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My road to refi, Chapter 1

Name bar For months now, I've been meaning to pursue refinancing of my mortgage. What's stopped me: I don't think it will happen. The value of my home is visible only with a microscope, and things are getting worse, not better.

I bought in 2004, along with thousands of other South Florida suckers. I had a truly horrible real estate agent who pressured me into signing a contract the same day I first looked at the house I ended up with. She ended our relationship by hanging up on me a few times. (Really, I'm not bitter.)

But at the end of the day, I wanted to buy. I was tired of living a rental lifestyle where there was hardly parking for me, much less a few friends if I wanted to have a get together. I wanted a garden and a washer and dryer that didn't jangle to life via endless supply of quarters.

So I did it. It was scary, but exhilarating. I got a solid loan, nothing that involved private mortgage insurance or a balloon payment or wouldn't build equity. I made modest improvements to the house but I still have no dishwasher and 50s-era cabinets and no home equity loan to pay down. I had parties and grew vegetables and did laundry at midnight without sifting through my change first. Undewater

Two years later, a (different) real estate agent convinced me not to sell, that property tax reform was going to kick in and I'd be better off waiting until 2007. You know how that story ends.

Despite taking a massive pay cut for a year, and now getting paid only a little more than I did when I bought the place because of additional cuts to my pay, I've never missed a mortgage payment -- or have ever been close to doing so. I don't want my mortgage company to finally pay attention to me for the wrong reasons, though I wish they would stop including those inserts in my statements that tell me about all the wonderful options there are out there for people who wish to refinance.

I'm not looking for a break on my principal. I bought the house at the price I bought it for. But I'd love a slightly lower interest rate and a break on closing costs would be a nice touch.

Last time I attempted a refinancing was two years ago. It took roughly 20 phone calls to get a human being on the phone to set a rate and start the paperwork, only for them to appraise my home for far less than they had in 2004 and using all kinds of language and criteria no one mentioned before. The person I was dealing with over the phone intially told me to call her back, bypass the phone web. I did. A dozen times. She never called me back but eventually changed her voicemail message to indicate no one should leave a request for her to respond.

A friend of mine starting on the same path as me has written letters to his mortgage company. He's been declined. He called the designated person assigned to his mortgage. Not one return phone call. He visited a branch office this week hoping for better luck. The bank employee proceeded to call the same customer service line he had and stay on hold for 45 minutes until finally giving up.

So things don't look good. But since persistence is my business, I'll keep trying, and I'd be curious if you have any words of advice or stories of success to share.


Posted by Nirvi Shah at 10:00 AM on November 18, 2010 in Banking , Housing | Permalink | Facebook | Digg | del.icio.us | AIM


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