Monday, August 02, 2010

Adventures in re-fi

It's hard to believe that when Josh and I bought a condo back in 2000, we had a mortgage rate of 8.75%. We refinanced it for a 3 year ARM and then sold the place a year later to buy our current house. We thought we were getting a real steal when we financed this place at 5.25% (on a conventional 30 year fixed) back in 2003.

You might have noticed rates keep getting lower. Low enough that I decided it was time to refinance and start paying down our loan in earnest with a 15-year fixed. Using the calculator at, I figured that we'd only be paying an extra $200 a month if I could get a 3.75% rate--and we'd build our equity a lot faster. We can spare the cash because the childcare + Montessori school line item on our budget is now the much more affordable Montessori school + free public school.

My first stop was the Chase branch downstairs from my office. Chase inherited our loan from WaMu and is home to our (once First Chicago then Bank One) checking accounts. They quoted us at 4.65% and talked up the fact that they'll refund 1% of your principal and interest into your checking account at the end of the year. And they spelled principal "principle" in their email. Next!

I use USAA for homeowner's insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, my credit card and the kids' savings accounts, so their website was my next stop. They offered a 3.75% rate--the lowest I'd seen advertised, but I didn't have a feel for how competitive their fees were. So I logged into LendingTree, the website where I initially got our home loan.

A friendly LendingTree rep named Josh called me within minutes of my completed application and complimented me on my excellent credit (a score of 800+, woot!). I asked if he could beat USAA's quote. He tried, calling me back after getting his supervisor to knock a few hundred off their closing costs, but cheerfully admitted their package couldn't compete.

So, while half-watching an episode of Veronica Mars, I filled out an in-depth application on the USAA website and submitted my good-faith $350 deposit. I should hear tomorrow if I'm approved.