Our Story about Refinancing a Commerical Property

One of the things we really needed to do a while back was to refinance our commercial property. 

Why?  Our current loan had a couple of years left, but the balance of the loan (because of the way the original one was set up) wasn’t taking down the balance of the loan at a fast enough rate.  And while we understand why it had to be written that way at the time – 100% benefiting the lender, there comes a time when you know you are in a better negotiating position and need to move on it.  My family is debt adverse.  We don’t like debt and getting rid of it is very important in the scheme of things.  It doesn’t mean we don’t use it — but we just don’t abuse it.

The reason we took the original loan was because at the time, it was the best (as new investors) we could do, based on what the marketplace was offering, what was needed on the property in question to make it function, and our financial situation.  We were putting 35% down, and it was in a prime location – otherwise we might not have even been considered.

When we approached this refinancing task – the reason was two-fold.  For one, our debt on the property was not going down as fast as we wanted, and we saw that the advantage to the bank was way more than it needed to be.   Second, we had a 10 year commitment on that loan and no matter what – would have to do something in the next few years.  So we took the initiative, and started shopping for a new loan.

There were so many variables to make this deal happen – more than I expected.  I really tried to get to the bottom of those variables with our bank, but it just wasn’t happening.   Suffice it to say, there are secrets that only the select few officers of the bank know and understand. The commercial loan people are not always forthcoming with the “details” and when you think you are ready to sign, some “issue” arises that seems always to be in their favor and is going to cost you extra money. Why does it have to be this way? Why not outline the “obvious” issues upfront and in full before the process gets started…. and why drag your feet on a modification of a loan you already hold?

We started with our current lender — of course.  But we also made sure we went out and got some offers from others – because now the property is both viable, operating, turning a profit and more valuable.  We needed to negotiate the best rate but we now had time, payment history and higher property values on our side of the equation.


Which brings me to the variables part again – can you do 5% 12 years? No 5% 8 years and then an adjustment. We can do 4.5% 6 years and then an adjustment. We can do 5.5% 12 years, or 4% 10 years. Before you are done, you are swimming in numbers and variables.   All of these numbers and variables do affect what you will pay a month, how much you will pay in interest, and how long you will have to pay it for (and in some instances, what will be due as a balloon at the end of the term).

We thought we were all set with the 5% for 12 years, after the first meeting with the bank and were given the impression all was fine but they needed to get a new appraisal.  I understand it might be a government regulated necessity, but they did it with an non certified appraiser and his value came in 400K lower than the tax assessment for the land.  We still had a stellar loan to value ratio (even with the low ball assessment) – but we know the appraisal wasn’t done by someone who knew the values of the properties like ours. We have – several times – been offered much more than the appraised value of our property. It’s a money maker, it’s remodeled and it’s in a desirable and amazing location.

We had options. We could have went to another bank, or lender – we could have written a check against the equity loan we have on our home,  we could have  mortgaged our house and used that money,  or we can just simply write a check to make the loan value lower — but none of that was in the plan for this property.

In the end, we had to get actual offers from other institutions, and basically do some hard negotiations with our current lender.  The business that runs from the property generates an enormous cash flow thru their bank each month.  If we move lenders, we will move the cash flow, and remove some of the other monies that we have in their institution.  These factors, often times are a  part of the larger dollar loan agreements.  This bank above any other, had our history of about 7 years of operation and payments to rely on.  They didn’t want to let us “move on”… and we got what we consider to be a great deal.

This process took at least 6 full months to complete.  But, we were able to modify our old loan to be a 5% fixed rate, 12 year loan which at the end of 12 years will pay off this commercial property in full.  Included in that agreement, was the fact that we use them for our banking and will not remove our deposits from their bank.  That’s do-able! 



Variables ~ and the 10 Year Plan

Do you have a 10 year plan?  Where do you want to be in 10 years?  Have you made any type of plan for where you want to be in the future, and how you intend to get there? or do you just let it happen?


Variables all around me in our economy and world has caused my new plan to be stalled.   Why? Because my personality doesn’t really like to make a decision (about the plan) without knowing all the variables.  I like to be able to see the path from beginning to end, and then carefully chart my course.  Checking off the milestones and making decisions along the way according to the plan is just the way I usually like to roll. 

