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life-changing purchases

My Attempt at a Short Refi

By condo, drama, financial wisdom, hazards to my well-being, home improvement, life-changing purchases, mortgage, really great money-making ideas, roommates 13 Comments

It’s nice to have this blog back up and running, especially on days like today when it’s cold, windy, rainy, and I’m in no state to be taking photos of myself twirling around in a pretty skirt. I like the fashion blogging, but some days I don’t have the motivation to dress up and take photos to post online. I had a free day off from work today (in return for working all those ridiculously long hours that last two weeks), and now that I’ve run all my errands, my main goal is to put the final touches on my short refinance package that I’ll be sending to the mortgage company.

I know I’ve written some ranting posts about the mortgage company recently, so I thought I’d share some interesting things I’ve learned over the past few years that I’ve been arguing with those idiots.

You’re probably already aware of the fact that I purchased my condo in 2006 with my friend/roommate at the time, and she’s since moved out, gotten married and started a family. We financed 100 percent of the value of our condo when we bought it, and since we had hardly any credit established between the two of us, we’re paying a ridiculous interest rate on our loan. (Ridiculous.) We’re obviously updside down in the property — just like everyone else on the planet — and we’ve been trying to figure out a way to get her name off the loan for almost two years now. She’s not interested in owning the condo anymore, but I live there, so I’m not really willing to sell it or give it up any time soon.

Of course, the bank won’t assist us in any way because we’re current on our payments, and unfortunately, since we’re upside down, there’s no refinancing unless we want to sink a bunch of money into the black hole we refer to as “negative equity.” The government loan modification programs won’t help us because modifying a loan doesn’t remove a borrower from the note — it only modifies the terms of the loan, like possibly the interest rate and the monthly payments. (And I’ve heard lots of sketchy stories about those modification programs anyway.)

After all my digging for options, I’ve only come up with four ways to get my co-borrower off of our loan:

1. Refinance, which would cost tons of money (see above).

2. Short sale, which would ding both our credit reports and most likely result in me being unable to buy another home in the next few years.

3. Foreclosure or deed in lieu, which, again, would ding our credit reports and definitely result in me being unable to buy another home for a few years.

4. Short payoff refinance, the best option yet. This process is similar to a short sale, but instead of the property being sold, it is simply refinanced with a new lender. Well, 97.5 percent of the current value of the property is refinanced with a new lender, and the remainder of the principal is forgiven by the previous lender.  In our case, it would be refinanced only into my name, removing her obligation from the old mortgage and leaving me as the sole owner of the condo. Doesn’t that sound perfect?

Before I learned about this program, I had been asking for years whether it was possible for me to short sell my condo to myself, and everyone kept telling me no. Why not? I’d wonder because it always seemed like a great idea to me — kind of like a price adjustment for my house.

A few months ago, a short sale officer with my current lender suggested a short payoff refinance to me. He explained how it works, and sent me on my way to find a new loan. It took a few calls to locate a bank familiar with the FHA Short Refinance Loan. Apparently the program is pretty rare — there aren’t really any incentives to encourage banks to let homeowners do this, and it’s a huge pain in the ass to convince them. Besides, you have to be current on your loan and have decent credit to qualify for the program. I’m sure a lot of people are already in too much trouble by the time they reach out for help to take advantage of something like this.

When I say it’s a pain in the ass, I’m not kidding. The program was first brought to my attention in June, and it took me almost three months to get another person on the phone at LBPS (the servicer of my current mortgage) who would even acknowledge that the program existed. “We don’t do those,” they’d say. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “I’ve never heard of that.” Finally, two weeks ago, I demanded that someone list off the names of everyone I had ever spoken to at LBPS and the  dates I spoke with them. I caught a date and a name that sounded familiar and waited on hold to speak with that person for more than two hours. When he finally picked up, he remembered me.

I do remember advising you to try that, Ms. DeNoia,” he said. “We really don’t do those, but you’re right. Your situation is a unique one. If you’ll write a hardship letter and gather the required information, I’ll try to make a case for you.”

