Japan has millions of cheap abandoned homes. Here's what to know before you buy one.

Insider -- Aug 05

Japan has millions of abandoned houses in the countryside, and the country is struggling to fill them.

With the population in Japan shrinking and Japanese buyers vastly preferring new over used homes, older homes are often abandoned when owners die or younger generations refuse to inherit them. Sitting empty, these homes can fall into disrepair.

In an effort to revitalize rural areas and attract buyers, some regional governments are subsidizing renovations and offering these akiya — the Japanese term for "empty house" — for around $25,000 for sale or auction, and sometimes for as little as $500.

These houses can be found listed in "akiya banks," pages operated by local governments as part of a program launched by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). The Japanese government estimated in 2018 that there were nearly 8.5 million abandoned homes in the country. Akiyabanks.com, a website with information in both English and Japanese, provides a collective directory of all known municipal akiya banks in Japan. ...continue reading