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Author: mew5280 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 127585  
Subject: When to Refinance Date: 9/25/2005 1:33 PM
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I'm struggling to come back financially from a few years of on and off employment. I am someone who spent most of my 20's and 30's ignorant and naive about money and about 5 years ago began to get serious about saving but then lost almost everything by a few years of not working enough. (the economy, laid off, contracted, etc)

Anyway, here's where I am. I recently refinanced, in March 2005, to an interest only loan in order to pay off one HE LOC and use the extra money by not paying principal, to pay off my credit card debt and thinking within the next few years we would be selling the house. The appraisal was 60K over what I eventually found out later was the value of my home so now I'm living in a home that has only about 9K equity (per two realtors) and if I sold today and got the realtor's price and paid 6% and loan fees, I would have to bring a check for about $3K to the closing.

I'm over the fact that I should have examined the appraisal better. I would never have allowed myself to take out all the equity in my home but I have to take the blame myself for blindly trusting the overdone appraisal though I did manage to roll my HE into the house and paid off a bunch of smaller credit card balances.

Now I'm trying to figure out the best way to get back on track, pay off the CC debt and have some equity again. The house is a "starter home" 750 SF worth now about $200K so it's not like I have a mansion or anything where I can scale down to something smaller.

I have mulled over and over if it would make sense to sell this house and rent for awhile. Or sell the house and buy something even smaller and cheaper, though this would really make live not fun and with no money to put down, and the costs associated with selling and buying again, that option seems silly.

I did the rent vs. buy calculator but I don't know enough about all those things they ask, the inflation, the anticipated home value, I can't get all these things accurate to get a good idea. All in all, it just seems that staying in the house is the cheapest option. BUT, a lot of the equity I was planning on would come for an appreciation in the market and the way people are talking about real estate is scaring me.

But now, what about the loan I have? My terms are; 5.25% interest until 2008 when I would need to sell or refinance. Should I hold this loan all the way until it ends in May 2008 or try to refinance before that to lock in an interest rate?

Ideally, what we would like to do is pay off the credit cards quickly and then get a 15 year mortgage to try to get more equity in the home so that if we stay in this house, we will actually see a day when we can own it, or if we sell, we have equity.

Any ideas what is best? Stay put and pay off the credit cards and refinance (or sell) in 3 years? Or sell now and rent or sell now and buy?
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Author: numbrel Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90643 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 9/25/2005 2:21 PM
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How fast are you paying the credit card debt off? Will it be paid off by May 2008?

Can you rent for A LOT less then you are paying now? Will you be able to "recoup" the closing costs on your refinance as well as the money you will have to bring to the table to sell your house in three years in ADDITION to having more money to pay off your loans. Will you really be "ahead" by selling now?

Are you living a place that does have a hot, hot market that could cool significantly? If prices are only slowing down, you may not have to worry about prices.

Barbara


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Author: CurtisElliott Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90645 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 9/25/2005 5:31 PM
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Hey, Mew.

Just a few thought to mull, mew. (couldn't resist)

Anyway, here's where I am. I recently refinanced, in March 2005, to an interest only loan in order to pay off one HELOC and use the extra money by not paying principal, to pay off my credit card debt and thinking within the next few years we would be selling the house. The appraisal was 60K over what I eventually found out later was the value of my home so now I'm living in a home that has only about 9K equity (per two realtors) and if I sold today and got the realtor's price and paid 6% and loan fees, I would have to bring a check for about $3K to the closing.

So...you're really talking about giving away 12k (9k equity + 3k costs) 3k (or 12k) should certainly be factored into the equation. That would almost definately set you back even further. Plus you'll be paying the interest on that balance depending on where you borrowed the money. (I'm assuming you don't have it lying around in savings)


I'm over the fact that I should have examined the appraisal better. I would never have allowed myself to take out all the equity in my home but I have to take the blame myself for blindly trusting the overdone appraisal though I did manage to roll my HE into the house and paid off a bunch of smaller credit card balances.

Let's be sure not to repeat the same mistakes by letting emotions rule the day.

Now I'm trying to figure out the best way to get back on track, pay off the CC debt and have some equity again. The house is a "starter home" 750 SF worth now about $200K so it's not like I have a mansion or anything where I can scale down to something smaller.

Transaction costs of selling and buying and moving would be murderous to an already tight budget.

I have mulled over and over if it would make sense to sell this house and rent for awhile. Or sell the house and buy something even smaller and cheaper, though this would really make live not fun and with no money to put down, and the costs associated with selling and buying again, that option seems silly.

