.

If you’re interested in purchasing one of these inexpensive homes, all you have to do is pay agent fees and taxes once you’ve received the property, and the place is yours.