What our job involves when working with foreign clients

When working with expat or non-resident clients on real estate deals in Japan, the process can easily take 3 times as much time and effort when compared to a domestic Japanese client. There are only small number of real estate agencies in Japan that are truly well versed in working with foreign clients. For the majority of domestic-oriented agencies, foreign clients are often seen as being too challenging and involving too much hassle. We often encounter local listing agents that have no experience with transactions involving a foreign buyer, so it is our job to assure them that the transaction can go as smoothly as it would be with a local Japanese buyer.

A sale transaction is a fairly standard process, and if a buyer is willing to follow our lead we can make it very smooth and easy. We do make a habit of warning our foreign clients not to expect the purchase process to be exactly the same as it may be in other countries. Some aspects may be simpler, such as quick settlements, while others may differ, such as the paperwork, financial obligations that come with signing a sale agreement or the lack of transparent market data. There are some business practices and cultural differences that we must also abide by.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences when buying real estate in Japan is that the buyer is also obligated to pay a brokerage fee to the agent they use. This applies whether you are a foreign or Japanese buyer, and whether you go direct to the listing agent or use another agent. Since brokerage fees are a standard 3% of the base price + 60,000 Yen + consumption tax, it makes sense for a foreign buyer to use an experienced agent that will help them get the job done. Buying property is a major purchase and it is key to partner with an expert.

A lot of the work happens behind the scenes and may not be fully apparent to a buyer. Many of our clients have busy schedules and we make every effort to make things as efficient and hassle-free as possible. Extra effort has to go into communicating, consulting and advising our clients so that we can provide a full overview and education of the intricacies of the Japanese real estate market, local trends, and the procedures for buying.

Some of the work we do for our clients includes:

  • Ongoing consultations with clients via email, phone and in person.
  • Searching and sourcing properties that meet the client’s requirements.
  • Guided property inspections.
  • Providing market research, past sales, current listings, rental estimates.
  • Preparing and submitting an offer.
  • Negotiations and back-and-forth discussions and procedures with the seller’s side.
  • Arranging quotes from scriveners, contractors and insurance agents.
  • Translation and guidance for payment of invoices.
  • Purchase of contract stamp tax on behalf of client.
  • Preparation of agency and privacy agreements in Japanese and English.
  • Contract and due diligence report preparation and English translations.
  • Proxy service for payments of deposit and final sale price (if client does not have local bank account in Japan).
  • In-house English interpretation support.
  • Introductions to property management, tax accountants, architects, renovation and repair contractors etc.
  • Preparation of settlement procedures.
  • Proxy representation at settlement if buyer is unable to attend.
  • Proxy reporting to the Bank of Japan (for overseas residents) when required.

We provide all of these services for the same commission rate as the local domestic-only brokers and do not charge any extra.

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