Want a free country house in Japan? They’re giving them away

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Want a free country house in Japan? They’re giving them away

A cityscape view of Tokyo from the Tokyo Tower, Japan, circa 1965.










Harvey Meston | Archive Photos | Getty Images

A cityscape view of Tokyo from the Tokyo Tower, Japan, circa 1965.

Japan has an increasing number of vacant homes — a problem that’s set to persist because of an aging and shrinking population that has left many towns and villages empty.

Properties listed on Tochigi’s “akiya bank”

On one website, several homes are free, with the buyer having to pay only taxes and fees such as agent commissions.

“This is usually because the owners cannot take care of the property anymore or do not want to pay the property tax that applies in Japan for a home that they do not use,” said real estate site REthink Tokyo in an October report.

The free homes also usually require major refurbishment because they are old and run down. But some local governments — such as the Tochigi and Nagano prefectures — offer subsidies for renovation work on vacant houses.

For vacant homes that are not free, prices can range from 500,000 Japanese yen ($4,428.50) to close to 20 million yen ($177,140) depending on location, age and condition of the house, according to the listings seen by CNBC.

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