That old fashioned warm fuzzy feeling.

June 8, 2010 at 7:27 am 1 comment

Lately Brad and I have been working on reviewing our finances and doing some research to make sure we are making the lowest payments possible.  Home insurance, car insurance, cable, internet – we’ve been looking at it all.

Our mortgage payments are included in that mix.  It’s been nearly six years since Brad bought this house – before we got married, before we even met – and interest rates have changed significantly since then.  Earlier this year, we made an offer on a new house, but for various reasons that purchase didn’t work out.  Instead, we’ve decided to enjoy what we have for the time being.  If we’re staying put for a while, it makes sense to look at refinancing our house and lowering our monthly payment – but only if we’re going to be in this house long enough to recoup closing costs.

I decided to start with our current mortgage lender.  After all, we already have an established relationship with them, so giving them the first crack at our business is a common courtesy.  I had been working with a specific mortgage banker a few months ago when we were pursuing buying a new property, so I contacted him to initiate the refinancing process.  I sent him this email:

I had worked with you a few months ago about a possible new mortgage, and that didn’t work out for us.  Now we are considering the possibility of refinancing our current home.  We’d like to go through your bank, if at all possible, since you hold our current mortgage.

If we are eligible for a refi, we are curious to find out how much our monthly payment would be and how much closing costs are.

I don’t know if you have some of our account and personal info still available to reference, or if you will need something from me to answer these questions.  Just let me know what you might need and I’ll be happy to provide it.  Thanks!

I quickly received this response:

I would be glad to take a look at the refinance. Our 30 yr fixed is now at 5%, no points. We would need last month’s paystubs, 2009 and 2008 tax return for personal and business, last 2 month’s Intrust statements and the front page of the last retirement account statement

I can copy the previous computer file to get started when you confirm you want to proceed.

If you want to get started and lockin the rate at 5.0% for a 30 yr fixed, just email your response

No problems at this point, right?  So I emailed him an affirmation that we’d like to proceed.  Here’s the crux of the problem: I meant that I wanted to proceed with getting a quote.  He thought I meant I wanted to proceed with procuring the loan.  At which point he sent me this email:

When could you bring in all the underwriting items? I also need to have at least one of you sign disclosure docs to get started and collect $400 for the appraisal fee. When would be a good time? Tomorrow?

Okay, slow your roll there, Mr. Banker Man.  Where did this $400 appraisal fee suddenly come from?  I’m just looking at getting quotes and an idea of what it would cost us to refinance, and we’re suddenly talking about paying you $400?  I completely understand that there are costs associated with refinancing – an appraisal fee being one of those costs – but wasn’t aware that we would be out of pocket upfront.  I sent him the following:

You mentioned in a previous email that there is a $400 appraisal fee.  Do you have an idea of what other closing costs there might be as well?  I would like to avoid paying $400 only to find out that it’s going to take us 2+ years to recover closing costs through savings.  Is there any way that we might get an estimate about final numbers without an appraisal?  Or is that absolutely necessary to the process?

To which he replied:

…If we start the process and collect the $400 appraisal fee and the appraisal does not come in high enough to payoff the 2 loans, the only loan cost you would be out would be the $400 appraisal fee.

All I wanted was an estimate – a quote – and here we are talking about paying $400 to do the deal.

Okay, here’s my problem with the entire situation.  What we have here is your basic failure to communicate.  As someone who used to work in a bank, I feel fairly comfortable with the lingo and understand the process that’s involved with getting a loan, especially in today’s market.  However, even with my previous experience, I must admit that I still want someone to spell things out in black and white for me.  I want a banker who’s going to walk me through the process step by step, holding my hand.  I need to be talked to like this is my first time at the rodeo.

Unfortunately, this banker has been doing it so long that he’s forgotten what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk.  I noticed this when I was working with him on our possible new mortgage earlier this year.  I’m at Step A, and he’s already at Step F.

I was talking to Brad about it last night, and his analysis of the situation was right on.  The banker and I aren’t speaking the same language.  I think I’m being clear, he thinks he’s being clear – and somehow we’re not meeting in the middle.  It happens.

But it gives me some insight as to how this whole mortgage crisis came about.  I am a question-asker – sometimes obnoxiously so.  I want to make sure I understand Step A – and Steps B, C, D, and E – before we get to Step F.  I want to know everything I can about whatever I’m doing.  I understand, though, that not everyone is like this, ESPECIALLY when it comes to finances.

Most of us don’t understand the gobbledygook that accompanies most financial documents, and we’re afraid to ask questions.  I’m willing to bet many Americans signed mortgages without fully understanding what their payments were, how they were affected by interest rates, and what would happen when those rates went up.  Instead, they simply accepted what the bankers told them.  And maybe the bankers told them what the pitfalls were, but they didn’t speak their customers’ language.  And in some instances, maybe they did and the customer didn’t listen.

Sometimes, though, two people will never be able to get over the communication hurdle.  I don’t think I will ever be satisfied as a customer with this banker because he will never learn to speak my language.  I need someone who gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, and he’s not warm and fuzzy.  And that’s okay.  I’ll just have to find someone who is.


Entry filed under: Life in general.

Things my daughter says Gleeks of the world unite.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Inspire. Create. Bake.  |  June 8, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I am the same way. I ask so many questions, to the point of being annoying, until I fully understand it. (I do that to Jake too). We refinanced last year at SNB Bank of Wichita. (In Bradley Fair) They have renamed since then. I can get you a contact out there if you want. Jake and I were very happy with the entire process. Just shoot me an email if you’re interested.


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