Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rampant sexism. Or, the difference between 15 and 30.

We are house hunting.

And let me just interject up here that for the most part, I'm a bright individual. I think fast. I sometimes see things other people don't. I'm just not so much on the math.


So. Interest rates are low. And we need space. And so we are looking.

We both have good credit, and while what we want to do is a tremendous stretch, it's not totally batshit, considering that we both have good, stable jobs, money from Nick's place once it's sold, etc.

In other words, we are asking for a lot but not laughable insanity.

So Nick called his financial institution and while he was waiting to hear back, I called mine. We both said we were interested in 30-year fixed loans.

Mine said they could offer a 5-year loan with an ARM or a 15-year fixed. So I figured they should go ahead and quote us on the 15-year fixed.

I mean, 15 is better than nothing, right? It's half as much, but we could sort that out later. Right? Because did I mention numbers? They are never logical for me? Or rather, I am never logical with them.

The more mathematically-inclined among us can see where this is headed.

So I, I spent hours on the phone. Here's our income. Here's our savings. Here's what we are getting out of my husband's place. Etc etc.

And the guy would go through it all, and then ask, do we have any other assets. What about this? What about that. Could we possibly demonstrate any more cash?

At a certain point I got exasperated and said, "Look. My husband might have a secret account I don't know about, but if he does, I don't know about it. As far as I know, this is what we've got."

I was thinking, you can or you can't, but stop acting like I'm being totally crazy. Stop acting like I'm doing something wrong.

During our eternal string of conversations, Nick emailed to say he had just heard back positively on the preapproval. But I should go ahead and see, as I was already near the end of the process.

I kept emailing him - things like: "Holy crap!" and "You didn't have this much trouble. Is it because I'm a woman?" and "Am I presenting it wrong? And why does he sound so suspicious?"

And Nick kept saying, "I don't know."

At the end of a couple phone calls and being put on hold a number of times, and the guy sounding veryvery dubious, he finally said that it just might miiiiiight work. Down to the penny.

And I could call back in 48 hours to see.

Immediately after getting off the phone with him, I called Nick. I really was verging on offended.

This must be sexism. It's all because I'm a woman! Nobody sounded sceptical of Nick.

"I mean, really," I said. "How fucking big a deal is some stupid 15-year fixed mortgage? Maybe he'd rather speak to you, the man? You had no problem!"

"Sweetie. 15-year fixed."

"Yes. They couldn't do 30."

"Did you do the math?"

Hilarious. Do I ever?

"Lis. You do realize that 15 years is half the amount of time of 30?"

"Yes Nick." (It's not like I'm stupid.) "So we eventually have to refinance. But we have 15 years to do so."

"NO. We'd have 15 years of enormous mortgage payments. Because they make you pay the whole thing off in 15 years."

Ahhhhh. No wonder that guy sounded so sceptical.


  1. Ohh- you get to househunt! I LOVE househunting. The worst thing about it was, by the time I'd achieved a body of knowledge and felt I had a handle on things, we were done.
    Also- if you want to enjoy rampant sexism? Try carshopping- it is THE WORST!

  2. We just refinanced from a 30 year fixed down to a 20 year fixed and we're paying almost exactly the same amount per month because the rates have dropped so much. So if you can't swing 15, see if they can be a bit creative and work a 20 year for you. It'll save you huge amounts of interest!

  3. Mary - I HATE househunting. I absolutely loathe it.

    And the idea of carshopping makes me want to get into fetal position. That is truly hideous - and I bet you are right on the sexism.

    lacochran - That is wild. I had no idea that they could do that - and that it would make THAT big a difference! We're going ahead with Nick's preapproval until we find something, and then we'll have concrete numbers to ask for rates.

  4. Now this? This I can relate to. Decisions involving numbers give me headaches, my brain just covers its ears (separate from my regular ears, of course) and goes "LALALALALLALALALAarethenumbersoveryetLALALALA."

    Which, of course, has made my own househunting process an entertaining combination of "Ooooh, pretty!" and "Blleeerrrchhhh, math", and curling up in a fetal position around my laptop, browser open to a mortgage calculator page.

