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Companies in Japan That Buy Houses for Cash

The process of selling a home in Hokkaido typically requires a lot of time and energy. As a seller, you will get the highest value for your home when you research the market, take time to prepare the property, advertise the sale, negotiate with several potential buyers, negotiate for the best price, and allow time for loans and other procedures as the property closes.

That is a lot of work.

For property owners who want to avoid most of that effort and sell a house quickly, there are both companies and individual buyers that make quick, efficient offers to buy your home for cash. All cash buyers typically offer a faster, easier way to sell your property.

Cash Buyers for Homes

All cash deals are typically faster, easier, and have lower fees than traditional sales (or transactions that involve a mortgage or property loan).

When a buyer uses a real estate loan to buy property, the sales process is longer, as the bank will require due diligence, inspections and appraisals; all of which require more time. Selling a home on the open market typically takes at least 60 – 90 days, and the various services involved in selling a home tend to increase the cost of the deal for both the buyer and seller.

Because many sellers want to avoid the time and expense associated with a typical sale, finding a cash buyer can be an attractive solution.

Types of Cash Buyers

There are two main categories of buyers that are willing to make, or specialize in, all cash offers for property.

There are professional investors that know certain property is traded off market (where the property is not listed or advertised). For many of those deals, all cash offers are preferred (or required).

There are also specific real estate companies that specialize in offering fast, all cash purchases of homes. These are companies that advertise offers like “We Buy Homes in Any Condition,” and market their services directly to home owners.

All-cash buyers are well funded, often have a lot of connections in their communities, and typically employ common real estate strategies with the properties they buy in cash sales: They may take a property they buy and immediately put it back on the market in a traditional sales cycle. They may make improvements to the property first, to prepare the property for sale, or to create additional value, and then resell it (commonly called “house flippers”). Other investors buy homes for cash, and then use those properties as rental properties.

All of these buyers are in business to make money, and are looking for the lowest price they can pay as they take possession of a new property. Cash buyers typically offer the seller less money than a traditional sale. When these buyers can find sellers that are willing to accept a lower price in exchange for a faster, easier sale, these investors can generate more return on investment as they resell the property or collect rent.

Companies That Buy Homes for Cash Pay Below Market Rate

Investors that specialize in fast, all-cash purchases typically pay less than market value; commonly as low as 50 – 80% of what the property might sell for in a traditional sale. While these all-cash sellers do not get the full value for their property, the speed and ease of the transaction, and the lack of any cost expenditure on the seller’s part to prepare the property for sale, can make this type of transaction appealing.

The nature of an all-cash transaction means the seller knows there will not be any problems from the buyer’s side related to loans or financing. The speed and ease of all-cash purchases make cash house buyers like SD House Guys (a US-based company) an attractive option, especially compared to other offers that have financing needs that require more time.

When we are buying houses in California, cash is king. Home sellers are looking for certainty. A weak offer that doesn’t seem like it will close, doesn’t make anyone feel secure. If you’re looking to make your offer stand out in a competitive market, lead with cash.
— Alex, SD House Guys

In a traditional transaction, a seller might have to pay for property appraisals and inspections, make improvements and repairs to the property, pay a commission to an agent, and pay taxes and other fees on the property (like owner association fees and upkeep) as the transaction takes place. Often all or most of those fees can be avoided when a seller works with a “cash for your home” company.

Some sellers may prefer a market sale, but do not have available funds to make repairs or otherwise prepare the property for sale. These all-cash sellers may accept a lower offer because it enables them to sell with no out of pocket costs leading up to the sale.

The tradeoff of a lower sales price may be acceptable when the sale is completely quickly, and with very little investment or effort required of the seller.

Why Do Sellers Prefer an All-Cash Buyer?

Some common reasons why sellers might prefer (or need) a cash buyer for their home include:

  • A faster sale
  • An easier sales process
  • Opportunities to sell the home as-is (with no repairs, no cleaning, etc.)
  • The ability to sell homes in any condition
  • No need to pay commissions to agents
  • The option to sell a home that is occupied by a tenant
  • No negotiations
  • Private transactions
  • A guaranteed sale

Selling for All Cash is Faster

A primary reason why owners sell their home to a “cash for your home” company is that the transaction is completed quickly.

Generally speaking, a buyer that wants to maximize the purchase price will take the time to research what their property is worth, prepare the property for sale, market the property, and allow time for buyers’ offers to come in (potentially rejecting low offers). There is an investment of time and money in this process, including ongoing expenditure of holding cost (such as property tax and upkeep) while the property is on the market. If the seller is willing to accept a lower price (often below market value) they may find a buyer who can offer cash, and make the process quicker and easier.