As previously mentioned, is the cost differential between renting vs. buying significant enough to pull you ahead in this lifetime? How quickly would you recoup the transaction costs with monies saved by renting? Are you factoring in rental increases?

I did the rent vs. buy calculator but I don't know enough about all those things they ask, the inflation, the anticipated home value, I can't get all these things accurate to get a good idea. All in all, it just seems that staying in the house is the cheapest option. BUT, a lot of the equity I was planning on would come for an appreciation in the market and the way people are talking about real estate is scaring me.

The biggest consideration that I would factor in here is: How long am I planning on staying in this house? If you are staying in the area or region for the long haul, than real estate "bubble" concerns become basically moot. If, however you are planning on leaving the area by or about 2008 when the interest only feature is due to adjust, than selling is a viable alternative if you feel you wouldn't be able to handle the increased mortgage payments. HOWEVER, you would need to consider that if you are aggressively paying down high interest debt, than those funds can be used to pay a higher monthly mortgage. More calculations are needed here.


But now, what about the loan I have? My terms are; 5.25% interest until 2008 when I would need to sell or refinance. Should I hold this loan all the way until it ends in May 2008 or try to refinance before that to lock in an interest rate?

Refinancing is expensive. Try another calculator to get real life figures. It again depends much on your time horizons. How long do you anticipate staying in the house. It usually takes several years before you breakeven and begin recouping the savings from incremental refinancings.

Ideally, what we would like to do is pay off the credit cards quickly and then get a 15 year mortgage to try to get more equity in the home so that if we stay in this house, we will actually see a day when we can own it, or if we sell, we have equity.

This sounds like the best approach yet. You will be thousands of $$ ahead of the game by staying put and aggressively paying down debt. You will utimately have greater financial freedom and flexibility with much less stress and worry about the micro/macro cycles pulling at you now.


Any ideas what is best? Stay put and pay off the credit cards and refinance (or sell) in 3 years? Or sell now and rent or sell now and buy?

SEE ABOVE. Although I can't, nor can anyone else for that matter, address the 3 year question. It's just impossible to know what anything will look like then. Certainly, by paying off credit cards your personal financial picture will most assuredly look more attractive than it does today.

Food for thought,

Curtis

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Author: mew5280 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90647 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 9/25/2005 8:02 PM
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How fast are you paying the credit card debt off? Will it be paid off by May 2008? - Planning to have it paid off in a year and a half but depends on the job. I'm contracting, trying to find something permanent.

Can you rent for A LOT less then you are paying now? - Of course. If I give up everything I like about my life and move in with 10 other people and give my dogs away and sell all my possessions. :) Seriously though, to get something that two adults and two dogs could rent, it would be very very very very difficult to find something for less than what my current mortgage payment is.

Are you living a place that does have a hot, hot market that could cool significantly? - I'm in Denver, in a neighborhood very close to the city that has been deemed "hot" because of it's location and the way everything is building around it; new subdivisions, new shopping areas, new schools, new hospitals. Since I've owned the house, 6.5 years, the value went from 130K to whatever it is worth now (tax assessment says $200K, realtors say $215 and I think it could sell for $230K if I waited long enough). Will that continue? Will it stop? Will it go down? That's the question of the hour.

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Author: mew5280 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90648 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 9/25/2005 8:09 PM
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RE: How long I plan to stay in the house... Well, I bought this house as a single person and got married last year. Together this is not our house. We wanted to sell and move this summer which is when we found out what we thought was a $260 valued home (that's what the appraisal said) was only $215 (according to two different realtors) which mean we would have no equity to buy if we moved so we are relegated to sticking it out awhile. Thus all the "mulling" :)

I have been employed on and off since 2003 and have not yet found a permanent job, but am contracting. That will have a lot to do with everything. I have turned down several offers recently because the salaries were really low AND the jobs were not what I wanted. I need to find a place that looks solid so I can stay there awhile.

To be honest, we feel kind of stuck here. We're just waiting it out until we can afford to sell and move. I agree with you that I would be giving away 12K (or more) if we were to sell now.

Thanks for your replies. I think paying off the CC debt will do me a world of good, working hard on that one.

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Author: LLRinCO Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90649 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 9/26/2005 12:56 AM
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Denver is not a bubble area, prices are going up but at a much slower pace than the hot markets like San Francisco. You're in a good price range, lower 200's, with lots of room to go up. Keep the house and in 3 years when your mortgage is up you can either refinance another ARM or IO if you cannot do a fixed rate. I would say chances are very good your house will be worth more in 3 years and you could sell it then if you had to.




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Author: mew5280 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90653 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 9/26/2005 11:35 AM
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Hey thanks, that was really my exact thinking, it's just that I hear things and start to worry.



