It's not about the house.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Tramp's Story, Part II: Oh, Henry!

The voice on the line was deep and accented – Caribbean, maybe, or Pacific Island – and the first thing it asked me was what county I was in.

“Country?” I asked, already getting annoyed. Couldn't they have headsed him up on at least that fairly major detail?

"No, Ma'am," the voice went on, calm as a tropical breeze. "County."

I put the beer down. What is this, a civics quiz?

I can never keep this answer straight. When I was growing up I lived in Worcester County, which was easy to remember because Worcester was the giant nearby city where I went to school. But now... Weymouth is twelve miles south of Boston, see, and therefore (obviously) Boston is twelve miles north -- but Boston's Suffolk County; and Weymouth's Norfolk. This makes no sense -- which really makes it quintessential Beantown logic, considering that East Boston is actually north and South Boston is actually east and the South End (which is not the same as South Boston by any stretch) is smack dab in the middle of the Hub -- but I still tend to get the county names confused. 

“Um... Norfolk?” I guessed.

“Okay. My name is Henry. What can I help you with today?”

So does that mean I guessed right? Is this how the process is going to work? Like Who Wants to be a Millionaire? You keep asking questions and as long as I keep getting them right I keep playing, until – ta da! – I'm all schmeschminanced? If so, could we maybe play it like Cash Cab instead, where you get easier questions, three wrong answers, and a chance to double your money at the end?

“Well, Henry,” I said. “I honestly don’t think you can help me with anything [despite my brush with civic success I was still feeling a little cocky with the hopelessness of it all], but the Nice Lady told me that it never hurts to ask.”

I explained everything to him -- in more grotesque detail than I'd given the Lady, but maybe a little less than I've given to you here. I'm really not a skillful liar, see -- the "undocumented" process nearly killed me last time -- so for this go 'round I determined to 'fess up to everything and let the schmortgage chips fall where they may. The worst that could happen (in fact, the most likely thing to happen) was that I’d hang up fifteen minutes later exactly where I’d been before I made the call. Unless -- they couldn’t take away my active schmortgage, could they? Shit!

Well, it was too late. I’d spilled it. And here is what ol' Henry had to say.

“It looks like you’ve been a good customer so far. Never had a late payment or anything. So, sure. I can take care of this for you. We’ll do a non-income based loan, with no appraisal of the property, fixed for 30 years at 4.75%.”

Four? Point seven five? You mean my interest rate – my payments – would go down? And I say "would" because you and I both know that there’s no way any of this is really going to happen, but anyway: Four point seven five?

“Oh, yes. Or I could give you 4.375%, also fixed for 30 – which would bring your monthly payments down another $40. But only if you think you’re going to be there for a while.”

Huh? I mean, what kind of idiot choice is that? Who cares how long we're going to be here? Even if it's just one more month, I would like (der) the one with lower payments, please!

“Hang on,” Henry said, “let me explain. The closing costs on the lower rate are $3,500 higher. But if you’re going to be there for – wait a minute, let me do the math... Thirty-five hundred divided by forty dollars a month is 87.5 ... divided by 12 months is... Okay, it’s worth it if you think you’re going to be there for at least seven years. Otherwise, $3,500 is a lot of money and you might want to think about it and call me back.”

Well, chop me off and call me stumpy, don’t that shit just beat all. A schmortgage guy, explaining things, and giving a girl time to think. Kee-rist, I’m getting all verklempt just thinking about it. But, um, oh:

“Closing costs? I forgot about them. We don’t have—”

“They’re added on top and rolled into the loan. It won’t cost you anything out of pocket no matter what you choose. But it’s still real money, so you ought to think about it anyway.”

Yeah, I probably ought to. But I shan't.

“Give me the lower one.”

I still had no delusions of financial grandeur -- I knew I wouldn't actually get it or anything -- but this was starting to be a pleasant conversation, so I thought I might as well try on the princess dress and prance around.

“The lower rate?” asked Henry. “Or the lower closing costs?”

Oh, Henry, listen to you. You're like an Antioch college freshman, doggedly asking a girl's permission every tiny step along the way. I’m telling you, your mama would be proud.

“The lower rate. Please.”

I don’t know if we’ll still be here in seven years or not. That's not the plan, but the plan was for us to be out of here in less than ten and look how well that worked out. What I do know is that at this point forty bucks is forty bucks, and it will come in handy every month no matter what bad-in-the-long-term plan it might have come from. If we are here for seven years it will be worth it; and if not, well, $3,500 was never going to save our asses, anyway. Besides: who knows? Maybe we’ll be such billionaires by then that a measly couple thou will feel like pocket change.

Hey, man, it could happen. I'd give it even odds with this schmeschminance, anyway.

To be continued… again… I swear to god…


Anonymous said...

Well, poop to you. I just signed up for a new mortgage myself, but you got a lower interest rate than me. Assuming, of course, that you get approved etc for this suggestion. And that you then tell us the end of the story! :)

Jenni said...

This sounds great.

Does there have to be a home inspection aka apprasial?

(Yanno our house is in a state of totally un finished everywhere.)

Cake said...

I'm house hunting right now...and very, very scared.

If I run into trouble, will you please come and sweet-talk the bank? Thanks in advance!