Lately, I have been inundated with mailings offering to protect our home in the event that “tragedy strikes”. A typical letter starts of something like this:
Dear Mr. Rubin,
We feel certain that when you obtained your mortgage to purchase your home you intended to own it forever. In the event of an unexpected tragedy… how would your family pay the mortgage?
The assumptions made in the first sentence are both cocky and ridiculous. “Certain”, eh? Well, for one thing, we have been very clear from the outset that we intended to stay in the house for 6 or 7 years and then reevaluate. At that age, our little boy would be starting school and it might make more sense to move back to Arlington, which has better public schools than Fairfax. Of course, the authors of these letters could not possibly know that, but what’s even more ridiculous is the assumption that we’d intend to own the home forever. Forever is quite a long time and I’m not sure that “ownership” would have any meaning a few billion years from now after the sun has spent all of its hydrogen and started burning helium, expanding and destroying whatever life remains on Earth.
Now, the natural death of the sun cannot be considered an “unexpected tragedy,” but I don’t think that is what they meant. The whole point of the letter is to offer me coverage that will pay off the mortgage in the event I go the way of the dying sun. We have planned for the future and carry ample life insurance to take care of both the baby and the house, should unexpected tragedy strike. I can only suppose that many, many people do not have this security, given the volume of mail I receive to this effect. One final annoyance about this type of letter are tag lines like, “The rates are so low they can fit into your budget.” Of course, no rates are listed in the letter so I don’t actually know what they are. But the authors of the letter don’t know what my budget is, so regardless of how low the rates are, how can they possibly know they will fit into my budget?
(This reminds me that I occasionally receive a call asking for money for one charity or another. If it is not a charity to which we already make donations, my usual response is to tell the caller that my charity budget is set already set (and spent) for the year, but if they send me more information, I’d consider it for the following year. Often times, they will respond by asking for “only $10”. To which I ask, what is the point of having a budget if you ignore it, regardless of the amount. I’ve found this to be a pretty effective argument.)
In addition to the home protection solicitations, we have been receiving an enormous amount of mail offering us better interest rates on our mortgage, and assuring us we can save thousands of dollars. Looking at the fine print on these letters, I find that the rates they are offering are adjustable after 5 years. Thanks to the diligent work and careful guidance of my brother, who is in the mortgage business and who handled our mortgage, we got a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and the rate was suitably low to be competitive with the rates I’ve seen for some of these ARMs. But setting that aside for a moment, loyalty means a lot to me and were I to consider refinancing my mortgage, the very first phone call I would make would not be to one of the dozen places that has sent me annoying letters, but to my brother, who did such a good job for us in the first place.
So for now, I’d say to all of these mortgage service companies, save your postage. I’m not planning on refinancing any time soon. Nor am I planning on going nova, and should tragedy strike, we are covered.