When it comes to finding the perfect apartment in Japan, the apartment viewing, known as ‘naiken’, is a pivotal step. This process allows potential tenants to physically inspect the property, ensuring it aligns with their expectations. But what should you look out for during a viewing? What questions should you ask? This comprehensive guide will walk you through the ins and outs of apartment viewing in Japan, arming you with essential tips and insights to make an informed decision.
Understanding Apartment Viewings
Apartment viewings are an integral part of the apartment hunting process in Japan, allowing potential tenants to verify the property’s condition and its surroundings. With the advent of technology, virtual viewings have become increasingly popular, offering a convenient alternative to traditional in-person viewings. These virtual viewings can take various forms, from live tours conducted by the real estate agent via online conferencing tools to pre-recorded 3D walkthrough videos that allow you to inspect the property at your own pace.
The Apartment Viewing Process
The apartment viewing process typically involves the following steps:
- Reservation: Make a reservation with the real estate agency about one to one and a half months before your planned move-in date. Once you’ve identified a property that interests you, contact the real estate agency to schedule a viewing.
- Visit to the Real Estate Agency: On the day of the viewing, you’ll typically start by visiting the real estate agency. Here, the agent will provide you with more information about the property and may even suggest other properties that match your criteria.
- Travel to the Property: Next, you’ll travel to the property with the real estate agent. This could involve walking if the property is nearby or driving if it’s further away.
- Property Inspection: Upon arriving at the property, the actual viewing begins. This is your chance to inspect the property in detail, checking aspects that may not be apparent from the floor plan or photos. You’re generally allowed to take measurements, photos, and videos during the viewing.
- Post-Viewing Consultation: After the viewing, you’ll return to the real estate agency to discuss the property with the agent. If you’re interested in the property, you may proceed with the application process.
Essential Items for an Apartment Viewing
When attending an apartment viewing, it’s recommended to bring along a few essential items. Your smartphone can be a handy tool during a viewing. Apart from using it to take photos or videos, you can also use various apps for tasks like measuring spaces or checking the compass direction. However, for accuracy, it’s advisable to bring an actual tape measure. Also, prepare notes such as writing utensils so that you can jot down any important details or observations during the viewing. If you find a property you like and wish to proceed with the application process immediately after the viewing, you’ll need to provide identification.
Key Points to Check During an Apartment Viewing
During an apartment viewing, it’s important to check not only the inside of the room but also the common areas and the surrounding environment. Here are some key points to consider:
- Can furniture and appliances be placed? When looking inside the room, don’t just check the layout and interior but also whether there is enough space to place your furniture and appliances and whether the flow of movement is okay when they are placed.
- Is there enough storage? Closets and storage spaces are important points to check. Before the viewing, make sure you know how much storage space you need for your belongings.
- Sunlight, view, smell, and noise: Since you’re going to the actual location, it’s recommended to check information that you can’t know unless you’re there. Things that you can’t tell just by looking at the floor plan, such as the view from the room, the amount of sunlight, the smell from the drain, and the noise from the neighborhood, should be on your checklist for the viewing.
- Condition of the common areas: If you’re considering a condominium, you should check not only the room you’re considering but also the common areas. When it comes to common areas, security and the presence of delivery boxes are points of concern, but what you should definitely check during the viewing are the garbage disposal area, bicycle parking area, and car parking area.
- Environment around the property: The town is an important point in choosing a home, not just the house itself. The distance to the station, the location of convenience stores and supermarkets where you will usually shop, the location of bus stops, and the atmosphere of the town are all things that you can easily imagine your new life at the property by walking from the station to the property.
Asking the Right Questions During an Apartment Viewing
During the viewing, you can ask the person in charge anything you don’t understand. The person in charge of the real estate company has seen and knows many properties, so it’s a good idea to ask them about the merits and demerits of the property from a professional perspective. For example, you may notice points that you would overlook on your own, such as ‘Compared to other properties in the area, it’s a merit to have XX at this rent.’
Important Considerations During an Apartment Viewing
If you have to cancel the viewing after making a reservation, be sure to contact the real estate company. It’s not a breach of manners to cancel as long as you contact them in advance. From mid-December to mid-March is a particularly busy time for rentals. There are many properties to choose from, but there are also many people looking for a place to live, so properties move very quickly. Therefore, while you’re wondering which property to choose, it’s not uncommon for someone else to sign a contract.
Whether conducted in-person or virtually, apartment viewings are a vital step in finding the right home in Japan. These inspections allow potential tenants to assess the property’s suitability firsthand. A thorough and well-prepared viewing can significantly aid in making an informed rental decision. Remember, it’s quite difficult to find a house that meets 100% of your requirements, so it’s a good idea to decide on a property that meets about 70% of your requirements and then negotiate with the landlord or real estate company about the remaining 30%.