Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 23

Thread: Real estate agents

  1. #1

    Question Real estate agents

    Hi all. Hoping for some advice / recommendations here. Also just to blow off a little steam..

    Been living for 4 or 5 years in the same place in Kawasaki-shi. Had a good run with our current landlord, but want to move into something a bit bigger, newer and more convenient. Last time we just picked a random real-estate agent in Shibuya, and got lucky. They gave us pretty decent service, and did a good job of calling all the owners before we even looked at any places to make sure that they were gaijin-friendly. Yeah, it sucks that this is necessary, but I'm a pragmatist, and frankly I don't want to rent from a landlord with "foreigner issues" given that they're often living next door.

    This time, we knew the lay of the land a bit better, so we scouted out a lot of places online, then went driving around to check them out on our own. Often the name of the management company is on a sign on the property. We figured we don't need a lot of the (expensive) service provided by the middle-man real estate agents here. We just need to check gaijin-friendly status with the owner, and then see the inside of a place briefly. It irks me to pay 1 month's rent in 手数料 just for them to make a couple of phone calls and fax a couple of documents. I'm fine with the deposit, and would even be willing to pay 礼金 if it's a really good place. But the real-estate agent fees seem a bit outrageous.

    Starting to think I should just give in and pick an agent though, simply to cut out the non-gaijin-friendly landlords before we waste our time visiting a place. We found one place that seemed great, so we visited the local agency. Felt like they didn't take us seriously, possibly because we didn't make an appointment? I also know that this is a busy time of year for them, and they often seem to be understaffed. In the end, they failed to call us on the agreed viewing day. We called another agent, but someone else had applied for the place in the mean time.

    Another nice place we found, we called the agent after taking a look. On hearing my wife's (obviously not Japanese) surname, they asked us where we were from. As expected they had to check with the owner about foreign tenants, and it was a no.

    So the new plan is, find an agent, make an appointment, explain our situation in detail to reassure them, and so that they can convince the landlords that I don't represent a flight risk, shortlist and view some places, and suck up the fees. Just wondering if anyone's had a good experience with an agency in the Kawasaki / Yokohama / west Tokyo area they could recommend?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Yamaguchi-ken N. of Shimonoseki
    Posts
    333

    Default

    If you live near a university try to find an NPO that helps foreigners get rentals.
    Try this: https://www.justlanded.com/english/J...ousing-Rentals
    This link is for Yamaguchi, but look at the name and see if you can find something like this in your area: http://yiea.or.jp/english/about.html
    I believe they are nation wide. They helped me find a place to live not too long ago and I didn't have to pay key or 6 months deposit. Was located walking distance to the university also.
    Also keep in mind that teachers from abroad with families use the local International Exchange Association. I was very lucky that they work with NPO's to help foreigners get housing. Good luck.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thank you, that's a good tip! As you said, turns out there is a Kanagawa version too:

    http://www.kifjp.org/e-contact

    I've contacted them.. let's see how it goes.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Yamaguchi-ken N. of Shimonoseki
    Posts
    333

    Default

    Hey arber, just thought of this. Call yiea up and ask them if there is an International Exchange Association in your area, it is usually in a main city where a large foreign population goes to a university.
    Tel. 083-925-7353

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Kawasaki
    Posts
    266

    Default

    I'm not sure of the details, but in Kanagawa (Kawasaki?) properties available for rent must also be available to foreigners. A friend was rejected from one, and a visit to the local council with a Japanese friend put things right.

  6. #6

    Default

    oioioi :) Aussie Aussie Aussie?

    Yes, it is Kawasaki. I'm pretty sure there are anti-discrimination laws, and Kawasaki seems to pride itself on being relatively foreigner friendly. At the end of the day though, I'm not comfortable renting from a landlord that doesn't want me there. In Australia (where I'm from), potential tenants are also discriminated against for any number of illegal reasons. Estate agents and landlords just make up excuses to avoid trouble. You can't legislate away prejudice. In many ways, I prefer the up-front approach - saves me time.

    Never heard back from the Kanagawa International Foundation.. so much for their flowery mission statement: http://www.kifjp.org/e-mission

    Anyway, thanks for the thoughts, and for listening to my complaints folks. We're getting there a bit at a time, hopefully some good news soon.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Yamaguchi-ken N. of Shimonoseki
    Posts
    333

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by arber View Post
    oioioi :) Aussie Aussie Aussie?

    Yes, it is Kawasaki. I'm pretty sure there are anti-discrimination laws, and Kawasaki seems to pride itself on being relatively foreigner friendly. At the end of the day though, I'm not comfortable renting from a landlord that doesn't want me there. In Australia (where I'm from), potential tenants are also discriminated against for any number of illegal reasons. Estate agents and landlords just make up excuses to avoid trouble. You can't legislate away prejudice. In many ways, I prefer the up-front approach - saves me time.

