For expatriate rental housing in central Tokyo property availability has continued to tighten, with corresponding higher prices, in both the low and medium price range (approximate USD3,000 to 12,000/month rental rates). The belief is that this will continue for the foreseeable future as companies continue to localize and cut back on benefits which has resulted in foreign employees who perhaps formerly were in the highest sectors now moving more into the middle range. Companies also appear to be bringing in more singles and younger people than before, most of whom will live in short term or lower priced accommodation
Only the very highest ranges (say rents over USD18,000/month) appear to have sufficient vacancies for at least the near term. One of the major contributors to this situation is that the financial sector appears to be continuing to contract at least in terms of the number of foreign employees they have on full expatriate packages. It should be mentioned that the serviced apartment business is very busy as more and more companies seem to bring people in for quick rotations of half a year or so.
Policy changes affecting foreign housing
Another factor impacting expatriate housing is the growing local (Japanese) demand for high end leased apartments which is taking up some of the housing stock that used to be available more exclusively to the foreign community. One of the reasons for this appears to be a rise in personal housing standards as more Japanese of means seek and appreciate higher end housing. Another reason is that legal changes regarding leasing contracts have made high end property owners, who used to shy away from leasing to Japanese tenants (strangely enough), more comfortable in leasing to local Japanese companies, as owners have gained a much greater ability to evict delinquent or non-paying tenants than they had before. Also tied to this is the increase in reputable companies that will act as a lease guarantor, few of which even existed 10 years ago, again creating greater comfort for Japanese owners to lease their high end properties to Japanese companies for executive housing.
Purchasing is not yet an option for newly arrived assignees to Japan as it is very difficult for newcomers to receive mortgages from Japanese financial institutions. Though for those who have lived here more than 3 years it is a growing possibility.