Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Early Christmas gift to myself. Got a Stelton Vacuum flask to replace our previous utilitarian hot water thermos.
Got this new toy for my Canon dslr camera. 
Justin's mom made her holiday cookies for us. I got the recipe from her to carry on the tradition. 
I baked some pumpkin spice cupcakes for the little man with what I had on hand. Nothing fancy, but they were pretty yummy. 
Little D turned 2 this month. How time flies.
We celebrated Justin's birthday too but sadly without a cake. 
We picked out a real tree with Justin's mom while she was visiting earlier this month.  She helped decorated our tree.
A fake wreath with added ornaments adorn our door this year. 

Since the 2 men in the house both have birthdays in December, we get cards for holidays and birthdays. 
Christmas morning, opening presents. Little D got a lot of cars this year, little ones and big ones. Thank you Santa aka grandparents!


Refinancing Rant

Yes this is a long rant but it is also a glimpse of what I've keeping busy with for the last several months. We wanted to do another refinance a little over a year after our first cash out for the house because rates came down and Justin's credit scores improved albeit not by much. In September we started talking to several mortgage brokers I found online and also the lender we worked with last time. At first I was really gung-ho about working with the lender with the lowest interest rate but once we started signing papers and I dug a little deeper, I discovered a lot of negative reviews about the lender the mortgage broker was working with. I got cold feet and backed out of that deal.

The rate we got from our current lender was not the lowest but we have had a good experience with them so it was worth paying a little extra for a peace of mind. Everything was going swimmingly until we got our appraisal back. Our appraisal came in at almost $80,000 less than the appraisal from a year ago. This came as a huge surprise to us because all the houses in our neighborhood are selling like hot cakes. Housing prices in our area are going up. Single family homes with 3 - 4 bedrooms are selling for almost half million dollars here! Our triplex wouldn't get as much as a single family home with similar square footage but certainly would get close if not more that what it was appraised for from the last appraisal.

The new appraisal amount is not enough to refinance the house with our current loan amount. A lot of the details in the appraisal report were, in our opinion, inaccurate. And the comparable houses used in the report were so off base that we immediately wrote to the lender complaining about those mistakes. After many emails with the lender trying to appeal our appraisal and a month later, our appeal was denied. It really stung because we've already paid almost $600 for the appraisal fee. The fee would've been refunded if we went through with the refinance. Yikes, that's a lot of money flushed down the drain.

The mortgage lender also felt our appraisal came in too low and did all he could to appeal the appraisal. In a last ditch effort to help, he recommended a former colleague with a different lender to work with us if we wanted to keep trying. The upside with the new lender is that the appraisal fee will be waived even if the appraisal came in too low again. We started the whole process again with this new lender, signing and submitting what seemed like an endless list of documents and finally met with the new appraiser last week.

After almost four months from the start of the whole refinancing saga, our appraisal finally came in $150,000 higher then the other appraisal. WTF?! This is great news but also boggles my mind how two appraisers can come up with such different results within the span of 2 months? I plan to do a detail comparison of the two reports when I get the new report from the lender. I still believe that the other appraiser was unfamiliar with our neighborhood and used poor comparable sold houses in his report. According to this new appraisal, we'll have over 40% in equity with our current loan amount! Not too bad for three years of very sweaty equity.

The new loan will save us about $200 a month. It's a 30 year fixed with 1.25% lower than our current rate. The blessing of the failed refinance is that the closing cost with the new lender is almost 50% less than the other lender. I know this sounds silly but I feel like we have a guardian angel looking over us. It helped us avoided the expensive lender by giving us the low appraisal. Take that mega multinational bank! Our refinance will take another three months to close due to the high volume of refi the lender is dealing with right now. I am keeping my fingers double crossed in the mean time until we sign those papers and close the deal in the new year!