    Never heard back from the Kanagawa International Foundation.. so much for their flowery mission statement: http://www.kifjp.org/e-mission

    Anyway, thanks for the thoughts, and for listening to my complaints folks. We're getting there a bit at a time, hopefully some good news soon.
    The NPO where I live does help out with foreigners getting housing. I know, they helped me through the International Exchange Association a while back. Do hope for you and your family that it all works out well and you find housing that won't empty your wallet.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tokyo
    Posts
    589

    Default

    It's not the agent you need to be concerned with here. Many of them want to do a deal and will try hard to help close. I've been through this issue quite a few times. It's always the bunjo mansion or single home which is owned by a local domestic person. The owners often feel worried about damages to both their property and social impacts to their neighbors. There's a good chance they want to eventually move back in and would like that process to go smoothly. Case in point..my wife is Japanese and I can speak Japanese. The agent representing us highlighted it to the owner but they wouldn't have it. And to be honest, I'm ok with it. Why? Because, it's their house and they should have the right to decide who lives in it.

    Try looking for a chintai mansion. The agents can help you locate them. These are usually run by large companies and tend to think a bit more commercially. You'll eventually find something good. In the end, you might find the challenge is more in finding a place with bike parking than a place that will take non-locals.

  9. #9

    Default

    Mevan,

    Thanks for the advice, I think you're on point. I'm in a similar situation to you.. Japanese wife, speak Japanese, application for residency under review. So it feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth when they tell you. To be honest though, I think it upsets my wife more than me.

    Anyway, today we met an agent who seems really good. Obviously experienced, heaps of local knowledge, patient, and seems to know how to talk the landlords around. Good salesperson without being pushy. We just barely missed out on one place today (someonee else applied just before us), but I'm confident he'll find something good for us given time.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Kawasaki
    Posts
    266

    Default

    Why don't you buy a place?
    Of course there are many factors, but if you're going to stay in the area, buy a place.

    I never intended to stay so long, but if I had bought a place a few years ago, i'd be better off.

  11. #11

    Default

    Hi oioioi,

    I've toyed with the idea after seeing some of the adverts with monthly repayments listed. But at the moment I still prefer the relative flexibility of renting.

    Still need to learn a lot more before going seriously down the buying road. Other concerns I have are land tax and other ongoing costs, the high chance that my work location may change, natural disasters, and uncertainty about the future direction of house prices. As you say, a lot of factors to consider. Wouldn't rule it out for the future though!

    If you do go down that road, would be happy to hear what you learn along the way.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Kyoto
    Posts
    2,906

    Default Real estate agents

    I went that route personally. Not up there but here in kansai. Didn't just buy but built new.
    Getting to the Summit is Optional, Returning home is mandatory
    Life begins at 155mph

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan (Kita-Ku)
    Posts
    92

    Default

    Just a little feedback from a property owner :)

    I own a few properties that are apartment buildings with multiple units. To manage these, I hired a PM company to take care of the day-to-day operations and keep my time investment down to a minimum. I do however get to accept or reject tenants based on my own personal formula. But, before they get to me, there are some guidelines in place to assure that the potential tenant will reach the minimum standards to be accepted. (I have rejected other foreigners that have a sketchy or otherwise unstable background...) It's hard to kick people out once they are in, so accepting a tenant is a big deal. (Speaking for Kanagawa, Tokyo and Saitama areas here....)

    For the agent fees - this depends on the owner. I usually offer 150 or 200% to the agent who fills a empty room. This fee is paid from my business and not passed on to the tenant. (Deposits are required!!!!) - We have to offer up higher fees to get the agents to show our property first or at least have it featured, instead of buried in a pile of other properties. A agent won't show you a 50% property, but he'll gladly show you a 150, 200+% property right off the bat.

    I've had some extremely mixed results with various real estate agencies and I've fired one PM company already in the past few years for poor management. (Typical PM fees can be 3-8% of monthly revenue plus other utilities, repairs etc.)

    But I tell you, seeing the owner's side, finding a golden tenant is a huge challenge. The costs for a bad tenant skyrocket, it's right down scary....

    For myself, I bought a house in northern Tokyo... I'm pretty rooted here, probably won't move again for a long while.

    Bottom line, owners that reject foreigners are usually uneducated or have had some bad experience. But, in this current market, it's stupid to turn away or not even evaluate someone just because they aren't Japanese. The rental market is over saturated and rent fees are falling except in the upscale areas of cities & towns.

  14. #14

    Default

    Thanks for your thoughts folks.

    We missed out on one by a few hours. Damn shame because it was brand new, nice price, and great location for me.

