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Opinion
Gearoid Reidy

Property Markets Work Better When the Line Doesn’t Always Go Up

Japan’s housing sector has been flat for years. But if dwellings are plentiful and attainable, why should that be a bad thing? 

Not a queue to visit a vacant apartment in sight.

Not a queue to visit a vacant apartment in sight.

Photographer: Kentaro Takahashi/Bloomberg
Corrected

These days, when Japan’s property market makes the headlines at all, it’s usually for the wrong reasons: The millions of homes sitting empty across the country, perhaps, or the notoriously poor investment that buying a house can prove. A home can often be worthless by the time a buyer has repaid the mortgage. 

But look at it from the perspective of housing as a roof over people’s heads rather than a store of a value, and Japan starts to look like a success.