Back in late August-early September the wife and I decided that we should look into refinancing our home. This was a great idea considering our mortgage interest was a little above 6% and the rates at that time were in the 4% range. This was potentially an awesome savings by refinancing.
Going back in time: I was deployed back in 05′ to the desert. After I came home I learned that there were benefits to being a veteran. One of those benefits was that I was now eligible for a V.A. Loan. When we decided we wanted to purchase our home I had heard that VA loans were hectic and could take a while to close on. This was in Aug of 2008. We were getting married early September and wanted to close before the wedding. So being a little stressed out at the time we didn’t want the extra stress that we thought a V.A. Loan would produce. What did we do, we went with the FHA loan. We rushed into buying without doing the proper research. We had a buyer’s agent, so we thought everything would be taken care of. We were way wrong.
Back to the Future: So here we are in August/September of 2011, we had done research on what banks around us that will do a VA loan. We decided to go with the bank that keeps their loans and doesn’t sell them (this was important to us to keep it local). While the wife was at work I met with the loan officer and brought all the paperwork to get started. He started the process and was very good at explaining everything. Once he had our address, names, DOB, workplaces, and bank account information put into the program he started a search for the home. This is where it got real fun. When he found our home he looked at me and asked me if I had the title for the house surrendered yet. I looked at him with a puzzled look, thought maybe he meant the deed and proceeded to show him the deed in our name. So to make a long story short…..turns out we never had the title to our house (manufactured homes have titles, normal stick built homes do not). He said I had to go to the secretary of state office and get the title.
So off to the SOS office I went, I told the lady working my address and she put it in the system. She then told me that I was not the owner of that title. At this time I had no idea what to do, I was thinking I just paid about 10x too much for a piece of land and a home that I technically didn’t own even though my name was on the deed. I asked her who was on the title and she said that it would be illegal for her to tell me. So not knowing what to do I went back to the bank and talked with the loan officer on how to go about this. He stated he had never seen this before. We figured the person who sold us the home would be on the title so we had my buyers agent contact them. They said they never received a title either. Great.
After some major detective work we finally found the person on the title. This person agreed to meet me at the SOS office and sign it over to me. I thought, finally this is going to get done. We met one day and told the lady what we needed done, she started the process and asked if his wife was here to sign off too. Turns out, that couple had gotten divorced and is the reason they sold the home. Both were still on the title. This refi was dead in the water until both him and her signed the title over to me. He had no idea where she was and hasn’t talked to her in over 5 years. The one thing I got from him was her name. I at least had somewhere to look and he gave me a location of where she MIGHT be. After a couple of weeks and a couple of awkward phone calls to people of the same name, I finally found the right one. She met with me and signed a form stating that her ex-husband could sign her name for her. A week later we were back at the SOS office doing the title transfer. It got really exciting this time when we were told we couldn’t transfer the title until the lien was off of the title. What the heck? There was a lien on the title. A bank had a lien on the house that I owned, and not the bank that was supposed to be on it. About a week later the lien was removed (thank God that they actually paid off the house in the divorce). A week went by as we waited for the duplicate title without a lien on it came in the mail. The title was transferred and a week after I received it in the mail. I brought it directly to the bank, where we sent it to our state capitol to finish the “surrendering the title” process. That took another 2 weeks to finish and finally it was surrendered (surrendering the title means that the house becomes part of the property and cannot legally be moved). This was a process that needed to be done to refinance our home.
In late December 2011 we locked in on a 30 year VA loan at 3.75%. This will save us approx. $400 per month on our house payment. The appraisal was done by a VA certified appraiser about the middle of January and sent to the bank. The bank decided there weren’t enough comparable property sales in the area and turned the appraisal down. Another step in the wrong direction for us. We are now waiting patiently for a sale that happened Monday to be approved as our third comparable for our appraisal. If it is finally approved, we can quickly close on our refi. This would make us very happy, but yet with what happened so far during this process I am doubting its going to be approved. I know we can get a refi done somewhere else if this doesn’t go through, but am hoping this gets done with the current bank we are dealing with. If it does go through, we are going to celebrate like no other.
P.S. This has nothing to do with our credit scores as they are excellent, nor does it have to do with our house payment in relation to our monthly income. I wrote this mostly because I want people to be diligent with doing their research before making a big decision, like buying a home. Not saying that if I would have done better research it would have prevented this from happening, but a little extra knowledge never hurt anyone. So please, research as much as you can and read the fine print on everything.