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Author: FeeFiFoolFum Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90712 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 9/30/2005 1:57 PM
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=============================
The appraisal was 60K over what I eventually found out later was the value of my home ...(per two realtors)
=============================

Without an appraisal from an uninterested 3rd party, I would take the realtor valuations with a grain of salt. I hope they provided full documentation including pictures/addresses of the comps that they based the appraisal on. Otherwise they were merely "back of the napkin" best guesses.

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Author: mew5280 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90713 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 9/30/2005 3:55 PM
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Yes, they both provided photos and comps. I was naive before this process and believed that appraiser's value. For square foot value, the realtors estimates look accurate. I didn't do any of my own determining before. All I did was see that there were homes a few streets over selling in the 300k, 400k, and up range and thought just being in the vicinity with a nice home would make my house worth that much, silly me.

I never knew the main level square foot measure was THE determining factor in home valuation. I have so many amenities over what other small homes have yet it doesn't matter. Finished basement, second full bath, landscaped yard with underground sprinkler system, renovated kitchen...

I think we are so tight on money right now that we won't sell. If we had a lot of money saved, it would be a different story. Here's hoping the values go up!

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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90716 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 9/30/2005 6:01 PM
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mew5280: "Yes, they both provided photos and comps. I was naive before this process and believed that appraiser's value. For square foot value, the realtors estimates look accurate.

I never knew the main level square foot measure was THE determining factor in home valuation. I have so many amenities over what other small homes have yet it doesn't matter. Finished basement, second full bath, landscaped yard with underground sprinkler system, renovated kitchen..."


Who told you that "main level square foot measure was THE determining factor"? And why would one ignore "finished basement, second full bath, landscaped yard with underground sprinkler system, renovated kitchen" when determining value? Buyers likely would not assign zero value.

If the appraised adjusted for "finished basement, second full bath, landscaped yard with underground sprinkler system, renovated kitchen" when performing his appraisal, I tend to think that adjustment was proper conceptually, but cannot address the upward value assigned by the appraiser.

Curiously, JAFO




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Author: RDaniels Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90798 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/6/2005 1:42 PM
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FWIW, my experience with realtors is that they low ball a home's value; after all, it's to their great benefit. Pricing a home low results in a quick sale and a quick commission with little work or cost to the realtor. Putting a home on the market at a higher price does increase their commission slightly but it also slows the sales process and imposes additional work and expense on the realtor. In the five home sales I've been involved with, the realtors always estimated low. When I listened to a realtor, the homes sold in a few days. As I got smarter and started questioning their estimates, a couple of things happened. First, the realtors got kind of pushy over any suggestion that I might get more than their estimate ("I'm not sure we can take on a property that's priced so far outside the market..."). And, second, I started bumping their estimates by $10K to $20K and pushing back at their reluctance. Those homes sold in a few weeks. Next time I sell, there'll be more pushing and shoving between me and the realtor over pricing.

Finished basements and renovated kitchens increase the value of a home by a large percentage of the cost to do the work. There is most definitely value in those upgrades and any realtor suggesting otherwise should be shown the door.

It costs nothing to the seller (at least in my area) to put a house on the market. If you can determine a sales price where it makes sense for you to sell, you might consider putting your house on the market at that price; let the market sort out between your choices on your own terms.

R

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Author: plovely555 Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90799 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/6/2005 2:23 PM
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Question for you!

Do you perceive yourself as a loser or a winner?

Your past actions have been to take the easy way out and rely on others to blame when you come up short i.e. relying on a hyper appraisal.

If you have a lock on loser,sell and crawl into an apartment never to buy again.

If however you've finally elected to control and not be controlled,keep the modest dwelling(you've not worked smart enough yet to rate a better home),refinance with a 15 year fixed after you've carefully shopped rates,cut your personal expenditures budget and then get really tough by getting a second job,blow off your credit cards and save a mimimum of 10% of your gross earnings.

You elect-winner or loser.

Fix bayonets and charge-take no prisoners!!

Good luck!

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Author: lvitt Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90800 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/6/2005 2:51 PM
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You seem to have two problems: credit card debt and an interest only loan that falls due in 2008. If everything else about your housing is okay, I would not suggest that you sell and then either rent or buy later. All of that rearranging of your life can be emotionally upsetting and expensive, which could make things worse for you, not better.

