Net a new tool for apartment hunters

by Shinichi Tokuda

Kyodo News

Many apartment hunters are checking the Internet before going to real estate companies, which in turn are offering benefits to potential clients as part of sales campaigns.

The rental housing business is most brisk in the January-March period when university entrants, new employees and company workers transferred to different locations are hunting for apartments.

Apamanshop Holdings Co. of Tokyo, which has more than 900 branches nationwide, has installed liquid crystal TV sets capable of receiving terrestrial digital broadcasting in about 15,000 condominiums and apartments across the country. Apartment hunters can get information about the campaign on the Internet.

“We have responded to increases in inquiries from customers who are seeking rooms that can receive terrestrial digital broadcasting. Annually, we start an apartment-hunting campaign in January, but this time, we moved up the campaign,” said Takashi Kawamori, executive director.

The firm also started a campaign in which applicants via the Internet will be given liquid crystal TV sets in a drawing. There will be 100 winners in the January-March period.

“We would like to appeal to customers by attaching added value as much as possible in the recession,” Kawamori said.

Apartment hunters on the Internet are asked to provide such data as preferred railway lines, stations, room layouts and rents.

But many people who are going to live in Tokyo and other large cities for the first time do not know much about where to live. For these people, Chintai Corp. of Tokyo has started a service in the Tokyo metropolitan and Kinki regions.

Apartment hunters are required to make choices of lifestyle priorities, such as the hours they want to spend with their families or with their partners as well as hobbies like cooking, outdoor sports and driving, and what importance they place on factors such as urban living, safety and greenery.

Chintai official Masaya Tezuka said, “In the case of Tokyo, many people favor living in such popular places as Kichijoji (in Musashino) and Sangenjaya (in Setagaya Ward). We have started the service to respond to the needs of customers.”

But the economic slump is hitting the housing rental market nationwide.

According to the land ministry, rental housing starts were below the year-before level for 13 months in a row until December.