Buying a Condo in Japan: Part Two

This is part two in the blog series “Buying a condo in Japan”. Check out part one here.

Part Two Synopsis:

  1. We have the second meeting
  2. We  are surprised by the initial costs that come with buying a condo even though there was no down payment.
  3. We reserve the unit by providing income statements, paying the application fee, and filling out some paper work. 


Masa’s mother went with us to the second meeting as we thought it would be a good idea to have an actual Japanese person there to make sure everything was legit. During the week prior to the meeting,  Masa and I poured over the floor plans and prices, debating which condo unit would work best for us.  We eventually settled on the D-model which has a/c installation available for all rooms and was the biggest of all the condos in the building. 

The units varied by price by floor (the upper floors were more expensive than the lower floors) and wood color (condo units built with lighter colored wood for doors were more expensive).  We chose a mid-level room with darker wood.

During the second meeting we got down to the brass tacks. We went over the cost breakdown of what the condo would cost with a typical Japanese mortgage of 35 years, and went over other fees such as the condo management costs (管理費), the condo savings fund( 積立金) (a fund used for future repairs and renovations), a deposit, processing fees, loan fees, and insurances. All of these extra costs would have to be paid before we moved in.  We were attracted to the condo because there was no down payment, but were surprised that we would have to pay 2 million yen ($20,000) upfront. Even Masa’s mother was surprised due to the wording of the “no down payment deal” written on the flyer.   Masa and I took a sidebar and discussed if we wanted to take the meeting anything further.  We decided yes, just to hear what other steps there would be.  We were told that we would have to be screened by a bank to get approved for the mortgage. Once we got approved we would pay the initial charges, sign some contracts, and the condo would be ours. 


A list of all of the initial fees. 963, 500 yen ($9,630) would go toward initial fees for the condominium unit, and 885, 500 yen ($8,850) would go toward loan fees.

We got home that night and seriously considered what we should do. Should we go ahead with the down payment even though we were initially told there wasn’t one? After much deliberation we decided to go on ahead with it. The features of the home were too good to miss and the location of the home was great.  The down payment of the home wasn’t as much as a typical home in the states would cost us too.

We went back to the office sometime later in the week and signed paperwork that would reserve the unit we chose, and payed a 100,000 yen ($1000) application fee. We also had to provide Masa’s income statements (which we got from city hall) to prove that we could afford the condo.

The condo was one step closer to being ours!

Have questions about the Japanese? Leave a message in the comments.


Buying a Condo in Japan: Part One

Here is part one in the series “Buying a condo in Japan.”

Part One Synopsis

  1. We get a flyer advertising a new condominium being built in the area
  2. We visit the model home
  3. We meet the real estate agent and hear the sales pitch
  4. We schedule another meeting

My husband Masa and I, bought our first home (condominium)  in 2014.  The process of buying a home in Japan was a great learning experience and I am happy to be able to share it here on my blog.

Our journey may be a little different from other expats as my husband has dual citizenship (Japanese and American) which definitely makes the process easier.  (You usually have to be a citizen or have permanent residency to get approved for a loan). We also bought a newly built condo so we bought from the company that built the condo and not a person selling their condo.  The process of buying the condo was pretty easy and quick and I hope it will be the same for any expats who are looking to buy a condo.

The process of buying a home began when we got a flyer in the mail about a new condo being built near our home. Our friends back home in America were all buying their first homes and Masa had definitely caught the “I want to be a homeowner” bug.  I was perfectly fine with just renting a home, but I loved looking at model homes as it was  a favorite past-time I developed with my family when we visited model homes every Sunday after church when  I was in my early teens.


A sampling of the flyer

We drove over to the model home on a Saturday. Japanese model homes are usually quickly built wooden model homes that soon get demolished after they have finished selling the homes or units at the actual site.  In the model home we visited, the 1st floor was the office and the 2nd floor was a model of one of the condo units.


We entered the first floor office and were greeted by a man who turned out to be a real estate agent as well as an architect for the condo company. He sat us down, gave us a few brochures, and went over the sales pitch. What initially had drawn us to the condo was that there was no down payment necessary and the real estate agent went over that deal as well as pricing, and the floor plan of the four different types of condo units in the mansion. After we listened to the sales pitch for about 30 minutes we headed upstairs to see the model home.  

