Real estate companies are betting that empty nesters will continue migrating to condominiums in Tokyo and other urban centers after selling suburban homes.

Some couples are tired of maintaining gardens, which can become a nuisance as homeowners age, while others find their homes too spacious after their children grow up and move away.

Developers are factoring in the future needs of their clients, such as ensuring that units boast such features as wheelchair accessibility, while creating appealing building designs.

“Our condominiums are designed to prevent injuries and accidents, but we are careful not to give clients the impression that they are like nursing homes,” said Fumio Tanaka, a section chief of Tokyu Land Corp.’s commodity planning division.

The real estate company launched its Master’s Style Premium plan for couples in their 50s and older, and has been selling condominiums near a train line operated by Tokyu Corp., a railway under the Tokyu group, in the Yokohama area since last year.

Tanaka said that even if condo dwellers start having to use wheelchairs, the hallways are already wider than average units and the doors can be pulled open.

He said, “We are paying full attention to their future.”

Tanaka said windows are built into walls separating the dining, living and bedrooms to increase visibility and audibility in case someone collapses and needs help.

“There are many people thinking about moving from the outskirts of Tokyo along that line,” he said. “We would like to actively introduce this plan in condominiums to be sold in the future.”

Taizo Tsuneizumi, an executive director at Tanaka’s industry peer, agrees with the analysis.

“The number of middle-aged couples visiting our model rooms has been increasing sharply in the last three years,” he said.

Recruit Cosmos Co. built a high-rise condominium last year near Yokohama’s Chinatown, and found that 35 percent of the purchasers were over 50. He said many had sold their suburban homes, even though the facility was designed without their future needs in mind.

The company began selling apartments in the metropolitan area and the Kinki region in western Japan last year equipped with sliding walls that allow the owners to freely change room designs to create a more spacious living room or a hobby room after their children leave.

“Apartments for middle-aged couples will be a major market in the future,” Tsuneizumi said.


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