A preliminary guide for your move to Tokyo

Published at:

Your search for an apartment or house in Tokyo STARTS with finding the right real estate agent in the neighborhood where you want to end up. No property related transaction in Japan can be realized without a licensed broker. It is imperative that you find a professional you trust as this will determine what kind of real estate you will be able to bid on, for what price, and how smoothly the process will flow.

At HousingAgent.jp we have compiled a list of recommendations to increase your chances of finding the agent that will in turn find you the right property.

1 Choose the area, then the real estate agent

Not every agent can cover all 23 wards and the areas beyond. Tokyo is just too big. Ward suggests: “Instead of looking at the city as a whole, you need to consider the market forces at work in each neighborhood. It is a big metropolis with many sub-markets.” It is in your best interest to choose a real estate agent who is familiar with the area you are interested in. This might mean going for a smaller agency in some cases, or asking to be transferred to an agent who specializes in the area you are interested in within the same agency.

2 Choose someone you trust

Not all agents will have your best interests at heart. Buying real estate can be a life-changing decision, so it is crucial to work with someone ethical. If you feel your agent is trying to manipulate you into buying, take a big step back and look for a new one, even if it takes time. A trick to watch out for includes showing you a handful of poor-quality properties to lower your expectations, before whipping out a mediocre one that now looks more shiny to you than it is in reality.

3 Study on the neighborhoods you want to live in

4 Check the agents licenses

Japan has strict regulations for real estate practitioners, and the government oversees a number of different property-related professional licenses. The minimum requirement is a license to operate a real estate business. Real estate agencies need to ensure that for every five staff members, they have at least one licensed agent. A licensed staff member is known as a takken-holder, which refers to a registered real estate transaction specialist. Also, a large agency might employ other certified staff or have professional relationships with specialists, such as licensed real estate appraisers and architects.

5 Read the agency’s website

Most real estate agencies in Tokyo have websites that provide content beyond the basics of their business. Reading the articles they publish on their website or blog can give you good insights into what type of real estate they specialize in and if it matches what you are looking for. Buying or renting.

6 Ask for referrals in your network

If you are house-hunting, ask about others’ experiences. Your friends and expat co-workers might be able to point you to a respectable real estate agent or away from a bad one. Questions to ask include the asking price and final sales price of their property, the agent's level of service and English.