Buying a House in Japan as a Foreigner: Step 2

Looking For and Researching about Houses

As soon as I got my permanent visa, I started looking for houses and exploring my options. There are so many ways where you can find properties if you know where to look. 

By asking people

Knowing lots of people and having friends who have bought a house here in Japan would greatly help your research. 

I remember telling some people I know that I am interested in moving and thinking of renting or buying a bigger apartment or a house. My Japanese teacher then told me that there was one for sale in her neighborhood. But it was already purchased when she called the seller.

Then the other person I talked to suggested that renting a whole building might be a good option. That way, my mom and I can occupy a floor, have her restaurant in another, and make the other unused rooms rented. I liked this idea because I can have a home and a business simultaneously in the same place. But the buildings for rent or sale that I saw were old and needed a lot of renovation. I don’t have a lot of time for that. Although, it would have been a good investment.

And then, a co-worker also told me that her sister recently bought an old house, and it was much cheaper than buying a new one or having one built from scratch. And we also asked a relative who had bought their own house here in Japan.

These are only a few people, but I got lots of helpful information from them. As someone who doesn’t know anything about property purchases, I was thankful for these people’s ideas. If you know more people here in Japan, that’s better. It means you’ll get more info. You never know, that person might know someone personally who is selling a house, and you won’t have to go through with real estate companies. It is also best to ask people, especially foreigners, who have bought their own house here in Japan to share with you their experiences. 


I also became interested in the magazines I get each month from our apartment. They contain many advertisements from restaurants, services, and houses sold in my city. Those magazines have QR codes for the real estate company websites, and you can go directly there or call them up. By going through these magazines, you can have some ideas of the prices and locations that sell houses, old and new. These magazines and pamphlets are free, but they can help you with your research significantly. 

Posters and open houses

Try to walk or drive around the location where you want to buy. And then watch out for banners or posters saying that the property is being sold or on lease. Take a picture of that, and call the number in it to verify. 

Also, usually on the weekends, a lot of house companies do open houses. When you see a new house with lots of people, banners, or flags, that’s an open house event. You can go inside and look around. I think the real estate agents would be happy to accommodate you. I went to one open house as well, but I made an appointment so the people were expecting us. The good thing with these open houses is that the agents explain the house in detail and the process of house loans to you. So even if you don’t like the location and don’t end up buying the property, you can still get ideas of what you like or don’t like. 


 I know a few people who had purchased houses here in Japan, asked which housebuilder companies they got, and searched them on Facebook. In addition to that, there are companies that pop up in my News Feed from time to time, and I took note of them. It’s pretty easy to start looking on Facebook because it’s in English. There’s also a higher possibility that you’ll talk with an employee who speaks your language. You can then ask them for information and tell them what you’re looking for. Then, they’ll set up a “kengaku” or an appointment with you and the Japanese sellers or housebuilders. 

Moreover, I found a fantastic group on Facebook where I get lots of information, opinions, and stories from foreigners building or buying houses or properties here in Japan. The group is ‘Building and Renovating a House in Japan.’ I love this site. Many foreigners from different countries share their experiences with buying and building a house here. You can also ask any house-related questions, and people will flock to respond and give you suggestions and answers. Try it! Even if you aren’t buying yet and just planning, I think you’ll get awesome ideas there.


 The websites I used were:

 I first learned about Nissho because there is an office I pass by every day when I go to work. I read that they deal with buying houses, renting apartments, and purchasing land properties in Aichi, Mie and Gifu Prefecture. Then I also tried Athome because an acquaintance suggested it. However, I was most comfortable with using Suumo. I created an account there, and almost every night before I went to sleep, I would use my phone and look at houses, apartments, and lots. I find this way easier because you can copy and select the Japanese words then use a Google translate app or the Deepl translator to check the meaning in English. All the places that I think I might like, I saved them to my favorites. Then I contacted those places for additional documents or asked to see the site. 

Of course, the real estate agents will call you first. They’ll ask for basic information like what you are looking for, how much your price range is, and which location you are interested in. They might also ask what you do for a living, how long you have been in that company, and when you can see the place or do the “kengaku.” 

Direct inquiry

I didn’t really do this one, but if you know a real estate company, housebuilders, or architects and the likes, you can set up an appointment with them and visit their office or showrooms.

So this was how I researched and looked for houses, my Step 2. When I started looking, I couldn’t do meetups or personal appointments yet. I relied on magazines and websites and tried to get as much information as I could. When my mom got fully vaccinated, we went to open houses and met housebuilders and agents. Fortunately, after a month, we found our dream house.

And the next thing to do is Step 3, process the documents.

If you missed Step 1, click here


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