Many say the program is doomed, but I’ve got my paperwork done and ready to go. If they’re going to make and exception for someone, why not me? It’s at least worth a shot. There’s a chance this could save me a lot of money in the long run and decrease my mortgage payment by a pretty significant amount. It would be well worth the two years of bullshit I’ve had to deal with with these freaking mortgage companies (companies, plural, because my loan was sold in April).

I’m sending in my package for approval tomorrow, and in the meantime, I’ve been sending my mortgage payments via certified mail to make sure LBPS doesn’t try to screw me out of being eligible for the FHA loan by marking one of my payments late. I’ve got a lawyer, a lender, and a new loan all ready to go, and if LBPS approves it, it’s possible that I could close on the new loan before Christmas. Score!

If it doesn’t work, then maybe I’ll figure something else out. It doesn’t make much financial sense to pay as much as I’m paying to live in my condo right now because I could give it up and rent one for a lot less every month month, you know? I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced that a squeaky clean credit report is worth thousands of dollars. I’d rather take the hit, move out, and save the money if I have to make that choice because I’m not sure my property would regain it’s value in the time it would take me to recover and purchase something new for less money.

Either way, for now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed because this could turn out to be a pretty sweet deal.

I normally wouldn’t share my financial information on the Internet like this, but I’m sure there are others out there struggling with housing issues. If all the time I spent trying to get this loan under control could assist others in some way, maybe I wouldn’t feel like it was wasted — even if my attempt at a short refi falls through. I’d love to hear your real estate stories if you’ve got any good ones. E-mail me if you’re not comfortable leaving a comment. I’d be happy to give you some advice on how to get your mortgage company to respond — for me that’s been the biggest challenge.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: persistant
And I’m singin’ along to: Walk Like A Man – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Well Suited

By fashion statements, life-changing purchases, outfits, shopping, style, summer One Comment

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Tahari suit; Nanette Lepore top; Unlisted by Kenneth Cole shoes; Michael Kors bag; Kenneth Cole necklace; Von Zipper sunglasses; old bracelets; new ring

The heat wave broke on Monday, and I knew I was going to be super busy at work, so I decided to break out this white suit and start the week out feeling polished and professional rather than stressed and sloppy. I took a break at lunch to get outside and enjoy the weather at Town Center with my coworker, Michelle (of Bytes of Bites).

I actually stumbled upon this suit last week when I was dropping off a donation to the thrift store. It was hanging on the rack all bright and white with the $300 price tag still hanging off of it. The girl at the register told me it was $9.99, so I figured even if it didn’t fit, I could drop it off at the consignment shop or something. Turns out, it fits me perfectly, and I love it! Wearing this suit was exactly what I needed to get me through a 14-hour day in the office on Monday.

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Statement rings have been my go-to accessory for the last few months. I found this one at a little boutique in Asbury Park called My Sister’s Favorite Things when I was in New Jersey last week. I also found these two bracelets in New Jersey — in my old jewelry box that I haven’t rifled through since 2004. It’s nice that we’ve been reunited, so I’ve been wearing them all week.

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Thanks to Michelle for taking all these awesome photos!

And thanks to Kate at Nautical By Nature for featuring me as her Nautical Outfit of the Week on her blog today! I really enjoy reading Nautical By Nature, and I hope you’ll go check it out and leave her a comment to say hello!

I’m a little teapot.

By life-changing purchases, ruling at life One Comment

Teapot

You can pretty much kiss any chance you’ve ever had at being cool goodbye if you don’t own one of these teapots. They’re a hot commodity for anyone who gets really excited over designers doing cheap collections for Target. I’m not particularly one of those people, but I have been in the market for a teapot. And after drooling over this one online for two months, it took me five trips to three Targets over two days to finally freaking find it — the elusive Liberty of London for Target Sixty Print Teapot. Because of course — since it was the only thing I wanted in that whole collection — it sold out online in like 30 seconds without any record of it ever having existed.

When I finally found it, I opened up the lid, and I swear this teapot said to me, “Lisa, you are so cool for finding me.”

And then I think it might have mumbled under its breath, “Only you’d be even cooler if you’d list me on eBay for three times what I’m worth.”

