I really try to put myself into other people’s shoes.
OK. Maybe not always. But, for the most part, I really try to see life from other people’s perspective.
I through it would be nice to refinance my home. You know, catch a lower interest rate so I could save some money on my monthly payment. I didn’t even want to “cash out” and get enough money to buy the 60″ flat screen or buy a new car. I just wanted the lower interest rate.
So I talked to my loan officer guy and he told me that my credit score looked good, my debt-to-income ratio looked good, money in the bank. Everything seemed to be showing a green light. The only thing that needed to happen was that my house needed to appraise for 20% more than I owed on my mortgage. The idea was to avoid PMI – Private Mortgage Insurance – which would negate any savings I would make on the monthly payment.
So, the appraiser came out and we chewed the fat. He took lots of photos of the place and drew his little floor plan and left. Four days later the official appraisal report was sent to the lender and my loan officer called me this morning.
I not get the 20% above what I owe on my mortgage in order to refinance. That would have been disappointing but not the end of the world. I did not get an appraised value even for the amount I owed on my mortgage. Again, that would have been OK.
No. I got an appraisal that told me my house was worth $50,000 less than I owed on it. That was hard news to swallow.
I bought the place in 2003 and, sure, it was during the boom years and all but it was still in the early boom years. Yes, I did take out a small equity line in order to buy an “investment property” (don’t get me started on that). We consolidated in 2008 and basically have a principal mortgage balance within $5,000 of what we bought the house for in 2003.
In other words, the house has declined in value by $50,000 in 8 years. That’s hard news.
My wife is the eternal optimist, though.
“We’re not alone.”, she says. “Lots of people are going through this.”, she says. “We happy living here and not planning to move anytime soon.”, she says.
All that is true. My mortgage is current. I can afford to make the payments every month. The worst case scenario is that I’m stuck here for another 27 years paying down a mortgage that started in 2008 (with the refinance). At some point, even if it’s 15 years from now, I will have enough equity in the house simply through paying down the mortgage to be able to sell it.
I just can’t sell it now. Or refinance. Or anything.
So I have found new empathy for the millions going through this horrible housing market.