A month of grumpy gratitude 2020: day 5, refi

Three weeks and two days ago, Anthony and I were chatting about how low interest rates are and how we should really refinance our home mortgage. Anthony, the real estate finance professor, said, “We should try Rocket Mortgage.”

This meant nothing to me. He explained that it’s a Quicken loan product. He got sort of hummy and bouncy, the way he gets when he’s enthused about something. We would pay a little bit more for this mortgage and we might not get the absolute rock-bottom rate we could hunt for through a human broker, but it was supposed to be extremely low-hassle, and almost exclusively on-line. He wanted to check it out and see how it works.

So I googled Rocket Mortgage. It was fairly easy to navigate the webpage and identify options and see how low the rate could get by paying points, but then we had to decide what product to select. I threw up my hands and shrugged, because how am I supposed to know? Enter the college professor. “Hold on!” announced Anthony in a hummy, energized sort of way as he ran downstairs to his desk to retrieve his massive Texas Instruments T-800 human-cyborg financial calculator.

He quickly conducted an incremental cash flow analysis, barking out questions to me as I sat in front of my laptop, blinking. “What’s our remaining principal! What’s our current interest rate! What’s our monthly payment! What are the estimated fees and closing costs! What’s the interest rate offer with no points for 15 years! Is there any relationship between the quantum description of reality and the reality we perceive! How long will we remain in this house!” His fingers moved in a blur over the human-cyborg calculator, as he ran some equations and determined what the return on investment is for refinancing depending on how much in points we pay and how long we keep the mortgage and fees and the holding period —

(Yes, Anthony is standing next to me right now, dictating that. Well, most of it. Incremental cash flow analysis, pffffhthfhttht, Carla’s retention level = .001 percent)

— and then he announced, “PAY THE POINTS.”

Five minutes later, we had completed and submitted the initial application. A few minutes after that, I got an email telling me what to do next. By the next day, I had received a text from some lady in another state who was managing our application. I uploaded and entered all the documentation and information they needed. It wasn’t much. It took Anthony and me about half an hour of effort, over the course of several lazy days, to get it all done. The hardest part was calling our insurance company and having them hand-hold me through accessing an on-line account so I could download a declaration sheet to give Rocket – and the only reason that was hard is because I’m an incompetent fool.

That was it. No appraisal (all that’s on Zillow now anyway, isn’t it?), no demands for bank statements and asset lists and photos of our children and dogs.

Then we waited while Rocket verified Anthony’s employment and did whatever a mortgage lender does. We got occasional texts and emails telling us about how things were going, what we needed to do or look at, and so on. Then I got a text telling us to schedule our closing, and a link to the closing agent’s website. There, we created accounts and were able to peruse all the closing documents well ahead of our formal closing date and time. We’ve closed on seven mortgages, I believe, and have never been given closing documents ahead of time in a way that allowed us to review them meaningfully. It was a definite first.

This morning, we e-signed all the closing documents, and then a closing agent came to our house with the few things we needed to reality-blue-pen sign. She was masked, we were masked, and it took literally five minutes. Done. Three weeks and two days, from application to closing.

I know this reads like a product endorsement. And I suppose it is, but that’s inadvertent. And just to be clear, I won’t know that this was a success until I’m certain our prior mortgage has been properly paid off. I also believe that we ended up paying more than we might have through a traditional broker. But boy, was it worth it, because I only had to be in the presence of another human being for five minutes. I didn’t have to endure sales pitches, or numbers being thrown around that meant nothing to me, or an hour being handed 300 sheets of paper I’d never seen before containing numbers I’d never seen before, or an appraiser coming into our house and poke around in our figurative underwear drawers. It was glorious for an antisocial beast like me.

Having my husband get weird with his calculator was an excellent bonus.


One thought on “A month of grumpy gratitude 2020: day 5, refi

  1. I just left a long comment about our experience with Rocket and what went wrong for us and made it take about 6 weeks longer than it should have, but it was eaten somehow. I should have copied it so I could paste it in here if need be, but I didn’t. Short version is, they are great, and we have refinanced with them twice. This last time there was a small error and they never called me to straighten it out, just let it sit there, being wrong. It was frustrating, but not the end of the world, we weren’t trying to move or anything. It’s easy enough that I would still recommend them, just say to people to be anal and keep track of everything, and if something seems like maybe it’s taking too long, follow up. And maybe follow up again.

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