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.”
Niseko Consulting director Michael Davenport also reports several land and commercial property sales during the summer. “The market has slowed due to the strong yen and global uncertainties, although sales are still going through,” Davenport said. “People are still looking for good deals and there is interest in all kinds of properties. Resale of apartments has probably seen the lowest movement. I'm confident that we'll see a few sales this winter and as the yen weakens I'm sure we will see more people considering Niseko as a sound place to invest.”
Niseko Property director Grant Mitchell said long-term confidence in Niseko remained strong. “Despite the ups and downs associated with natural and financial upheavals there is very strong confidence in Niseko as a resort destination,” Mitchell said. “This was clear over the summer with the sale of a number of strategic development sites along Hirafu-Zaka (Hirafu’s main street). There is also strong interest at the other end of the market with a steady flow of sales for reasonably priced land and houses.”
Mitchell said while the nuclear disaster initially affected confidence in the market, those fears quickly subsided. “The earthquake injected some uncertainty, but confidence returned fairly quickly as people discovered that radiation levels here were unaffected by events a long way away in Fukushima.”
Izumikyo Company president Yoshio Nishimura agrees the Fukushima disaster had little impact. “I think nuclear fears had some impact, however, whether someone buys or not is mostly dependent on other factors,” Nishimura-san said. “I think people who've been here before and intend on returning already know there is no risk of nuclear contamination, but maybe less informed people may still have a fears.”
Davenport said the Niseko investor demographic was still maturing and there was a continuing trend of people investing in the year-round resort lifestyle. “This is great news for Niseko as more investors are utilising their property and helping establish Niseko as a year-round destination.”
Kerr agrees the Niseko story is still just beginning: “The natural resources here are just too valuable and too much fun. This little resort still has a long and exciting future ahead.”