Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Open House

Today from 11 till 1 Rob is having an open house, mainly for realtors so that the buzz on our house can build. At least we might finally get some feedback on our house.

We had our third showing last night from 8-9. Luckily, Jen was at a wedding shower and I just left the house for an hour. Still no feedback on any of our showings. That is pretty lame.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

House Showing...

So... We didn't get any response from our first showing, very disappointing, and we haven't had any since. Not sure what the deal is with that. Interest rates were getting quite low in the middle of the week, however since the market has been rocketing back yesterday and today the rates are up quite a bit.

One reason to hope for a crappy market I guess.

We are going through the underwriting process on our loan at the moment. My company uses a service called the work number. This was quite a pain, because I didn't know about it and they called my company and ran into a wall. Luckily, the HR person here gave me a call and I was able to get it set up so they could verify my information.

The work number charges the person that is verifying the information a fee to use their service. I wonder if that turns companies off. I would think it would be a hassle, if you didn't normally used their service.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our first house showing

We just received word that we are going to have the first showing of our house this evening. This is exciting and we are looking forward to hearing the comments that the buyers have.

Jen is all worked up about getting everything ready, she only has 4 hours...

The only concern is that if by chance they are interested in purchasing it, we will be out of a home for 4 months, until our new house is complete. I think it would be worth it, just to have the worry of carrying two mortgages off our back. Of course we could probably crash at Jen's aunt and uncles for awhile or at our parents houses, but that would increase our commute considerably.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Weighing in on Off Shore Drilling

With the announcement that President Bush will allow off-shore drilling and Congress likely to continue blocking it, I wanted to post a couple comments about it.

I would be all for off-shore drilling and would probably support it. I recently heard that in the last 30 years there has been only one accident that produced any environmental damage. So from that perspective it is probably going to be OK. I doubt that it would negatively impact tourism on the coasts as the rigs have to be pretty far out.

It would be good to reduce our foreign oil consumption, as well as having a lower energy impact of transporting the oil. It would probably mean less money being exported from our country. It would hopefully mean more revenue from the leases for the government (assuming we don't give it away like we are doing in other areas).

I say I would probably support it, because I still have reservation about it. I very strongly feel that we as a country need to be investigating alternatives to oil. From that perspective the high oil prices have been very beneficial. If there was some way to allow the off-shore drilling, but still encouraging all the exciting work that is now being done in the face of the high oil prices, I would support it.

But as it stands I would probably support the position of denying OSD, because we need a new economy, one not based on oil.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Construction to Perm Loans

Yesterday we met with our mortgage broker (Elly) to sign some papers so we could start the underwriting process to get our construction to perm loan. This is basically a loan that you close on upfront and then modify at the end into a permanent mortgage. The advantage is that you only have to pay closing costs (CC) once.

We have been in discussions with Elly since the beginning of the year, because of having to switch builders in the middle. Originally we were going to have the builder finance the loan, and then close directly from them. In that case we were going to have a regular 30 year and not have to deal with the construction to perm.

In any case, I am a bit concerned that the CC are quite a bit more then the CC on the original good faith. Now there is another wrinkle to this business, because the company that Elly was working for went out of business. Here is the break down:

Credit report:35
Lenders inspection:7575
Underwriting fee:435
Closing fee:270370
Title exam:135135
LP/DU Underwriting:20
Title Insurance:10241308
Name search:35
Recording fee:132
Mortgage Registration:910
Plat Drawing:6060
Courier fee:3030
Tax servicing fee:75
Draw inspection:250
Title search:150
Disbursement fee:250
Modification fee:50
Fee to the loan carrier:2295
Recording fee:178
State Tax:1101

Those are the closing costs associated with the not construction to perm versus our construction to perm. The explanation is that the reg loan had a value of 417k, while the construction to perm is based on a value of 459k. This is because, that is how the bank handles construction to perm loans, they want a higher cap in case of cost overruns. Unfortunately, that means we have to play high fees that are a percentage of the cost. The rest of the increases are because there are higher fees associated with a construction to perm...

