Friday, February 29, 2008

Refinanced! Now with a dose of Influenza!

Thank you to everyone who commented on the last post. I appreciated your good thoughts, even though you had never been through the refinancing hell. I survived, broken and bloody, but survived nonetheless. I spent Tuesday morning writing and sending ugly e-mails and yelling into my cell phone before hanging up on people. I finally found someone who could answer my questions, correct the paperwork to my satisfaction and generally not piss me off. But I learned A LOT and, since I am now financed at 5.75%, and I don't see the interest rates ever dropping to a level where it would make sense for me to refinance again, I will share with you what I learned. May my pain lessen yours.

#1. DO NOT find a mortgage broker over the internet. Ask friends, ask family, especially those in other states about their experiences. Advertise on the 'net if you have to but only to those whom you trust.

#2. Work directly with a mortgage provider, not a broker. Your local bank or credit union or someone with whom you have done business. By the time I was knee deep in this mess, my bff called her mortgage person, who is in N.C. P told her the whole story and wished I was working with someone like her (her being the mortgage person). Well, apparently, this person does closings all over the US, not just in NC, and I could have worked with her. She was a great person and even looked over my paperwork for free and told me where I was getting screwed. All for a grand total of $0.00! So, if you are planning to buy a house or refinance anytime soon, let me know, I will send you this woman's name and e-mail address. She was a god send!

#3. You should receive a Good Faith Estimate of closing costs within 3 days of your application. NOT the day before closing as I was. Had I received this within 3 days of my application, I would have cancelled the entire thing then. I can understand a slight difference in estimates, but not $2000.00. That is nuts.

#4. Keep yelling. Ok, I don't normally advocate yelling or calling people liars, except when it is absolutely necessary and it was in this instance. 99% of the people I worked with did not have a clue what they were doing. I was given 3 different explanations of one fee, by the same guy. He was just making crap up to make me be quiet. And it worked, until I lost my mind.

Sadly, because of the wacky economy, interest rates were rising again and the best I could hope for would have been 6.385% and that would not have been worth it to me to refinance. The mortgage itself is actually with a reputable company & it will be sold to someone else in the next 90 days. Who knows? They can't change the terms, though, so I should be ok.

On top of the refinance nightmare, which was over on Tuesday afternoon, I went to work Wednesday feeling fine, developed an irritating cough by midmorning and an general ickiness by midafternoon. I got home by about 4, went straight to bed and probably spent 30 of the next 36 hours there. Fever, chills, aches, pains, all the fun things. No vomiting though > knocking on wood.

I did manage to work 1/2 day today & I didn't sleep this afternoon, just watched a movie. I am feeling better, but still tired and weak. It could have been a lot worse, but that doesn't make me feel better. Hopefully I will be hale & hearty by Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Confusion in a Confusing World

There are some things I really don't understand even if I manage to deal with them when I have to. Health insurance makes no sense to me. I am really lucky that I have never had a debilitating disease or accident, because I doubt I could navigate the red tape. I would probably end up dead. The stock market is a mass of confusion. People make money on it? How? I have trouble with my 401K! And mortgages.

I bought my house in the spring of 2001. Homeownership was NEVER something I aspired to. I felt no desire to own, no need for roots. I figured if I continued to rent, all the repairs, the details would be someone else's problem. "You're throwing your money away," I was told. This just confused me. I had a roof over my head and someone else to fix the A/C, the roof, the dishwasher. It seemed like a good deal to me. But there was Chance*, my 80lb four-legged baby. Love of my son's life. Do you know how hard it is to rent a place with an 80 pound dog?

So, when the owner of the house I was renting returned to to the states from overseas, I started looking at homes for sale. It was a good time to buy, prices were much much lower than they are now. I looked for a couple of months before I bought and I think I got a really good buy. My mortgage payment for a 3BR/2BA house with a garage, a pool and a fenced yard cost less than rent on an apartment. And I have grown to enjoy homeownership, despite the $4000 for the new roof (before the really bad hurricane seasons), the fire in the garage, the leaks, the OUTRAGEOUS jump in wind insurance (after the really bad hurricane seasons) the... you know, homeownership woes. It is nice to know it is mine as long as I make the payments. And, I have built a lot of equity.

Then last month I received a notice from my mortgage company that my payment was going up almost $300 a month OR I could pay them a nice sum of $2000, because my escrow account was short, for the 7th year in a row. Now, I don't like to criticize much, but isn't it the mortgage companies job to plan for this sort of thing? My taxes and insurance barely went up for the first 5 years I owned the house, why did I have to write a check every February to make up the difference? I understood last years check of $1100, my insurance went up... but only about $700. The difference this year was about $1000 so why the huge check? So I decided to refinance, without an escrow account, paying my own taxes and insurance. And now I am in a quandry.

Closing is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:00. I am taking a loan for $110,000, taking out a small portion of the equity to get myself a brand new fancy kitchen. I was told that closing costs would be about 2.5% of the loan. I can do math. 2.5% of 110,000 is 2750. I was given the total on closing this afternoon and it is $4900. Do you see my problem? I had even figured closing might be $3000, but that is almost a $2000 difference. Am I a moron? Do I just not understand the way these things work?

Plus, some of the 'fees' seem fishy. I understand the 1.5% origination fee, but then why am I paying another $695 to the bank? The original paperwork said there was $175 for the NOTARY, but the final paperwork (which they sent me because I was yelling) changed the $175 fee to an escrow fee. Did I mention that I am not going to use an escrow account? I am paying my taxes and insurance myself.

Of course, the interest rates are on the rise again (how can that be?), so if I don't use this loan, I could end up .25% or .5% higher rate and then I am not even sure it would be worth it to refinance. And I don't know anyone to ask. DSD is just as lost and confused as I am.

What to do? Hopefully I will figure it out, but if anyone out there in Blogland has some advice, I am listening!!

*Chance passed away about 2:00 AM on January 2, 2005. I miss him every day.

I Want to Hope

It appears (to me, at least) that the nominating process for the Democratic Party is almost over. I am predicting Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee and I am not sure how I feel about that. As I have said before, I wanted John Edwards to be my President, and I was fine with Barack Obama as Vice-President. I honestly didn't see how that combination could be beat in November. Once the media decided IT didn't want John to be President (come on, most voters vote for those who are heavily covered by the media and Edwards wasn't), I started supporting Hillary. I supported Edwards based A LOT on his health care coverage, on his speeches of "two Americas" and his background, but when deciding between Barack and Hillary, I had to carefully look at each of the issues. And their experience. And who I thought, honestly, could win in November, because it doesn't matter WHO the nominee is as long as they can win in November.

I like Hillary's health care plan better. +1
I like the fact that Barack has ALWAYS been against the war. +1 (Although I do sometimes ask myself how he would've voted if he had been a US Senator at the time of the vote. Would he have still been part of the largest anti-war movement in Illinois? Would he have, at least, been out on the Mall protesting? Or would he have played it safe like Hillary did?)
I like Barack's plan on the economy better than Hillary's, although I don't really like it, but at least he HAS a plan. +1.
I don't like either of their policies on immigration. I don't see the need for a blasted fence on the Mexico-Texas border. Mexicans work hard for this country (much harder than I do) and I am not worried about them taking my job. I don't think a fence would've stopped 9/11. I don't think there is a blasted thing this government could do to stop another 9/11 and I think concentrating on the Mexicans is stupid and racist. No points.
I like Hillary's thoughts on energy simply because the first thing she says is to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies. +1

So far, Hillary 2, Barack 2 (yes, I know there are a lot more issues, but these are the ones I am most familiar with).

Hillary has been a Senator longer than Barack. Hillary was First Lady for 8 years and that really does mean something. Hillary worked in Washington when Barack was still in grade school. Hillary +1.

Hillary has been through the ringer with the media, Rush, Ann Coulter. What has Barack been through? Right now the right wingers are letting the two of them tear each other down, what is going to happen when Barack gets the nomination? Where will the Swift Boaters hit him? Where is he vulnerable? We won't know until the world does and I have no doubt it will not be pretty. What will happen then? Will he be able to fight it? Or will he just lie down as John Kerry did?

My fear is that Barack Obama is such an unknown that #1, there is something in his past that will make him unelectable, and #2, he is nothing but a personality.

I know people are sick of the establishment. I know that the younger generation (those who are voting for the first time) have no memory of a time when a Bush or a Clinton was not in the White House. I know that Hillary does not come across as necessarily warm and fuzzy. Neither did Al Gore, but I wish the courts had not stolen the election from him. And, while I may not want to have a beer with Hillary (ok, I wouldn't mind it), I would want her at my back if a fight broke out.

So, for those of you who are supporting Barack (PETE!), convince me that he will make a better President than she will. Because right now, all I feel is hopeless.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Overworked and Overwhelmed

I started a post a couple of days ago on the useless things that Congress does each and every day, but have not found the time to finish it. While I have been reading/posting comments on other blogs, I have been a bit overwhelmed with everything going on in the news to be able to pick something (anything) to say that is not just a scream.

On top of that, there have been tests in my night classes, my son is changing jobs, crazy people at work who think I can perform miracles (I think I actually did) and I am in the process of refinancing my house.

So, I am busy, busy, busy, but still here. Hopefully I will find time later this weekend to post something intelligent (not promising), but, right now, I am supposed to be doing homework and I need to get to that.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Some Good News Would Be Nice

I would like to blog about something, anything, uplifting, but can not seem to find a whole lot. Instead, the news is covered with such great stories as these:

A blast in a Georgia sugar refinery has at least 3 dead with 3 more missing.

Another shooting on a college campus; this time in Louisiana. (3 more dead.)

A shooting just outside of St. Louis, MO at a city council meeting. (5 dead and a couple more in critical condition. )

Soldiers returning from Iraq are charged with murdering another returned soldier and this may not be the only one they've killed. (This is apparently an old story that I just heard this morning. )

The Bush Administration is still screwing over the soldiers it professes to love and appreciate. (Which probably caused the story just above this one)


Per the American people, Bush and Congress stink! (Ok, maybe that is, sort of, good news.)

At least it is Friday! Have a frosty, cold one for me and I will do the same for you!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

National Signing Day

Go Gators!

This is not my area of expertise, but you can get any information you need here and here. These are mainly Gator sites, though. We aren't number 1, but we are doing pretty good!

Less than seven months till kickoff.

Nicely Put

For the most part, this story on MSNBC is pure drivel. It is about the dividing lines in the Democratic Party, race, gender, generational, etc and it actually irritated the crap out of me until the very end.
Finally, whatever the passions of Mr. Obama’s and Mrs. Clinton’s supporters
— and by every measure, their passions are about as high as they ever get in
politics — Democrats have throughout this year been unified by the intensity of
their desire to win back the White House after eight years of President Bush.

And that is a beautiful thing!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Boring Sunday? (Upated on Monday)

I have my appetizers made for the Super Bowl party we will be attending later today. Good people, good food, good times. Normally I am as vocal about the game as I am about my political beliefs (no one asks me about those anymore), but I really don't care about tonight's game.

I liked Eli Manning when he played for Ole Miss, which is weird, because he is the only Manning to beat my Gators and he did it back to back seasons. But I had a great deal of respect for him.. until his NFL draft when he turned into a whiny, little daddy's boy who refused to play for San Diego. I would smack my son if he acted like that publicly. So, I am having a hard time thinking about cheering for the Giants.

Then there is the New England Cheaters, I mean, Patriots. The coach was caught cheating last summer, the quarterback was cheating on his pregnant girlfriend (it doesn't get much tackier than that) and they are playing on Super Sunday for the, what?, fourth time this decade? They should have been prohibited from post-season play after last summer's debacle. But that is why I like college football.

So, I have to cheer for the whiner and not the cheats, but, really? I'd rather stay home and watch a movie.

Oh, well, hopefully the commercials will be great.

UPDATE: Wow! What a game! I think the last time I actually enjoyed a SuperBowl this much was 2003, but that is because the Buccaneers won. Since I had no real feeling for either team, I could appreciate the great plays on both sides. I would have enjoyed it even if the Pats had kept Eli and company from scoring that last TD. I was glad the Pats "perfect season" was killed and that the cheaters didn't win.

Sadly, there was too much party in my Super Bowl and I was late to work this morning AND am not feeling too well. I am normally much better about controlling my libations (DSD was driving, so that wasn't an issue), but it must have gotten out of control at some point. And I have a college class tonight, so I won't be going to bed early. :-(

Friday, February 1, 2008

My Support Goes to...

After talking to a couple of the women I work with yesterday, I realized I have no choice but to support Hillary now that John Edwards has dropped out the race. She will, of course, receive MORE support (possibly monetarily) if she has the good sense to ask John to be her running mate, but I am not holding my breath after last night's Hillary/Barack love fest.

While I was leaning toward Hillary anyway (and, yes, I have a lot of reservations), when one of the women I was speaking with (we'll call her Sandy, because that is her name) announced that she was leaving the country if Hillary was elected President, what choice did I have? Both of these women are incredibly right wing (and that is their choice), but they both have daughters who have given birth at the taxpayers expense (Sandy's daughter THREE times) and are still using Medicaid to keep their children healthy. This type of hypocrisy makes me want to puke. The other woman, Tammy, has three daughters and 2 of them have taxpayer paid for children and Tammy thinks that Mitt Romney is the man. (Sandy wants good old boy, Mike Huckabee!). I am dumbfounded (and slightly repulsed). These are not stupid women (ok, not TOO stupid) and yet they do not seem to understand that they are not real favorites of the Republican party. They are against socialized medicine and, yet, what the hell is Medicaid? They think this stupid war is fair and just, but I don't see their kids standing around with a right hand in the air to run off to Iraq! And girls can't be drafted if a draft is ever reinstated!

So I will be cheering Hillary on, hopefully all the way to the White House, and then I will lovingly offer to help Sandy pack. Do you think it would be rude if I asked if she was taking her daughter and grandchildren?