Part of the olympic village (foreground) is pictured in Tokyo on March 25, 2020, one day after the historic decision to do so postpone 2020 Olympics in Tokyo (photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
Hundreds of luxury apartments with a view of Tokyo Bay that were to be converted from the athletes' village have already been sold – just one of the many headaches caused by the historic shift in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The decision to postpone the games by up to a year has left buyers insecure, according to Zoe Ward, director of Tokyo Property Central, since nearly 900 units were already in operation.
"Even if it is not a financial success, it will be a great inconvenience to them," Ward told AFP.
She added that buyers would now search the small print of their contracts to see if they could withdraw without losing their deposits – typically around five percent.
"The wording they put into the contract is quite vague. It usually says that natural disasters or something is beyond the seller's control so that he could fall into this category," said the real estate expert.
A buyer, a man in his thirties, planned to go into development with his wife and children in March 2023 and told AFP "many, many scenarios" could arise.
However, he was relatively zen about the delay given the unprecedented coronavirus situation.
“I am not so stupid to see the corona virus effect as a problem on the same level as a design flaw. I would say it cannot be helped. I'm sure the sales page is going through a difficult time, ”said the man who refused to be named.
Tomohiro Makino, CEO of Oraga Research and an expert in Japanese real estate, told AFP that developers with the "Olympic Village" project are facing a "double strike" of a generally falling market and image problems.
“There is concern that prices may fall. If the excitement and anticipation (about the Olympic Games) subsides, the situation for the sales side becomes serious. Cancellations are a critical issue for them for now, ”said Makino.
One of the biggest draws – part of the Olympic heritage – could now be tarnished, he added.
He said developers should be legally protected by a force majeure clause, but given the high profile of the project, they may tend to show flexibility – especially since only a quarter of the units were available for sale.
"The sales side was forced to make a difficult decision," he said.
Sellers had marketed the development, which includes 23 high-rise buildings with space for up to 12,000 people, as a "city complex where everything begins" with a view of the sea, the Tokyo Tower and the glittering skyline of the metropolis.
The 18 hectare property also houses schools, a playground, a swimming pool and a gym. Since the apartments have been renovated by top athletes, they are also slightly larger than the average apartments in Tokyo, which are rather small.
“Seen from the sky, the new district appears like a large flag in the middle of Tokyo. It has boundless potential as a new flagship for the urban lifestyle, ”says the advertising material.
The development is a joint venture that brings together 11 of Japan's best real estate companies.
A spokeswoman for one of the companies, Mitsui Fudosan Co, told AFP: "We are evaluating the impact of the postponement of the Olympic Games in a hurry with companies and officials involved in the project."
Sales of the second batch of units were delayed from March to June or later, another company official said, insisting that "this was due to the effects of the new corona virus. It has nothing to do with a possible postponement of the Olympic Games. "
Ward said that while there was uncertainty among both buyers and developers, the situation was better than the balance they faced before the International Olympic Committee and Japan's unprecedented decision.
“As soon as the government has a clear schedule (for the games), the project will actively sell again. Until (the night before the decision), it was worse for buyers because nobody knew what they were doing, ”she said.
"I think it's good news because it would be far worse to reject the attitude and general feeling of everyone." I think an expansion is the best we can have. It would be terrible to cope with and it would be worse to break it off. "
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