Meet Nakata Massa, real estate agent providing tips to find your new house!
Can you please introduce yourself?
Since I was little, I always dreamed of a life where I would interact with foreigners from different countries. Therefore a week after graduating from high school, I decided to fly out of Japan and go to the U.K. After learning English for one year, I moved to U.S.A. to attend college in Seattle / Washington State. I wanted to meet more people and get more exciting experiences !
For the first 2 years, it was very hard to get used to this new world because of my poor language skills, different culture, discrimination, etc. On the other hand, many people such as college teachers, my host family, and some people on the street were kind enough to help me every time when I was in trouble. I have made some friends and we had really good times together. In total, I spent 4.5 years in the U.K./U.S.A , and all the experiences I have had and shared were very significant.
Let me tell you one story I will always remember. I was driving on a high way in Seattle, and my car suddenly had an engine stall in the center traffic lane. I could not move it at all although I tried starting the engine again and again. I was completely panicked because I was completely stuck in the middle of a high way. I was struggling in my car for a little while, and suddenly I realised that my car was moving very slowly. I looked back from the driving seat in my car, and I saw a stranger, a big and muscular man, was pushing my car with the strength of his hands. He advised me in a loud voice to turn the steering wheel toward the edge of the high way. He was also driving. He stopped his pick-up truck to run out into a high way although it was very dangerous. I was rescued by a brave American man !
He checked my car and found out that a fan belt of the engine had loosened. Then, he went back to his pick-up truck and came back after talking to his girlfriend who was sitting and waiting in his car. He removed the old belt and fasten his girlfriend’s pantyhose tightly as a fan belt for emergency measure. Finally, the engine started up again ! I was so relieved and touched by his kindness. I thanked him over and over again for saving me. I told him I was a college student from Japan and asked if he could give me his name and address because I wanted to send him a letter of greeting later. He answered: “No worries. I just did it because you needed someone’s help. If you really feel thankful now, why don’t you repay foreigners in Japan for it. Good luck!“. At that moment I decided that I will find a job, in which I could do something and help foreigners in Japan.
How long have you been a real estate agent for?
I have been a real estate agent for the expats’ market for about 17 years. I enjoy meeting different people from various countries. I enjoy looking for properties which will meet my client’s requirements, but I also like negotiating to get the best deal for them.
How do you hunt for houses? What is the process for someone who is looking for a new place to live?
HouseRep Tokyo strives to provide the best available properties information and the best services for your “Housing” & “Tokyo life”. We keep updating thousands of property listings for the expatriates needs in our database. Also our experienced and friendly agents catch useful information on the real estate market and the daily life in Tokyo.
In Japan, you need to make the lease contract through a real estate agent (not directly with the landlord). We hereunder show the relocation flow chart on how to find your new home step by step.
Please first send us your inquiries by email or through our website (www.houserep-tokyo.com). You should start house hunting about 2 months before your desired move-in-date. We advise you to make a list of requirements: “Apartment or House”, “Which Area”, ”No. of Bedrooms”, “Size”, “Parking”, and “Pet” are very important criteria. Other requirements should be listed up as well, for example a garden, a nice view, the distance to Children’s School, the age of building, etc.
We have more properties than the properties shown on our website. Our experienced agents will provide you floor plans of suitable options for you after checking all the updated market information.
2) House viewing
When you find some floor plans which you might like, we pick you up by car and drive you to the actual properties. The market moves every day, so it is better to view your favorite properties quickly before someone else sees it and applies. All properties have a no shoes rule in Japan, so it is highly recommended to wear shoes that are easy to take off. We give you an “area orientation” during the house viewing tour.
Once you have found the place you want to live in, we start the paper work to apply and negotiate the contract conditions. The application needs to include an offer for the rent, the desired move-in date, and requests (if any). This form must be signed by your company HR (the human resources department) in case of Corporate lease.
4) Negotiation and contracts
We always do our best to fulfil your requests, but the landlord might offer you other options or compromises during the negotiation process. When you and the landlord have agreed on the contract conditions, a draft of the lease agreement is issued by the management company for your company (HR). There are two kinds of lease, “Ordinal Contract” which means that the lease shall be renewed, and “Fixed Term Contract” which means that the lease shall be terminated on a specific and fixed date. However, some fixed term contracts are negotiable to make re-contract. The lease term is usually for 2 or 3 years.
5) Walk through inspection and moving in
On the move-in date, we provide you the keys, and we do together and inspection to check the actual condition of your new home. You are not responsible to repair the existing damages when you move out in the future, so this site inspection is important to note all already existing damages. Please note that you or your company will be required to pay “Room Cleaning Charge” and “Repair Charge (if there were new damages during your stay)”.
6) Our support during your stay in the property
If you have any question or trouble while you are living in the property, we support you as your agent. “Utilities”, “Air-con”, “TV”, “internet”, “plumbing”, “neighbours”, “garbage collection”… There are many things which we, HouseRep Tokyo, can help you with.
7) Moving out
After removing all your furnitures and items, you return the door keys to the management company or the landlord and also we do the walk through inspection together again. We are with you to make sure the damages and repair charges are reasonable and that the security deposit is returned to you or your company’s bank account.
Which documents do we need to apply for a property?
The following documents are required:
- Passport copies of all the property residents
- Residence card copies (front and back side) of all residents
- Employment contract (Assigning letter signed by you and your company), which shows “Date of joining your company (Japan branch)”, “Your job title”, “Your annual income”, etc.
The required documents are different in case of “individual contract” and “corporate contract”. Please ask us for more details.
Why HouseRep Tokyo ?
We, HouseRep Tokyo, are confident that we provide the best support to our clients. We do not only find your new home, but we also help you to settle down in your new “Tokyo life” with all kinds of issues which you may face regarding to your housing.
What are the specificities of the japanese rental property market?
The japanese real estate market has a unique system, it is very different from other countries. Here are some examples. The initial costs are significant and include:
- Security deposit : the deposit will be refunded when you terminate the contract.
- Key money : This is a unique Japanese custom and means something like “Thank you money” as a gift to the landlord. The key money is not refundable, and the amount depends on the property. It usually varies from 1 to 2 months of the rend but some properties do not require it. This is sometimes negotiable, and I will let you know about the details when I show you each property.
- Monthly rent : rent of the first month shall be paid together with the security deposit and the key money when you finalise the contract. In case the amount is a prorate rent for the first month, you are required to pay for the full amount of the rent for the second month as well.
- Agent fee : we ask you for an agent fee (1 month of the monthly rent + tax) when you rent a property through us.
- Housing insurance : all properties require to have a housing insurance during your stay. It usually costs between 15,000 and 25,000 yens for every 2 years.
- Key replacement fee : some landlords require between 10,000 and 35,000 yens as a key replacement fee (one time payment).
- Guarantor company fee : in case of a corporate contract by a large (well known) company, this is notrequired. In case of an individual contract (or a corporate contract by a small company), you are required to join a guarantor company which guarantees you after inspecting on your details. They charge between 50% and 100% of the total monthly payment (one time payment) and about 10,000 yens / year as renewal fee.
Each property is unique and requires different conditions by each owner’s policy. We explain to you in detail these specificities while we are viewing the actual properties one by one.