In Japan, it used to be said that buying real estate in major cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka was the best way to invest in real estate. However, in recent years, real estate in local cities that meet certain conditions has also become popular among overseas investors, and among them, Hokkaido is particularly popular.
Sapporo City is the top choice for foreign investors when purchasing a house in Hokkaido.
Sapporo City is one of the few cities in Japan where population is increasing despite the ongoing population decline, with a population of about 1.97 million people. In 2023, Sapporo City's land price increase rate was 13.22%, ranking sixth nationwide in the announced public land prices. In addition, the top 5 places above Sapporo are all Sapporo's bedroom towns such as Kitahiroshima City, Ebetsu City, Eniwa City, Ishikari City, and Chitose City. While population influx is a reassuring factor for demand stability in rental properties, Sapporo's appeal is not limited to that.
In the vicinity of Sapporo Station, multiple redevelopment projects are underway, and the city is expected to further develop as a city, making it an attractive investment destination. In fact, on our website, inquiries from foreign investors about real estate in Hokkaido, mainly properties in Sapporo, are increasing. Among the areas in Sapporo, Sapporo Chuo-ku, which is a vibrant city center, is particularly notable for its rising land prices. There are two reasons why land prices in Chuo-ku are high.
1.Good living environment and convenience.
Chuo-ku is home to many offices, commercial facilities, and cultural institutions of major public and private entities, as well as a plethora of historic buildings and a well-maintained natural environment, attracting numerous domestic and international tourists. Additionally, the district is known for its excellent childcare services, well-established medical and educational institutions, and a comfortable living environment, making it a desirable place to live for people of all ages.
2.The impact of foreign tourists and their inbound consumption.
The increasing number of foreign tourists is one of the factors leading to the rise in land prices in Sapporo's Chuo-ku. The Chuo-ku area has many businesses and commercial facilities, so it has been successful in benefiting from inbound consumption. This positive cycle has led to the construction of new stores, hotels, office buildings, and newly-built rental and condominium apartments, creating new consumption and resulting in the rise of real estate prices in Sapporo's Chuo-ku. In addition, the growth of the tourism industry has led to an increase in the number of people working in the industry, resulting in high demand for rental housing among them. Also, areas surrounding the Chuo-ku, such as Kita-ku, Toyohira-ku, Nishi-ku, Higashi-ku, and Shiroishi-ku, have dense populations and concentrated apartment buildings and are experiencing a continued rise in land prices, suggesting that their asset values may continue to rise in the future.
Hokkaido has the highest number of vacation rental guests in Japan.
Vacation rentals have a big impact on real estate investments, and they are also very popular in Hokkaido, a popular tourist destination in Japan. In Japan, a notification to the local government is required to operate vacation rentals, and Hokkaido has the highest number of guests per registered accommodation at 63.1 guests per night, surpassing Tokyo's 50.8 guests per night. In particular, Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido and the center of tourism, has strong demand for vacation rentals, and properties in areas within walking distance of Sapporo Station, Odori Park, and the Sapporo Clock Tower can also expect high occupancy rates through vacation rentals. Additionally, vacation rentals are becoming more popular in other popular tourist destinations such as Hakodate and Otaru, so there may be a further increase in real estate purchases in these cities in the future.
Niseko (Kutchan Town) with the highest land price increase rate and the rapidly rising popularity of Furano
According to the 2021 announcement by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Niseko town in Hokkaido ranked first in Japan for the sixth consecutive year in terms of land price increase rate. While Ginza 6-chome in Tokyo, which had the highest increase rate in the Chuo ward, was 16.9%, and Dotonbori 1-chome in Chuo ward, Osaka, which had the highest increase rate in Osaka prefecture, was 27.5%, it is clear that Niseko's increase rate greatly exceeded that of these urban areas.
The Niseko area is a name that refers to three towns: Niseko town located southwest of Mount Yotei, known as Ezo Fuji, Kutchan town located north of Niseko, and Rankoshi town located west of Niseko town.
The development of Niseko began in the early 2000s, when it became popular among Australians who were fascinated by the powder snow. As its popularity grew, real estate development by Australian investors, including condominiums, also expanded.
In 2020, a number of high-end hotels such as the Park Hyatt and Ritz Carlton opened one after another, and even during the pandemic, development by major corporations from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and other countries continues at a steady pace.
Nowadays, Niseko is not only popular among wealthy people from Europe and the United States, but also among the wealthy from Southeast Asian countries such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, where it doesn't snow in their own countries.
Niseko is located within easy access from Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido, at about 1.5 hours by car. It is not only a popular spot for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, but also a tourist spot where you can enjoy various activities such as canoeing, rafting, golf, cycling, trekking, and high-quality hot springs in the summer. Furthermore, the Hokkaido Shinkansen is scheduled to be extended and opened from Hakodate City to Sapporo City by the end of the fiscal year 2030, and the Kutchan Station in the Niseko area is also included in the same section, so further development is expected in the future.
Furano attracts investors as the second Niseko
Furano, located in the center of Hokkaido, is now receiving a lot of attention from foreign investors as a resort following Niseko. It is about a 1-hour drive from the nearest airport, Asahikawa, and about a 2-hour drive from Sapporo.
Construction of condominiums by foreign capital continues, and in 2020, the large-scale condominium FENIX Furano was born, further increasing its presence. Furano is known for its flower fields, including lavender, and is a popular tourist destination in Hokkaido, with an average of 1.9 million travelers visiting per year compared to a population of about 20,000 people. Furano has been expanding its recognition as a tourist destination in recent years.
The land prices in the northern Minami-Furano resort area of Furano have risen by 34% in the past four years. Development and investment by foreign capital, similar to Niseko, have caused a rapid increase in real estate prices. The popularity of the area stems from not only the winter sports with powder snow, which is comparable to Niseko, but also the popularity of flower fields, such as lavender in spring and summer, and autumn leaves, making it a year-round destination for tourists, which leads to a good return on investment by capturing tourism demand. Moreover, although land prices have risen in recent years, they are still considerably lower compared to Niseko, making it attractive for wealthy foreign investors to invest in Furano as the second Niseko.