Friday, December 7, 2012

Refi, the Saga Continues


Every week I hear Suze Orman telling me to refinance my home mortgage at historic low rates, and I feel guilty. So, I tried again. Armed with the real estate appraisal that nixed our first attempt to get a refi, I investigated other options online. The answer? A HARP loan.

When I couldn't find a local bank that does one, I noodled around on the net. I plugged some figures into website mortgage calculators, and then my innocent wandering targeted me for a phone call from a national mortgage company.

Hmm...must be a scammer, right?

Nope. The man I talked to was the first person who actually came across as a sincere human being. I know what shoddy salesmen talk like. I also know how good salesmen talk. He wasn't like those loan officers I'd talked to recently, the guys who sounded as if they were on two phone calls at once and simply not paying much attention to either. We had a lovely conversation, and he ended up sending me some loan papers to look at. This is required by law. Fairly recent legislation actually simplified the Federal Truth-in-Lending Disclosure form. Because my husband was a mortgage underwriter for a decade, we thought reading these papers would be easy.

It wasn't. We kept getting confused about how much money we'd be paying out, how much we'd end up paying monthly, and how much we'd be bringing to the closing table. In these days of overwork being common, my husband had no time to pay a lot of attention to the details of a loan from some strange mortgage company we'd never heard of. But it's a federal credit union, the salesman said. Still, it's not a name I know locally. So when my husband hesitated, I googled the mortgage company's name.

There's plenty of information on the Internet, and there are many positive and negative opinions freely expressed about everything, including the bank in question. Trying to decipher the truth, or even decide if the problems experienced by other people seeking mortgages were not likely to be troubles we experienced---well, it wasn't easy. Finally it all came down to my comfort level dealing over the phone with this one salesman. I liked him. I figured that no matter how big a profit his company would make on our refi, the refi itself was still going to be a better deal for us than just doing nothing and sticking with our current high mortgage rate.

We took the plunge, with high credit ratings, on-time mortgage payments, bank savings, and steady employment all on our side. It has been three months now, and we still haven't gotten the okay to close on this refi. We haven't gotten the super-low interest rates mentioned in the media, either, but one that saves quite a lot of interest, anyway. Unless rates go up before this darn thing closes. Banks are inundated with refi requests these days, and any loan going through a special government program gets extremely careful handling. The refi is dragging on and on and on. 

On the good side, we had very little paperwork to complete, our loan salesman sends me regular updates, and sooner or later, it will all fall into place. Hopefully, before Congress decides to remove home mortgage interest as a tax deduction.