I am sure most of you are familiar with SUUMO and LIFULL Homes. If you are looking for an apartment to rent in Japan, you may have come across either one of these two real estate portal sites. If you are not familiar, these websites or portal sites advertise “vacant” or soon to be “vacant” listings to the consumers. These sites can be accessed by the public, and listings are advertised by real estate agencies. There are a number of other portal sites with listings available to the public.
This post will get into the “tricks” and “cheats” as you can say real estate agencies tend to use to attract clients. Attracting clients is the most important factor to any business. For this case, real estate agencies use tricks which will lead to the contract and commission.
Click-bait and switch is the tactic used to bait potential clients into clicking the “contact” (お問合せ）button which is easily accessible on any real estate portal site.
This tactic is commonly seen in the following three ways:
You might be wondering why companies use the click-bait then switch tactic. Attracting customers is extremely important to any business. By using this tactic, the goal is to receive inquiries about said property, and then have he or she come to the agency. After the customer comes to the agency, the agent or realtor will explain the property they inquired was already leased out, or there are some faults to the property. After the explanation is through, the agent or realtor will recommend other properties which are quite similar to the initial inquired property. Therefore the “Click-bait then Switch.”
Of course not all agencies will use this tactic to attract potential clients. Some agencies advertise over 100 properties at a time. Some agencies tend to forget updating their listings. These “portal sites” are not in real time, so there might be a time lapse between the actual listing managed by the property manager and the agency.
Within the “Click-bait then Switch” tactic, there are a ton of cases of misleading advertisements from real estate agencies. The main antagonist of this scheme is listing rent cheaper than market value. Almost everyone wants to live in an area which is either close to work/school, in the heart of the city, close to public transportation, newer construction, and last but not least RENT IS CHEAP!
I tend to get these inquiries from my clients or friends frequently. They will look on the internet and pick-up a few properties they seem to like. Then they will ask me what I think of said properties.
I don’t come out and say this listing does not exist since I am not 100% sure. There are times where real estate agencies don’t allow other real estate agencies to contract out their properties. Also, as I mentioned above, there actually might be a reason why the rent is much lower than the market value. If they really want to live in that specific unit, I advice they contact the listing agency. I do mention that 9 times out of 10 they will recommend a different property.
The major portal sites I mentioned above “Suumo” or “Lifull Homes” evaluate themselves the properties that are listed on their sites. They usually do a good job of managing the type of properties that are listed on there website. BUT they are not real estate companies, they do not know if said property was already tenanted, or the reason to why the rent is much lower than market value. They do what they can to provide a trustworthy service to their consumers. There are times where they can’t check every property thoroughly.
My last piece of advice:
Again I can’t be 100% sure, but from my experience I am confident enough to say, if a property looks too good to be true then it probably is.