It’s theoretically possible to sell a house in 5 days. If the title is clear and there are no delays from either party, the seller can get the cash within the same week. A cash offer closes fast because there are no negotiations, verification of funds, lengthy contracts, earnest money, and similar hassles.

In a sale on the open market, the sales process, loan processing, and other factors can require at least 60 – 90 days. These all-cash home purchases can be completed in less than 30 days (and in some cases in less than a week), creating a compelling reason for the seller to accept a lower price.

Many All-Cash Home Sales are As-Is

Owners that sell a house for cash often want to avoid the work and investment of a traditional sale. “Cash for Homes” companies that buy houses on an “as-is” basis, make the transaction much easier for sellers.

During the course of a traditional sale, either the buyer or the seller (or both) will have the property inspected and appraised. In that process, problems with the property may be discovered that require more negotiation, a lower price, or out of pocket expense from the seller for improvements.

A lot of sellers do not want to expend the effort to improve the property, and would prefer to sell the house “as-is.”

What situation is your house in? No matter how ugly the property is, we will purchase it. Fixer upper or handyman special, leaking roof, a dripping faucet, repairs out the ears that will require you to get another loan from the bank. We buy houses in any situation.

There are also instances where the property has legal issues or other conditions that make it harder to sell (or impossible for typical buyers to get a loan). Various issues with the construction of the building, code violations, illegal additions, etc., can make a traditional sale difficult, and make an all-cash offer more attractive.

I am not trying to champion illegal properties, but to underscore that certain illegal properties, because of historical reasons and difficulty to rehabilitate, are still widely circulated in Japan (and actually quite popular among local investors!). In fact, there are money spinners carrying hefty yields – which I hope readers are aware of.
— Hiraga Mitsunori, from Winning Strategies for Japan Real Estate Investment

Properties that have current and obvious value can have legal challenges that make them difficult to sell under traditional circumstances. In Japan, many high-yield buildings that are not up to code (often due to changes in earthquake regulation, etc.) can be bought in cash but are not eligible for loans. In those cases, a cash buyer (a company or a private investor) can be a perfect solution.

No Need to Pay Commissions to Real Estate Agents

There is also a kind of seller that is particularly averse to paying commissions. That kind of seller may feel that agents do not offer much value, and will appreciate the opportunity to work directly with a buyer to avoid paying a commission on the sale. Real estate commissions of three to six percent are common, and by negotiating directly with the buyer, the parties can retain that extra value.

All Cash Sales for Property Are Private

There are also certain property owners that would like to reduce the involvement of third parties or to keep a property sale out of the public eye. These sellers often sell off-market, and prefer an all-cash deal; for cash only transactions, there is less need to provide financial records to banks and other agencies.

Buyers that want to sell their property privately can ask real agents to find an off-market buyer, or can work through an “instant sale” home buying company for an all-cash offer. In this way, the property is never publicly listed on REINs or the multiple listing service for that country or region, and there is no public record of the property sale until after the sale is completed.

Pocket-Listings and Off-Market Property Sales in Hokkaido

The real estate concepts of “off market” sales and all-cash offers are often related.

[P]roperties of better quality are now usually circulated among insiders with mutual trust.
— Tenyu Asset Management Yutaka, from the book Winning Strategies for Japan Real Estate

In this quote “circulated among insiders” refers to a private sale that was never listed on the local multiple listing services. And while “quality” will mean different things to different buyers, for many all-cash property investors, quality can mean better return on investment. All cash buyers can often purchase at a lower purchase price, making the property a “high quality” choice for investment as they resell or rent the property.

Here is a related example that helps illustrate how and why all-cash buyers find these properties:

Finding those properties is really the key to success. Distressed or otherwise attractive properties are normally not listed online. Instead, that information is typically circulated discreetly between agents.
— Toshihiko Yamamoto, from the book The Savvy Foreign Investor’s Guide to Japanese Properties

That quote provides the context to help us understand this segment of real estate sales; “distressed” properties (meaning, properties with problems) can be attractive to buyers because those properties can be purchased at a lower price. That quote provides some insight into how real estate professionals make choices.

Pocket listings, where the property is not advertised for sale, are common, so it helps to have a strong relationship with a broker.
— Chris Dillon, from the book Landed Japan

Here is yet another example pointing to the fact that these properties are not advertised, and are traded off market by investors that specialize in buying property from sellers with cash-only transactions. And while some all-cash sellers might try to avoid working with real estate agents, Dillon’s comment shows how agents and brokers often create the introductions that make all-cash deals possible.

Home flippers and other cash-based investors often find properties for sale that are not listed; they use their personal and business connections to find properties before they are available to the general public, a negotiation takes place, and the property changes hands.

