How Insurance Companies And Appraisers Scam Their Customers

House On Golf Course In HawaiiI’ve always trusted my insurance company, which I’ll call TRICKY DICK in this article, to do the right thing. After all, I’ve been a client of theirs for almost 20 years. They’ve benefited from my growth in assets and I now have auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, valuable personal property insurance and an umbrella policy with them.  Furthermore, I’ve got a relatively large chunk of change in CDs deposited with them as well.

I had a unwelcomed change in my credit card the other day and had to call Tricky Dick to cancel my existing card on file and add a new one. Imagine my surprise when looking over my previous statement that they were billing me 45% more a month in premiums!  What the hell, I thought to myself.  Clearly there must be a mistake.  Oh how wrong I was.


Mortgage Interest Deduction Limit and Income Phaseout

According to the IRS, the maximum mortgage amount you can claim interest on is $1,000,000 on first or second homes if the loan was taken after Oct 13, 1987. You can also deduct interest on $100,000 for a second mortgage loan used for anything other the purchase of your first or second home. More specifically, home equity debt means “any loan whose purpose is not to acquire, to construct, or substantially to improve a qualified home“.  Interesting right?  In other words, you can take a $100,000 home equity line of credit to buy a Porsche 911, an incredible home theater system, and do a little landscaping and all the interest is deductible!  No wonder why everybody took out so many Home Equity Lines Of Credit (HELOC)!

You already know that the government is sexist because the maximum mortgage interest deduction limit stays at $1,000,000 even though both people could have $1,000,000 mortgages. It’s beyond me why the government thinks two people who want to marry with $1,000,000 mortgages each, don’t deserve to keep their deductions. But at any rate, just be aware that if you can afford such a mortgage, you might want to think of this crucial loss of deduction before you get married. With rates averaging 5%-6%,  you could literally lose out on tens of thousands in interest deductions!


The State of the Timeshare Industry

Timeshares are often thought of as very luxurious and accommodating vacations that can even end up costing you less than traditional hotel vacations. Despite how wonderful these extremely luxurious vacations are, due to the recent recession many timeshare owners are in need of a way out of their timeshares.

Because of this huge demand from existing timeshare owners to sell their timeshares, a few troubling problems have surfaced. The main problem is that with all of this supply of used timeshares there is little to no demand to purchase a used timeshare on the resale market. This has resulted in many timeshares being listed on popular e-commerce sites such as eBay and Amazon for as little as $1. These listings are basically a last ditch effort to get out of the timeshare contract.


Why I Won’t Pay Off My Mortgage Until I Retire

Having a mortgage is a wonderful thing.  In fact, I owe much of my work longevity to my mortgage. When I was 24, I came across a lot of cash due to a couple good stock picks.  I was just lucky, because goodness knows I can’t pick stocks for doodoo.  I never really told anybody how much I had, but it was enough to put 25% down on a median priced home in San Francisco and still have several years of mortgage payments left over.

By my mid 20s I began questioning the meaning of work. Perhaps I was simply suffering the lesser known “quarter life crisis.”  Because I had arrived at what I considered to be too much money too quickly, working to make more money lost its appeal.  It didn’t matter if I added another thousand or ten thousand to my savings, making money was so uninspiring.  I was demotivated because of a couple chance trades that required very little skill, just a lot of balls.  The great irony is that I don’t need much of anything to live a comfortable life.  Give me some clean clothes and a place overlooking the beach with a hot tub off the bedroom balcony and everything will be OK!


Sweet Talking Your Home Appraiser Pays Off

It took 63 days, but my mortgage refinance is finally over!  Back in the good times, a refi would take at most 40 days to complete.  Nowadays, banks are asking for every single document out there, making sure the borrower is legitimate.  Fine.  At least I can sleep well knowing that due to the new standards of due diligence, there will be a lower chance of another housing crisis in the future.  The same concept goes with airport security come to think of it.  Getting strip searched is a pain in the butt, but one should take comfort in a safer flight.

My lender required two independent home appraisers for my refinance.  I don’t care so much because the bank is eating the cost, which is an extra $750 for 30 minutes of appraisal work.  What a joke.  The first appraiser was a man who I left alone to do his thing.  He took the measurements with his laser tape, asked some basic questions on home improvements, and took some notes.  A week later, I got the report in the mail and was pretty stoic.  The appraised value was right at the middle end of the range.

A week went by, and I started to feel a slight sense of panic because I kept hearing about people getting their refinances denied due to high loan-to-value ratios.  I started to worry that after 40 days, I might very well get rejected from my 3.625% mortgage refinance rate due to some appraiser who might be in a bad mood that day.