Over the last month we have been navigating the quagmire of German mortgage offers. Not that we are moving house, you understand. We are merely moving mortgage, as our original 10 year loans are nearly up.
To cut a long story short, having shopped around we finally found an offer which combined the various terms and flexibility which we wanted, and which our tax accountant approved of. This led to the paperwork stage…. which as you would imagine in Germany is painstakingly thorough and completely unavoidable. In fact the bank appears to need documented proof of absolutely every aspect of your life, and indeed that of your children and pets. This, to the British mind, is nothing short of nosey parker behaviour.
It is also a very arduous process, purely from a practical point of view. If you are British, you will inevitably lack the Germanic virtues which are summed up in that single term: Ordnung.
This means that the paperwork stage involves you searching through corners of the house you’d forgotten even existed, in a last minute attempt to track down some insurance policy document or a missing letter from the tax office. You have to arm yourself with a good quality eraser, so you can expunge the hastily scribbled recipe for banana bread from the margin of your Bausparvertrag. And you also have to locate the iron, which you last used a decade earlier, so as to smooth out the crumples from your last three salary slips.
Eventually you will have located and arranged the fourteen thousand individual documents necessary for your mortgage application. You will have filled out the longest and most complex set of forms that German bureaucracy could devise and you finally sign the eighteen different documents, each in triplicate, which mean that your children and their children are bound in servitude for the next millenium. Or something.
Anyway, after multiple failed attempts (sorry, we do need the original deed/salary slip/tax return) we returned home with a signed, sealed and stamped set of forms and an acute sense of relief that this hideous process was over for another decade.
And then yesterday a package arrived in the post from the bank in question. The covering letter was very short.
Anbei übersende ich Ihnen die uns überlassenen Originalunterlagen zu unserer Entlastung zurück.
Literally: I am hereby returning your original documents so as to remove a burden from ourselves. (My emphasis)
Now, I may be missing the point here but it seems a bit rich to me, that the bank should feel burdened by our document pack. The document pack which they insisted on receiving, down to the very last tax statement and Grundbuchauszug. In fact, I’m pretty sure that we’re the ones who ought to feel burdened for having spent weeks rummaging through drawers and cupboards in search of some elusive but essential certificate.
The very fact that we managed to get the whole thing together is nothing short of a total fluke, because over the last ten years those life insurance policies could just have easily been used for starting the barbecue or demonstrating paper aircraft design. The bank should be in awe at our archaeological excavation skills in getting that lot together, intact and more or less unscathed.
The burden, gentlemen, was entirely ours!
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