executive impact

Offering an A to Z real estate service

By Chris Betros

Very few companies can offer a complete A to Z real estate service in Tokyo. One of those is Atomic Assets Advisers, which can take clients from design concept to land acquisition, construction, property management, underwriting and sale.

Atomic Assets’ diversity lies in its affiliated companies such as Homest Co, which reforms high-class condominiums into serviced apartments, and which also has its own design and construction department for creating celebrity class living spaces, and in addition to general custom-built housing and non-wood constructions. Another affiliate is the ROOMIC Co Ltd, which focuses exclusively on selling properties for owners. Atomic Assets also owns 10% of U.S. serviced apartment and brokerage properties operator Coldwell Banker’s franchise rights in Japan, as well as one franchisee brand.

Atomic Assets was established in 2004 by Katsuhiko Yama. Born in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture. Yama graduated from Meiji University in 1986 and has been in the real estate business all his working life.

Japan Today editor Chris Betros visits Yama at his office in Minami-Aoyama to hear more about Atomic assets.

What your main business lines?

We acquire commercial buildings, office buildings, residential buildings, and land for ready-built houses, do asset management, real estate appraisal and underwriting, sell properties, manage serviced apartments, lease maintenance, private equity fund. We can provide consulting services for finding prime properties and strategic investment. And through our affiliate Homest, we can design and create living areas.

How has the recession affected business?

It is easier to acquire more properties cheaper than before. There are many empty offices in Tokyo right now and I think that trend will continue for another year or two. On the negative side, the financial system is broken in Japan and we cannot get as much private equity funding as before.

We were in the red for fiscal 2008, but in 2009 we swung back into the black. That’s because property management and leasing were strong divisions and provided stable income. Rather than having a big set of money deals, we had a lot of stable property management deals and that was the difference between 2008 and 2009.

Where are your properties located?

We manage 27 properties in Minato and Shibuya wards. Those are the best areas are for real estate investment now.

What is Atomic Assets’ strength?

The fact that we offer a one-stop complete real estate service. Between Atomic and Homest, we can help a client from design concept, to land acquisition, construction, property management and sale. If you want to buy an investment property, we can broker the deal for you to purchase the land as well as property manage it.

How do you market the company?

In general, we haven’t had to advertise. Within the real estate community, Atomic Assets has a good name and we have had a lot of clients returning and others coming through word of mouth. Until now, we haven’t done much digital marketing, but from now on, we want to have a better media mix, especially to promote the Coldwell Banker and Homest brands. We have to be digital to reach overseas clients.

What are some differences between what foreign and Japanese clients are looking for?

Japanese clients, when they sell a property, are much more concerned with the capital gain, but foreign clients tend to focus more on their rate of yield during the time that they own the property. So for example, Japanese house owners are more concerned with how much capital gain they get when it is sold, while foreign clients are concerned with that plus how it will affect their yearly income in terms of rental yield.

Are you getting a fair bit of foreign interest?

There is a lot more investment interest coming from international clients. With domestic foreign clients, there tends to be a heavier reliance on buying a residence. In that area, there are more options now than there used to be for foreign residents because some foreign banks are willing to lend. With the main Japanese banks, it is still a little tricky if you don’t have permanent residency.

What is a typical day for you?

I come to the office about 8 a.m. I live 5 minutes’ walk from here. Usually, I meet clients or visit properties and leasing companies. I finish about 7 and then sometimes I go out with clients. I work on Saturdays because that’s when clients want to see properties. I also meet the clients of HOMEST.

What is your management style?

I guess I am like the captain of a ship with 24 crew. I like to delegate after setting the vision.

How do you like to relax?

I run in marathons. I ran in the Honolulu Marathon last December. Often, I go for a run in the evenings from 9 to 10 p.m. Besides that, I am also a licensed ski instructor.

I hear you have an interesting communication exercise for the Homest staff.

Yes, we have a running communication exercise every Tuesday night. Everyone has to run 5-6 kms.

For more information, visit www.atomic-assets.co.jp or www.homest.co.jp

© Japan Today

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I actually know Mr Katsuhiko Yama

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I actually know Mr Katsuhiko Yama

So what, so do I and loads of others.

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Must be nice to live 5 minutes from work...that's what happens when you control all the real estate. Is he responsible for the soul-less confabs inundating this city? Some buildings actually acknowledge that they have peole living and working and make accomodations for them. You know, like with places to sit outside, smoke free conditions inside, cubicles for some privacy, bookshelves, something to relieve the horrendous conditions I see in most buildings here. I hope Mr. Yama is part of the solution...

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In that area, there are more options now than there used to be for foreign residents because some foreign banks are willing to lend. With the main Japanese banks, it is still a little tricky if you don’t have permanent residency.

Who - with a branch in Japan - is loaning to foreigners without PR?

I've been shopping around for 2 years, no one will talk to me unless I have PR.

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