Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Refinancing Semi-Debacle, the Way-Past Conclusion

Almost four years ago, I refinanced my mortgage and blogged about it as I neared the finish line in the post "Refinancing Semi-Debacle."  The adventure concluded shortly after that post but not without further excitement.

Let's start with the date.  In a series of e-mails where we hashed out details, my loan officer from the credit union set a closing date of January 13.  She then asked me to get a payoff statement from the old lender for the 18th, which I did.  On the 13th, she e-mailed me with "Urgent" in the subject.  "You missed your appointment," she said.  No, I didn't, I replied, you changed it to the 18th.  No, she said, the appointment for the 13th stands - the 18th is the settlement date between institutions.

I see I'm starting to lose you with this riveting dialog, so let's move along.  It turns out you can't trust everyone.  In December, she set a closing date and asked for a payoff statement for the same date.  If we had closed as scheduled then, the numbers would have been off and we might have had to start over, but only in hindsight did I find her mistake.  For the January incident, she was right, but so was I for following the same pattern she set in December.

Well, my workday is generally flexible, so I grabbed my papers and set off for Minneapolis.  On a normal business day, the credit union is about 15 minutes from my office.  On a normal day.  On January 13, 2011, the Twin Cities received 8+ inches of snow, six of them by the time I headed out.  It took just over 90 minutes to reach my destination.  I won't bore you - further - with tales of sitting in traffic, except for one distraction that I enjoyed.

If you are familiar with I-394 eastbound in Minneapolis, you know that there is a chokepoint where it meets I-94.  We call it the Lowry Tunnel exit because as soon as you clear the exit ramp, you go through the Lowry Hill Tunnel.  We Minnesotans are awfully clever with our names.  394 eastbound carries a lot of traffic and about 2/3rds of it gets funnelled into a single, curvy lane and that causes a backup on a good day and on a snowy day, it can backup four miles or so.  Like this day.

As you approach the Dunwoody exit, the last one before Lowry Tunnel, a fourth lane appears on the right.  It's a brief extra lane, part of an on-ramp and off-ramp pair that are less than half a mile apart.  A woman came off that on-ramp and her ultimate destination was Dunwoody, so even with the backup on the main three lanes, she had clear sailing to her exit.  She was also driving one of those Honda four-wheel drive cars.  Should have been easy for her.  However...

I was in stop & go traffic, making maybe 5 MPH.  This lady could could easily have gotten up to 30 MPH or so for the minute or so needed to get to her exit. I first noticed her in my rear-view mirror, where she would travel slowly, cautiously, and dare I say safely, up to about 20 MPH, then slam on her brakes.  Four wheel drive and anti-lock brakes or not, in heavy, wet snow, you slide when you slam on the brakes.  Slamming on her brakes caused the Honda to slip sideways, maybe 45-60 degrees to the right of center.  When she had stopped completely and regained her composure, she would straighten out, then slowly, cautiously, and dare I say safely resume her trip and get her speed up to about 20 MPH, and do the whole thing over again.  I saw her do it maybe three times in my mirror, twice while she was beside me, and another three times before I lost visibility around a curve.  Considering I wasn't going anywhere, it was as entertaining as anything could be at that point, but not so much for the line of people that had formed behind her.

So I eventually got to the credit union and met with a junior loan officer.  We started going over the paperwork and immediately realized that it was wrong in several places.  You remember all those details I went over with the senior loan officer?  Yeah, it appears she got all the information and did nothing with it.  So, the paperwork had to be redone.

It all worked out.  Everything that had to happen between the credit union and one-payment lender happened.  I got my lower rate and have saved $11,148 in interest and PMI since.  I mainly like dealing with the credit union more than the too big to fail banks, but I like Suntrust's web site better - the credit union doesn't allow you to apply extra principal without making a call, for example.

My trip home that day was only 75 minutes, which was a victory in and of itself.  In the scheme of things, we shall lump all my annoyances and travails regarding the refi as first world problems.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Let There be Light

I'm putting up christmas lights this year.

I know, I know!  Who am I all of a sudden?

Well, the details tell the tale.  I have a 12 foot deck on the front of my house.  It has your basic railing system constructed of 2x4 cross members and 2x2 uprights.  I bought a single, 9 ft strand of icicle lights (LEDs, of course) that I will attach to the top railing.  Nothing fancy, just a little light and less than $10.

I went with all blue because I think that looks nice, and to avoid the glare of all-white lights if any of the light peeps in the house when I have the drapes open.  It's all very middle-aged childless guy who lives alone.  I was tempted to get a cascading set, but that would have been $40 for the same size and I have to draw the line somewhere.  Yet, there are still a couple months of temptation that I will have to resist before the lighting season is over.