Top 5 Akiya Banks For Foreigners To Use In 2024

Top 5 Akiya Banks For Foreigners To Use In 2024

Want a free house? Why not look at akiya houses?

But how do you even find one?

Akiya banks will be your answer. The sites help individuals search for and find vacant, abandoned, and cheap properties in Japan.

We curated 5 of the best akiya banks for foreigners to help you find a free property.

What is an akiya bank?

Akiya banks are online house databases that list vacant or abandoned properties for buyers and renters. These banks are often run by local governments, NPOs, or real estate agencies. However, not all the properties within a prefecture are available online, so you must contact the akiya bank for more information.

There are many akiya banks throughout Japan, and each prefecture has its specialized akiya bank for its area.

How do you find an akiya in Japan?

First, determine where you want to search for an akiya in Japan. Akiya exists everywhere in Japan, and it can be overwhelming to search all prefectures and cities to find the one you’re looking for.

To help simplify your search, use these akiya bank English websites to find properties.

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4 akiya banks for foreigners to use

Here are 4 English akiya banks for you to use. 

Each site has akiya listings in English as well as provides other important information, such as property details, buying procedures, and contact information for further assistance

1. Akiya & Inaka 

Akiya & Inaka

Akiya & Inaka is an akiya bank platform to help international buyers acquire rural properties in Japan.

They offer three services to help with property purchasing, selling, and investing in rural Japan

  • Buyer services: they will help buyers throughout the process from the initial searches to brokerage services, along with renovation guidance.

  • Investor services: they provide research, registration assistance, and market entry support for investors in rural real estate development.

  • Seller services: working with property owners, they will develop the best sale approach for the property while helping with property preparation, listing advice, and lead generation.

Akiya & Inaka recognize the challenges when it comes to akiya houses. So they will adjust their services to help you find the perfect house in Japan.

2. Akiya-Mart

 Akiya-Mart

Akiya-Mart is an online akiya bank search tool for helping English-speaking individuals looking to find and buy property in Japan.

This akiya bank was founded by Joey and Take, two people who met while studying abroad in Japan and who wanted to create a simplified platform to search for an akiya house. 

Their map search is the easiest way to look at akiyas throughout Japan.

All the real estate listings will show:

  • The price in yen and USD

  • Building and land dimensions

  • House or apartment layout

  • Links to its Google map location and realtor’s website

Additionally, Akiya-Mart has a podcast of Joey and Take's journey of purchasing property in Japan to listen to their experiences.

3. Akiyaz

Akiyaz

This akiya bank for foreigners was founded and led by Matt Ketchu

Akiyaz finds the best property with the highest return on investment and the best community impact by giving its clients an optimized list of properties. 

Their team works closely to support those seeking akiya in Japan and support long-term sustainability and cultural preservation.

4. Nippon Tradings International (NTI)

Nippon Tradings International (NTI)

Akiya-Mart is an amazing resource for foreigners looking to invest in Japanese real estate

They provide access to different types of properties, including akiya properties and holiday homes. Their services include with property research, settlement negotiation, and property ownership transfer

The NTI team will provide transparent property portfolios and help maximize your property investments.

5. AkiyaBanks

AkiyaBanks

AkiyaBanks is a comprehensive online database and directory of all the known municipal akiya banks in Japan.

Their website collects information from all the Japanese local governments, including their respective akiya bank pages, recent listings for sale, and relevant resources. If you would like to find an akiya in the great Tokyo area, you’ll need to use a Tokyo akiya bank and send in an application.

While it is not a property listing site, AkiyaBanks is a bridge for potential buyers with the local governments or property owners.

How do I use an akiya bank?

Many of these akiya banks operate like an online Japanese real estate service. However, most of them prefer you to sign up as a user to use their site. But once you've signed up, you’ll see how simple using an akiya bank is.

1. Decide on a location

To help narrow down all the akiya houses in Japan, you’ll need to decide where in Japan you’ll get the property from.

You can start regionally, like Kanto, then look in more specific areas, such as Saitama or Chiba.

Some properties near the city center will be more expensive than in more rural areas of Japan. But it all depends on the property's condition, size, and location.

If you have a particular location in mind, you can do a quick search in Japanese: [place name]市空き家バンク. While an English site may exist, searching in Japanese is much faster.

2. Narrow your selection

Some akiya banks will have transparent listings, such as the added date, outside and layout photos, the property's total cost, the cost of renovation, and so on.

Other akiya banks might present the bare minimum information to allow potential buyers to contact them for specific consultations.

3. Visit the property

It’s best to have 3-4 scheduled booked viewings for the properties you are interested in.

Akiya bank representatives will guide you through the process, answering any questions you have, and can provide financing and renovation advice.

How do you set up an akiya house?

Before moving into your new akiya house, you’ll need to set up the water, electricity, and potentially the internet. But setting it up can be complex as you’ll need to call the local utility companies to coordinate a set-up.

If you need help, MailMate is the bilingual property management service that can assist you.

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How can MailMate prepare your akiya house?

MailMate’s Akiya & Vacation Home Package is perfect for foreigners abroad who want to set up their akiya properties so that everything is ready for them when they arrive in Japan. 

a. Utility liaison

bill payment

Let MailMate set up and manage your essential utilities, such as electricity, water, and gas. We’ll make sure they are up and functioning when you arrive.

Plus, we’ll make sure these bills are paid so you don’t incur late fees or get your utilities turned off. 

b. Tax agent representation for your property taxes

There are two main taxes you have to pay in Japan after paying the property acquisition tax: Fixed asset tax (固定資産税, kotei shisan zei) and City planning tax (都市計画税, toshi keikaku zei).

If you do not reside in Japan, you will need to appoint someone to pay these taxes on your behalf.  So, let MailMate act as your tax representative to ensure you and your property comply with local tax regulations. We’ll also manage all the necessary paperwork for you.

c. Bilingual mail translation

MailMate dashboard

MailMate will receive, scan, and translate your mail as a virtual mailbox address so you can understand all the important notifications related to your properties. 

d. Maintenance scheduling

Don’t stress about communicating in Japanese when you need to schedule anything. Let MailMate know what type of maintenance is needed so we can schedule it for you so your property will be in excellent condition even when you are away.

Frequently asked questions

Can anyone use an akiya bank?

Anyone can use an akiya in Japan, including foreigners and non-permanent residents.

Akiya banks are open to all users, though the application process to receive an akiya house will depend on the municipality or region.

Does the government fund akiya banks?

Typically, akiya banks are funded by the local governments in Japan as these banks act as platforms to provide information about vacant or abandoned properties within the jurisdiction. The funding for the akiya banks is from local government budgets for urban development, housing initiatives, or revitalization programs.

Can you buy a house in Japan as an American?

There are no restrictions on foreigners to buy a house in Japan.

In closing

Using akiya banks for foreigners to find vacant, abandoned, and cheap property in Japan is a must. It’ll make things much easier in terms of searching and navigating to find a property that fits your needs and wants.

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