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Trying to refinance
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How has the housing market affected you?

Here in the Life department, three different staffers have three very different issues.

Have some experiences you'd like to share? Call editor Kristen Morales at 770-718-3427 or e-mail life@gainesvilletimes.com.

Last year when the city of Gainesville had a $7 million shortfall in the education budget and raised city taxes, I knew we were in trouble.

Beyond the woes of the city, there was going to be a budget crisis at my home as well.

The escrow account we paid into from our mortgage was not going to be enough to pay the city property taxes, but we didn’t know exactly how much extra we would owe. Then, after the first of the year, my husband and I got the tax bill from the city — our escrow was almost $600 short.

This meant by March 2009 our house payment would be around $350 more a month, between the higher city tax rates and a readjustment reflecting our home’s new price, since we bought it the previous year. To still say we could afford to live in our home — well, any home — we had to do something fast.

So, we turned to a mortgage broker, who began the refinancing process. One problem we ran into from the start was that we were co-signers on our home loan with another family member, meaning now we would have to purchase the home for the first time.

Luckily, we found out that with the Federal Housing Administration we could actually get a loan — even while everyone in the free world was saying there was no credit available for mortgages.

The process started in late January and as of this past Thursday, my husband and I are proud home owners. He actually did most of the work in the grueling process that had us proving our identity, it seemed, since birth. There were tax forms, a gazillion signatures and talking to the mortgage broker every day for about three months.

But through all the difficulties, we are pleased to have a place to call our home, at a readjusted price we can live with.

We are saving around $200 a month now, we’ll get an $8,000 tax credit and, most importantly, we can now afford to go on our annual family vacation.

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