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!

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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.

Out of Africa B1G1 Coupon – Camp Verde, Arizona

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We visited Out of Africa Wildlife Park last week while on our trip to Sedona, AZ.  We spent most of the day there and had a great time.  Someone on our flight to Phoenix actually recommended the park to us so when I first got to Sedona I started looking for a deal (like usual).  I first went to their site and found that tickets were $39 per person.  The first coupon I came across was $2 off for signing up to their newsletter.  I signed up to it thinking any discount was better than none.  Then, as I was doing the laundry Monday night at the resort, someone mentioned seeing a buy 1, get 1 free coupon in the yellow pages.  I went back to the room and found the coupon!

If you are planning a trip to the area, I highly recommend checking them out after you clip a coupon from the Sedona Verde Valley yellow pages.  The coupon can be found in the 2008 – 2009 edition on page 5 (see pics below of the yellow pages and the coupon).

Breaking news – Obama bumps his head?

picture-81I woke up this morning and thought I would check to see if there was anything major going on in the news.  I went over to my usual sites: digg, cnn and the AP app on my iPhone. When I went to CNN I found it pretty funny that the main article on their site was about President Obama “slightly” bumping his head while getting on Airforce One.

As I went about my day I chuckled thinking how silly it is that the most important news story of the morning was President Obama bumping his head until the unthinkable happened.  I was in the process of getting my daughter into the car when I accidentally bumped her head on the car. I remained calm even though she did not and I have to admit she was not nearly as composed as President Obama. I apologized many times for the accident and then explained to her that the exact same thing happened to President Obama so I needed to take a picture and alert the media!

In all seriousness, I don’t understand how something so silly can make the main page of most news organizations websites.  I can think of at least half a dozen better things for a news organization to write about.

That’s my random rant for the day 🙂

Remove Yourself from Unwanted Catalogs?

picture-6Last year I found out about CatalogChoice.org, an online site that was supposed to get you removed from unwanted catalogs during our first ever Green Expo at the Wilmington Riverfront. As soons as I got my first unwanted catalog, which to me is pretty much every catalog, I created an account on their site and added the catalog. For the next few months as I got a new catalog in the mail, I got excited to get rid of yet another unwanted catalog. I even began trying to get companies to stop sending catalogs to me at work.

At one point during the process, I swear the catalog companies caught on and started sending the catalogs under different variations of my name and began sending different variations of their catalog. A few examples of this are:

  • I opted out of the Gaiam catalog, and began receiving the Gaiam Mindy Body Arts Catalog
  • I opted out of the Pottery Barn catalog and began receivng the Pottery Barn Kids Catalog
  • I opted out of a catalog using Kevin Kahn and then get another one in under Mr. Kevin Kahn

It has been over a year now and I am finally removed from a good number of catalogs that I opted out of. Somehow within the past year I have also see an influx of random catalogs I’ve been added to. Below is a list of catalogs I have been removed from and a list of catalogs that have specifically said they are refusing my request.  CatalogChoice does offer up the catalogs phone number so you can opt out via phone but I give these companies an F for

Companies not honoring requests from CatalogChoice.org

  • Bike Nashbar
  • JC Penney
  • Lands End
  • PC Connection
  • The Lakeside Collection (one of the random catalogs we have been added to)

Companies Honoring Requests from CatalogChoice.org

  • Back to Basics
  • Ballard Designs
  • Birthday Express
  • Constructive Playthings
  • Crate & Barrel
  • Crutchfield
  • Dell
  • Gaiam
  • Get Organized
  • Hanna Anderson
  • Highlights
  • LL Bean
  • Magellans
  • Olive Juice Kids
  • Pottery Barn
  • Sensational Beginnings

Conclusion
CatalogChoice is a great tool in getting yourself removed from a number of catalogs but it will not stop every single company. If you buy anything online you are subject to getting added to that companies catalog and on occasion other company’s catalogs as well. All in all, I would give Catalog Choice an A- for usefullness.

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.

