Finance advice

Investing abroad: Property transactions in Japan

By Bianca Dabu
property transactions in Japan, investing abroad

Investor Warrick O’Brien and his wife have successfully acquired an investment property in Japan after liquidating their assets in Australia—a transition that definitely came with a price. What are the hurdles they had to jump to make a successful investment abroad?

The couple wanted to combine a growing investment with a healthy lifestyle, so they sought markets in Canada, America and other Western areas for assets that will be perfect for starting a business.

“We'd been looking at a form of investment that would be a bit of a love investment but still a practical investment. One that we can still move forward financially and economically while maintaining our lifestyle,” Mr O’Brien said.

In the end, they fell in love with the mountains of Japan, bought an abandoned company lodge in the Myoko Kogen area in Niigata and restored it as a ski lodge.

As inspiring as it sounds, the reality of the whole process was a combination of ups and downs for the couple.

For one, they had to sell their properties in Australia to raise enough funds, including their units, townhouses and even their principal place of residence. Then, they had to find a legal way to move their money from Australia to Japan.

The investor shared: “We had to use a local agent and work out ways to legally move the money over traceably. Then, the property transaction was done in a bank. It's all done with signatures.”

“The bank manager walked out with all of the money in cash and handed it to me, then I had to hand it to the various parties. Very different [from] the process of Australia. It was quite daunting having all this cash handed to you,” he added.

After purchasing the property, they also had to acquire Japanese visas so they can stay in the country indefinitely.

Until they were declared official citizens of Japan, Mr O’Brien and his wife were not allowed to stay for more than three months, even if they have a property and a business registered in the country.

Then, they had to go through the unfamiliar process of renovating in another country.

According to him: “It’s been hard, but it's getting better. I'm getting a chance to enjoy it now.”

Dealing with the Japanese

One of the things that made all the processes easier for Mr O’Brien and his wife is the impeccable professionalism of the Japanese people.

Throughout the entire process of acquiring the real estate asset and turning it into a ski lodge business, they have been treated with nothing but honesty and transparency, according to the investor.

He said: “I will never be a Japanese businessman or investor. I will always be seen as a foreigner but I know where I stand. There's no false smiles. This is a business sale, a business transaction, and every dealing that we've had in Japan has been very transparent, very honest.”

As far as the couple is concerned, every transaction they have been a part of in Japan have been straightforward and ‘very moral’.

It was this clear communication that got them through even the most complex process that they had to go through in the acquisition phase.

According to Mr O’Brien: “There's not the same stress, for example, when we negotiated for our property. Our agent informed us that the property was still for sale but they were no longer negotiating with anybody else.”

“There is a very moral and process-driven way that things are done here so, now that we have our head around it, we find it quite easy to do dealings,” he added.

His advice for investors looking to jump into an investment abroad: Do your due diligence and mitigate risks just as well as you do in your home country.

Moreover, continue to surround yourself with both local and foreign professionals that you trust, so you can consider all the extra challenges you have to face, including different investment structures, financing hurdles and language barrier.

Investing abroad is not as hard as most people think, he said, as long as you don’t go into it naively.

While it could definitely be stressful in the beginning, it’s worth all the efforts once you get to see the fruit of your labor, according to him.

“It's a lot more controlled, the amount of work we're doing and the stress levels,” Mr O’Brien said.

Why invest abroad?

There have been no regrets for the investor and his wife in putting their money in a market miles away from home because, at the end of the day, they got exactly what they were looking for—a chance to grow their wealth while enjoying their life.

Unless the town goes ‘gangbusters’, the couple is keen to stay as long as possible and work to expand their business in the Asian country within five to 10 years.

He highlighted: “Now that we've gone through all the hurdles of visas and accounts and bank accounts and registration and everything, it's becoming a lot easier. We're extremely happy with it. We enjoy being there and the town's fantastic, plus the snow is great.”

“So, five- to 10-year plan is definitely to keep it, run it and establish a very solid set of books behind it. We could possibly expand as well because we've got the on-ground infrastructure now.

“It's finding that sweet spot where we can expand a little bit potentially and not have to overextend ourselves—just utilise what we've got,” the investor said.

If given another opportunity, Mr O’Brien is more than willing to go and invest in a foreign country again.

After all, it’s more than wealth-creation now for him and his wife—it’s about being able to enjoy their days together and sustain the lifestyle they are most comfortable with.

According to him: “Some might say this is insanity but there comes a point when you start to wonder, ‘How much do I really need?’ ”

“We want to keep moving forward and not move into retirement eating into our investment and cash, but this was a good opportunity to slow our earnings and grow something while still enjoying the lifestyle that we wanted,” he concluded.

 

Tune in to Warrick O’Brien’s episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about the processes he went through to successfully establish a ski lodge in the mountains of Japan.

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FROM THE WEB

podcast

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Luke’s first property investment included what he now looks back on as “learning experiences”.  He chose it only because it was close to where he lived, he bought it at the peak of the market and he elected to manage his (unreliable, damage-prone) tenants alone. Now, 16 years on Luke has 30 properties and a much better idea about how to approach the investment game.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show Luke joins host Tim Neary to unpack how he went about educating himself, how his investment style has changed over time and why patience is the name of the game.

Luke will also share how his initial mistakes discouraged him and had him doubting the wisdom of being an investor, and how his realisation of the importance of active management bought him back into line.  He will discuss the importance of having a strong support team and why it’s smart to put a proper value on your personal time.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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AREAS MENTIONED: 

Sydney
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An unsure start in property investment leads to a 30-property portfolio
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Promoted by Blue Ink Finance.

