(Still, given the housing and mortgage loan disaster, I think my choice was prudent at the time. I didn't want to enter into any deal that I knew I couldn't handle given my current situation.)
So anyway...I spoke with a mortgage consultant at our credit union and I took today off work to meet her in her office, since the office that specialized in Pierce county was located in Lakewood, which is south of Tacoma. (Going into work would have involved a 3 hour commute for four hours of work, so I decided to use some of that hard-earned exchange time that the agency gives me since they won't pay me overtime.) So Oscar and I drove down to Lakewood, which is the most confusing town I have ever been in. There's no real center and the main streets just kind of wander around and criss-cross each other and I always get lost when I go there. I swear it's just a random collection of strip malls, clusters of cheap hotels ($155 weekly rates!), and rundown houses that have just kind of grown together.
We did finally find the credit union office, waited for our mortgage counsellor who told us a few things:
1. The last two comparable homes that sold in our neighborhood (based on square footage of the house) sold for $168,000 and $55,000, which she said "tells her absolutely nothing about the market value of your home".
2. we qualify for the government's Home Affordable Refinance program but we need to talk to the holder of our primary mortgage to find out (in our case, it's Wells Fargo Bank). From what I understand, if we qualify and WF agrees, they can lower our interest rate without going through the hassle of refinancing and having to pay those associated costs. So she suggested that before trying to refinance through the credit union. (That is good advice, but I still wonder why I had to take a day off work to meet with someone face to face for some basic information that could have been done over the phone.)
3. On the way home, I called WF to get some more information about this program and as soon as I entered my mortgage loan number, a pre-recorded pleasant female voice said "your loan qualifies for the Home Affordable Refinance program. Please check our website for more information."
4. Now, this is one of my biggest frakkin' peeves. If I could easily access your frakkin' website for information, why the frak would I bother calling you?
5. Upon arriving at said abode, I typed in www.mywellsfargomortgage.com for information and after poking around, I found the section on this program which informed me "For more information about your eligibility for the Home Affordable Refinance Program, speak with a local Home Mortgage Consultant."
6. Of course, this is what I was trying to do when I called the damn customer service number.
7. Irritated, I try to figure out the closest Wells Fargo branch to my house and then I realize that I probably don't need to meet with someone in Tacoma to adjust my loan rates. So I decide to find one close to the office so at least I don't have to miss too much work. I type in my work zipcode and as soon as the results come up, I literally smack my head with my hand.
8. Why? In my irritation, I forgot that I work in the building in downtown Seattle called "The Wells Fargo Building" and the closest branch to my office is in the lobby of the building. Which I walk past at least four times a day.