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List of Real Estate Portal Sites in Japan

A typical first step when buying real estate in Japan is to search for property listings online. There are several websites that list Japanese properties. In this post we will provide a list of the most popular Japanese property listing websites (with descriptions), and give you a plan that will help you be successful as you take steps to rent or buy property in Hokkaido.

Before we begin: Find out why you should always speak with a buyer’s agent before you try to contact a particular listing you see online. An initial conversation, including advice about specific property, is generally free, solves many problems for you as the buyer, and can help you avoid expensive mistakes. Read more about that below.

The Best Websites for Houses/Apartments in Japan
English-Language Property Websites in Japan
The Three Types of Japanese Websites That Have Property Listings
Japan’s “Big Three” Real Estate Portal Sites
SUUMO is the Largest Real Estate Portal Site in Japan
LIFULL HOME’S is a Large Real Estate Website
At Home is a Property Listing Website Popular with Real Estate Agents
Additional Japanese Property Listing Sites
Online Property Listings for Apartments in Sapporo
Online Property Listings for Houses/Condominiums in Sapporo
Talk to a Buyer’s Agent Before You Contact a Particular Property
How to Find a Local English-Speaking Buyer’s Agent

The Best Websites for Houses/Apartments in Japan

In this article we describe the “Big Three” websites for listings of available apartments and/or property for sale in Japan. Below that, we have a more extensive list of 14 additional websites with available Japanese property you can see online.

These sites provide countless properties to choose from, filters to suit the customers preferences, and a profile of each property (typically with data and pictures for each listing).

English-Language Property Websites in Japan

Language is the first stumbling block to property in Japan as all legal documents are in Japanese.
— From Winning Strategies for Japan Real Estate

It is just a fact that Japanese real estate listings are almost exclusively in Japanese.

As a buyer, your goal should not be to find English-language listings (you will only see a small fraction of property that way), but to find a Japanese buyer’s agent (that speaks your language) to help you with all of the documents related to renting or buying in Japan. Read more about that below.

The Three Types of Japanese Websites That Have Property Listings

In Japan, there are three main sources that list Japanese real estate for sale or for rent.

First there is REINS, the Japanese multiple listing service, which is an official source for property in Japan developed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). REINS is only available to licensed real estate agents in Japan, but is the most comprehensive database of for-sale properties in Japan. It also includes apartments for rent. As you work with a buyer’s agent in Japan, they can provide access to listings.

Another way to find listings of Japanese property is to visit the websites of real estate companies that build, own, or represent available properties (such as real estate agents or as property management companies). The listings that are available on websites of real estate companies show a narrow range of options for a given area (typically only properties that they represent). There is almost always much more property available; a more complete range of property can be seen on both REINS, and on the third-party real estate websites.

A third place to find apartments for rent and home listings are Japanese real estate “portal sites” – which are the focus of this post. This category of websites consists of third-party websites in Japan that “advertise” listings of property on behalf of real estate owners and agencies. These websites are for-profit, and charge an advertisement fee to list those properties online. Portal sites feature property from a range of owners, agents, and property management companies.

In this article, we will focus on these broader, more inclusive, for-profit Japanese real estate advertising sites, and provide an overview of each website.

Japan’s “Big Three” Real Estate Portal Sites

There are three major real estate portal sites that are commonly used in Japan, they are SUUMO, LIFULL HOME’S, and At Home. These sites have a reputation for having the most property listings, are the easiest to use, and regularly draw lots of visitors to their sites to view those listings.

SUUMO is the Largest Real Estate Portal Site in Japan

SUUMO (run by Recruit Company) is perhaps the single most popular Japanese real estate portal website. When looking for a home to buy in Japan or a room to rent, people tend to look through listings on SUUMO and get a feel for the property available in the area where they want to live. With a total of nearly eight million property listings, SUUMO is well established as the most well-known portal site for Japanese real estate.

SUUMO also received the “Best Rental Property Information Website” in Oricon’s CS Report (the most trusted report on customer satisfaction) rankings for eight years in a row.

Are you thinking of buying, selling, or renting real estate? SUUMO is a general real estate portal site that has information about apartments, detached homes, land, renovations, and everything real estate nationwide. All real estate, house building, and renovation companies that have information on our website have been screened by Recruit, so you can trust our information. Property searching, renting, buying, building, re-building, selling, moving… come to us for anything about homes or living!
— SUUMO (translated)

LIFULL HOME’S is a Large Real Estate Website

The second largest real estate portal site is HOME’S (run by LIFULL company). HOME’S is a property listing website with a total of over five million listings for apartments in Japan, houses for sale, and more.