  5. haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha ha.

    (laughing with you and not at you of course.)

  6. House hunting blows. House-finding, on the other hand, is awesome.

    The trip to the title office is the worst part. Negotiations will take a couple years off of you. The payoff? Turning the locks for the first time.

  7. Ha! I can relate. I've been renting for years, purely because I don't know if I could get through the lending process. The terminology alone causes my eyes to glaze over.

  8. Dagny - This is EXACTLY what happens to me! The LALALA kicks in and overrides everything else!

    Sarah - I totally understand.

    Jo - You are exactly right. It's all terrible but for the finding and getting. House-finding will make us do a dance.

    FreckledK - I went through it alone 5-6 years ago - and if I did it, anyone can. But I find it all dreadful.

  9. ack! MATH! i almost stopped reading when i saw the m-word

  10. I feel your pain! When we bought our place, we made my dad figure out all the hard stuff. We're such grownups.

  11. i hate all the finance stuff. i'm good with number... i can calculate the sale price on anything and if i have a coupon, watch out. but official fancy bank finance stuff, i have no clue. i kept telling M i wanted to refinance my car, now that all the bad stuff has fallen off my credit and what not, but the poor man has spent so much time explaining to me why it doesn't make sense. in my head i should just be able to take the value of the car and pay it off at a lower interest rate, why don't banks work like that?

    anyway, paying off a house in 15 years sounds awesome though... stick with that plan : )

  12. Well, good grief! Why he couldn't offer a 30 year fixed in the first place is beyond me. Sheesh. Fingers crossed you find the perfect place SOON!! :)

  13. I totally saw this coming. You have to pay all the loan off in 15 years, not 30 years, and you totally missed it :)

    Credit Unions tend to have good rates for it, if you're part of any, and ING Direct also had a good deal too, back when I bought my place... [in 2005 *cringe* -- could've bought a much newer bigger place if I was buying it now :( ]

  14. Your reasoning on the 15 years-then refinance plan wasn't THAT out there. It kinda makes sense, to us more creative types. You got part of it covered, and plenty of time to find a new lender for the remainder, right? Sheesh.

  15. Well, what do you think I keep B around for? It ain't JUST his looks...

  16. You're lucky you have someone who gets the numbers stuff! Have a great time with the house hunt. It's frustrating, but oh so fun in the end when you find the right place. And like Beach Bum said, be happy you didn't buy back in 2005 (as I did... ug)!

  17. Where are you looking? There's a big difference between "Three blocks from Metro on East-West in Bethesda" and "three blocks from Metro Bus stop in Burke." Go home and tell Nick, "I've got a great idea -- Negative Amortization." Awesome!!!! pay $1400 for a $800,000 house.

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  19. ugh... house hunting here too. my only saving grace is i work in a financial institution and the mortgage guy sits in the office behind mine. he is so hungry to write the loan he'll run numbers for me all day long. love it.

  20. I started smiling about halfway through. I started laughing out loud as Nick entered the story. Actually still laughing.

    Maybe in a couple of months we can swap stories since I'm hoping to start my own search over the summer. Fingers crossed.

  21. your posts always make for interesting conversations between Sean and I.

    soph "did you read Lisa's blog today? funny eh?"
    sean "yeah I did, it was good"
    soph "so ours is a 25 year mortgage at a 10 year locked in fixed rate of 5.55 right?"
    sean "it's either 20 or 25 years, I'm not sure, I don't remember"
    soph "you're not sure? don't you think we should know these things?"

    thank you for making us look at our paperwork, we're wondering whether to refinance or not while the going is good.

  22. We're househunting, too; in fact, I think we're making an offer on a house tonight. The whole preapproval process is so yucky. We have student debt and a rental property, and apparently that makes our file "complicated." It's not like we're financing the purchase of the Trump Tower here, just a nice 2000 square foot home. Sheesh.

  23. Haha, I don't know that I would have realized that either. Which is why I'll be bringing you with me to look at houses, sometime in the very, very, VERY far away future.


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