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To recap:

  • You have a banker, not a bank.
  • Bring every piece of paper that you own.
  • French bankers don't negotiate like American bankers.
  • You don't actually apply for a mortgage until you've been approved.
  • You are not approved until the regional office signs off.
  • There's a waiting period. 

And don't forget, the banker can get COVID and let your paperwork sit on his desk for a couple of extra weeks. That's where we were the last time that I posted. It gets better.

After satisfying Frederick's request for updated French tax info, I thought that we might be home free. Silly me. Out of the blue, more requests for documents. Statements for the past three months for our Belgian account. Proof that we had paid off the mortgage on our current house. And how about the deed to the new house? You know, the one that the mortgage is for. Let's take them one at a time.


We don't have any accounts in Belgium. Frederick said that we did, that we had received transfers of money from an account in Belgium. I asked Frederick for the dates and amounts. And thus the puzzle was solved. The dates and amounts were dates and amounts that I had used Wise (formerly Transferwise) to move money from our American checking account to our French account. Apparently, Wise has an office in Belgium that handles such transfers. I've explained to Frederick. Frederick understands. Never mind.


We won’t pay off the mortgage on our old house until we close the sale. Mid February. Frederick knew that. The loan cannot be finalized until after the old mortgage is paid in full, he said. He could have told us that two months ago. He didn’t. Oversight? Who knows? But the fact is that Frederick never once in three months said that receipt of the loan could not be accomplished before the closing on the old house. Well, now we know. Pressure off. We’ll just have to wait.


We’re still waiting for our copy of the deed to the new house. It’s been over a month since we closed and received the keys. But given that we’re waiting until mid February anyway, I don’t have jump on the notaire to send it over quickly. She said that it would take a month to finalize. It’s been a couple of weeks more than that. Gentle prodding should produce results.


The home office has decided that because of our age, the loan will have to be for seven years instead of ten and the insurance will have to be at 100% instead of 50% of the loan should either of us ‘disappear’. (Apparently, that’s the polite term that bankers in France use for kicking the bucket.) Obviously, that means that the monthly payments will be higher. Not out of sight, not more than we can handle, but a significant percentage increase all the same. Shorter term. Better insurance. But this is the third time that the details have been modified. 

For the first time, I let my frustration show to Frederick. Just a little...

So we’re not done yet. Once again, stay tuned.


  1. Love the story, hate it for you! I'm impressed you even braved "the system" to apply for a mortgage in the first place ;)

    1. Thanks for the kind words. It’s actually my third French mortgage. The first two were relatively easy. I had a great banker from a different bank. But he got married to an American and moved to the States. Imagine that!

  2. Quite the series of plot twists. Rooting for you, and hope all turns out, and is well. André

  3. There is something so FRENCH about the French, isn't there?

    A few years ago, when I assumed "ownership" (as the Interlocutor) of my family crypt in Paris, there were a few bureaucratic problems, e.g., the Interlocutor was listed as Anne-Marie Etiquer... my great-grandmother, who died in 1925!

    Also, the key to the crypt was missing. We were told they would look for it; call us in the morning.
    I did, and the woman was so excited: Nous avons trouvé la clé! We have found the key! When we arrived at the cemetery office and had exchanged pleasantries and I said, en français, "Let's go open the crypt!" She shook her head no. No? "It doesn't work!" Only in France...

    In that case, I had an answer. Using good ol' American know-how, I asked where their shop was, and asked for a can of "Double-Dee Quarante" (WD-40)... and was able to open the gate.

    Could they have told me on the phone that the key didn't work? Of course! Why didn't they?? Ce n’est pas la mer à boire! But it's France... and there is some strange desire to not disappoint, even when disappointment is inevitable.

    Alors, tout est bien qui finit bien... I hope your histoire ends well!!


    1. Thanks for the encouragement. As I said to another friend, if you haven’t learned to destress after retirement, French fonctionnaires will be glad to give you a graduate course in patience.


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