Tag Archive: bank

Jun 01

I Own A House Now

This morning my wife took the day off and we headed down to the bank for the settlement.  (I didn’t have to take a day off—one of the great advantages of working irregular hours out of the house.)


We stopped in at a Starbucks an hour before we were due and met with a fellow from the post office to sign our life insurance papers.  My wife chatted with him until about five to eleven, at which point we hurried across the street to the building that the bank is in.


As always, the owner was there early.  It was Friendly by himself.  Luckily for the bank, the other three (plus the woman, who we discovered was the wife of the youngest son, the one I called Sleepy, despite the fact that she sat across from him instead of beside him that day) weren’t there, so we were all able to cram into the tiny meeting room.


All told there were eight of us:


My wife



A Japanese bank rep

The Lawyer/Scrivener (I think her name was Risa)


The seller’s agent and her cookie box



I stamped a few documents with my jitsuin, filled out three transfer forms (one for each seller), and then we waited for the transfers to go through.  At one point, about ten minutes after Hank had supposedly started the transfers, the door cracked open and a bank employee stuck her head in.


“Should we send the money now?” she asked.


Only Hank, the lawyer, and myself caught what she said, and we had a good laugh after he confirmed that it was indeed for the purpose of sending the money that he had given her the money transfer forms.


Other humour: the seller’s agent once again dressed in designer clothes, brandished her Louis Vutton meishi holder… and had her blue cookie tin with all her items.


In the interest of curbing the length of these posts, I’ll bring this to a close.  Once the transfers went through, we paid the remaining fees:

  • Hirasawa-san’s remaining fee (we’d paid half at the contract signing)
  • The fee to the scrivener for her services registering the mortgage and building (actually, due to a .42 square meter increase in the size of the property when measured by the surveyors, the fee went up by 3000 Yen, but she discounted it back down for us)
  • The reimbursement for the registration of the second floor to Hirasawa-san/Mitsui Re-house, who had pre-paid the registration fee for the second floor in order to hurry it along

And then we all bowed and went our separate ways.

May 21

Mortgage Signing

I was 30 minutes late for the mortgage signing.


The document panic had killed the wiggle room I’d left myself for travelling time, and I got to Tameike-Sanno station almost right at 12:30.  Before realizing that the bank’s officers are located near Kamiyacho station.


This is what happens when I don’t get enough sleep three nights running.


Not much to tell, really.  I sat there for two hours while the documents were explained to me (basically, a long list of things I could do to trigger a default), and then took my hanko and stamped the hell out of them.  I think somewhere, a devil smiled.


All that’s left:

  • Insurance
  • Registration (should be completed on Monday, May 24)
  • Booking the date and time of the settlement date and handing over the keys (tentatively June 7th at the moment, but we’re working to make it earlier).

May 21

Document Panic

So, moments before I was supposed to go out the door to head into Tokyo to sign the documents, I notice a missed call on my cell phone from the bank.  I return the call, and it’s just my rep reminding me which documents to bring, none of which I have… and beyond that, none of which I was told I would require!


At first, my rep says that he emailed the list to me, but a quick search of gmail turns up nothing of the sort.  Then he says we must have discussed it on the phone, but given that I scrupulously write down everything he says, I know this is not the case either.


In the end, he tells me we can still go ahead with the mortgage documents today and I can send the other stuff in at least a day before the final settlement.


Of course, in the meantime, I’ve wasted precious minutes searching for the one document that I do have, but can’t find because I don’t know where my wife put it (not her fault, she didn’t know I was going to need it today), so I may be late for the signing.


The bank has been great, and my rep is super friendly, but I’m sure it’s not just me dropping balls here.



May 21

Mortgage Signing Today

I’m about to get ready to leave for Tokyo to sign my mortgage papers.


Apparently, either the registration for the second floor has gone through, or the bank has received notice that it will go through, so I’m able to go in and take care of that.  That means we can close as early as May 28th if I can get the insurance by then.

May 13

Today’s House Confusion Not A Big Deal, But Still Weird

Okay, so I spoke to Hank the banker this afternoon after all the confusion this morning, and it turns out that everything is fine, although the mortgage documents are going to be delayed while we register the second floor of the house.


Not sure what’s happening with the survey, though, because it turns out that it’s not a re-surveying of the land that the owners need to do, but a check to make sure all the posts demarking the boundaries of the plots we’re buying are still in place, which apparently is not a mortgage requirement but a contract requirement that our agent added.  So the bank shouldn’t give a crap.  Hank is checking that.


He told me this afternoon that registering the second floor should take a week and that he recommends that we allow one of the scriveners that the bank uses to do that.  He said he’d get back to me with a price on that tomorrow.


