Status Report

Yesterday and today have been sick days at home. Bleh. I seem to have come down with a cold or a mild flu (and, quoting the LA Times for those worried about H1N1: the recommendation for those with mild symptoms is to self-medicate at home, which is what I’m doing). Starting to feel a bit better; we’ll see how tomorrow goes. I’m hoping I’m better by Sunday afternoon, when we have theatre tickets to a Mini Musical Fest at the Secret Rose Theatre.

Of course, when it rains, it pours. Yesterday, our kitchen sink was draining really slow, and the toilet on that side of the house was doing the same thing. So we called our rooter folks, and they cleaned out out. However, when augering the toilet… they got mud. Not good. Looks like a flange has slipped under the slab (one reason why I hate slabs). So Monday they are going to jackhammer the slab and repair the connection (which could be what was undermining the slab near the pool), and pressure-wash the lines. All told, about $2K for the repairs. We’ll still have to get some tile work done, but replacing a few tiles is easier than relaying the laminate floor in the room that backs to that bathroom. It all brings back memories of high school when a pipe burst under the slab in our house in Brentwood. We had to rip up the carpet, jackhammer and replace the pipe, and replace the carpet. A big mess.

Hopefully, tomorrow will go better.


Wherein He Breathes A Sigh Of Relief

I’m sure many folks have been following the recent news regarding the government attempts to forestall foreclosures. There have been moves to make it easier for those in distress or “under” on their loans to refinance (although those may be delayed). Of course, it doesn’t always help. There were recent reports that most folks in the SF Bay area wouldn’t qualify, and I’m sure the same is true down here in SoCal. Meanwhile, values keep falling — the median home price here in the San Fernando Valley has dropped to $352,000. There are some efforts to make refinancing easier for Californians, but who knows when it will happen.

Refinancing has been on my mind a lot. When we last refinanced our house (to get out of the temporary Option ARM we did for the purchase while we sold our old place), we did a 5 year fixed/25 year variable loan. This was back in 2006. So we were looking at the loan going variable in 2011, property values dropping (and our equity shrinking), and interest rates dancing with significant extra spread for conforming jumbo loans (above $417K)… and still significant points. So, for the last almost 2 years, we’ve been working on refinancing, waiting for the rates to drop before the property values dropped more. A few months ago, however, rates dropped…. and our credit union let us know they weren’t adding premiums for conforming jumbos. So we applied. Even better, the appraisal came in right where we needed it to be for 80% LTV to make what we needed to finance work.

We are now the proud owners of a new 30 year fixed loan (well, it funds Monday), 5.125% (dropping our current rate by 0.5%), and 0 points. Needless to say, I’m much relieved. Now to pay back our savings accounts for the various fees, the interest (both old and new loans, 1 month), and the hazard insurance that had to be paid early. But that’s the easy part. The worry about the loan eventually going variable, and the value dropping to where we couldn’t refinance, is now over. Plus, we have a shiny professional appraisal to waive in front of the County Assessor come next property tax assessment, when he tries to argue that the value has gone up.


Three for Some, Fun for All

  • Observation the First. There’s a new Austin Lounge Lizard’s Video/Song, done for Consumer’s Union: The Balance Transfer Switcheroo
  • Observation the Second: Well, we’re now in a relationship with a failed bank. Our mortgage is with Downey Savings, or should I now say U.S. Bank. Still, it might provide us an opportunity. We’ve been wanting to refinance out of our 5/25 variable before it goes variable in 2011, but the rates haven’t come down as fast as the house’s value, making the refi harder. I can hope they might want to renogotiate the terms knowing what we had invested (we bought with more than 20% down)… all we are looking for is a fixed at our current rate.
  • Observation the Third: Working the conference, I think I’m beginning to see a generational difference. I’m at the age I like paper. Paper final programs. Paper At-a-glances. But we have a number of younger folks (OK, in their 30s) involved with the conference who seem to think that if it is on the web, we’re good to go. The presumption seems to be that everyone surfs the web with their phones these days, so why print. I’ve never had internet on my phone (I don’t even text): I use my phone to make calls. Am I wrong? Is this generational?