December 20th should have been a historic day in our lives. The day we officially purchased and took ownership of our first house. However, what should have been a time of celebration turned out to be one of the worst days of our lives as Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Bank decided to screw us over by declining our request for a loan despite approving it two months previously.
The paperwork had all been completed and submitted to UFJ back in October, and was approved in mid-November. My wife and I, along with the seller, Mr. W, and two representatives from the real estate agency attended the meeting at UFJ on December 20th for what should have been a formality – receive loan, pay Mr. W, get keys.
After just 15 minutes, the meeting ended and a two hour argument ensued. Why? Because some of the application form for mortgage insurance was completed with my wife’s handwriting, not my own. Yep, we were refused a 20 million yen loan because of a difference in handwriting.
Sure enough, in the small print, it said that the form must be filled in by the applicant, so I have to accept some responsibility. I had filled in the important parts (painstakingly done in Japanese characters), while I had let Mami, my wife and guarantor for the loan, fill in the more trivial details.
The next two hours were horrible. The realization that arranging for the gas, electricity, water and phone to be disconnected in our apartment and subsequently connected in the house; the air conditioners to be taken out and reinstalled; the van I’d booked to move all our stuff; and the date that had been set to return the keys to our apartment. All of this would need undoing asap. I threw a wobbly and had to leave the building, punching and kicking the inside of the elevator on my way out.
I was in a state of total disbelief and after my wife called me back, I just ranted on about how ridiculous it was to deny the loan because of a difference in handwriting, despite agreeing with the information my wife had written and having stamped it with my official Japanese seal (equivalent of a signature).
By this time the bank manager had joined us and would do nothing other than ask me to rewrite the application there and then, and resubmit it. This would delay the process by five days. Obviously this didn’t help at all since that would leave us homeless – or at least without water, electricty and gas!
I wasn’t the only one furious at this, but for different reasons. Ms. U from the real estate agency was demanding cancellation fees from the bank and threatening court action. Not because of our handwriting error, but because UFJ themselves had not noticed the difference in handwriting when the papers were submitted in October and had already approved the loan, therefore UFJ should have been held responsible for the ‘error’.
Mr. W, the seller, who had taken the day off work to come to the bank, expecting to leave with 20 million yen, was equally baffled. He had arrived with the biggest smile on his face and shook my hand vigorously when we met in the lobby. I’ll never forget how that smile dropped like an A-bomb when he realized he’d be leaving empty handed.
What really made me mad was the bank manager’s incessant “Hmm, hmm, hmm, I’m awfully sorry, hmm, hmm, hmm, I’m awfully sorry” without making any attempt whatsoever to convince the loan company that the information on the application form was actually correct.
So, how did it all end? Well, Mr. W very kindly agreed to hand over the keys to his house despite not getting a penny of the money he was owed. I filled in the application form again (deliberately taking as long as possible to annoy the bank manager who had to wait), and we rescheduled the meeting for Christmas Day.
Thanks to Mr. W giving us the keys, we were able to continue as planned without having to reschedule the gas man and the rest. Christmas Day rolled around and we went back to the bank for a relatively smooth meeting in which Mr. W got his money, and Mami and I left as official homeowners.
Incidentally, the UFJ guy who we submitted all the documents to back in October was absent from both meetings. Both Mami and I hope he gets a good kick in the Christmas chestnuts for a mistake that caused us and others a lot of unnecessary stress.If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!