The Canadian - Housing Trends: Bed, Bath & Beyond

The Canadian - Summer 2016. Vol 16. Issue 03.

Housing Trends - Bed, Bath & Beyond: GOOD AGENT, BAD AGENT

By Adam German - From Brantford, Ontario. He’s lived in Japan for 13 years working with the most widely used,

international real estate platforms across all levels of property management.

Got a question? german [at]



There are a lot of “How To” articles out here outlining the process of renting an apartment in Japan. However, even if one follows all of the steps included, it’s still a daunting task—especially if you’ve just arrived in the country or are looking in a new, unfamiliar region after a transfer or new position. One of the most critical parts of the leasing process is the agent you choose—and how you keep them motivated to source the best properties for you or your company.

Many moons ago when I was a leasing agent, the best clients were the ones that committed to staying with me once I’d demonstrated that I deserved their trust. Unfortunately, these types of clients were few and far between with most approaching the lease negotiation as if it were a million dollar sale in which the client assumed that the agent would work fullout for them, day and night, without even providing minimum contact and feedback to the agent.

If you’re looking to rent—for yourself or your firm—always approach the leasing process with skepticism. If you’re new to a city, always use multiple agents. Over time, these “Good Agents” (trust me: you’ll know them once you work
with them) will float to the top. It’s at this stage when I see most clients make the largest and most common mistake: they keep engaging all good agents throughout their search.

The problem with this approach is that Good Agents didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. They’ve been around awhile, know the market and they know how best to deliver relevant properties to you. They’re plugged-in and they listen to what you want, and—most importantly—what you didn’tknow you wanted yet.

Here’s a common scenario. Over the course of several weeks during the apartment search phase, a client is impressed with the services of three different agents. Suddenly—and for no apparent reason from the client’s perspective—all three good agentsbecome slower than usual at replying to emails. Phone calls aren’t being taken as immediately as they were before. This continues to taper off until all three have basically dumped the client, who has no idea why thesituation has come to this and then subscribes to the common thinking that all agents are “Bad Agents.” What really happened was this: the Good Agents figured out the client wasn’t forthright and was still working with other agents. Good agents, while earnestly working to get you what you would like, also have another allegiance—the company they work for. They need to hit their monthly targets. As any decent sales person knows, the path of least resistance is also where the least competition is. Agents are just like any other sales person, driven by targets and KPIs. The good ones know the only to way to consistently hit those marks are to provide superior service and spend their time working in the most efficient way possible.

From an agent’s standpoint, a client with a ¥200,000 per month budget who has clearly committed is worth more than the ¥1,000,000 per month client who has five other agents on standby. Choosing which account to spend time on will always veer toward those who are dedicated to working with one Good Agent regardless of who the client is.

In the beginning, you should work with multiple agents—especially if you are new to the area. However, if one of them, like cream, rises to the top then you—the client—would do yourself a favour by committing to that agent and
releasing the others.

It saves time and everyone involved in your search will appreciate it, even the agents released. If your choice doesn’t pan out, you can easily reach back out to one of the others. If you’re considerate and understanding of their position, it makes their decision to dedicate themselves to your needs in a specialized market—especially here in Japan—an easy one.


The Canadian - Summer 2016. Vol 16. Issue 03.

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