The contract HOME’S has with real estate companies is structured such that HOME’S only takes a fee as each property is sold, taking a percentage of the sale price. Agents can list as many properties as they want, at no cost for those listings until the property is sold.

With the concept of ‘encounter the life you want,’ this is a comprehensive real estate and housing information service that helps you find a simple and convenient home.
We will expand various functions and information to make it easier to find properties, find information about housing, and make it easier to consider. Going forward, we will continue to work closely with our users to find the ideal home together.

At Home is a Property Listing Website Popular with Real Estate Agents

The third most popular home website in Japan is At Home. At Home is the leading real estate portal site in terms of the number of registered real estate agents that use the service; compared to SUUMO, they have three times the number of real estate companies. Of all the for-profit property websites, At Home is the most popular choice (other than REINS) used by real estate professionals in Japan.

At Home is a Japanese company offering real estate information services to those searching for real estate agents or properties. Currently, over 60,000 locations are members of At Home’s real estate information network that is among the largest in Japan.
— At Home

Additional Japanese Property Listing Sites

There are other real estate portals for finding an apartment to rent or a house to buy in Japan. In the listings below, we provide information about several more Japanese real estate portal sites. It is worth noting that some of the following sites use information directly from the big three (mostly SUUMO). What differentiates them from the big three and other competitors is presentation, categorization, and other creative methods to try to make the search for property easier for the customer.

  • Yahoo! Fudosan (Yahoo! Real Estate)
    Yahoo! Fudosan is one of the many services Yahoo! provides. Their strength is that they have a large general user base where they can promote their listings.

  • スモッカ (CHINTAI SMOCCA -ex)
    SMOCCA is specialized for apartment rentals in Japan, and has a vast number of search filters to find the perfect apartment.

  • スマイティ (sumaity)
    Sumaity is run by a company called Kakaku.com Inc (which also operates the food website Tabelog). Using their database of regional populated areas, they show reviews of certain neighborhoods, and the visitor can get a grasp for the area where the property is located.

  • DOOR賃貸 (DOOR Chintai)
    DOOR Chintai is specialized for Japanese apartment rentals, and their biggest selling point is a money back guarantee for customers that end up renting a property listed on their site.

  • いえらぶ (Ie Love)
    Ie Love is a website that is focused on showing real estate listings to mobile users in Japan. Their strength is that they have a review system for each real estate company they work with.

  • オウチーノ (O-Uccino)
    O-Uccino used to be focused on house price estimates, but has also started a portal site business. The website is mobile focused, and one thing they are proud of is their AI search assistant for Japanese apartments.

  • ニフティ不動産 (Nifty Fudosan)
    Nifty Fudosan is run by Nifty (one of the first significant internet companies in Japan). Nifty Fudosan is regularly updated and one of the biggest real estate portals on the internet. The reason they aren’t included in the big three is because they consolidate all the listings from 13 real estate portals (including the big three), and list those properties on their own site. As an aggregator of Japanese property listing websites, they have “the largest number of property listings” in Japan.

  • エアドア (airdoor)
    Airdoor is an up and coming real estate portal site that tries to help customers avoid “bait listings” (advertisements for houses/apartments that are not actually available) and outdated information. Their selling point is that they post listings directly from property management companies, not going through any real estate agents/companies. Airdoor is only available in the metro Tokyo area (for now), but they have plans to expand to additional markets in Japan.

  • オンライン内見ポータル (Online Naiken Portal)
    Online Naiken Portal is a relatively new apartment and house listing site in Japan, offering clients live online room tours.

  • カナリー (Canary)
    Canary is a portal site and a real estate service completely centered around mobile users.

  • カウカモ (cowcamo)
    Cowcamo is a website that is heavily focused on renovated properties. They do not list rental properties; only renovated condominiums and houses for sale.

  • テナントショップネットワーク (Tenant Shop Network)
    Tenant Shop Network is also a specialized portal site, focused on the commercial real estate niche.

  • MAJOR7
    Japan’s seven major real estate companies came together, and made the real estate portal site MAJOR7. This is another specialized site, selling condominium units in newly built buildings.

  • 楽待 (Rakumachi)
    Rakumachi is specialized Japanese property site focused on investment property in Japan. Rakumachi provides the largest collection of listings for investment property in Japan.

Online Property Listings for Apartments in Sapporo

To provide an example of what you will find on these sites, we did a search for rental apartments in Sapporo on the big three property listing services in Japan. All three Japanese apartment listing sites showed different Sapporo apartments for rent (with a wide range of prices for monthly rent).

