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It was said of the California Gold Rush of the mid-19th century that the ones who made the money were those who sold the shovels. Today’s shovel sellers in Tokyo are the service providers, agents and brokers eager to entice clients with tales of gold in the hills.

Recently there has been a spate of real estate investment seminars targeting average salarymen and expats in Tokyo. A common opportunity presented is the whole-apartment-building investment, and the idea is simple: Find a building producing a healthy rental yield and organize financing from a willing institution.

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