One popular Web site has made it surprisingly affordable — less than 50,000 yen ($625) for a room complete with a bathroom. The reason: thousands of apartments lay undiscovered in the city.
One such popular site called “5manika.com” (50,000 or less) has more than 2,000 apartments listed via the Internet in nearly all of Tokyo’s 23 wards.
“The going price for an apartment in Tokyo is 70,000 to 80,000 yen ($911 to $1,041) or more, while the image of anything for 50,000 yen or less is that of potentially ripped tatami mats and no bath,” says Norifumi Yoshioka, president of Apower Home, site operator. “But there are many customers that are startled to find the apartments are unbelievably good.”
He added that rents in Tokyo are more expensive than other big Japanese cities, including Nagoya and Osaka.
After setting up the website three months ago, Yoshioka has already received inquiries from company employees. About 70 percent or more of his customers are women company and non-employees in their 30s and have an annual income of 2,000,000 yen ($25,000) or less. Yoshioka told Majirox News that on some days more than 2,000 people visit the site.
“People who spend almost half of their income on rent is common,” Yoshoika says. “How can people live under these conditions? I found I despised the social situation more than I thought.”
Idea for new business
He got the idea for his business from a real estate investment fund company where he worked in 2006.
“I saw so many bargain apartments with monthly rents less than 50,000 yen,” he said. “No tenants were found for one or two years. I wondered why weren’t there clients for these empty rooms?”
On his day off, Yoshioka pretended to be a customer. He went to a real estate company who had bargain apartments in its listings, but they were reluctant to show them to him. He finally persuaded the company to show him some of their low rent apartments; he found that despite certain small inconveniences such as age or easy access to roads, many were in excellent shape for the price.
“Since the realtors didn’t make much commission they preferred not to show them to potential clients,” Yoshoika said.
A change in the economy
He put his idea into practice after his former company went bankrupt in 2008.
“I heard from many young people who lost their jobs or couldn’t get a pay raise, and knew there was a market for good, cheap housing,” Yoshioka said.
Potential customers meet him or his employees at the station nearest to the property. Customers do not use a handheld map of the area; instead, they arrive at the location using a map on their Smartphones. In some cases where the customer does not like the room, it is even possible to link to the Internet right there and look for the next apartment on the database.
Yoshioka says, “Anybody can do this job as long as they have a residential estate properties dealer’s license and a real estate database for business.”
Yoshioka hopes that other companies will gradually follow his example. By establishing apartments for 50,000 yen or less, he aims to end the overpriced rent market in Japan.