AT the beginning of the 2011/2012 season, Powderlife reported that the Niseko real estate market had experienced a slowdown due to the strong yen, the aftermath of last year’s earthquake on March 11 and global economic uncertainties. Although buyers were cautious, they remained active and showed continued interest in the market here. The winter season is about to come to a close and we’ve collected some thoughts on how it went and the developments that lie ahead.
Amazing powder snow, wonderful food, an intriguing culture and extraordinarily gracious people are the main things that make Niseko so great. But a spinoff of all that is that investors are scrambling to secure their slice of white gold. We collect up to date real estate news and in-depth articles on the Niseko real estate market.
TWO major makeover projects are targeting the transformation of ski resort Hirafu into an attractive and active all-year round destination. Central to the idea is a change of face of two important roads in Hirafu village.
HOKKAIDO Tracks Development is going to offer fractional ownership with the release of “The Escarpment Estate Private Residents Club”.
President Simon Robinson says the idea is to provide luxury resort residences that can be used, loaned, rented, exchanged or sold. It is going to be the first fractional residential resort property in Niseko Hirafu, involving ten luxury high-end residences in a gated enclave community with resort club facilities.
The usage plan of this equity based shared ownership concept is a 1/16th share, with fractional shares starting from ¥9,000,000. Sales contract and shareholders agreement will include a 5-year, 7-year and 10 year sellout option with the sales revenue being divided amongst the investors.
THE opportunity to secure a piece of middle Hirafu’s bluff land with protected Mt Yotei panorama views rarely arises, yet Hong Kong developer Apex Property KK’s Loft development has done just this.
Developer Sylvia Tang notes that, “after many seasons of holidaying in Niseko and falling in love with the place, we decided to create something unique and special called Loft. We chose this site because of its elevation; all Loft apartments from ground floor to the top floor have breathtaking, protected views of Mt Yotei, which no other condominium building in Hirafu has.”
The latest addition to popular Upper Hirafu is Kizuna. Kizuna’s construction started in spring 2011, and the building is now close to completion with handover in January 2012. Australian property developer VKH Pty Ltd, through its Japanese subsidiary Kizuna GK has engaged reknowned Sapporo architect MIES together with builders Ishizuka Kensetsu to do the construction.
Despite a tumultuous year in Japan and around the world, local agents report there is continued interest in the Niseko real estate market.
Niseko Real Estate (NRE) managing director Ben Kerr said buyers were cautious but still active. The company sold an average of two to three properties a month through summer and autumn, which was actually an increase on the previous year. “Despite the strong yen, buyers realise there are some good investments available,” Kerr said. “Specifically, undeveloped land has been popular, and vendors who have been flexible in their pricing have achieved results. The strong yen has made purchases appear more expensive, but has also allowed some vendors to discount without losing their margins.”
NEW to the market is Akazora, located on one of Hirafu’s most popular nightlife streets Momiji-zaka.
Soon-to-be released to the Japanese market exclusively by LJ Hooker (it’s already been released in Singapore and Malaysia), Akazora features 26 apartments – 4 studios, 10 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments. The size of the apartments and price points have already made this development attractive to investors – only 19 units remain available, ranging in size from 57–87 sqm.
Akazora is being developed and managed by Niseko Resorts Group, who have built and managed 30 chalets in the Country Resort development near Hirafu Village in Niseko over the past three years.
NISEKO’S long held secret is getting out: the summer is fantastic.
Ski resorts all over the world are working hard on increasing their summer trade with varying levels of success.
Niseko has a few aces up its sleeve when it comes to attracting summer visitors.
First is the climate compared to almost all of the rest of Asia in this period. Temperatures in the mid 20s with low humidity and no rainy season is quite unique when compared to the nearly unbearable heat and humidity in the rest of Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, not to mention a cold and wet southern hemisphere winter.
Second is the large population of Asian residents with children who have three months of holidays to fill once schools break up. Many of these people are looking to bring the whole family to Niseko.
THE Niseko real estate market bounced back into favour with investors this year after a slow season last year following the economic crisis. Powderlife spoke to several local real estate figures to get their thoughts on the season and projections for the future.
Grant Mitchell, Tracks Real Estate
Review: The season panned out pretty much as I expected, with decent sales volumes despite lingering global economic worries and the lack of bank financing. There is now a strong base for more sales over the summer and higher sales volumes next winter. Buyers’ focus has also broadened from last season’s obsession with Hirafu ski-in/ski-out properties to ‘walk-in/walk-out’ Hirafu properties and other resort locations such as Annupuri this winter.