So we will see how this all turns out. I think we are on a pretty good trajectory, it will be interesting to see how it all turns out though.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Meeting Rob 2007-09

Jen and I met Rob almost a year ago now. We had been going to various Parade Houses in our area and randomly came upon Rob's model.

We had bought our lot the winter of 2006 and were looking for a builder. I had wanted to be the general myself, but convinced myself otherwise after doing some reading on the subject...

Meeting realtors in their models is a bit intimidating, and we had been pretty hesitant to inform with anyone about our situation. Being that we are younger doesn't help either. Rob was full of energy and very excited to work with us. We told him our situation and he went right to work sketching our a house plan for us, based on something that I had worked up.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Golf TDI fuel costs

This is a graph I have been keeping since I bought my Volkswagen Golf TDI 3 years ago. It is a graph of the my MPG and the cost per gallon of diesel. As you can see the MPG have been pretty consistent at 38-40 since I bought it. The price of gas has been increasing since I bought it.

One note is that since gas has been going up I have started to drive less and the graph is charted to fill-ups, not date.

I have to say that I really like my car. It gets good mileage, though I did expect a little better, however, I do have a pretty short commute. I have been trying to get my wife to learn how to drive it (it is manual) so she can take it to work, she has a30 minute commute.

Garage Door Repair

Monday morning as I was leaving for work, the garage door gets stuck halfway down. Damn. I get out and with my vast technical know-how determine that the wire that runs up to the "drum" from the bottom of the door has jumped out of the track. Whew no big deal...

I get out up there in my work cloths and try to just pull the wire back onto the drum, no luck. Now I actually put the torsion spring on the garage door the last time they snapped so I had a pretty good idea of what I had to do, however after talking with a co-worker decided to just have someone come and fix it.

I called up a couple of places, one was $99 for the service call, one was $40. So which did I have come out, the $40 place of course. Reliant Garage out of St. Paul. James was the man's name.

I should have guessed how this was going to go down, but we are putting our house up for sale and I needed to get this fixed quick. James gets to our house about 15 minutes early, so I rush out of work to meet him. James walks into the garage, looks around for a minute then tells me:
  • He can't re-tension my spring (company policy), so he will have to install new ones (299)
  • He touches one of the rollers on my door and tells me the ball-bearings are shot and will need to replace them all (199)
Actually, I can't remember all the stuff because it ended up that it was going to cost me 600 dollars. Gut check. Um, James, I don't think so. I just installed those springs 2 years ago, so I am not going to replace those.

James looks all concerned and reports that he will call his office and check to see what he can do. He reports that he can re-tension my springs for $99, but then he can't warranty the work, as long as I replace the rollers. End cost $300.

Again, um, no James, I don't want to replace the rollers. This is getting pretty annoying at this point. James calls in again and reports that with great concern for my satisfaction he will re-tension the spring for $99, oh plus the original $40 service call... At this point I agree, because I am getting tired of arguing. This has taken about 10 minutes, it is now about the time of the original service call.

At this point I describe how I was planning on doing this repair myself, to which he replies that I will definitely hurt my self and should not do it myself. So I let him proceed.

He raises the door, loosens the screws on the drums, lowers the door, reattaches the wires to the drums, loosens the screws on the springs, re-winds the springs, done.

He was done with this work in less then 5 minutes. Walks up to me and asks for a check, I ask if I can check the operation of the door openers first, yeah, yeah. Writes me up a receipt. I ask how what I described earlier was any different then what he did. Oh, you wanted to leave the door up and rewind the wires on the drums. No I didn't. Oh then you described how I did it. WTF.

$139 dollars later and a working door. No tax charged, hmm. Anyways, I am happy to have a working door, but I wish I had had more confidence in my ability. I told my co-worker, that I need to start a garage door repair business...

In any case, garage door springs can be dangerous, however, I think that their danger is exaggerated and that a careful person can perform routine repairs pretty safely.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


My wife and I are in the process of building a house, as well as getting our current house ready to sell. We have been working with a builder and realtor since last September, we recently changed our builder, in a bizzar series of misunderstanding during the decline of the housing market.

I want to go back and document some of the stories and happenstance that have lead to our current place in time. I would also like to discuss the financial situation we are experiencing in general as well as specific to our building project.