Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Refinancing the House

Due to anticipated changes at work, the need to reduce cash flow, and interest rates that are even lower than they were two years ago, I've refinanced the house. My rate ended up at 3.875% for a 30 year fixed. I brought more than $50k in cash to closing to drive my monthly payment down.

I thought the process would be relatively pain free because, compared to two years ago when I purchased the house:

  • my annual income is ~$50k greater;
  • my student loans have been paid in full and I have no debts other than my mortgage;
  • my retirement and other personal savings have increased substantially; and
  • the house has appreciated (according to the official appraisal).

Alas, no. Credit underwriting was smooth and fast. The difficulty revolved around the condo underwriting. Technically, my house is part of a two-unit homeowners' association. We needed to amend our HOA declarations, which involved signing, notarizing and recording the amendment, which I drafted myself. This was extremely frustrating because my reading of the bylaws together with the declarations was that the amendment was not necessary, but I couldn't get anyone in underwriting to actually read and think about the language in the existing documents.

Just over three months later, we're done and funded.

(This process made me think a lot about what it's like to be a client in the corporate transactions we facilitate at work--valuable experience from that point of view.)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Little C Passes Away

After college graduation, my first act as an adult was to make Little C a part of my family. Last night was the first night, since I was 22, that she wasn't waiting for me when I came home. She became very ill earlier this week (and when you weigh a mighty 2 lbs, a couple days of illness and not eating have a dramatic effect). We rushed to the emergency vet and they put her on an IV dextrose drip, administered pain medication and antibiotics, and started diagnostic tests.

The tests didn't indicate a problem and we couldn't figure out how to help her.

So I sat with her at the animal hospital most of the night trying to comfort her (and myself, frankly), missed my flight to London, and spent the next day adjusting to the fact that my best buddy who has been there for all the highs and lows of my adult life was gone.

I feel so fortunate that Little C helped me feel like I had a little family at home for all these years. I will miss her so much.  The house is terribly quiet without her.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Decorating the Family Room

A couple weeks ago, Havenly sent me (and everyone else on their mailing list) a 20% discount code for design services. I had been thinking of giving them a try for a while because I've wasted far too much time agonizing over furniture catalogs without finding the motivation to move forward. The discount was the final little push I needed.

My goal is to update my current furnishings--a sofa, coffee table, wingback chair and media cabinet that I selected for my first apartment. My existing furniture has served me well over the years, but is very well worn after 13 years and six moves.

To start the process, I shared pictures of my family room and the floor plan, and my budget with the Havenly designer and asked for a new look with contemporary touches in a neutral palette with blue accents.

Within a week, the Havenly designer pulled together the two concepts below. These concepts are considered rough drafts. It's now up to me to rate the items the designer selected and provide feedback. (Helpfully, Havenly provides the price and source for each item in each concept.) Next, the designer will finalize one of the concepts and provide an updated rendering/floorplan.

It's been a fun experience so far. What do you think of the concepts Havenly pulled together? Specifically, do you think anyone would ever use the little poufs under the coffee table in the second concept? I see similar items in catalogs and have always wondered if they're functional.