Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Money Coup

Like everyone else in Florida, we found ourselves much poorer for doubled insurance costs and increased taxes this year. Our mortgagee required us to pay insurance and taxes through them in order to get the loan initially. We were never thrilled with this system, but it enabled us to get an amazingly low rate (5%) on a 15-year fixed, non-conforming, jumbo loan when we refinanced four years ago. The current mortgage statement came in with astronomical numbers. The monthly payment increased almost 24%, and the lender wanted a lump-sum payment of several thousand dollars to bring the escrow account current for the lender's projected needs. WineGuy asked me to call the lender for them to stop paying our taxes and insurance.

Shortly after lunch, I called Countrywide's toll-free number. After navigating the automated system, I got through to a Customer No-Service Representative who kindly transferred me to someone in the Escrow Department. I enjoyed a Muzak® serenade and then spoke with Escrow Lady. I explained the situation to her: I want to bring my escrow balance to zero and then delete it. I spent 15 minutes on the phone with this astrophysicist reiterating my every request but not understanding them. When I finally impressed upon her my willingness to settle the account immediately so as not to incur any more charges, she then said it might be possible to delete the escrow account. She could not divulge to me any of the super-duper, secret criteria the lender uses for escrow-deletion. She had to consult her manager for that, so I asked to speak directly with that person.

After another short Muzak serenade (and two cell phone calls), Escrow Manager picked up the phone. She finally understood my request and took charge. She agreed to zero the escrow account today, instead of on March 1st; that saved us $4,000.00. She took my payment information over the phone and charged me a small fee of $20.00 for that privilege. She canceled the escrow account as of today and was writing me a confirmation letter as we spoke. As of March 1st, our mortgage payment will be about 35% lower than projected. Escrow Manager will notify the local taxing authority to send the tax bill directly to us; I'll call the insurance company and let them know we'll pay our own bill henceforth. Woohoo!

I called WineGuy right away and asked him what he would say if our mortgage payment was 35% lower than expected. He replied, "Who did you kill?" I told him the proper response was "You're fabulous! I love you!" (complete with exclamation points) He followed instructions. He was thrilled with the result and much happier.

In other financial news, we signed the contracts to send Wizard and his brothers back to the private school, and I turned them in this morning. WineGuy and I discussed it last night and agreed that the boys should stay at this school. To ease the financial burden, we are going to pay in monthly installments instead of our usual lump-sum payment. It will cost us slightly more that way, but we'll be able to manage our cash-flow better. I told this to the school's director of admissions and financial aid this morning. She mentioned that we could switch from installments to lump-sum at any time. That is very fair.

With money matters under control for the day, I can now go back to my least favorite chore, laundry. I do love my big Whirlpool washer and dryer. I just wish my children would bring their baskets regularly and not make mountains of wash.


Kel said...

okay, I'm GREEN with envy!
If I could reduce our mortgage by that much I could quit my job... or at least only work part-time for a boss [sigh]

Robin said...

Well done!!

Property taxes went up in the Bogs, too. Just before the election last year we got a notice that ours had increased a massive amount. We appealed it and the taxes were lowered to a reasonable amount that we really couldn't argue with since it is the worth of the house and property.

I detest dealing with any kind of customer no-service (good title! lol!). I'm trying to roll over my miniature 401k from my last employer to another account and had to spend 10 minutes with some unhelpful woman just trying to get an address out of her! That's all I needed, but you'd think I was asking for the secrets of the vault.

Christina said...

Great work! Can you call on my behalf please? Same company as a matter of fact. Oh, and a couple c/c vendors too please :->>