Budgeting tips when your Personal Debt is High.

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Credit card debts and personal loans are the greatest obstacle between everyday people and their potential to live in financial freedom.

Of course, I understand that sometimes getting a small personal loan is absolutely necessary. Unexpected costs like medical expenses can make personal loans the only option.

However, the majority of us have debt simply because we spend more than we earn.

In either case, your number one priority is unlocking those chains of debt that are holding you back.

I’m going to give you some tips for budgeting with hefty personal debt, but first I want to talk about the impact those loans are having on your life.

How much is your debt really costing you?

Over the years that you’re paying off your loans at the minimum repayment, the interest on those items will end up costing you multiple times more than the original borrowed amount - and those endless due dates will haunt you. There’s no freedom in that!

Let me give you an example. You’ll be shocked, I guarantee it!

Let’s say you have around $4,000 of credit card debt, charged at 19.99% p.a. If you paid only the minimum monthly amount, it would take 37 years to pay off the total debt.

How much will that $4,000 debt cost you? $19,200. Depressing, isn’t it?

You might feel like you need a full-blown money explosion to get out of debt, but don’t despair just yet.

What you need to do is arm yourself with a strategic budget, and I’ve got some tips to help you.

Budgeting while you have hefty personal debt is tough, but possible – and it’s essential for eliminating that debt forever. Let’s have a quick look at how you can start to tackle that mountain of borrowed money.

It’s time to take charge and break some chains!

There’s a method for reducing debt that has an excellent success rate, if you’re committed:

  1. Make a realistic budget (and stick to it)
  2. Reduce your expenses and/or increase your income until you are in the black
  3. Save an emergency fund first
  4. Pay off your personal loans and credit cards, starting with the either the smallest debt first or the debt with the highest interest rate
  5. Revise your budget as you go along.

Why an emergency fund is paramount to success

You’ll see I’ve put saving an emergency fund before paying off your loans. Even a small amount initially, like $500, is enough to stop the cycle of borrowing to pay bills, then paying out even more in interest each month, which leaves less in the bank to pay the next bill.

Once you have a buffer saved, then you can start aiming some serious firepower on your debt, and that’s when it gets exciting!

Think back to my credit card example. If you upped the payments each month from $84 per month to $212, you would have the card paid off in two years and save $14,285 in interest. That’s worth a little bit of effort, wouldn’t you agree?

Tips for a budget that works

You may need to cut back drastically on your expenses to clear your debt, but here’s some other ways to make the most of your budget:

  • Find micro-ways to reduce your expenses every day. Make work lunches at home, cancel a pay TV subscription, find a better phone deal, or pass on your afternoon chocolate bar from the vending machine. Instead of spending $40 on a takeaway dinner, have a bowl of cereal!

  • Find a friend who will keep you accountable. Having someone else who shuns a pricey outing to the day spa for a walk along the beach instead will make you feel better about saying ‘no’ to expensive events that will blow the budget.

  • Refinance your home loan to release some funds. If you have a mortgage, talk to us at Blue Ink Finance about the possibility of refinancing your home loan to allow you to release some equity to help clear your high interest, personal debt. It’s not always the best strategy, but it’s worth investigating, especially if you can consolidate it into a home loan that has a significantly lower interest rate.

  • If your income increases, leverage it! The only place that extra money should go is into paying off more debt. Enough said!

  • Refine and polish your budget as your circumstances change. Your budget shouldn’t stay the same. As you find more ways to decrease your expenditure and become adept at sticking to your financial plan, fine-tune your budget to reflect your savvy saving. Any spare change goes directly onto your debt.

  • Automate payments of bills, so you don’t spend the money first. This saves you from late fees if you forget, too.

The reality is that you won’t have a profitable budget until you get rid of that high-interest debt. The beauty of a budget is that it can get you there! Knock the debt, stay away from borrowing except for assets like property, and you’ll have a well-oiled financial plan that kicks goals instead of paying lenders!

At Blue Ink Finance, we have a team of expert brokers as well as a panel of industry experts that understand all the nuances of positioning your personal finances to kick real goals with Property Assets and can support you in achieving your goals.

Give the team at Blue Ink Finance a call on 1300 888 796 or click here to request your Complimentary Finance Review with one of our experienced Finance Coaches now.

And see how having a panel of industry experts on your side, can fast track your property goals.

About The Author

David Wegener
Chief Executive Officer
Blue Ink Finance

Who I am, and why I want to help you succeed.

As an award-winning Mortgage Broker with nearly 20 years’ experience in the finance industry, I’ve seen it all.

I’ve gone through constant industry changes and yet I still successfully help my customers borrow the money they need to get ahead.

As a Finance Coach, my goal is to help you understand your financial potential so that you can borrow with confidence.

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Leveraging your Blue Ink Finance Broker for more than just a loan.
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With the softening market impacting property values in many parts of Australia, Sally Dale, Opteon state director for NSW, ACT and Qld joins us to discuss the importance of valuations in the current property market

" ["fulltext"]=> string(3002) "

Joining host Phil Tarrant, Sally will draw on her 25 years of experience in valuation and discuss the processes involved in arriving at a value for a particular property. She will also share how that process differs between commercial and residential properties and the difficulties which regional property valuations can present.

Sally will unpack the importance and cost of regular valuations on your properties, discuss whether presentation and owner input can sway a valuation and share what you should look for when seeking a reputable property valuer.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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AREAS MENTIONED: 

Sydney
Brisbane
Adelaide

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Can property presentation result in a higher valuation?

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