Introducing Peak Property
Today we introduce Peak Property during our interview with Kiichi Nakagawa. Kiichi first arrived in Niseko as a visitor in 2000 and has now built a successful career as a real estate agent with his business partner, Ruskin McLennan.
What is your background and experience in the real estate market in Japan?
Snowboard Fanatic! I came to Niseko in 2000 and worked for a few different companies so I could ride as much as possible. The real estate market was initially slow but started to take off about 2005. I obtained my real estate licence and became a partner in a local real estate company. Finally I started Peak Niseko in 2016 with a good friend.
What’s your ‘story’?
My family and I live in Hanazono and we love the Niseko lifestyle. Skiing and snowboarding in winter and surfing in summer. The snow and summer life are the two things I love the most about Niseko.
What qualities makes a good real estate agent?
I think the best agents are those with a deep understanding of the market. The longer your agent has been in Niseko the better. They will know which areas are best for your needs and which buildings and management companies have your best interests. Experience is everything in this market.
What has been your favourite selling experience or greatest project to work on?
Since my partner and I opened Peak Niseko we have been helping our clients find great sites for investment and development. We are working with a more select group of clients on repeat projects.
What’s the hardest part about your job? And what is the easiest?
The hardest part of our job is educating our clients on the real estate process in Japan. It’s simple and straightforward but they are understandably cautious. The most rewarding part is seeing clients become part of the Niseko community. For many of our hardworking clients owning a property in Niseko is a reward for their hard work. We recently sold an apartment to a ER doctor from HK who says that the thought of his skiing life in Niseko gets him through the toughest days in the hospital.
What makes your market attractive to investors?
Niseko’s skiing is always the most attractive part for our clients. But they are also becoming attracted to the other resorts in the Niseko region, Kiroro, Kokusai and Rusutsu. Summer is always a bonus. The constant growth in the market over the last 15 years makes investing in Niseko more than just a lifestyle.
What is the most exciting thing coming to your destination in the near future?
Upgrade to the Hanazono lift infrastructure will really bring Niseko into the future. Well done to PCPD for having the vision to make it happen.
Where do the opportunities lie in your market?
Niseko will continue to grow and will be driven by the Shinkansen, the new lifts in Hanazono and potentially the Winter Olympics. Peak Niseko see potential in Rusutsu and Kutchan in particular. Land continues to be the best investment in Niseko and we specialise in finding great sites for our clients.
What needs and wants do your clients have that might differ from other areas of the world?
Every client is different but a view of Mt Yotei is always high on the list. Our clients will often buy an apartment and a block of land. They want the lifestyle and the investment. They still see Niseko as inexpensive on a global scale.
The Next Few Years
How has the market held up through the pandemic?
Slow and steady. It's been an opportunity for the smart buyers to really study the market. This slowdown is very different to 2009 and 2012 (after the earthquake) as we have seen very little discounting in the market.
What changes has it caused?
Great skiing with no people! The really interesting thing is the number of major developments that have been announced, the market is being led by large investors, in the past the market was led by small investors building houses.What changes do you foresee in the real estate market once borders reopen?
I think we will see a run for land. People will be looking for a safer environment and we think they will be more inclined to build a house.
Do you think the needs and wants of your clients have changed due to the pandemic?
Not really, Niseko caters to a broad market. You can still buy a cheap block of land and build a cabin or if you want you can buy an Aman Villa for 20 million USD.
What exciting changes are coming to Niseko in the next few years?
The large Hotels that are due to open in Niseko in the few years will cater to a higher end clientele.
Your Tips For Investors
What are a few crucial things to consider for a foreigner looking to invest in Japan?
Research the market and find an agent who can explain the market to you. Japan real estate is an opaque market, real estate sales data is not in the public domain.
What are the mistakes to avoid when investing in Japan from abroad?
It’s cheap for a reason. Some properties that are inexpensive may have access issues in winter or be too far away to ever be in demand from tenants.
Do you have any properties available now that are particularly unique or exciting?
We have some land in Rusutsu that has great potential for growth in the next decade.
Any other tips or comments for people visiting UchiJapan.com?
There is a market beyond Niseko, Uchi is a great way to view that market.