    We've applied for another place. Went to view it on a weekday, and before it had been cleaned, to get in before the hordes. Places with no 礼金 seem to go fast. Not trashed, but I doubt the previous tenant will be getting much deposit back. With a good clean though, should scrub up nicely. Has a place for the bike and even a small shed. Fingers crossed.

  15. #15

    Default

    LCX, congrats on what sounds like a successful business. I had no idea the agents rake in those kind of fees from the owners too.

    I feel like our current guy has earned his fee from us this time. Lessons learned.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan (Kita-Ku)
    Posts
    92

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by arber View Post
    LCX, congrats on what sounds like a successful business. I had no idea the agents rake in those kind of fees from the owners too.

    I feel like our current guy has earned his fee from us this time. Lessons learned.
    Thanks. Cash flow is usually positive, but maintenance costs can be a mess. Elevator go out? Need inspection? Prepare to shell out ~500k.
    Repairing a room where a chain smoker has lived for 6-7 years, prepare to drop 400-700k depending on the size and total damage.
    (If a resident resides in a room for a long period of time, the repair fees get shifted to the owner on a higher ratio as opposed to a short-term tenant)

    As for agent fees... look at all those little agencies around the stations in prime retail space, they do some hefty business to keep those spaces. :)

    We're also in high-season for new tenants as people move for school or new jobs. Now is the time to fill empty rooms, lol.

  17. #17

    Default

    Thanks for the tips! Happy to report that we found a place with a friendly landlord and a helpful agent to boot. The agent says the landlord likes bikes, and they're letting me park for free :)

    Interesting to hear your experiences about maintenance. I assumed that the 管理費 charged for most buildings with elevators was there to cover intermittent costs like that, but I guess it's case by case.

    The smoking problem must be huge. Is it even possible to get the smell out? Sorry to any smokers out there, but that's one thing that Japan has got ass-backwards. Tax tobacco like hell and ban it in restaurants etc.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan (Kita-Ku)
    Posts
    92

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by arber View Post
    Thanks for the tips! Happy to report that we found a place with a friendly landlord and a helpful agent to boot. The agent says the landlord likes bikes, and they're letting me park for free :)

    Interesting to hear your experiences about maintenance. I assumed that the 管理費 charged for most buildings with elevators was there to cover intermittent costs like that, but I guess it's case by case.

    The smoking problem must be huge. Is it even possible to get the smell out? Sorry to any smokers out there, but that's one thing that Japan has got ass-backwards. Tax tobacco like hell and ban it in restaurants etc.

    Congrats on getting a place settled.

    So, for buildings with elevators, there's usually a service contract which covers a lot, but there can still be incidental costs. Rooms in that building usually have a 7,000 yen fee tacked on to the rent cost to cover most regular maintenance plus someone who checks the property and cleans it on a weekly basis.

    As for smoking - the cleaning costs are just simply higher because it really takes a lot of effort to get the smell out.
    - Cleaning Aircons
    - Cleaning Door jams/window seals... anywhere that the residue can building up with airflow.
    - Cleaning vents (open and powered... like bath driers, etc.)
    - Removing and replacing all wallpaper
    - Floors - sometimes have to replace, otherwise are heavily washed and scrubbed.
    - Power Outlets - Surprisingly, have to replace these if the smoking residue embedded itself into the wall plate and under the outlet.
    - Other surfaces, doors, cabinets... all have to be removed and scrubbed for the best result.

    Another friend of mine in the same business spent nearly 1 million yen to refurbish and basically renovate a 42sq. meter 1LDK unit because of extensive pet and smoking damage.

    I'm currently handling a complaint about a korean couple who seem to use garlic for a lot of cooking that stinks up an entire floor. I'm guessing that this room will require some special attention when they eventually move out. /sigh

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan (Kita-Ku)
    Posts
    92

    Default

    Here's an example of a cleaning/repair ticket for one of my rooms after a tenant moved out...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails cleaning_example.jpg  

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Kawasaki
    Posts
    266

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LCX View Post
    Thanks. Cash flow is usually positive, but maintenance costs can be a mess. Elevator go out? Need inspection? Prepare to shell out ~500k.
    Repairing a room where a chain smoker has lived for 6-7 years, prepare to drop 400-700k depending on the size and total damage.
    (If a resident resides in a room for a long period of time, the repair fees get shifted to the owner on a higher ratio as opposed to a short-term tenant)

    As for agent fees... look at all those little agencies around the stations in prime retail space, they do some hefty business to keep those spaces. :)

    We're also in high-season for new tenants as people move for school or new jobs. Now is the time to fill empty rooms, lol.
    What I find odd (stupid) is that if I renew my contract after 2 years the owner / agent wants a renewal fee, and there are no costs for them. But if I move out, they don't get a fee, and they have to stump up for refurbishing the flat. So why have a disincentive for people to renew?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •