Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My 300th Post

WHOO-HOO!! 300!! (Um, wait - that means I've spent how much time blogging that I can never get back???) :)

Part of the reason I haven't been posting as much is that I’m discouraged right now. Aside from the work issues, a big part of that is my current refinance thing.

Short version of this story: I screwed up. I should not be allowed to play Monopoly, let alone participate in commerce. I'm great at figuring out how to get out of stuff, but not at all good at how to do it right the first time. (Note to self: remind Mom that she was wrong all those time she told me that if I spent half as much time doing things instead of trying to get out of them, I would be much more productive. If I'd listened to her, I wouldn't be as good at my job as I am now.)

Long version: when I bought my condo, I got an 80/20 loan package which allowed me to purchase the property since I had ZERO money to put down. The first mortgage was supposed to be at a fixed rate, and the second was supposed to be an ARM. I made the mistake of using lendingtree.com, and chose a company that I thought I could trust because they were local (I couldn't) and that I thought would keep the loan in-house (they didn't).

My first mortgage was at 7.100% - high for 2 years ago, but the lowest rate I could get at the time. I thought that with the way housing prices were going up, if I didn't buy soon, I would never be able to buy because I would always be behind. Plus, I had the upstairs neighbors from hell with no help at all from the property management company I was renting from.

First of all, the company I found through lendingtree.com didn't even give me the loan documents to review until the day I was supposed to close - and this, after I'd already put the closing over once because of their delays. I did not see any of the loan papers until I was at the closing table with the van out in the parking lot because the movers had already arrived to start packing things up.

Second, the loan package was written backwards from what the guy told me - instead of having a fixed rate loan on the first and an ARM on the second, it was an ARM on the first and a fixed on the second. Maybe that's the only way they do them, but if he'd told me that up front, I wouldn't have done the loan. I am not, after all, a complete idiot. Inexperienced at how these things work, but not an idiot.

Anyway, my ARM was only locked in for 2 years. Then, it adjusts upward by, like, 3.5% - YIPE. Because there was a prepayment penalty if I'd refinanced sooner (and because I didn't have the money to pay those costs), I waited until the prepayment penalty period was almost over.

As you might have realized, the Michigan housing market (not to mention the economy - thank you, Jennifer Granholm!), has pretty much bottomed out in the 2 years since I bought my condo. I feel like the kid playing musical chairs who's running around looking for a seat only to find that there aren't any left.

So, now I’m stuck with either a changed payment amount that will kick in when the ARM adjusts (translating to an increase in my mortgage payment of about $300), or the adjusted payment terms the lender will give me to refinance everything. Not being made of or married to money, I am pretty much a hostage to whatever I can get.

Now, it seems that the guy handling the refinance - which they laughingly call a "streamline" - seems to be pissed at me because I don't want a prepayment penalty for an undisclosed period of time, since I’ve already had a prepayment penalty period that kept me from refinancing to a lower rate when property values were still fairly solid, and since I made my mortgage payments on time every single month for the last 2 years.

It’s all fine and well and good for him to be pissed – it’s not his mortgage or his life that will be disrupted.

Anyway, I talked with this guy at a company I should have gone with in the beginning - everything he told me 3 years ago checked out (STILL kicking myself over not going back to him) - and he said that I’m doing all the right things. I just have to ride this out and see where I am when the property values rebound.

I’m just so tired.

This is really what the curse is all about: sweat and labor to eke out any kind of life, and you can’t let down your guard for an instant, because all around you, there are plenty of people poised to take it away from you. If it isn’t mortgage scalpers, it’s taxing authorities or thieves. Not that there is much difference among them...

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