The role of Real Estate Agents in Property Transaction in Japan.
September 21, 2018

Two points you have to notice when you decided to buy a property for sale in Japan. 1. Usually lawyers are not involved into property transaction in Japan. 2. There is no escrow system for property transaction in Japan.

Many of my clients ask me how much is lawyer fee when they decided to purchase property in Japan. In fact usually lawyers are not involved in property transaction in Japan. Agents do the works which are usually done by lawyers in other countries.

In Japan, the real estate industry is essentially managed under the Civil Code and as a norm, a real estate agent is the go-to officiates who not only acts as a mediator between the buyer and the seller (or landlord and tenant) but also can represent one or both of them. Real estate agent is legally responsible for sharing all relevant information about a potential sale or purchase or rent of a property under the Real Estate Business Law Transactions to his clients. It says that the background checks about property which are done by lawyers in other countries are done by real estate agents in Japan.

Lawyers get involved in a real estate transaction only when the matter gets difficult or significantly large in nature. Further, there are Judicial Scriveners who help clients in the registration process and in the preparation of documents required for any legal action in that regard.

A real estate broker is a certified/licensed professional under the Brokerage Law and as such possesses all significant details on any potential properties in the market, buyers and sellers, landlords and other information relevant to a real estate transaction and property rental.

To become a licensed broker in the Japan’s real estate industry, an individual must be fluent in Japanese, as the exam is in the national language. The difficulty level of this examination has been raised over the last decade or so and unless one has prepared thoroughly for the test scheduled in October every year, the next opportunity to appear for it is in the subsequent year only.

Qualifying the real estate certified examination isn’t the only hurdle one has to cross to become a Licensed Broker. The individual also needs to have a minimum working experience of 2 years in the real estate or a similar industry. On certification, the license is valid for 5 years as a Broker and it can be renewed only after taking a court lesson and rewriting the license.

When you want to explore the real estate market, it is best to look for a professional with expertise, someone you can trust, who has good communication skills and fluency in Japanese and English (being a widely accepted second language) and someone who knows his craft well, in terms of the market trend, the potential risks involved and keeps up with the changing requirements of the industry.

Referrals work best in identifying such an individual. With Japan’s strict rules for real estate professionals, the government oversees a varied number of licenses from the industry. In that regard, a real estate agency company needs at least one licensed professional for every 5 employees. The licensed broker’s presence is mandatory during all the transactions pertaining to a property sale for assistance, and is required to display his license during all contractual signing activities.

How to transfer money to the seller as an oversea buyer when you decided to buy a property in Japan without escrow system? Most of my client chose to transfer money to our company account but not directly to the seller’s account. We can see how important the trust relationship with agent in Japan is.

Kourin Building 7F, 1-13-19 Kita-Shinjuku
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan 169-0073

Phone : 03-5348-4486   |   email :

10:00-18:00 / GMT+9 / MON-9