“Cash For Your Home” Companies in Japan

When buyers and sellers can be matched in a consistent way, we can say there is a “market” for that product. We see these “Cash for Homes” businesses in markets around the world, including here in Japan. Most operate with the same goals as similar companies in other countries.

With a free price evaluation, we accept requests from Tokyo and nearby areas, and offer fast purchase at a high price. We also provide cash buying services, where we strive to give you the best deal, with no commission.
— Tokyo Fudosan Kaitori Center

In Japan the concept is called 不動産買取 (fudosan kaitori), which translates to “having your property purchased.”

Daikyo Anabuki Real Estate (in Tokyo) is a good example of a company that offers fast, all-cash sales in Japan. Like Tokyo Fudosan Kaitori Center, they offer to “get you cash quickly and surely.” Their website says they can complete a sale in as quick as 7 days.

Companies in Japan That Guarantee to Sell Your House

There are also real estate companies in Japan that guarantee a buyer for your property. These companies may initially help sellers to try to sell on the open market, but also offer a clause in the contract where they offer to buy the home if it doesn’t sell. The concept is called 買取保証 or “guaranteed purchase” in Japan.

The real estate company would do all the work to prepare the property for sale, they would list and advertise the property, and the sale would be open to a full range of buyers (including buyers that need financing). However, if the property was not sold by a specified period of time (three months, etc), the real estate company would purchase the property at a predetermined reduced rate (specified by agreement with the seller).

On this model, the seller has the opportunity for a higher price, but can be comfortable knowing the transaction will be completed by a specified date. The seller may have to compromise on the final selling price, but can be assured the sale won’t take up too much time.

Brokers in Japan That Refer Cash Buyers to Sellers

In addition to the individual investors and specialized companies that buy houses for cash, there are intermediaries and brokers that help connect sellers with cash buyers.

We send your information to multiple real estate companies for them to make price evaluations for your home. We have connections with several companies around the country that could buy your property.
— リビンマッチ (“Lvnmatch”)

In this model, the broker will charge a fee to help the home owner find an all-cash buyer. That additional fee paid to the broker can make using an intermediary less attractive than working with a buyer directly, but can also provide some verification of the legitimacy of the buyer, to create a sense in the seller that that buyer is reliable and can be trusted.

All Cash Buyers in Niseko

There are examples in Hokkaido where all cash offers are more common. And while all-cash buyers often expect to pay below-market rates, in markets like Niseko, buyers should not expect a discount.

Most of the sales of property in Niseko are related to tourism and the ski season, with buyers paying a premium for access to ski resorts and the prestige of owning property in Niseko.

Niseko is not what banks consider a “stable” real estate market. The towns that make up the Niseko region have small populations, few job opportunities, and there is very little demand for year-round housing. And yet demand in the ski season for vacation homes in Niseko is strong, and sales prices for Niseko property are very high. The unstable market and high prices make Niseko more risky in the eyes of lenders, so Japanese banks almost never make loans for typical property sales in Niseko – the sales that do take place in Niseko are almost always cash only.

Most purchases in the Niseko region are all cash, and those buyers pay a premium. There is no expectation of a better price for all cash in Niseko.

All-Cash Buyers for Akiyas in Japan

The topic of low-cost akiya, or “abandoned properties” in Japan, receives a lot of attention. These transactions can be difficult for most buyers to complete, and most mainstream real estate agents in Hokkaido avoid the difficulty of akiya transactions. However, some all-cash buyer scenarios can help reduce the likelihood that a property will be ignored or abandoned.

Focusing on rural cities, we provide the 4th option of ‘reformed houses’ alongside newly built, used, and rental. This unique value and our efforts to tackle the ‘akiya problem’ is highly regarded in the market and media. At Katitas, we find the potential of value in underutilized and hard-to-sell-in-market houses, buy them, and ‘カチタス’ (add value).
— Katitas

Legal issues for akiya create another instance where the majority of sales in a given category of property are predominately all-cash.

All Cash Purchases for Inherited Property

When older Japanese die, their children can sometimes inherit property. For some Japanese people, inheriting property can create problems and responsibilities they would like to avoid.

For inherited property in some locations, there are few or no buyers in that market, and the property would be hard to sell under any conditions. In other instances, when a child inherits property in a far-away city, the value of the property is less obvious or important, and the effort to sell that property can be intimidating; any amount of money for that property can seem like a better choice than facing the time and effort to manage the property or to complete a traditional sale.

In situations like these, a quick all cash sale (even at a low valuation), can be an ideal solution for Japanese home owners.

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For More Information:

— Our collection of articles on real estate in Sapporo
— Some details on buying a house in Niseko and more
— Research on property in Otaru
— More general articles about Hokkaido real estate
— Some particulars on real estate taxes in Japan

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