Let's unbundle the credit card debt and your interest-only loan. See if there is a way to put yourself on a schedule for paying off those credit cards without disturbing the equity you have. First, freeze your credit cards and do not use them. Then ask yourself these questions and any others that might help you raise your income above your current expenses. On the expense side: can you lower your monthly costs--cut down on dining out, bag your lunches, keep your dry-cleaning costs to a minimum, pare down your commuting costs by car-pooling? On the income side, can you temporarily add another job? Rent a room? Turn a hobby into a part-time small business? Ask your boss for a raise?

Whether you refinance your home or not, you need to be free of your credit card debt, so do all the planning and exploring you possibly can--without considering the equity in your home!

After you have found one or two ways to pay off the credit cards--you can do it if you really really try--it is time to turn to the interest-only loan on your home. You have a very good interest-only rate, so I am assuming that your credit rating is okay. That being the case, here's what I would suggest you do:

Refinance soon--before rates go too high--with a 30-year fixed rate loan. Shop for the best possible rate you can find. Why boost your payments to a 15-year term at this time? You're cash flow will suffer and you'll never be able to pay down those credit card balances. (If you want to pay off your loan faster, you can always choose a bi-monthly plan or add additional equity to your regular monthly payments.)

Good luck with your planning--hope things work out.




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Author: enterpriseman Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90801 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/6/2005 2:59 PM
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My terms are; 5.25% interest until 2008 when I would need to sell or refinance.

It seems to me that you have time here and shouldn't panic. Much of your questions would really be answered by examining the real estate market where you are. In some areas you might be in real danger if values colapsed.

In most areas though, even if values contract in the short term, you're house will still probably be worth more in 2008 than it is today.

Ideally, what we would like to do is pay off the credit cards quickly and then get a 15 year mortgage to try to get more equity in the home so that if we stay in this house, we will actually see a day when we can own it, or if we sell, we have equity.

Paying off the credit cards is good practice. Refinancint to a shorter term, however probably won't yield the results you're after. Consider the fact that appreciation (even in a slow market) will probably bring you higher equity growth in the house than trying to pay it down with a shorter term mortgage. Remember, even with a shorter term, during the initial years of the loan, you pay far less on the principal. If you want to pay down your principal balance, why not make additional principal payments on your existing loan? Since your interest rate is attractive this would seem to be a better option if you have your heart set on paying down the loan.

Unless you're in an area where you expect the housing values to decline significantly, I think I'd stand pat for a couple of years and concentrate on paying off the credit cards.

D


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Author: mew5280 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90802 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/6/2005 3:18 PM
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You seem to have two problems: credit card debt and an interest only loan that falls due in 2008. If everything else about your housing is okay, I would not suggest that you sell and then either rent or buy later. All of that rearranging of your life can be emotionally upsetting and expensive, which could make things worse for you, not better.

Welllll, the cc debt is a problem but I don't see the interest only loan as a big deal since I had and will continue to have equity in the home from appreciation BUT it will come due in 2008 and I risk an increase in the interest rate.

RE: CC Debt, love your suggestions but I'm 100 steps ahead. I have done everything you said already, on the right track, big hiccup in May when I LOST my job and was unemployed for 3.5 months, now I am contracting and close to landing a perm job. Fortunately we were able to NOT accrue more debt during the unemployment time. We are living on a shoestring to try and pay off the debt. I'm actually enjoying it, it's kind of a challenge to see just how little we can live on. It's actually all MY debt so DH is helping when he doesn't have to. I don't expect this to happen again, it was due to not being employed for too long before I was married, now with a second income, we have a cushion.

RE: Refinancing soon... wouldn't I lose A LOT because I just paid to refinance less than a year ago and would have to pay all those fees again?









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Author: mew5280 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90803 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/6/2005 3:24 PM
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enterpriseman:

This is very helpful. I get lost in the numbers because my brain says "debt bad, pay off good" which of course is true for unsecured, high interest debt but soooo different for mortgage debt.

I did a calculation and my home has appreciated from 1997 to now at an average rate of 8%/year (YES, I refinanced too many times and took money out but I did home improvements each time). That's pretty good and the area seems to only be getting better. In fact, when we do sell, it might be a good idea to keep the house and rent it out.

One more fact that I hadn't mentioned before is that in reality, we would like a new home because I bought this alone and now am married. There are a lot of things that we would like to change but cannot in this house. i.e now there are two cars, only one garage. That garage is the ONLY entrance to the backyard from the house and when there is a car in it, you have to be really skinny to go around it, very small. The size is OK for us but we would rather have bigger rooms and less of them as it seems so cramped. Also, our lot is huge, would be so much nicer to have less yard and more house. How long can we put up with this? Well, forever but it's just one of those things we both would love to do right now but financially I don't think it's a good idea. After the credit cards are paid off and my job is more stable AND we have some money in the bank. A few years off....