I can’t be certain though. I don’t speak Teapot.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: victorious
And I’m singin’ along to: Giving Up the Gun – Vampire Weekend

Pearl Harbor

By boys, condo, conversations, drama, home improvement, life-changing purchases, memories, not ruling at life, roommates, weather 2 Comments

Note: This entry is somewhat exaggerated for the purpose of being more entertaining. While it is loosely based on actual events, it is solely meant to be a satirical short story for your enjoyment. Thanks.

Pearl Harbor ruined my life. No, not that Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor, the Sherwin Williams paint color. It’s the color I decided to paint the master bedroom in my condo after obsessing over at least 47 different shades of tan and blue for three months. Personally, I like the color. It’s kind of a light coral/khaki color – neutral, but bright and kind of beachy. It looks great with white trim and the wood floors I’ll put down someday. But, that’s not the point.

I rent the master bedroom out to a girl who was out of town for the weekend. I had been telling her for weeks I was going to paint it. But, that’s also not the point.

Maybe I picked a bad weekend to paint – it was supposed to rain, but it ended up being the last beach weekend of the season. Maybe I should have been more prepared – I was still wavering on a color choice, and I had no supplies or ladder ready the morning we were supposed to paint. Or maybe I should have just painted the room blue.

Either way, on a partly cloudy Saturday morning four weeks ago, I woke up and decided my boyfriend and I were going to paint the room. And then I decided we weren’t going to paint the room. And then we checked the weather, and I decided we were going to paint the room. If I can offer you one tidbit of advice here, it’s this – don’t ever believe what you read about the weather.

“If it’s going to rain, then fuck it. Let’s just paint,” I said.

“Okay, just decide. I told you I’d help you, so, whatever you want to do.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Let’s just paint the room if you want to paint it.”

So off we went to Lowe’s. We picked up the paint (I decided on Pearl Harbor) and the rollers, some tape and a few tarps. We drove back to my house (in the 80-degree sunshine) and began to paint. We painted all that beautiful day and then we finished up on Sunday afternoon.

When we finally made it to the beach – where I can assure you my boyfriend would rather have been all weekend – it was late Sunday afternoon, and he was barely speaking to me.

Let me tell you a little bit about my boyfriend. My boyfriend is my best friend. He’s an amazing person, the nicest guy I’ve ever met and always fun and easy to be around. However, he is very non-confrontational and not much of a communicator, so it appears that he’s afraid to tell me anything that might piss me off. For instance, “Baby, let’s paint next weekend. I’d rather be at the beach today.” Here, I can offer you some more advice – don’t be afraid of your girlfriend (even if she’s from New Jersey).

By the time this painting debacle was over, my boyfriend had decided that perhaps he was unsure about whether or not he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. He also decided that he was too strapped for cash to go on our vacation that we had been planning for three months. And last but not least, he decided he needed some space.

Some space? Over painting? What the hell is that? We never even fight! We always have fun! I know he loves the beach, but I had no idea how much my boyfriend must really hate painting.

Anyway, fast forward four weeks. My perfect boyfriend is taking a break from dating me. My roommate has her shit strewn haphazardly all over the master bedroom, so it sort of looks like the actual Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. And I am just trying not to go crazy.

The only thing I could think of to do yesterday to prevent an oncoming anxiety attack was paint the hallway. I figure if I paint the condo one wall at a time, it should be done by December. So, I got out the bucket of Pearl Harbor and started slathering it on the wall. My roommate didn’t even notice.

“Did you notice the hallway?” I asked this evening.

“What about it?”

“I painted it.”

“Oh. Really?”

“Granted, it’s the hallway,” I said, “but you didn’t notice?”

“No,” she replied.

“Well, do you like it?”

“No. Not really.”

What? I thought you said you liked this color in your room?”

“I did. But, I don’t anymore. Nothing matches it.”

So, there you have it. I have no boyfriend, and my roommate hates her bedroom. She’ll probably move out any day now, and I’ll be forced to file for bankruptcy because I won’t be able to pay my mortgage. And then my condo will be foreclosed on by the bank, and I won’t even have any more walls to paint Pearl Harbor to keep me sane. I’ll veer off course into a downward spiral of depression and anxiety attacks and most likely kill myself by the end of the month. And when I do, I guess you can just tell everyone Pearl Harbor ruined my life.

