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Helping foreigners make Japan home

Interview - December 18, 2019

Plaza Homes specializes in arranging luxury accommodation, from spacious houses to high-rise apartments, for expats working for foreign trading companies, finance companies, manufacturing companies, legal offices and embassies – be it short, medium or long term. In this interview, president Koya Kuwata discusses the range of life services they offer to clients, as well as Japan’s booming Real Estate sector.



In the first quarter of 2018, Tokyo overtook London as the busiest real estate in addition to the 40M tourists expected by 2020. We are seeing great potential in the Japanese real estate sector. Could you please give us a brief analysis of the Japanese real estate market, the trends and what will be, in your opinion, the impact of the Olympics on the market?

As you well said the real estate sector has been booming since the announcement of the Tokyo Olympics five years ago. Ever since, and especially in 2017 and 2018, the real estate sector has been experiencing a powerful upturn for the middle and luxury residential buildings. Most importantly, we are expecting to have even better results in the upcoming years as the real estate sector in Tokyo is quite promising and stable. Some people might think that after the Olympics, the sector will not showcase an increase in its potential, however, we can acknowledge many other residential and industrial buildings being built, for instance, in Roppongi and Shibuya, which will be finalized in 2023. It is important to mention, due to the fact that it allows us to analyze how the real estate will still be flourishing even when the Olympic Games end.

In addition, and again, as you well mentioned, we have seen an increase in the inflow of tourists in Japan in the last years. Of course, this allows companies such as ours, PLAZA HOMES, to target foreigners, and expats, who wish to stay here for short-medium-and-long periods of time in Japan. Furthermore, this not only applies to residential buildings, but also to work-spaces and other needs the tourists and expats might have during their stay here in Japan.


When we interviewed Mitsubishi Real Estate, they mentioned that for the real estate sector in Japan to hit its full maturity, it needs to hit 30% of foreign investment. Do you agree with this statement and what do you think Japan can do to attract more foreign investors?

Yes, I do agree with that statement, and I believe it is extremely important to attract foreign investors. Japan’s real estate sector has many competitive advantages, and the most powerful one, I believe, is the fact that Japanese developers are extremely good at what they do, meaning that we always ensure that the properties we handle come with the best quality buildings. Their amenities are always top-quality and allow the customers to have simply comfortable experiences. Here at PLAZA HOMES, we always make our best efforts so that their stay and life is extremely simple while adapting to Japan. We always think ahead, and we allow our customers to have the most comfortable living rooms, kitchens and rooms in their apartments, and making us extremely detailed-oriented about introduction of our recommended properties.


Coming to Japan sometimes is not easy for foreigners due to the language barrier among other things. You offer services such as Rent, Rent-out, buy, sell, office spaces, and you help foreign companies. Could you give us a quick overview of your services and are there any new services that would like to offer in the future?

Our main line of business is the traditional real estate. Hence, selling, buying and renting residential apartments, especially targeted to foreigners who wish to come to Japan, or wish to change locations/apartments once in Japan. We also help to introduce tenants for foreigners who own properties in Japan and mediate the sale.

There are several companies that provide real estate brokerage services in English in metropolitan areas, nonetheless, what really differentiates PLAZA HOMES from the rest of the companies is the information available to the foreigners. We not only ensure that all the necessary information to buy and rent the location is translated to English, or any other language, but we also have what we call the “life-support”. “Life-support” is a guideline which allows new foreigners to understand their environment. Our real competitive advantage is that we make customers happy and we assure a smooth transition to the country. Japan has a unique language, and a unique culture, so when they first arrive, we always give them a guide of over 100 English speaking hospitals where they can go in case of emergency.

We also provide information on international school databases and commentary on local public schools, as well as other requirements that clients may need, such as religion and language. We do not solve all issues, but through our experience, we have selected a list of the most expected problematic areas a foreigner can experience here in Japan, and we have developed a guide to help them.


In the next 5 years Japan is expected to receive over 345,000 new foreigners. How are you reaching out to these foreigners to let them know PLAZA HOMES is the No.1 partner?

Today, our clients are usually expats. Therefore, through our experience, companies now trust our expertise and they recognize that our property selection meets the needs of foreigners, and that we have been introducing many attractive properties.

Furthermore, lately we have seen an increase in different types of foreigners. Foreigners who are employed as laborers in locations outside of the metropolitan area do not have complete support from their companies like expats who work in a city area. Therefore, “life-support” guidelines, such as those we provide, will become increasingly important.


What is your midterm strategy?

In the next five years, we would like to utilize videos, e-books and other latest technologies to efficiently introduce our line of properties to customers and provide Japanese life support. We believe it is important to have as many details as possible in the VR experience, and of course, have a great introduction of the building while searching for clients.

In introducing properties, we would like to increase the ratio of adopting virtual reality in our portfolio.

We think it is important to understand as much details as possible in the VR experience. Of course, while looking for customers, it is also important to introduce excellent buildings.

For the introduction of the area and Japanese life information, we would like to use the video well to deepen the understanding of Japanese life visually, our clients are also able to watch the video before they relocate, so that they can learn about Japan and the Japanese life in advance.

Furthermore, I would like to mention that I am extremely proud of the quality of the work in our team, which I believe it is one of the most valuable assets our company has and will allow our company to stay stable for the next upcoming years.


Why should foreigners choose PLAZA HOMES?

We always think of the customer first. Our goal is to assure the happiness of our customer, and to have the best service in the market.

I think our job here in Japan is extremely important as we aim to help foreigners deepen their understanding of Japanese real estate and make a smooth transition to Japan which has a unique culture, and a unique language.

In addition to real estate brokerage services, we help our client in every necessary stage of their transition, including opening a bank, and purchasing a mobile phone. Lastly, my experience has allowed me to understand that we will always be here for our customers, and that is why we exist today.