Thanks again for the help!

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Author: lvitt Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90804 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/6/2005 8:26 PM
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Re paying ALOT to refinance again, I'd shop around for a low cost refi--no brokers, ask for a discount on the title insurance for the new lender, and negotiate fees as best you can. My concerns are that inflation and other economic conditions could cause interest rates to spike, and I'd want to snuggle down with a low-rate 30-year fixed mortgage rather than hang out for uncertain times. Just conservative, I guess.

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Author: mew5280 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90805 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/6/2005 9:03 PM
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Do you perceive yourself as a loser or a winner?

Your past actions have been to take the easy way out and rely on others to blame when you come up short i.e. relying on a hyper appraisal.



Well, why should I decide that? You already did for me, thanks!



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Author: mantis1 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90810 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/7/2005 8:45 AM
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Mew, if you think about refinancing check out ING for their 555 dollar closing costs thru the end of October. They only do ARM's and I was able to get a 5/1 at 5.25 about 2 weeks ago. With the closing costs so low and my fixed period over on my previous loan it was a no-brainer for me. The only thing not included was the 50 dollar fee for my old mortgage subordination and odd day's interest, which is basically a mortgage payment for the month that gets skipped with the refinance.

I think rates went up a touch in the past week or so, but if you were planning to stay and wanted to get a 7/1 ARM, for example, you may at least want to go thru the calculation to see what it would cost you. Also, make sure to note that their calculator does not include escrow money that you likely pay towards home-owner's insurance, taxes and such.

As your 5.25 is a pretty good rate for the next 3 years, you may be best off staying put and trying to save some cash for when you have to refinance then. In 3 years, I don't think a house that you obviously have put some work into, that's also in a nice neighborhood, will lose value.

Best of luck,
Fran

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Author: reallyalldone Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 90814 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/7/2005 4:02 PM
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In 3 years, I don't think a house that you obviously have put some work into, that's also in a nice neighborhood, will lose value.

I would disagree - in the Denver metro area, there have been 3 year periods that have produced significant downturns and at least once few homebuyers at any price.

rad


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Author: freshface100 Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 91184 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 10/21/2005 7:46 PM
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How hot is your real estate market? You didn't say which city you live in. Your loan rate is good, hang onto it and wait it out. Meanwhile don't sit on your rear, talk to a good realtor with alot of experience and find out what it would take to build "perceived value" into your home. Such as: do you have a fireplace? closet systems in the bedrooms? an efficient & up-to-date kitchen? Start growing a green thumb and work on your landscaping and "curb appeal". A 750 square foot house in a city with a garage and a small yard is an excellent investment depending on your market (singles and young couples). Wait it out and build equity.

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Author: sandmanfool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 91437 of 127585
Subject: Re: When to Refinance Date: 11/1/2005 11:05 AM
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In addition to the other comment here, which are right on, I wanted to add my personal experience. I sold my last home in May of this year and was constantly hounded by real estate agents that wanted to relist my home at less than what I was selling it for FSBO. By staying patient, I managed to sell the home for $500 over ask price without any agents involved on my side or the buyers side. It took roughly 3 1/2 months in a spec home neighborhood where someone could have built a new one if they wanted. However, based on extra amenities in my house (you said your has quite a few extras), I managed to sell mine for more than those that were professionally listed, faster, and with less transactions costs. And then fought the appraisal as mine came in lower than the sale price due to comparables that didn't have the same amenities. Not easy, but it can be done.

The key is patience and marketing (fsbo.com, MLS listing via a local FSBO real estate attorney, etc.). Also, if you do decide that you'd like to avoid the hassle, most real estate companies will go to 4-5% on their commissions to get a FSBO off the market and into their portfolio. Rationale being that it's better to get something than nothing and they know as well as anyone that they won't sell it any faster than you could on your own (assuming you pay to market MLS). BTW, if you want to sell fast, but are OK with a slight commission, another option is an MLS listing where you agree to pay 2.4% to the buyer's agent...this is what they'd typically get from a home represented by a seller's agent (only caveat is that you'll need a FSBO attorney to write up the paperwork - typically another $300-900 - still far cheaper than a real estate agent).

Now to the rest of your problem...it sounds like you're in a hot market where you would have to pay the same amount to rent...in this scenario, it's an obvious stay put until you have to move. Renting would require moving expenses, another up front deposit (that you wouldn't likely get back), no home appreciation (likely 5-10% in your neighborhood), and no tax deduction for interest expense (another 1-2% net savings)...My advice would be to stay where you are for as long as you can, then when you have to sell, keep the realtors out of it!

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