Home Refinance Drama…

At the risk of boring you with my personal issues, I thought I’d ramble on a bit about what’s going on with refinancing our mortgage. I had planned on writing about something eco friendly however I’ve been dealing with the refinance for over a month. I locked in to a 4.75% rate with 0 points on December 17th 2008. I was approved and went through the appraisal process at which point I found out our house was valued $30k less than when we purchased it 2 years ago. I decided to go ahead with the refinance anyway since we plan to stay here for many years and I feel that 10 – 15 years from now it won’t really matter what our house was appraised for during this refinance. With all the paperwork in to the mortgage company, all I was waiting for was a date for the refinance. As the lock date was looming, I got a few extra last minute requests from the mortgage company which I gladly complied with (ie my full tax return and a copy of my homeowners insurance).

A few days before the lock was set to expire I found out that the mortgage company, Provident Funding, was contesting the appraisal that had been submitted 3 weeks earlier. They said the appraisal only had 3 comps (comparable houses) in the report and they wanted 4.  After the mortgage broker got a hold of the appraiser, she went ahead and offered a fourth. After another day or 2 with no word, I found out Provident Funding was now saying the fourth appraisal was invalid since the fourth house had a basement and our house did not.

To make a long story somewhat short, I am now in a 12 day lock waiting to hear back the latest about whether Provident Funding will make good on their initial offer or if they will cancel my refinance for some bogus reason.

I’m wondering now if I should have just gone with a local bank that was also offering the 4.75% rate the day I locked in my mortgage. I feel if i had I might not be sitting in this situation but on the same hand I don’t believe this is the mortgage brokers fault as he also would like to get this refinance finished.

As with all other blog posts, I feel the need to offer up some deal advice even though my refinane is not going as planned. I’ve been updating the mortgage rates at a few local Delaware / national mortgage companies. This is by no means a complete list, but feel free to check DealCatcher daily (around 11:30pm) for the most up to date rates from the banks below

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Get Rid of Your In-Home Water Service

A few years back my wife and I decided to stop drinking so much soda and switched to drinking mostly water. As a result we became much more aware of the taste of water. For a few years now we have been paying to have Deer Park water delivered to our door since our home drinking water tastes bad and refilling those small brita filters was a pain in the butt. When we moved to our new house, we inherited a fridge from the previous owners that had a water filter built in. I thought this would be a great way to get rid of our Deer Park water service since we could now just get filtered water from our fridge. There were 2 problems with this:
1 – the fridge does not also have a hot water feature which is really nice when making tea, hot chocolate, etc.
2 – My wife did not like the fridge water as much as it was not as cold

A few weeks ago my friend Dan and I were talking about water filters / service and he found the Greenway Water Filtration System.  Basically it looks just like one of the 5 gallon bottles that you put on the water cooler but you can pour tap water in the top chamber and it filters the water. I decided I would be the Guinea pig and test this new product. I knew if it were going to work for us it would have to be easy to replace the water, the water would have to be cold and it would have to taste good. Once we received it in the mail, I put it together, followed the directions soaking the filter for 30 minutes in water and then filled the top chamber. The water filtered through the top chamber surprisingly fast. Now came the real test….My wife and I both drank a glass of water and were extremely happy with the taste / coldness of the water. Even better is the fact that the Greenway bottle is BPA free, unlike the 5 Gal water containers from DeerPark.

Now for the best part….the savings

Our Current Water Plan
5 – 5Gal Bottles of Water – $36.25/month
36 x 12 Months = $435 per Year

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New Water Plan

Greenway GWF7 Water Filtration System w/ 1 Filter – $50 (approx)
1 Addl Filter – $25 shipped (approx)
$75 for the 1st Year, $50 each additional Year

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In all I’ll be saving $360 by using the water filtration system. There are a few things missing from the above including the cost of tap water but that depends on your location and would be maybe an extra $25 – $50 per year tops. There is also the water cooler which is normally offered by the water companies for free (as a rental…ie they take it back when you cancel the service). This would cost around $100 – $150 at Amazon, Home Depot or Sears. Even with these 2 additional features, the first year savings alone is worth $200.

I bought the Greenway GWF7 from Target.com when it was $39.99 + Shipping. As of today, they are not in stock at Target but are available from EverythingFurniture for $49 + Shipping.