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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

LIFELINES

Home loans, PR


You can never leave

P.J. would like to to share his story about home loans. He had no trouble getting a loan, but the problems came later.

"I would like to warn folks that the 'regular' home loan interest rates at many major banks come tied with a quiet condition that the homeowner or his direct family must constantly live in the home. This is very inconvenient if you happen to get transferred on business for a year or two to another city. When I tried to inform my bank of a move, I was told flat out, 'You can't do that.'

"Even worse is if you were to attempt renting your home for the interim — a terrible vice, apparently.

"In disbelief, I consulted with many Japanese friends, including a banker and a real estate agent, who said uniformly that when a businessperson gets transferred in Japan, the usual practice is just not to tell the bank. The banks know this, too, apparently.

"There are even several companies (just in Tokyo) that specialize in renting homes so transferred business people can keep up their mortgage payments.

"Anyway, I had to make the move anyway, and have been generally harassed by the fastidious officer in charge of my loan at my bank at every opportunity since.

"However, bottom line is they won't do anything unless you don't make your payments.

"Advice: Check carefully on this clause before you sign your contract, if there were any chance you'd have to be away from your home for a while."

Thanks for the heads-up, P.J. There is a new service in town run by longtime Tokyo resident Ernie Olsen. The Gaijin Loan is at www.jjloan.jp/Gaijin or (03) 6822-9910. Ernie can help you avoid the pitfalls.

You can also talk to Tim Langley at timlangley@msn.com or (080) 5046-779.

Making it permanent

Andrew is interested in obtaining Permanent Residency.

"Do you have a reference for me to follow up on the Net or other advice relevant vis-a-vis Permanent Residency in Japan and pensions; the law changed in 2003 and it looks like I can get one."

PR is a good option for anyone living long-term in Japan. It does away with the yearly (or every three years) hassle of getting a new visa.

At the same time, you need to be careful because even PR is based on a three-year re-entry permit.

Technically, if you are out of the country for over three years or forget to get your permit, you can lose it.

The procedure is relatively simple. You need to have been in Japan continuously for about five years or more (three years if you are married to Japanese.) You will have to bring papers detailing your income, tax and other basic information.

The main concern they have is whether you can support yourself and will not become a burden to the state.

Contact Mr. Nakai at www.tokyovisa.co.jp or on (03) 6402-7654. It's best to use a "gyosei shoshi" (administrative lawyer) like Mr. Nakai to do all the work. They go to Immigration every day and know the ropes.

As with much in Japan, it can still be a case of "who you know." You can do it yourself, but be careful getting all the documentation together — it can be a nightmare.

How was it for you? Let us know so we can pass it on.

Ken Joseph Jr. directs the Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com or on (03) 000-911. Send questions to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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