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The number of condominiums put on sale in the Tokyo metropolitan area in March rose 13.4 percent from a year earlier to 7,596 units, the first year-on-year increase in five months, the Real Estate Economic Institute said Wednesday.

The marked increase was driven by high-rise and large-scale condominium complexes, an official at the institute said, adding that they are selling well partly due to growing expectations of a pickup in the economy.

The institute said 83.6 percent of new condos in the Tokyo area found buyers. Per-unit prices averaged 42.09 million yen, up 7.6 percent from a year earlier, with the price rising 6.5 percent to 554,000 yen per square meter, the Tokyo-based institute said.

With the March results, the institute said the number of condos sold in fiscal 2005 rose for the first time in five years to 83,697 units, up 1.4 percent from the previous year.

The sales contract ratio was 83.2 percent for the year through March, topping 80 percent for the first time since fiscal 1996.

In March, 2,245 units were placed on the market from 22 complexes measuring 20 stories and more. Sales of units from such high-rise condo units rocketed 175.8 percent from a year earlier, with 95.4 percent finding buyers.

In Tokyo’s 23 wards, 2,924 condos were put on the market, up 53.4 percent from a year ago, while supplies in the outlying areas of the city totaled 573 units, down 46.4 percent.

Real estate scrutiny

The Bank of Japan said Wednesday it will keep a close watch on real estate loans of banks and securities companies as it monitors the country’s financial system in fiscal 2006.

In its annual report, the BOJ hinted at a need to forestall the possibility of an asset price bubble by enhancing the risk-management practices of financial institutions, given that commercial land prices in some areas of Tokyo have recently risen sharply.

But the central bank stressed it has no intention of strictly monitoring lending to the real estate sector.

The BOJ called on financial institutions to better manage interest rate volatility in the new business year, which runs through March 2007.

Interest rates have been rising since the BOJ ended its five-year-old “quantitative easing” policy of flooding the financial system with cash.