Benefits of Using a Property Manager

Process of Handing Over a New Condominium Property in Japan

By Nils Herchenroeder

In this article, I would like to talk in detail about what happens before and at the point when a new condominium property is handed over to its new owner.

From the perspective of overseas investors, there are usually three important appointments that you need to attend during this process. Since the typical client is too busy, and it is quite a hassle to fly to Japan multiple times, most overseas owners engage a property manager like me to take care of everything involved.

Inspection

This is what happens typically during the inspection:

In your presence, an employee from the construction company will check if all the equipment in the room is working as intended, while also explaining some basic functions in Japanese. Some important equipment that is usually checked includes the auto-locking system, camera inter-phone, floor heating, locks, security systems, 24-hour ventilation systems etc. Once those explanations are completed, the actual inspection will start.

Example of a check list that is used for a property inspection in Japan. Image courtesy of Tokyu Housing Lease

Most owners do a quick walk-through and are done, but it might be well worth it to spend some extra time or hire a professional property manager because they may be able to find small issues that are not obvious to you.

Some things we see, even with the major developers include: wallpaper that needs adjustment, dirt on walls or hard to see places, incorrectly fitted caulking in bathroom or sinks, small scratches, paint residue on balcony areas etc.

Since the developer is required by law to hand over the unit to you in pristine condition, the inspection is a good chance to let them know what needs to be fixed (of course this is free of charge).

Up next is usually the explanation and tour of the common areas where you get important information about location of garbage rooms, parking areas, full-time lockers, usage of mailbox and for higher-end properties, location of guest rooms, sky lounges etc. After this, the inspection will wrap up with signing the necessary documents and arranging the re-inspection in case there were some flaws that were found in the apartment.

Re-Inspection

As mentioned above, the re-inspection is a chance for owners or property managers to confirm that everything in the apartment that was written on the check sheet was fixed appropriately before the actual handover.

Once the re-inspection is finished, the apartment will not be available for viewing anymore until the keys have actually been handed to you.

One thing that is good to know is that even if you find some defects at a later stage, most new condominiums are covered by a two-year warranty during which time any defects will be fixed free-of-charge by the developer’s after-service personnel. They will also send out surveys to the owners in this time period, which is your chance to report any defects and to have them fixed. In regards to major defects with building structure, walls etc. the warranty is up to ten years.

Example of an after-service manual with defects covered. Image courtesy of Tokyu Housing Lease

Handover

Almost there! On this day, you will officially receive the keys to your new apartment if the sale has been completed successfully and all outstanding funds for the purchase have been settled with the seller.

The keys all have serial numbers and there can be several types of no-touch sensor keys. Those serial numbers have to be confirmed and a document has to be signed by the developer and yourself before they are transferred to you.

You will usually meet representatives from the developer, the sales agent as well as employees of the building management association who will ask you to fill out necessary documents in Japanese. This can be a bit overwhelming, but your property manager can do this as your proxy or at least help you.

Some important documents include designating the bank account from where you will pay the monthly building management fees, repair reserve fund and other fees like parking. Since it is nearly impossible for non-residents to open a Japanese bank account, which is usually the only accepted form of payment, your property manager will pay those fees as your proxy from their company account every month.  Additionally, you will receive information about where to open your utility accounts and contact numbers for internet providers, etc.

I hope this overview will help you have a better idea of how this process works and how a property manager can help you to make this process much more smooth for all parties involved.

Tokyu Housing Lease Corporation

Tokyu Housing Lease Corporation is one of Japan’s leading property management companies.

If you are interested in learning more about Tokyu Housing Lease’s PM services, please fill out the form below, and a representative will contact you shortly.

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Top photo: View from a condominium property in Nakano, Tokyo