Ever been caught checking out real estate windows while on ski holiday? You’re not alone. It’s the thought every skier or snowboarder has had at least once, after an epic Japan ski trip: “What if I buy my own very ski chalet?”
Then you briefly look into it and it all seems a bit too hard and expensive, and real life comes and sweeps you away, and your chalet dream gets left in the dust once again.
Thankfully we’ve got good news for Aussies still hoping to invest and live their best ski lodge life. Hakuba White Fox is the Japanese company run by an American/Japanese couple, helping foreigners who want to build their own chalets in Hakuba, or those who either want to invest in other projects or need help managing existing properties.
Founder of Hakuba White Fox, Alex Novak, has over 13 years experience with a global investment bank in Hong Kong and Tokyo and is well founded on getting bang for your Japan yen. They also manage direct bookings for a list of beyond-stunning chalets, so you know they’re well-versed in every element of the Japanese property spectrum.
We got the insider intel from Novak on exactly how much it’ll set you back to buy – and look after – that dream chalet in Japan.
Hakuba is one of Japan’s most popular ski areas, thanks to being just three hours from Tokyo and offering up over 11 metres of snowfall each season, along with access to multiple ski areas and a huge variety of terrain. Plus tourism numbers are increasing steadily, going from 93,000 foreign visitors in 2012-13 to 367,000 in 2018-19.
Hakuba has the additional benefit of still having cost-effective purchase options available. That’s never a bad thing in Japan, where cash is king and finance is difficult to obtain.
“Plenty of overseas investors and developers have recently missed out on Niseko opportunities, where pricing has increased dramatically over the last few years. Hakuba prices are still a fraction of what they might be in Hokkaido resorts,” Alex reveals.
So how much?
It’s the million-dollar question without a million-dollar price tag.
“Hakuba is a valley with a broad range of property available for purchase,” Alex says. “There are still plots of land for sale for less than AUD $50,000. They could be a five minute drive to the nearest resorts. However, a plot within walking distance to a lift could be ten times that price.”
The bottom line: for a custom wooden-built chalet, you might be looking at a minimum of AUD$3000 per square metre, moving up to the AUD$4500-5000 mark per square metre for something that’s really luxe.
Is it hard for Aussies to purchase in Hakuba?
Ownership in Japan is relatively simple for foreigners, although it helps to go through a company such as White Fox that can help you with any translations along the way. Purchasing in Hakuba can also be relatively painless when compared to investing in lesser-known ski areas, where there is little history of foreign investment.
Once you purchase, White Fox are there to help manage your chalet, whether you want to keep it solely for personal use, or mix it up with some short-term rentals.
“If you want to book your home for 2 weeks in winter and rent it out the rest of the year, we’re happy to provide that for you. If you only want to use it yourself and not rent it out, we also are happy to do that as well – we cater our services to your needs,” Alex explains.
Those services can include chalet cleaning, paying your bills and taking care of all bookings coming through to your chalet.
What can I get out of it?
Returns, of course – but this can vary widely based on location, ongoing investment and original purchase price.
“I’d say that the returns are attractive enough that people from many countries including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and plenty more, are happily purchasing and building here,” Alex reveals.
“Most are anticipating positive yields combined with future capital appreciation.”
I’m good without buying, but can I come anyway?
Absolutely. White Fox have a range of chalets available for rent throughout the season, all built with the ultimate ski holiday in mind, including elements like underfloor heating, private dry rooms for ski gear, and heated parking lots to make everything easy.
They have onsite car rental and are conveniently located in Echoland, which has a large selection of bars and restaurants within walking distance; plus easy access to both Japanese and Western restaurant, onsens, grocery stores.