A Brief History of How I Developed My Computing Skills

By being a computer genius, games, gen y, life-changing purchases, lj, memories, myspace, really great money-making ideas, ruling at life, school, skills, technological enigmas One Comment

It occurred to me this morning that I have been fumbling around with computers for approximately 20 years now. It’s no wonder I’m such a computer genius.

Playing on the computer used to be so much more fun. For example, making banners with the first version of The Print Shop, and printing them out on that primitive, perforated printer paper with the holes on the sides! Yay for the old school Apple II series (which recently celebrated is 30th anniversary).

My first instant messaging experience
I sent a message from the family room computer to the computer in my parents’ bedroom. Then I ran in there and sent a message back to myself in the family room. Then I ran into the family room and sent a message back to the bedroom. (Notice how this used to be less of a social networking experience and more of a physical activity.)

Early gaming
I definitely learned a few things from Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? – mainly the states and capitals, the locations of various foreign countries, and the beginnings of my impeccable detective (aka “Internet stalking”) skills. I liked Carmen San Diego much, much more than The Oregon Trail. The only thing I learned from that game was how to ration money and kill off the rest of the people in my wagon in order to keep more food for myself.

Adopting e-mail
My first e-mail address was Atlantys23@aol.com. (Don’t try to e-mail me there. AOL sucks, and that address doesn’t exist anymore. The AIM name Atlantys23 still belongs to me, however, and you might catch me on there once in a blue moon.) I used AOL to keep in touch with friends from summer camp and hang out in the occasional teen chatroom (13/F/NJ u?). Those chatrooms always turned into an insult-fest. I vaguely remember typing something along the lines of “well, you have the IQ of a tube of toothpaste” to more than one stupid ass in another time zone. By this time, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? was a television show.

Keyboard brilliance
I learned to type in high school, but luckily I still got to take my standardized tests on paper with a No. 2 pencil and an answer sheet. (Do kids still take SATs with pencils anymore?) According to multiple online typing tests, I type approximately 103-108 WPM.

My computers
When I started college in 1999, I had a computer that was solely mine for the first time ever. It was a piece of crap. It would freeze, and the power button wouldn’t turn it off, and I would have to pull the plug and kick it to turn it off and start over. (This probably had something to do with all of the music I was illegally hoarding off Napster and Limewire.) I learned the value of saving my work every five minutes, along with grasping the concept of an ethernet cable, being connected to the Internet 24 hours a day, managing multiple e-mail accounts, and using the computer to communicate with people in the next room.

In 2000, at Virginia Tech, I got my second computer. That one worked a lot better. I learned how to reformat my own hard drive and operate a computer while under the influence of alcohol. I also discovered the usefulness of an FTP site and submitted my homework online, and I was the proud owner of a pirated version of Windows XP by the time I graduated college.

Internet omniscience
If you’re an avid reader of this blog, I’m sure you remember the arrival of my post-graduation laptop. All hell broke loose! I came to terms with wireless Internet, I mastered [the basic concept of] HTML code, I started up the LJ, and I I finally broke down about two years ago and created a MySpace page. I’ve found roommate after roommate on Roommates.com; I pay my bills online; I’ve got more than four functioning e-mail addresses; I’m on my second iPod and my fourth digital camera; I’m making money off of at least four different websites while I sit here at my desk (Associated Content, CafePress, SurveySavvy and eBay); I’m working hard on developing my new Virb profile, and my pride and joy at the moment is my 250GB external hard drive (that my awesome boyfriend gave me for Christmas). You’ll get more results Googling “VTJerseyGirl03” than you will “Lisa DeNoia,” and I even have an abbreviated version of my online alias (VTJG03) on my license plates!

So, there you have it – how to become a computer genius in 20 years.

Anyway, back to work (and Internet browsing, and solitaire, and MySpace, and Facebook, and Virb, and Google, and e-mail, and Vision, and…you get the point).

Oh, and at some point during this 20-year technological revolution, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? became a board game?