It was, of course, beautifully decorated. It had very nice features like a sink installed on the veranda, a very nice shower room, and a spacious living room.  The real estate agent left us alone in the model home for a bit which was nice because we felt more comfortable looking around on our own. We headed back downstairs once we finished looking, and the agent finished up his sales pitch- mentioning that homes were going fast (this turned out not to be true, but hey-it’s a sales pitch), and gave us a price list of the available units in the condo.

Here is the flow-chart going over the process of buying a condo which was given to us by the condo company. (Translation Below)



Visit the model home—> Apply to buy, Get screened for loan approval, and Pay deposit—> Sign contracts—-> Complete loan paperwork—-> Pay fees and move in!


The model home was beautiful, the price was right (especially with no down payment), and the agent had a pretty good sales pitch  so we were pretty much sold. We headed over to Masa’s parent’s place right afterward to get their advice and make sure we weren’t getting tricked or swindled.  The both said it seemed like a good idea, and agreed to visit the place with us the next weekend.   We called the agent (who would be our main contact through the entire process)  and scheduled a meeting to visit the model home again and get more details.

Best professional icebreakers for small groups, eikaiwa classes, and English business classes.


Teaching in a professional setting can be difficult. You want your students to have a good time and start talking, but you also want to keep it professional and comfortable for your shyer students. Here are 5 tried and true ice breakers that totally fit the bill!


1)      Pick a Coin-

Get a handful of coins, spread them out on the table, and have students randomly pick one. They must talk about something that happened to them or what their life was like that year. Be sure all the coins have different years.


2)      Fun Questions– This is a list of fun questions that don’t delve too much into private information and can be a fun starting point for conversation.  If you are teaching an English class, this is a great way for students to try out all different sorts of vocabulary.


If you could choose your age forever what age would you choose and why?

If you were stranded on a desert island what three items would you want to have?

What is your favorite object that you already own?

If you could live anywhere in the world with unlimited money where would you live?


3)      2 Truths and a Lie– this is a universally known, tried and true ice breaker that is fun but can still stay professional. Have each person make three statements about themselves. Two must be true and one must be a lie. The other group members must guess which is true or a lie.


4)      Ten Things in Common– The group has to find 10 things that they all have in common. This one is surprisingly fun and lets your group members learn a lot about each other. This also great if this is an English class as they have to go through lots of vocabulary. Warning: This icebreaker can take a long time. Be sure you have a few suggestions that most of your students will have in common i.e. liking ice cream, liking vacations, etc.


5)      Back to back – have your group form teams of two. Have them sit back to back. Give one group member a simple line drawing and give the other partner a  blank sheet of paper and pencil.  The partner with the drawing must describe the image to the other partner WITHOUT telling what the actual object is.



For example “Draw an  oval with pointy ends. Draw a black stripe at the top and one at the bottom” and so on and so on. 
You will be surprised at the results. This exercise is great for communication practice and is also a lot of fun!

What do you do when you have no money for fare adjustment on JR?

Synopsis: What happens when you need to do fare adjustment on JR (Japan Railways) and you have no money? They will probably just let you go through if you explain it to them nicely.

I have a really cute pink purse that I love but rarely take out because it is too small to hold the dozen things I like to carry around with me- my wallet, iPad, mirror, make up, headache medicine , ICOCA (train pass) card and so much more. I was having a girls -night one night and I really wanted to dress up and use that purse. I decided to not bring my large wallet and just packed 9,000 yen, my ATM card, my ID, and makeup.

We had a great time eating Brazilian BBQ and later ended up doing karaoke.  My cash was all gone by the end of the night. I headed home and entered JR with my ICOCA card and didn’t pay attention to the balance on the card.

The train pulled up to my station at about midnight. I started to walk through the ticket gate, but was surprised when it shut on me and saw that I had insufficient balance. I headed over to the fare adjustment machine, opened my purse, and dropped my jaw when I saw that I had no cash.  I looked out past the gates to see if the station convenience store was still open in the hopes that I could use the ATM, but it was closed.

I had no money, no way to get money, and didn’t know what to do. Should I lie and tell them I lost my ticket and didn’t have any more cash? Should I sneak through? In the end I decided on the truth.  I figured I would let them know that I was about 300 yen short and ask if I could run to another convenience store and bring back the money I owed. I figured they could hold on to my ID as collateral. I stepped up to the woman at the gate and explained my situation as I handed over my card. She was really nice and said it was no problem. She deducted the all the money that I had on the card. Told me not to worry about the 300 yen I owed and let me through.

So if you ever find yourself in a similar situation as me, just be honest and let them know.   I think they will be pretty cool about it.