Okay, and here’s the weird bit: we got an email from Hirasawa-san tonight which said that he got a call from the bank’s scrivener on Tuesday about this and that he’s already informed the bank that he’s started the registration process (which will, incidentally, cost 80,000 Yen, which includes both the registration fee and the scrivener’s fee).  So two questions:


  1. Why didn’t Hank know about this?
  2. The impression I got today is that the scriveners were not bank employees, but freelancers, so why would someone identifying themselves as a scrivener for the bank make a call to Hirasawa-san?

I’ll have to sort this out tomorrow morning.


The good news is that everything else is still on.  We’re still waiting to hear back from the owner to see if we can go Treasure Hunting on Saturday, and we’re looking at quotations for insurance and poking around at renovation companies.

May 12

Stress Not Over

Just got an email from the bank.


They cancelled my signing of the mortgage documents on Friday because it seems they just noticed that the land is being re-surveyed and that the 2nd floor needs to be registered.  They’re not saying no, but they’re delaying the signing until these items are complete.


The actual closing date in the contract is late July, so they’ve decided that there’s no rush, I guess, or something.


I wrote back telling them that I want to close in May, so that we can move in July… and I guess we’ll see what they come back with.




I’m a little surprised by what I can only interpret as either clumsiness or disorganization on the part of the bank.


I was going to hop on my bike to do a shopping run, but I feel now like I need to wait for the reply because I’m so stressed out.

May 10

Woo-Hoo! Our Bank is On Board!

Got a call from the bank just a few minutes ago…


Our mortgage is approved!


To do:


  • collect our current bank statements and send them to the bank to prove we have the down payment amount (frustratingly, this will probably have to wait until tonight when my wife comes home)
  • apply for fire insurance (we need the quotation and proof of premium payment by the final signing date)

The insurance requirement is interesting.  Apparently, according to Hank, my loan officer (relationship manager I think is the exact title), Japanese banks require you to buy insurance for the total loan term, and frequently broker the insurance yourself.  Our bank, on the other hand, doesn’t broker this, and instead only requires one year of coverage (though I’m sure we’ll want the whole term).


I sent an email to my wife to let her know, and she emailed back: “Finally, I can sleep.”


I suggested she not sleep at work.

Mar 15

The Bank

I met with my financial advisor, Jason Hurst, back in January, and told him that I was interested again in buying a house.


He put me in touch with the Australian Commonwealth Bank.


Normally, one would use a Japanese bank, but this bank offers certain advantages.


Actually, I could borrow a lot more money from a Japanese bank, and have a much lower down payment, so why go with a foreign bank whose maximum loan amount is half what the Japanese banks would lend me?



  1. Loan Term and Age of House
    Japanese banks will generally loan for up to 35 years, but they take the age of the house into account when doing so.
    The Commonwealth bank has a maximum loan term of 25 years, but they don’t care about the age of the house, only the land value.
    This means that I can consider houses that are less expensive and yet bigger, simply because they are older.  It also limits my competition.
  2. Strictness of Rules
    Japanese banks have many very strict rules about what kind of property they will give loans for.
    The Commonwealth bank is somewhat more flexible.
    In theory, this means that I can consider houses that might have minor problems (small extensions that bring the house over the square meter limit of size for the land they’re on), which Japanese banks would absolutely say no to.
    In practice, I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes.
  3. Native English-Speaking Loan Officer
    They sometimes have these at the Japanese banks, but since with the Japanese banks, the real estate agent makes the application for you, you kind of have to just take what you get, especially if you’re buying outside of Tokyo.



  1. Loan Amount
    Because the Commonwealth bank will lend only up to 80% of the value of the property, than means a much bigger down payment amount, and therefore a potentially much lower maximum loan amount, since you need the other 20% (plus fees) ready in personal assets in order to make the purchase.  My understanding is that the Japanese banks will sometimes lend you larger percentages of the purchase price.
  2. Interest Rates
    The Japanese banks can give you a fixed interest rate, unlike the Commonwealth bank, which has only the option for a floating interest rate.
    The big concern here is if the interest rate skyrockets (it has been as high as 10%, historically), which could make your monthly payments more than double what you anticipate.


In the end, we decided that it was better to buy an older house for what would be closer to the value of the actual land (since older houses tend to add very little, if any, value to the property) than to buy an expensive new house which in 20 years could go down in real value (declining population, the fact that a new house can account for half the value of the land it’s on, etc.).  Buying an older house meant that the Commonwealth bank had the advantage, so that’s how I made my decision.