To look at more relevant pieces of rental property in Sapporo, a user would be well advised to be very specific with the conditions – or filters – they use in their search. For SUUMO, the first three search criteria were rent price, number of bedrooms, and type of building (mansion, apartment, house). HOME’S asked for the rent price first, then the size of the property (floor area, typically in square meters), and then the number of bedrooms. For At Home, the criteria were the same as HOME’S.

However, the initial filters provided by these websites may not be what really matters for you as the customer. For example, for many renters in Hokkaido, the distance from the nearest train station may be a more important criteria. Consistent with our advice throughout this article; working with a buyer’s agent can make sure your search for an apartment in Sapporo is focused on the goals that matter to you.

Online Property Listings for Houses/Condominiums in Sapporo

As another test of these online property services, we conducted a search for “houses in Sapporo.”

While all of the big three services listed houses for sale in Sapporo, the same search yielded very different results depending on the website. For example, a search for a “used detached home in Sapporo” in the Kita-ku neighborhood produced the following numbers: SUUMO showed 385 homes for sale, HOME’S showed 78 houses for sale, and At Home returned a list of 442 used Sapporo houses.

When you use a particular service, are you really seeing all your options? Certainly not. For the best experience, start with an experienced buyer’s agent in Sapporo that can help you see property across a range of services (including REINS).

Talk to a Buyer’s Agent Before You Contact a Particular Property

For foreigners that want to rent or buy property in Japan, one of the most common ways to start is a search of the online listings for available Japanese real estate.

In practice, the usual process is to first search for an interesting property on a portal site, and then contact the real estate agent handling that property.
— From our review of Real Estate Transactions in Japan

When a potential buyer (or renter) wants to know more about a listing they saw online, they will typically end up talking to the seller’s agent. The seller’s agent represents the seller’s goals (not the buyer’s needs). While this process is common, it creates less-than-ideal circumstances for the buyer (we see this with our clients all the time). It is not a good idea to have one agent manage both sides of a real estate transaction (it creates a conflict of interests), and that problem is easily resolved when you talk to a buyer’s agent before you try to contact a property on your own.

Renters and buyers that do not use their own agent typically miss out on other, better properties that might be available online (because seller’s agents only want to show their own listings, and will not encourage you to look at other properties).

In addition, when you try this “self service” process, you’re more likely to struggle with “bait advertisements” (as seller’s agents use attractive listings to create contact, only to try to sell you other property they represent). You will likely end up paying just as much in commission, with both you and the seller paying a commission to the same agent (who then has a conflict of interests). You won’t save money, and you won’t have the attention to your own needs that you will have when you create a relationship with your own agent.

All of this is easily resolved when you talk with a buyer’s agent.

Talking to a buyer’s agent is free; no contracts are required to discuss property. Buyer’s agents will listen to what you need in a property, and can then help you see a range of properties from REINS or other online listings. A buyer’s agent is much more likely to discuss problems or defects with a unit than the seller’s agent, helping you avoid a bad situation. A buyer’s agent can help you not only evaluate a particular property to rent or buy in Japan, but can advise you about other neighborhoods, quality of life in those neighborhoods, potential future value of the property, etc. A buyer’s agent can help you negotiate a better price, or better terms (a seller’s agent will likely not, as they are supposed to represent the property owner’s goals). You will likely end up paying the same amount of fees if you work with a buyer’s agent, but will see more property, have a better education, and get better terms if you take the time to get an agent of your own.

How to Find a Local English-Speaking Buyer’s Agent

Our advice is to make your first priority finding a real estate agent that you trust, that can find property that satisfies your needs, communicates well, etc.

If you are looking to buy a house, or rent an apartment in Sapporo (or other city in Hokkaido), we can introduce you to local, prescreened agents. Our network of buyer’s agents in Hokkaido includes experienced agents that can help you rent and buy property in Niseko, Otaru, or other Hokkaido cities.

Our services are always free to you. Contact us, we’re happy to help.

Additional Help with Real Estate in Hokkaido

We have the largest database of real estate agents in Hokkaido, including over 1,500 agents, immigration lawyers, Hokkaido real estate tax consultants, loan agents, and more.

For free, personalized introductions, contact us anytime.

We work for you, not the real estate companies.

We provide person-to-person introductions to prescreened agents that help you sell or buy property, or rent an apartment in Hokkaido. We search our custom database to connect you to real estate professionals that speak your language, address your needs and are available now to help you find what you want.

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For More Information:

— Our collection of articles on real estate in Sapporo
— Some details on buying a house in Niseko and more
— Research on property in Otaru
— More general articles about Hokkaido real estate
— Some particulars on real estate taxes in Japan
— The best Japanese real estate books
— Our curated list of the best videos about skiing in Niseko

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