Goodbye Redneck, Hello SmartyPig

smartypigA few days ago I mentioned a high yield savings account from Redneck Bank.  I just found another FDIC insured savings account with a higher APY over at SmartyPig….yes you read that right. As with Redneck Bank, Smartypig is backed by a large bank (West Bank) and your funds are FDIC insured. Their current rate is 3.25% with no maximum however I read on another board that it will go down to 3.01 starting April 1st.  Either way this is by far one of the best rates online.

The idea behind Smarty Pig is to allow users to set up savings accounts for everything from vacations to wedding funds and allow their friends and family to help contribute to the fund (if you decide to make your savings account public).  A few months back the only way to get your funds out was either via merchant gift cards or check however they have now added the ability for you to get your money back to your checking account via ACH deposits.

Even though I posted about RedNeck Bank last week, I couldn’t see putting money there and having “Redneck Bank” show up on my credit report. I’m not sure why but for some reason the thought of having SmartyPig isn’t nearly as bad to me.  I had planned on setting up an account with GMAC Bank as their rate was a decent 2.50 last week.  I started the sign up process last week and have still not gotten my account setup there. To make matters worse, their rate just dropped to 2.25%.

I decided since I still hadn’t gotten my GMAC account up and running to give SmartyPig a chance.  It took me about 10 mins to set up my account. Best of all, they are already in Mint.com (the online version of quickbooks / ms money).  For info about Mint, read my previous post here.

Info from their site:
Opening an account on SmartyPig is absolutely FREE. In fact, you can open your account, create a goal, reach your goal, and redeem your goal, and SmartyPig won’t charge you a thing!

SmartyPig is for people who want to save for specific goals. Whether it’s a family vacation, the latest electronic gadget, a wedding or a down payment on a house, SmartyPig’s unique system can help you get there. Just tell us what you’re saving for, how much you want to save and when you want to reach your goal, and we’ll suggest an automatic monthly deposit you’ll make from your existing checking or saving account until you reach your goal

Savings Accounts are held in West Bank and are FDIC insured up to the maximum amount allowed by law, making using SmartyPig as safe and secure as using your own bank.

Refinance Drama – Final Chapter (I Hope)

This is hopefully my last post about my refinance as I am hoping that things are now going in the right direction. First, let me wrap up my disgruntled rant about my first failed refinance.

1st Refinance
After speaking with a few people, I decided to contact the bank commissioner to file a complaint against Provident Funding for failing to “fund” my mortgage for what I felt was a bogus reason.  A day or 2 after I sent in the complaint I received an email from the mortgage broker telling me I had every right to file the complaint however I had some dates /times mixed up. After speaking with him, he informed me that my initial rate was locked on December 17th with Wells Fargo and sometime in early January they “flipped” my mortgage over to Provident Funding b/c Wells was taking to long to close loans at the time.  I was not aware this had happened but that does not change the way I feel about Provident Funding.  I’m a little annoyed that the mortgage broker switched my mortgage to Provident but in all reality I would not have cared if it had gone through.

wfhmstandardFinal Refinance (hopefully)
Today the rates dropped a little and I decided to pull the trigger and lock in at Wells Fargo directly. The rate at Wells was 5.0 with 0 points.  I decided to lock in at 4.50% with 2 points.  I feel such a relief that I am locked and and things seem to be moving forward again on my refinance.

Thanks Carole @ WellsFargo in DE!
Kevin

Banks Fearful to lend money

As most know, I recently got the news that Provident Funding was “unable” to offer me a refi since they were being ridiculous about the appriasal. I recently read and article on Bloomberg.com that made me realize I am not alone. There are a number of people that are running in to the same problem.  Banks have now swung in the complete opposite direction…instead of lending to everyone, now they are lending to pretty much nobody.

One hopeful thing I did see in the article was that the person in the same situation as me was finally able to obain a mortgage refinance.  According to the article “The customer who was rejected by three banks got her mortgage approved by a fourth, which focused on her high income and credit score, not the appraisal rule, he said, adding weeks to the process

I contacted the mortgage broker that was written about in this artcle and they told me the bank that finally approved this loan was Wells Fargo. As soon as rates come down a bit more (hopefuly they will), I plan on starting the process all over again with them hoping they will help me refinance my mortgage!

If you live in FL, IL, MN or WI you might want to check with Brian Wickert at Accunet Mortgage as he was the broker that handled this persons refinance and was able to finally get her approved. If you live in one of the other 46 states like I do, try contacing a local Wells Fargo lender and compare their rates to local banks.

Bankrate Analysts Believe Rates will Fall or Remain Unchanged Next Week

Each Wednesday, experts and Bank Rate analysts try to provide insight as to whether mortgage rates will go up or down over the next week.  I’m hoping they are right as I am still holding out for a better rate.

This week (Feb. 19 – Feb. 25) the experts say: Mortgage rates will most likely fall, or at worst stay flat.

mtg_rates

Amex Discontinues Indy Mac Mortgage Offer

picture-82I’ve been looking for the best deals on mortgage refinance rates for some time now and came across what I thought was a good deal.  Indy Mac has a page on their site that mentions their teaming up with American Express to allow you to earn rewards points / cash back by paying your mortgage with your AMEX card.  I was very tempted this morning when I saw the 30yr fixed rate a 4.875% with 1.2 points to set this up with my American Express Cash Back card which pays 5% cash back at Gas stations and grocery stores and 1.5% cash back at all other stores.

Unfortunately, when I called Indy Mac, they explained that American Express decided to cancel this program and they are no longer offering this to their custsomers.  It would be nice if Indy Mac would remove this offer from their site since it was the main reason I called them for a rate quote in the first place.

