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Eye-witness to the refi boom

Posted by Rona Fischman September 2, 2010 02:08 PM

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When I refinanced 6 years ago, I thought that was the refi to end all refis. We were in a fixed 20-year product at a hair over 5 percent. I had seen rates below 5 percent going by, but was dubious that I could get far enough ahead to make it worth the closing costs and time.

Week 1:
Monday: The loan officer who did my last refi also works with my clients. While having a conversation with her about a client’s loan application, I asked, “Is it time to refi yet?”
The numbers looked good. My husband and I are committed to keeping the length of our loan the same (now 14 years.) We were able to buy a 15-year loan. We will shorten it to a 14-year loan by paying more than is due every month. That payment is still $56 less than our current one. That’s not much, per month; $56 a month times 14 years is a lot of money.
Thursday: We agreed to the loan and paid for the appraisal.
Friday: I got a call from the closing attorney looking for the insurance and the current loan information.
Sunday: I sat down with the loan packet and made copies of the materials the lender needed: Tax forms, IDs, bank statements, W-2s.
First snag! I saw the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and flipped out. My loan officer said that the settlement charges were around $3000, but the GFE said $6000+. (After taking a breath, I realized that the GFE included my tax escrows.) Amateur mistake. I know better.

Week 2:
Monday: Application put in the mail.
Tuesday: I got an email from the processor – that’s the guy or gal who collects all your paperwork to confirm that he has everything he needs about our qualifications. Now, we await the appraisal.

Week 3:
Tuesday: Appraiser called to schedule appraisal. Asked about the condition of the property and what we got for rent. Appraisal scheduled for Monday of Week 4.

Week 4:
Monday: Hello, Mr. Appraiser. Welcome to my house…
He cared about the age of boiler, furnace, water heaters, electric panel, roof, addition, and siding. He wanted to know whether we had flooding last spring (no). He noted what materials were in our kitchens and bathrooms. He cared that we had emergency exits (yes). He measured the perimeter and went away.
Thursday: Appraisal report submitted. File went to final underwriting. I got a chirpy note from the processor to expect a “clear to close” next week.

Week 6:
Wednesday: Request for extension number for person who can verify my husband’s employment.

Week 7: …..

Week 8:
Monday: I sent a note to the closing attorney to ask for a closing time, since our rate lock will end at the end of Week 9. He replied that our loan has not been cleared to close. Both I and the closing attorney wrote to the lender about the hold-up.
Tuesday: I was told the hold-up was the inability to verify employment. I sent a copy of the email dated two weeks ago with the appropriate extension.
“Clear to close” arrived before noon. Closing scheduled for two days before the rate lock expires.

The lesson: in the refi boom, even the most seasoned borrower has to keep an eye on things in order to get to the closing table.

What’s your new mortgage rate? Did your loan get lost in the queue of the refinance boom this summer?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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