Sunday, August 1, 2010
Buying a house in Japan Part 6 - The Sales Reps
As the Salaryman-Sunshine family (baby Sunshine still comfortably internalized inside Mrs. Sunshine) continued the hunt for a suitable base of operations, a quite large number of weekends were spent visiting and checking out a quite large number of houses and met a host of different reps with different approaches to the job.
The basic flow is the same as in most places I would guess; most of the houses we checked out were recommended by one of the local real estate agents in the area and a rep would take us out to the property, show us how things looked, answer any questions and with varying degrees of effort put into it, try to sell us the house. In some instances when we were looking into houses that were planned or under construction, we talked directly with the sales department of the building company (who usually has a separate subsidiary doing the sales).
I must admit that I had an image of real estate sales reps as being quite pushy and aggressive in their sales methods (by Japanese standards) but to our surprise this was not the case. We encountered three basic types of reps:
Rep Type A: Didn't really care much and seemed more annoyed than anything that he/she had to leave his comfy little office and actually guide some potential customers to the property he/she was trying to sell. Typical exchanges would be us saying "well, this living room is a bit on the small side" and getting a "yep, it's pretty small isn't" in reply without any effort in putting any spin to it.
Rep Type B: The slightly slimy besserwisser type sales rep. To their credit, this type did actually try to sell the property in question but had the annoying habit of trying to sell in and empasize features that were pretty obvious; "look, you can actually put a medium-sized refrigirator here, how about that, huh?" "this room has heated flooring, have you ever heard of such a thing? It heats the floor and keeps your feet warm at winter". We encountered a few of these and usually ended up being more annoyed by the sales tactics than put off by the property...
Rep Type C: Well, this would be the more reasonable and low-key type of rep that we eventually ended up buying our house from. This were the type that let us check stuff out on our own mostly and answered our questions, focusing on the good things but not trying to spin things into the surreal.
In the end we got a really good rep and I was surprised to see that we got a very good after-service after purchasing the house (small stuff fixed quickly and without any fuss). However, we did end up buying through a housing company so it might be different when buying a used property through a real estate agent.