Category Archives: BUSINESS

What has changed in the real estate industry since Covid-19?

Now that we are many months into the pandemic, has anything changed about the way the real estate agencies are operating? For the most part, business has returned to usual, with some adjustments.

Tighter inspection screening

Just looking? Now may not be the best time to be window-shopping in person. For health reasons, some sellers are hesitant to let various people through their home during a pandemic. Agents are screening buyer inquiries more closely than before to minimize unnecessary home tours from unqualified buyers. It’s important to limit the number of people at an inspection to the decision-makers only, and best to leave the children at home. Find a good agent who can help you research online and community over email or phone to eliminate unsuitable listings and save you the legwork.

Move towards online contracts

Some condominium developers are starting to introduce online contract procedures whereby documents are sent and signed electronically. Some are sending them via post, followed by a video call. For now, this is limited to certain projects on a trial basis.

Virtual showrooms

3D walkthroughs and video conferencing are now in use by the major developers in order to connect with potential buyers online rather than having to bring groups of people through their physical showrooms. This is nothing new in the tech world, but domestic real estate developers have only now started to pay more attention to online sales methods.

Fewer open houses?

Before corona, real estate agencies would have numerous open houses on weekends with a property open to any and all off-the-street visitors from 10am to 4pm. During the peak of the first wave in April and May, agencies switched over to offering inspections by appointment only. Many have stayed with that method, however, despite being in the second wave of infections, other agencies have reverted to …continue reading

    

Tokyo apartment discounts in July

The median discount on an existing apartment sold in Tokyo’s 23 wards shrunk for the 4th month in a row, with 1.4% seen on transactions in July. This is 0.4 points lower than the median seen in July 2019. Buying activity continued to improve in July, with transaction numbers that may be on par with last year.

The median time for an apartment to sell was 49 days, showing no change from last year.

70% of apartments sold at a discount of less than 3%, including 35% that sold at their full asking price. 15% sold at a discount of over 5%, down from a 18% share seen last year.

In Minato ward, the median discount was 1.47%, down from a median of 1.67% in 2019. 32% of transactions sold at full list price. The median time to sell was 49 days, down from 71 days in 2019.

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How global value chains will evolve in the post-COVID-19 economy

Workers are busy at assembling a vehicle along the production line at a workshop of Shandong branch of Chinese state-owned automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturer JAC Motors, Qingzhou county-level city, Weifang city, east China's Shandong province, 31 May 2020 (Reuters).

Author: Satoshi Inomata, IDE-JETRO

According to traditional trade theory, the direction and magnitude of product flows are principally determined by the comparative advantages of trading countries. These comparative advantages depend on endowments of production factors: labour, capital (including human capital) and land (or natural resources). Forces integrating the different factor endowments of various countries — especially capital and technologies from advanced economies and cheap labour from developing countries — drive the development of global value chains (GVCs).

COVID-19 will likely accelerate the move toward ‘peer value chains’ among countries with similar institutional arrangements. In addition to traditional production factors, the quality of domestic institutions may become an important determinant of a country’s comparative advantage. Nathan Nunn conceptualises ‘contract-intensive‘ products, which have complex supply chains that involve multiple transactions at various stages of the production process.

Just like a country with an abundant labour force has a comparative advantage in the production of labour-intensive products, the quality of a legal system may determine a country’s international competitiveness in ‘contract-intensive’ products. Indeed, Nunn empirically demonstrates that countries with superior legal institutions have an advantage in the production of products that require complex transactions, and are more likely to export such products.

A country with an appropriate legal framework to protect intellectual property rights has an advantage in knowledge-intensive industries. Likewise, domestic institutions that support fair and transparent economic activities can be complementary sources of competitiveness. These include competition rules, licensing and clear government procurement principles. Equally important is the institutional aspect of domestic technology development and use. Intellectual property rights for digital technologies, data localisation and cross-border data flows and commerce are emerging issues for global value chains.

Still, some less novel factors remain relevant. For example, what matters to a country for entering technology intensive GVCs is the extent that the country’s …continue reading

    

113-year old house in Setagaya may be demolished

Unless a last-minute deal can be struck, the historic former home of Yukio Ozaki (1858-1954), a revered politician nicknamed the ‘father of the Japanese Constitution’, is likely to be demolished very soon.

Ozaki, then-mayor of Tokyo City, built the house in 1907 for his wife Yei Theodora Ozaki. Theodora, a translator of Japanese short stories and fairy tales, was the daughter of a Japanese baron and British mother and spent much of her time traveling between Japan and Europe. In 1934 the home was sold for 8,000 Yen to a scholar of English literature. It was dismantled from its original location in central Tokyo’s Azabu Kogaicho neighborhood and relocated to its current location in Gotokuji, Setagaya. After the passing of the former owner three years ago, the building and land was sold to a construction company. In late June, neighboring residents received notice that demolition of the house would start in mid-July.

Shocked by the news, local residents quickly began to petition for the house to be saved, collecting over 3,600 signatures that were submitted to the construction company. Even Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike expressed the need to protect the historic home at a recent press conference. In response, the company has temporarily halted demolition and is in talks to sell the property to local residents, if a financial agreement can be made.

The possible options include either selling the house and land, and keeping the house as it stands, or selling the house only and have it dismantled and reassembled somewhere else. However, these plans require a significant outlay of cash – easily over 100 million Yen (US$930,000+), and sourcing that amount of funds for a preservation project is not easy. The owner had given a deadline for the local residents to come up with the money by the end of …continue reading