Monday, January 23, 2012

MY House

It wasn't long after James and I met and started dating that we moved in together.  We were pretty much unofficially living together after 4 months (dang, that was fast!) and officially after six.  We first lived in his apartment for a couple of months and when that lease expired moved into a bigger apartment which incidentally is about a mile from where I live now. 

In the summer of 2001, we bought our first house, which we lived in for a little over two years before moving to Arizona.  It was back to an apartment for 7 months before we bought a cute little house in Gilbert.  About a year later, we were unexpectedly able to come home and in October 2005, we moved into our new home, which I was fortunate enough to be able to keep after he passed away.

Like everyone, the downturn of the housing market has affected me and selling would not really be in my best interest at this time.  Plus, I love the house even if it really is too big for just me and two dogs who are on the small end of the mid-sized dog scale.  And for where my life is right now, it's in a good location.  (And we all know the #1 rule of real estate: location, location, location). 

I knew interest rates were going down to ridiculous levels which made my 6% rate seem like double digits.  But I kept dragging my feet on refinancing.  And then I got my annual escrow analysis.  And I was short almost an entire year's property taxes which meant my payment was going up about $200/month.  Um, excuse me, but WTF?  So I called and found out that they paid property taxes as they should have (which I verified with the county), and then did a system upgrade.  (First rule of system upgrades in my experience:  things go wrong). When they did the upgrade, not all the tax payments carried over and mine was one of them (naturally), so it showed as still needing to be paid.  The lady I talked to said she'd request the analysis be rerun-meaning to me they knew there was a problem but weren't going to automatically take steps to correct it unless customers called and complained.  My revised analysis showed a shortage of about $600 and an increase of about $50/month.  That's much better.

And then I got the letter from my insurance company that my homeowners policy had been cancelled.  So I called and found out the renewal premium had not been paid.  The agent offered to call my mortgage company and follow up on that, which I thought was probably a good idea.  But after I cooled down, I decided I deserved an explanation.  I was told they didn't receive a premium statement.  So I asked if it was standard procedure to not pay the insurance if they didn't get a statement and was told that typically they just pay the previous year's premium and pay the difference when they know what it was, but in my case for some unknown reason, they just didn't pay anything at all.  Awesome.

The next day, I called the bank we use at work and started the re-fi process (which has been an ordeal in and of itself).  You don't get to screw up my account that badly and keep my business.  Plus, a 3.625% interest rate is MUCH more attractive than 6.0%.  Today, about two months after I made that first call, I finally went in and signed the papers so I now re-own my own house (yea!).  It's amazing what a pain it is to prove you can pay less per month for the same house for which you are already paying the mortgage.

It was about an hour before I left work to go sign the papers that I realized I have lived in this house for just over 6 years, which other than college is the longest I've lived at one address since graduating from high school (Dad would be so proud-and shocked.  He used to tease me that he had a single entry for most people but an entire address book for me).  I also realized that I have now lived in this house alone for twice as long (give or take) as I lived in it with James.  That was a weird revelation.  I wasn't really sure how to feel about that-it's just so surreal.  But after the initial shock wore off I actually felt a little empowered by it.  It's MY house now.  It has been for quite some time but for the first time, I feel it.  While I've made a few changes here and there, I don't have to leave anything the way it is.  I can do whatever I want to the house with no guilt.  I can put in the laminate floors I want, get new kitchen counters and paint every room if I so choose.  I've already painted a lot of the upstiars but it wasn't done with the freedom I feel now.  And now I just want to change it all up.

It's a good feeling.

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