Introducing Niseko Real Estate
In the first of our series of interviews with our listing real estate agents, we sat down with Jess Ripper of Niseko Real Estate. He has given some fascinating insights into the current state of the real estate market in Hokkaido as well as where opportunities lie both now and in the near future!
Niseko Real Estate have been active in Niseko and the wider area since 2002, helping thousands of buyers find their homes in this special resort area.
What is your background and experience in the real estate market in Japan?
We’ve been in operation for 20 years, with successful property transactions numbering in the thousands. Throughout the past 2 decades, our team has gained a wealth of experience in all aspects of the real estate market here in Niseko, and the wider Japan marketplace.
What do you love most about the Niseko market?
Everyone involved in the Niseko market shares a common passion for the area and the lifestyle that Niseko affords. Our job is to help people secure sound financial investments, but also, and possibly most importantly provide them with the opportunity to plant some roots that allow them to fully enjoy the incredible natural environment and all of the wonderful adventures that a base in Niseko provides for.
The Niseko marketplace is ever-changing and dynamic. It’s an exciting place to be! With every year that passes, new projects come along that push the envelope in terms of quality and luxury - every new project is a chance to aim a little higher than before. It has been a joy and a privilege to play a role in Niseko’s evolution to the internationally recognised destination that it is today.
What qualities makes a good real estate agent?
Extensive knowledge about the property market is vital, including the current context, historical trends, as well as being on the pulse of future developments and other aspects that will shape the market down the line.
In-depth local knowledge from a geographical and cultural perspective is also highly important. We’re selling more than property here, and being familiar with the landscape, local customs, and points of interest, can do more for a client than simply ‘showing them the numbers’ of an investment opportunity.
The ability to develop and nurture positive client relationships is key in ensuring customer satisfaction. Maintaining an open and honest line of communication is the best way to maintain rapport and trust, which ultimately leads to customer satisfaction.
What has been your favourite selling experience or greatest project to work on?
The best part of selling is the genuine satisfaction conveyed by the client, buyer or seller, once a transaction is finalised. Quite often property deals can be lengthy negotiations full of complexity, with a lot of energy required in order to achieve the desired outcome - when everything comes together at the end of brokering a deal, no matter the size, it’s personally very satisfying.
We’ve been intimately involved in a number of Niseko’s most standout and renowned developments - from the initial land purchase by the developer, through the conceptual design phase, project management during the planning and construction period, creation of sales & marketing strategies, managing the sale process, to the final delivery to the end-buyers. The list is quite extensive, but notable great experiences being so closely involved in the project include Panorama Niseko, Aya Niseko, and Ki Niseko.
What’s the hardest part about your job? And what is the easiest?
Hokkaido’s natural environment is a year-round playground, with world-class skiing and snowboarding in the winter, rafting in the spring, golf, tennis, cycling, fishing and hiking in the summer months. The hardest part is fitting it all in, along with spending some time in the office!
The easiest part is the lifestyle we’re so blessed to enjoy in this part of the world.
What makes your market attractive to investors?
Stable, consistent, capital appreciation, low barriers to market entry, and simply the fact that these are incredible lifestyle investments. There are many others, too numerous to mention! This IS Asia’s #1 year-round alpine resort destination, and the future star is shining brightly.
Where do the opportunities lie in your market?
Ski-in ski-out properties are always the most in demand, but the lesser known areas further afield show incredible potential for growth, including Moiwa, Kondo, Rankoshi and Soga. Investors able to look outside of Hirafu will find any number of hidden gems, waiting to be uncovered.
What needs and wants do your clients have that might differ from other areas of the world?
Ski-in, ski-out locations, onsen and of course the signature Mt. Yotei view. Properties that feature all 3 are like gold dust!
The Next Few Years
How has the market held up through the pandemic?
Whilst we have experienced a decrease in the number of sales, transactions are still being regularly contracted. Prices across the board remain steady, and in some cases we are seeing properties actually trade at the highest prices on a sqm basis that we’ve seen in Niseko to-date!
What changes has it caused?
The market has held steady throughout the pandemic, and with a variety of developments progressing - both large-scale hotel projects and smaller residential builds - it’s clear that there’s solid confidence in Niseko’s post-Covid future.
What do you foresee changing in the real estate market once international travel returns?
Once international travel returns, we anticipate a swift and significant surge in the property market. Observing other markets around the world, with property in resort areas and locations away from large urban centers swelling in demand, Niseko is set to follow suit once border restrictions are relaxed.
Do you think the needs and wants of your clients have changed due to the pandemic?
As we’re seeing in property markets all around the world, buyers are looking for more space, especially outdoors, bringing nature to the home. We’re very fortunate to have an abundance of natural beauty here in Hokkaido for our clients to enjoy.
Your Tips For Investors
What are a few crucial things to consider for a foreigner looking to invest in Japan?
Firstly, would-be investors should be aware that there is no restriction on foreign ownership of property in Japan.
At present, it is quite difficult for non-residents of Japan to secure financing from local banks for property purchases here, so it is important that foreign investors have clear insight into how they plan to fund a property purchase.
What are the mistakes to avoid when investing in Japan from abroad?
Property transaction prices are not public record in Japan, so it can be a little tricky to understand the market and gauge where the true value lies. A trusted real estate agent with experience in the market is invaluable when it comes to assessing potential investment opportunities.
Do you have any properties available now that are particularly unique or exciting?
The Panorama Niseko development is one that really stands out. Every villa and townhouse features private indoor & outdoor onsen, and Mt. Yotei & Ski Resort views. Panorama’s unique location on the banks of the Shiribeshi River provides a rare level of exclusivity, whilst ensuring that the Mt. Yotei views are completely protected, an asset that is becoming harder to secure. Easing into your own private onsen with a full Mt. Yotei view after a long day of skiing is the quintessential Niseko experience!
Niseko Real Estate
Thank you to Jess and the Niseko Real Estate team for their early support of Uchi and providing such an interesting and comprehensive interview.
Click here to view all the properties that Niseko Real Estate have currently listed on Uchi.
Or, if you'd like to jump straight to Panorama Niseko then click here!