Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We're just doing our patriotic duty.

That's right... Obama said go forth and refinance, so that's what we're doing.

Granted we've only been in the house two years this July, but the low rates were too much to resist. Two years ago we got in right before the no money down party ended, and we're finding that is really limiting our options now, but no worries. Our mortgage broker from before found us something that will work.

Now, I have to tout City National Bank for a minute. They had a great loan product for first-time homebuyers called a "Champion Mortgage." 100% financing and $695 closing costs. That's right, $695. Period. That includes your appraisal. Yes, it was an ARM, and we all know how much bad press ARMs got as the housing bubble burst. But our mortgage broker helped us to not fear the ARM. They can work if you are responsible and know what you're getting into. It's funny when I tell people I have an ARM loan. Do you remember the Sex and the City episode with Heather Graham? The one where Carrie ran into the chic who dated Aiden right after she broke up with him? I get that face when I tell people I have an ARM.

Any ho, our ARM was a 10 year arm. Just refinance it within 10 years. No biggie. As interest rates fell, I started calling around to see how good of a deal I could get. At least the lady at Chase was honest when she said to check with City National because she couldn't give us that great of a deal.

I called City National on April 27th about 2 pm and spoke to our original mortgage officer. She quoted me a pretty good rate for refinancing into another Champion Mortgage ARM, but said no bank could refinance a mortgage into a 30-year fixed with less than 5% equity given the current state of the banking industry. No one is going to do it. I told her I'd talk to Jeremy about it and get back with her the next day. Well, at 3 pm, she got an email from the corporate HQ saying that beginning the next day they were discountinuing the Champion Mortgage program because of the "high loan to value ratio of the loans." Evidently, they are getting some heat from regulators. Anyhow, I talked to Jeremy and he thought it sounded like a good deal, so I call her back that day... It's a good thing I did, or we would have been out of luck. She did our application over the phone that afternoon, so she could get it in before it was too late.

So, I ran the numbers on moneychimp dot com (awesome site for figuring stuff out like car payments, amortizing loans, etc, BTW). We should hit 5% equity by the fall of 2011, so then we'll be eligible for a 30-year fixed mortgage. And with the new lower rate, we'll save almost $200/month on the payment. Is it wrong to have already spent that money? Probably. We haven't closed yet.

But I'm pricing hardwood floors and a new front door.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The first time we entertained in our new dining room.

This past Tuesday, J.R. and Tracy came over for a yummy Cinco de Mayo dinner in our new dining room. Mishap after mishap occurred with the food, but the company was fabulous. The food was delicious, just not that "pretty" and about an hour and a half late...

I got tied up at work Tuesday (The state bar's computer database got hacked. I got an email at 4:30 saying I should put a fraud alert on my credit report. Awesome!) So, I didn't even start cooking until 5:30ish.

I made chicken enchiladas, homemade guacamole and tortilla chips, chili rellenos, and I tried to make margaritas. The guacamole was DELICIOUS, as were the chips. Both are super easy to make, and I got the recipie from Tyler Florence's cookbook, Eat This Book. For the chips, you basically buy the 4" corn tortillas, cut them into forths and fry them in canola oil. Nothing is better than hot, salty, GREASY tortilla chips, freshly made.

The chicken enchiladas were great, too. And since I try to only eat like that 1 day a week, my co-workers enjoyed almost a whole pan of them for lunch yesterday. The four of us ate so many chips while waiting on the enchiladas to get done, we couldn't hardly eat any of the main course. The chili rellenos were tasty, but fell apart when I tried to stuff and fry them, so they were a pile of pepper, chorizo and cheese with some batter by the time I got them on the plates. I have a new respect for the cooks in the back of Mexican restaurants that make the perfect crispy fried peppers.

And, finally, before we ate, I got around to making the margaritas. I had a bottle of Patron, which I'm ashamed to say, I've had since last July, that I was going to use. Well, I put the ice in the blender, poured in the mix (I was gonna make my own, but ran out of time), and low and behold the base to the blender wasn't screwed on tight enough, so a whole bottle of mixer ran all over my countertop. Thank God I didn't pour the tequilla in. I would have been wringing it out of a kitchen towel back into the bottle...

J.R. was quick to offer up some of the Dos Equis he brought. Disaster averted!

We spread all the food out on the table and listened to Santana while picking at our food--we were stuffed from tortilla chips by the time I got dinner on the table at 8pm. But nonetheless, it was fabulous to have company over and dinner in the dining room.