I knew some day I’d laugh about this….


I remember driving to work the morning Lehman Brothers collapsed.  We knew that  the  risky mortgages  were messing up the economy.  It had been a subject of the  presidential campaign, and had been going on for years before.  I remember  discussing it in a grad school course in 1990.  The speculation was unsustainable—a giant pyramid scheme.  But when the  government let Lehman Brothers go, and  saved AIG, well, everything was up for grabs. And I was thinking, as I listened to the radio in the car, “How soon will it be before this affects me?”

2 weeks.  It was getting to be the slow season for dog grooming, but it just dropped off immediately.  Boom.  I lucked out  on getting some work, but property taxes were killing me.

I decided to try to refinance.  My mortgage rate was 5.25%.   If I could cut it a point, I would lower the payment from $1516 to about $1209—& it would be that low even if I borrowed $12,000 to fix up my kitchen.  That would make the house worth something…because it had gone from a high value of  $599,900 to $348,000.  Shocking.

2 mortgage brokers  guaranteed that they would be able to get me a deal within 2 weeks, so I wasted about 3 hours with each guy, allowing to  copy over 100 pages of tax returns (being self-employed can be very complicated), and…nothing.  I can’t believe these guys made a living at what they do, because I was honest from the start:  I was not employed—though I did show income.

I called my mortgage company. They  would have been happy to refinance me —-for $7,000.  What a joke.

Ok, I’m stuck,  & then one of my tenants dies.  The other one can not afford the apartment & does not want a new roommate.  He is going to move out, but wants to stay until April 1.

These had been good tenants, or so I thought. They paid the rent on time every month & rarely complained.  However, when I went  down to actually  inventory what I had to do to rerent the  space, I  learned they were more than  sloppy.  They had trashed the kitchen, including the stove, and every wall in the place…and….had wires going everywhere.  It was a fire hazard.

I had to rewire the house.  I won’t go into the sickening details of this. Anyone who has had to do infrastructure repairs  on his home knows that good references  are a dime a dozen. The first guy, Pete Bohlen,  told me he was on dialysis, but he also said that each flat would take no longer than 2 weeks.   After 6 weeks ( He just dragged things on & on) he stopped showing up, but I had the first floor mostly done, & he had put in new boxes.  My  fuse boxes, done just 20 years before, were not up to code.

I called another company, Brilliant Electric, and another $8000, things are pretty much ok.

Because I liked the product lines, I went to Lowe’s (after getting several bids) for the  kitchen flat remodeling.  I should have gone with a small contractor. It would have cost the same, & every little thing would not have been subcontracted.  That took much more time than it should have.

I ran into plumbing problems.   I had to move 2 radiators.  I had tons of replastering, and then, since I had holes in my ceiling, anyways, I decided to insulate the ceiling.  I was bleeding money.

It was difficult to rent out the flat, as it looked so bad while it was being worked on, but I finally did, and they have generally been good (but they are students, so who knows how long they will stay?)

Meanwhile, I see my  escrow account (for taxes and insurance) has over $10,000 in it.  Aren’t they supposed refund  the surplus to me?

At the end of September, I started  pricing homeowners insurance again, and about that time  my company raise the price over $300. Why?  They claimed it would sot that much to rebuild the house if it burned.  I told them that if it burned, I’d take the money & move elsewhere.  Nobody is going to rebuild this house—& the plot is worth more than the house!  Well, I found a company that has LOWERED their rates by $300!  That’s a $600 savings when you come right down to it.

So I called the mortgage company, told them I was switching, and what about that  wad of cash in escrow?

The  big banks are not ‘1 stop shops’. They had to switch me to another department, and yes!  they sere sending me a check for $8,000!  And—wait, there’s more!  They are lowering my monthly payment to $1216!  $300 less per month!

Wow!  Am I dreaming?  No.  They decided to pay the  house insurance early to the old company, so  I had to get the money back.  & this also lowered the amount in escrow, so they did not lower my payment $300.  My escrow was too low because of them!

I got the check back from the old insurance company ($1300) & endorsed it to my escrow account.

It sat on someones desk for about 3 weeks, & then they sent me a letter  telling me they were sending me back the enclosed check because it was not made out to THEN—but there was no check!  So I had to call them & ask where the check was (they said they sent it back to Old insurance company. Old insurance company says they did not get it, & would stop payment & issue me a new check.

2 weeks go by. No check from old insurance, Another phone call. They sent  a new check to—the mortgage company!

Why? Whatever, they call the  mortgage company with me on the line, & mortgage company says they got the check, but they don’t know what they did with it (I am not making this up).  So  old insurance company, again, stops payment on the check, & says they’ll send me a new check.  It arrived yesterday, & my mortgage payment is….$1216.

Are we living happily ever after?  No, we are not.  Due to the mortgage company keeping a bunch of idiots on their payroll, &, due to their  mistakes,  and—-due to their anticipating that my property taxes will go up this year because they  seem unrealistically low (never mind that  I have lived in the house over 10 years and the building is owner occupied, which lowered the taxes about 20%), they have again raised my payment to $1441.  Yes—it’s $75 lower.  Ok, I won’t whine.

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