Archive for March, 2006

March Madness – and Worse Kinds

Full disclosure continues: my 4-year-old daughter Charlotte and I got the same number of first-day games correct this year.  Jeanette, naturally, leads the pack.

None of us picked Northwestern State.

One thing that is obvious to me, watching these games, is that the parity in college ball is increasing.  There’s a reason that the 5/12 games have produced the most upsets in tournament history – it’s the point that the difference in seeds is the greatest amount larger than the difference in quality of the teams seeded.  But those upsets nearly always come in games where the #5 plays poorly, or the #12 shoots the lights out of the ball.  This year, though, the 12s are just as good as the 5s.  Heck, so far the 13s and the 4s haven’t displayed any real quality differences.  Duke struggled with Southern.  Seton Hall was blasted by Wichita State.  12 seed Texas A&M was just better than Syracuse.  And so on.  There really hasn’t been much to choose between many of these teams.  UNC Wilmington and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (the team we call the Electric Blue Raincoats, because we can never remember their mascot) are now just as likely to win a first-round game as Syracuse (which didn’t) or Indiana (which did, but shouldn’t have).

I think it’s great.  It does make it hard to win the dang bracket, though.

Inflation numbers came in benign yesterday, and since the Fed hasn’t said anything too awfully dumb in a week or so, the bond market was free to absorb the news and start buying.  That dropped mortgage rates almost 1/8 in a day.  We’re losing back some of that ground today, and we were, of course, losing more over the past week, but it was nice to see a little rally.

We’re in the middle of a really interesting negotiation with some clients who are buying a foreclosure house.  I think it’s instructive of the use that a good mortgage consultant can be.  The house itself, we discover, has not actually been foreclosed on just yet.  The Realtor whose name was on the sign in front of the house is apparently working with a conglomerate that is flipping the house, offering to the current (defaulting) owner to buy it from him and then re-selling it to our clients before they actually have to come up with the cash themselves.  It’s a neat way to make a quick $20k profit.

But there have been problems right from the beginning.  The original negotiations were to buy the house for $140,000, but our appraisal came back at $130,000.  There was no consideration of making sure that the money was available to close the loan, as the clients need a 100% deal and did not have $5000 cash on top of that to get the loan to close.  We can make sure that’s written into the sales contract and covered by the seller, but we have to be in on the deal from the beginning and it really helps to have a Realtor that is actually working for the client instead of himself and his buddies.  Etc.  We’ll get the deal done, it appears, but please, people, please.  Before you go out to buy a house, call us and let’s get you the best possible bargaining position before you do it.

Let me repeat this: before you go out to buy a house – or build a house – call us and let’s make sure you have the best possible leverage for the coming negotiations.  

Go Northern Iowa.