Indy Mac Rates for Wednesday February 19th

Here were the rates for Indy Mac on Wednesday in Wilmington, DE.  I’m posting this primarily so I can remember tomorrow morning when they change the rates what the previous days rates were for me.  I’m really hoping to get a 30yr fixed rate mortgage with little / no points for 4.75% or less.  I had one but as you all know Provident Funding decided they did not want to honor it and came up with a bogus reason why they did not fund the loan.  Currently the best Indy Mac is offering this week is 5.0% with a little over half a percent.  According to a recent article on BankRate most believe the rates are going to come down again a bit over the next month…I sure hope they are right!

picture-101

Beware of Provident Funding – Mortgage Refinance Drama Part 2

picture-3A while back I told you about the troubles I was having with Provident Funding.  I was in the process of refinancing my home and was using a local mortgage broker.  As of today, I have been told that I was not declined however my property is not “eligible” for funding with Provident.  Their reason for not funding the loan, they say, is because there are not enough “comps”.  They were concerned that one of the comps in my neighborhood that is the same style house, is priced significantly less than our house.  The house in question has been on the market for over a year and is listed in “inferior” condition.  Provident Funding had our appraisal for 3 weeks before bringing these issues up.  I offered to have the house reappraised however that did not change their mind.  Instead, they ignored multiple requests from the mortgage broker for an update and did not tell me until 3 weeks after the initial rate lock expired that they were unable to fund my loan.  Now I am out $300 for the appraisal and have wasted 2 months on a bogus mortgage they were unable to fund for whatever reason.

Here is an email that the mortgage broker sent over to Provident Mortgage expressing his frustration with them:
I know Travis [loan processor at mortgage broker]  has been in contact with you regarding this loan.  I have a couple of questions and comments.  I do not understand the reason behind the denial regarding the appraisal.  We had to get approval of this appraisal company to even use it in the first place.  We were asked to provide more information for more comps.  The comps were in range from ###k with one less bedroom to ###k with one more bedroom and a basement.  His appraised at ###k, exactly in the middle, with no outside or inside structural damage.  All of these comps are within a 1.5 mile radius, and are all fair market value.  If there is another appraiser that you would prefer us to use, the client is more than willing to comply.  He is at 80% LTV with no cash out, and his DTI with this re-finance will be at 18%, he makes more than enough money, and his appraisal is no where near out of line.  There are a lot of things that are right with this loan, and nothing I can see wrong.  The client feels like it is a random pick to give a denial.

I have been locking loans with Provident, and plan to do so in the near future.  I do not want to put another client at risk because he/she may not get approved in the last stage of the process.  I currently have 6 loans locked with you, and [our mortgage company] itself has many more.  I have 5 more on the table right now, and once we get the final back and forth of negotiations, plan to lock them with Provident.  We feel that you are the fairest and quickest out there right now.  Please have some one look at this loan to possibly reconsider.  Please call me if there are any questions.
Thank you in advance for your time and efforts!

Here is what the appraiser said about the house with the same style in our development that is currently on the market:
Comparable #1 was reported to be in need of interior and exterior updating which is reflected in its
inferior condition.

As the mortgage broker mentioned in his email, I was more than willing to have them come out and do a 2nd independat appraisal and would have gone through with the refinance even if the rate were lower.  It baffles me how they can just decline me at the last minute after I have put almost 2 months into this process and spent $300 on an appraisal.  I would recommend that anyone who considers using a mortgage broker, find out which company they plan on selling your mortgage to and do some research.  I did a google search for “Provident Funding scam” and found lots of negative comments on RipOffReport, ComplaintsBoard and XOMReviews.com.

Move Over Quickbooks & Microsoft Money

picture-13Many years ago I used quickbooks to keep my finances in order. I eventually switched to MS Money as I liked the way it was able to pull in the bank transactions from most of the banks I worked with. Last June, I started using a site called Mint.com that was supposed to simplify the way I managed my money. The first thing I thought when I heard of this site was, how safe can it be to give all of your information to one site. After reviewing their privacy policy and reading more about their company, I decided to give them a try. Since signing up to Mint.com I spend much less time on my computer balancing all of my accounts and am able to see where exactly we are spending our money. I can’t say that it has helped us cut back on our spending just yet but I’m working on that. Mint.com is by far one of the most useful sites online, excluding DealCatcher of course!

Mint Security / Privacy

  • You register anonymously.
  • they ask for your online banking user name and passwords, but do not see / store that information.
  • they connect securely to your financial institutions using one or more online financial service providers.
  • Click here for their privacy page

Pros of using Mint

  • Great reporting / budgeting features
  • Awesome iPhone App
  • All of your accounts can be viewed in one location (including checking, savings, 401k, loans & mortgages and more)
  • 24/7 Alerts that  let you know of any suspicious activity
  • Save time not entering all the data in yourself
  • It’s FREE!

Cons of using Mint

  • It’s a pain in the butt to set up all of your accounts
  • Occasionally some accounts need to be set up multiple times

Mortgage Rates Could Go as Low as 4.0%?

I just read this AP article mentioning the GOP wants to add more mortgage relief to the stimulus package.
Officials said the GOP was coalescing behind a proposal designed to give banks an incentive to make loans at rates currently estimated at 4 percent to 4.5 percent. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were seized by the federal government in September, would be required to purchase the mortgages once banks have made them to consumers.

With current national rates hovering around 5.35%, this would definitely spur many homeowners to refinance. As mentioned before I am in the process of refinancing and have a lock for 4.75%.  If the rate were to go down to 4.0% I might have to refinance again.