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I am seriously thinking about buying a home in Japan—either a condo or a house. I have always been a renter, so buying my first home in a foreign country is a bit unnerving. What are some of the major differences between buying a home in Japan and elsewhere, say the U.S.
Thanks for the great question! As the lead English-speaking real estate agency in the greater Kobe area, CoreEight is very aware of anxiety foreign buyers feel when buying a home in Japan, especially if this is your first time! Below are some of the unique aspects of buying property in Japan. Please do not be too concerned since we would be happy to walk you through the whole process from start to finish.
- Language: Unless you have a bilingual real estate agent or are fluent in Japanese, you run the risk of miscommunication, which could be expensive. All of the real estate documents will be in Japanese. At the very least, you should have the “Important Matters” document translated into your native language.
- Private listings: Unlike many countries where most available properties are multi-listed and accessible by all real estate agents, many prime listings in Japan are sold privately. Having a well-connected real estate agent is key!
- Inspection rights. The right to enter the house or condo to do a physical inspection is discretionary. Ask your real estate agent to try to arrange this. This also means that the use of outside inspectors is likely to be subject to the owners’ consent.
- Real Estate Agents: Unlike other countries where a real estate agent represents either the buyer or the seller, in Japan the real estate agent can represent both at the same time. In this case, each party pays the real estate agent a fee of 3% of the purchase price, plus JPY60,000.
We have represented foreign nationals from many companies in their residential purchases. We understand your anxiety and excitement and will do everything possible to make this a successful transition for you and your family.
Congratulations and good luck with your new adventures!