Monday, January 12, 2009

Interest Rates

So, like many "homeowners" I have been watching the interest rates plummet and preparing to refinance. I finally began the process of refinancing on Tuesday when 15 year fixed rate mortgages hit between 4.25% and 4.5% locally. Heather and I are on an aggressive track to pay off our house and so we had to make sure our closing costs were as low as possible. I called many companies and here is my anecdotal occurrences with each of them:

  • One of my friends had luck with Citi using our employee referral program and I contacted them. I immediately had the phone answered and they took my name and number on Tuesday. On Thursday, after having not received a callback, I called again and got someone after less than one minute on hold. They quoted me nice rates, gave me their contact information, and told me they would be available Friday and Saturday morning. When i called Friday the lady's voicemail said she was on vacation.

  • Two companies never returned my calls - Wells Fargo and Chase.

  • The current company who holds my mortgage, HSBC, had rates 3/8 higher (4.875) than the next highest person I contacted (4.5%) and still wanted a full origination point.

  • My credit union, Coastal Federal, was the only one who came through. They had low closing costs, low rates, and gave me no hassle. You can check their rates here. They charges 1/2 pt origination, no discount points, no application fee, and I locked in a 4.5% 15 year mortgage which is a substantial savings from my current 5.875%. Overall closing costs were around $2100 which in NC seems to be a great deal.

Also on the interest rate front, the high interest online savings accounts are rapidly dropping their interest rates in the 2.5-3% range. My credit union has a pretty cool program called "Go Green Checking". The biggest issue I have is that who wants to put your real savings, like emergency savings and long term savings for cars, in a checking account with a card you use frequently. See, you have to use this card 12 times a month, which means you have 12 chances to get your numbers stolen. Sure, Visa says it will replace your money if stolen but reports say that this can take 2-4 weeks sometimes. This is my emergency savings, I don't know if thats secure enough for me. Thoughts?

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