Moving the Needle

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In the previous post, I talked about taking a big step toward financial independence by buying property. It took me years to actually build up the courage to jump on this idea. I have the capital already, it took me a while to become comfortable with spending all my hard-earned savings in one big move.

Today, I took the first step by signing a contract in front of a notary to get into a partnership with the property managers I am interested in working with. I actually figured out how to find a notarial office in Sapporo and talked to them in Japanese about the whole process. Part of the reason why I took so long about this is because I’m not really comfortable dealing with Japanese people about legal issues. Since this is a binding contract, it seemed so difficult.

First, I went to my local town hall and asked if they did notary services there and found out that they didn’t. One of the ladies mentioned that I’d have to go to Sapporo to get my documents signed at the Odori office.

After checking online for the website, I found the number and called them. Luckily I was able to make an appointment for 1:00pm on the same day for the afternoon. I hopped on the train and came to town. It’s always funny when I hear the people on the phone repeat my name. I usually give them a caveat before I start talking and tell them that I’m not Japanese first. The lady at the end just said, “Hai?” and I enunciated my name again. They were able to write my name in Katakana, I think.

I walked into the office ten minutes early and was greeted by the receptionist. She checked my ID and asked to see the documents.

“You’re able to explain the contents of this document in Japanese, right?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I responded honestly. “More or less.”

I had re-read through the contract while I was on the train. I practiced (in my head) how I would explain each section to whoever was going to look through it. I even looked up the vocabulary words I’d need to use in Japanese. I went through the whole thing. I found that despite the difficulty of the contract language, I could translate it simply into Japanese.

However, even after all that work, the notary who looked over my contract only asked me what the contract was. He saw the words “Contract of Services” and nodded his head.

“So it’s a service contract?” Mr. Y asked.

“Yes. This company will help me find properties in Japan and I will buy them.”

That’s all I needed to say. He seemed satisfied with that. Mr. Y was more hung up on where he would actually sign his name. I explained to him what I needed him to do, about requiring a legal stamp that would allow me to work with this company. I really liked him. He was very flustered about the whole thing. I guess they don’t get many non-Japanese folks at the their office, but everyone was really friendly towards me.

The whole thing took about ten minutes. He typed my name into the computer and produced a piece of paper that says in both Japanese and English that he witnessed my signature. We checked the spelling. I signed my name. He signed his and handed the documents to another staff. He thanked me for coming and told me how much the process cost: ¥11,500.

Yikes! But I already knew that coming in. When I looked it up, that seemed to be the standard price all over Japan. If I had gone through the American embassy, it would have cost about the same. The only thing was that I would have to wait for a long time to get an appointment.

I waited for five minutes for them to stamp it and make it very legal.

As I was paying, the staff asked me if that was all I needed.

“Yes, I think so. All the company said was they wanted a nice big stamp so that Japanese companies would be willing to work with me,” I responded.

She mentioned some very difficult vocabulary related to my contract and the whole process. I only understood the bit where she was describing the place where I can go to get this potential need done.

I nodded and thanked her, but I have no idea what she said. She slipped a piece of paper in my envelope, presumably related to what she had mentioned earlier. In my heart, though, I think getting this important stamp and document notarized was enough.

“I’ll wait and see what the property management company says first,” I said, “If there’s anything I need to do, I’ll figure it out and give the office a call.”

I am really grateful that the process was very painless and relatively easy. However, I am most proud of the fact that I got over my fear and ventured far out of my comfort zone. Going into the whole thing, I thought it was going to be difficult, but it was surprisingly less complicated that I thought.

This is why I’m really glad I’m doing this. It’s allowing me to learn a whole new process and forcing me to do things I don’t normally do. Now, I know that there is this Notary Service office, a potential resource, in Sapporo that I can use in the future. I found out that my Japanese communication skills are not bad. I found out that everything can easily be figured out if you get past obstacles that turn out to be not a big deal.

By committing the time, money, and energy into to this new investment, I’m slowly moving the needle in the direction of my goals. Not only that, I’m expanding my experience as I learn to do new things I never did before.

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