How do you find a real estate broker in Japan? Well, first of all, let’s define what a real estate broker is. A real estate broker is a real estate professional who specialises in buying and selling real estate for clients. A real estate agent, on the other hand, deals with rentals. Both are licensed professionals. They receive their licenses from the All Japan Real Estate Association (全日本不動産協会, Zennippon Fudōsan Kyōkai, “Zennichi” for short). Sometimes they overlap. Some real estate companies do both.
Why You Need One
Real estate brokers help you find properties. They have access to “REINS”, the national real estate database with comprehensive listings of all of the available properties in Japan. The general public cannot access it. After you’ve found promising property, they help you collect all of the necessary documents for you to do your due diligence. If it’s to your specification, they guide you through the whole transaction process; preparing and navigating the legal contracts, helping you make payments (both for the property and the associated taxes/fees), deal with the seller and seller’s broker, enlist a document lawyer to transfer the title in the real estate registry (登記簿, Tōkibo) and other necessary tasks. When selling, they list the property on REINS, Suumo, At Home, etc and deal with potential buyers. Real estate brokers are invaluable.
How To Find A Real Estate Broker
You can use Google, but be careful. Anyone can set up a website/social media account and advertise. Check the reviews. You can also get a referral, e.g. from your financial adviser.
How To Know If A Real Estate Broker Is A Good One
Questions To Ask A Real Estate Broker
- Are you licensed?
- Are you part of a real estate association supervised by the government?
- What deals have you recently made?
- How long have you been in the business?
- Could I have some references to check, please?
Questions Your Real Estate Broker Should Ask You
- Why do you want to buy real estate in Japan?
- What are your financial objectives overall?
- How do you plan to pay for it?→Depending on how you respond, he or she may also ask “Are you pre-qualified for a mortgage?”
Positive Qualities In A Real Estate Broker
First of all, it’s important that your real estate broker is a good listener. Every client’s circumstances are unique. This is true for everybody, even if you are doing business in your home country. However, when the client is non-Japanese, and the real estate market is Japan’s, even more so. Languages, visas, Statuses of Residence, and how to remit rental income to the client all come into play. It’s therefore very important that the real estate broker listen very carefully. If the client is asking about how to buy commercial real estate in Minato-ku with an investment loan, utilising a property manager to manage the property, and have the rental income sent to an Australian account, then it’s very concerning if the real estate broker tries to recommend him residential real estate in the UK.
Does the real estate broker have strong powers of intuition? For example, the client tells the broker he wants a property near JR Hachiōji Station. Can the broker intuit that he should also search for real estate near Keio Hachiōji Station? Can he sense the client’s possible unspoken requirements?
Things To Beware Of
Beware of bait and switch tactics. E.g., you see an ad for a marvellous ¥9,900,000 property at the real estate broker’s office. You call. Schedule an appointment to discuss it. Upon arrival, “Sorry, someone just bought that apartment today! Don’t worry, there’s another apartment for ¥11,000,000 that’s almost as good!” The ¥9,900,000 property was a “decoy” to get you in the front door. This is just the tip of the iceberg for how this broker will do business in the future.
Beware of real estate brokers who don’t listen. Bad listening skills? They don’t care what you say, thinking they know better? You’re buying this property because it meets YOUR needs and YOUR wants. YOUR financial picture determines whether you can buy it. How can the broker know what these are unless he listens well?
Anytime a customer makes a reasonable request, the company should comply, or else explain why not. A broker shouldn’t hide behind “the rules” as a face-saving excuse when they simply can’t be bothered. Beware of companies that are overly protocol-based. Inattentive service, too. Millions of yen will change hands. A piece of land extends all the way from the ground to the earth’s core. Real estate transactions are serious business. It deserves a professional’s full attention.
Lack Of Knowledge
Some attempt to compare a real estate broker with a heart surgeon. They ask, “Would you would hire a heart surgeon with a lack of knowledge?” Perhaps that’s hyperbole. It’s real estate, not life and death. Still, millions of yen are on the line, which affect your income and financial security, and in turn, your financial independence.
For instance, imagine you want to buy a building with land. So your real estate broker searches the REINS database for a building that’ll match your description, and sends some PDFs of promising properties. However, hidden deep within the dense text is the phrase 借地面積 (shakuchi menseki). Firstly, can you read every kanji and catch this? Secondly, does the real estate broker catch this? Thirdly, does he know whether or not to explain it to you? Finally, does he know how to explain it to you? Or is it “lost in translation?” Because “shakuchi menseki” means “leased land area”. Therefore, you wouldn’t own the land; it wouldn’t be freehold. On the contrary, you would be leasing. Hopefully, you would figure that out before the transaction was complete…
No Foreigners Allowed
Occasionally, some real estate brokers claim they won’t help you because of “language problems”/your incomplete understanding of “Japanese culture”. Even though you seem to be able to communicate with them just fine. So when should you just call it a day? And when should you go with someone a little bit less, how shall we say, “culturally particular”? Besides, with thousands of brokers out there, why go to Herculean lengths to give your money to someone like that?
Maybe you make an inquiry and never get a response, or only after three weeks. First of all, is the real estate broker really interested in your business? Furthermore, will he provide you with the level of service that meets your needs? What if a motivated seller is trying to sell quickly, at a substantially below-market-value price? Is your broker going to grab it before someone else does?
You need someone who prioritises you. Expect prompt replies.
Real Estate Brokers: A Summary
- First of all, real estate brokers are licensed professionals. Furthermore, they may also be licensed real estate agents. While brokers focus more on buying/selling and oversee the whole transaction, agents focus more on rental.
- Above all, it’s important to ask whether a given real estate broker is licensed. Another thing to ask is if he is part of an association that is supervised by the government.
- Good real estate brokers: are good listeners and have strong power of intuition. They don’t use bait and switch tactics or impersonal service. Furthermore, they’re knowledgeable. Maybe some brokers who only speak Japanese are great for a Japanese client. In contrast, though, for a client with less-than-fluent Japanese, one fluent in that client’s language is preferable. Certainly avoid brokers who have a “foreigner complex” or are non-responsive. Another recommendation is to seek out those who appreciate your business. You could even choose to work with Housekey…