According to a recent survey, Japan has the lowest housing prices in comparison to income. I encourage expatriates and Japanese people to look at the foreclosed property market because houses can be bought very cheaply through this route. I bought a 5br dormitory just 1hr train from Tokyo City Central in 2004 for just $US28,000. The nice aspect is that you can get these houses cheaply because:
1. Japanese people are so superstitious - they have this fear about ghosts and yakuza
2. Japanese people fear conflict with former tenants and landlords. I have found the contrary, that owners simply want to stay there to get cheap rent as long as they can.
3. The Japanese courts facilitate an easy buy by offering support to remove unruly landlords. I very much like the idea of buying through the courts.
4. There is a great deal of housing in Japan's depopulating rural areas. Japanese people will not commute as they love convenience....but would you buy a modern house for Y3mil just 50km from a major city? Use lateral thinking and you might even get a better buy close to an even bigger city like I did - yes Tokyo fringes for Y2.8mil ($US28,000).