by Adam Taggart
This is what happens when a slowing economy collides with aging demographics:
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.
“Japan faces significant economic and social impact effects from demographic (aging) over the next three decades,” Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit, wrote in an October note.
Abandoned properties in the world’s third-largest economy are among the least-discussed side effects of the country’s demographic changes. But it’s getting more attention given the increasing number of affordable — and sometimes free — houses put up for sale online on websites called “akiya banks.”
On one website, several homes are free, with the buyer having to pay only taxes and fees such as agent commissions.
Across Japan, the number of vacant homes stood at 8.196 million in 2013, representing around 13.52 percent of the country’s total housing stock, according to latest data by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
The 2013 figures were higher than 2008′s 7.568 million empty houses, which accounted for about 13.14 percent of Japan’s total homes that year, according to the data. By 2033, the proportion of vacant homes in Japan is expected to grow to surpass 20 percent, according to Fujitsu Research Institute.