I haven’t ever written down my plan on paper.  But I really did have a list of things I wanted to accomplish in life from when I was a child and although they were vague …. I wanted to marry, have children, have a house of my own, save a million dollars … you get the idea. Later this list became revised, to include living debt free, having a business, saving for the boys college education, and being a grandmother. 

Planning and thinking about these things helps build a framework to a goal. It gives you a direction and a reason to forgo some of life’s instant pleasures for the joy of making the goal happen.  So many people could benefit from doing this.  It isn’t easy by any means, but it gives you something to work for and towards — and it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

Just think of the things that “could be” easier to deal with, if you planned ahead.  Things like the type of education you wanted, your education costs, how much your first house might cost,  where you might like to settle down, or what you goal/dream job would be? 

Years ago, you could put together a workable plan pretty easily.  You saved a certain amount, you received actual interest that made it look like you were gaining on your goal, and you were “on your way”.   You bought a house, and knew “down the line” you could sell it for more than you paid for it ~basically a fairly secure investment in your future~ as well as it being your home.  You worked hard for an employer who had a retirement plan so that you’d have that safety net and today …. nothing is guaranteed.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing was guaranteed before either, but it was assumed to be so, and usually was — so that the plan had a secure footing to build upon.

Part of it,  I know is my personality – like it or not I do try and choose my path, and plan the way to the goal without considering if, or what “could be” if I changed that path along the way.   I do consider the variables before I start, but once en route I really don’t think about them much.  Most of the time, and through most of my life, my paths have not been hindered by large obstacles or horrific circumstances.

Today the variables seem to be all around me outnumbering the choices. All are vying for my attention – chose this way, chose that way…. oh no, don’t do that, do this instead.  Because of where the economy is, where it might be in a few years, and my age,  the variables seem to be overpowering any long term decision making.  So until I can work to “clear a reasonable path” for our next 10 years, I think I’ll put the plan on hold.

Do you “plan” and if you do, how are you getting around your obstacles to make it happen?


Watch your Text Messages

Text messages never before seemed  like any kind of a threat since I have “unlimited messaging” but there’s a new way they could be!

I hardly ever use my phone in general and text messages in particular.  I have an ancient phone which I can almost never find when I need it.  And admittedly I am definitely not “up to date”  with the technological advances in phone technology.  My husband and I will joke with each other when we need some tidbit of information in the car… saying “just look that up on your phone” but of course we don’t have a phone that can even come close to doing anything like that.

The text message I received seemed harmless — somebody from a ringtone place saying that I was signed up for as many free ringtones as I wanted — or something like that.  I ignored it right along with the ones from the local Wawa or Kwik Chek  which offers me a deal on a sandwich or a coffee.  I never respond to any of them and quite honestly, they pile up as messages for quite some time before I even get to open my phone to know I have them.  That’s right I don’t use my phone every day.  I almost never can find it when it rings, and I certainly don’t use one of those unique ringtones.   However, I have to admit “emergency” cases have come up over the years and I am glad I have one — I just am not that connected to it.  

So imagine my surprise when the next month on my phone bill I discover at charge for $9.99.  I haven’t a clue what it is, and why it’s there.  I think it’s because I pushed the wrong number into my phone when trying to use it, I think I might have some sort of feature I don’t know about and activated it by mistake.  What I do know is that I don’t want it, whatever it is and I sure don’t want to pay $9.99 for it.

 Cell Phone Ringtone   Yes, it turns out it’s a ringtone scam.  They find your cell number by “any means they can” and then they send you a message about having been signed up for free and unlimited ringtones.  If you do not respond with “STOP” – you get charged $9.99 a month as an access fee to this “free unlimited ringtone” service.  Now you never asked for this, you have no clue why they called your number, but they will bill you as a third party biller through your cell phone service provider for it, each and every month until you cancel it.

   We caught ours the first month, because we read our bills and yes, try to figure out and make sense of any odd charges, or unexpected balance.  Anyone on an automatic payment deduction from their bank account each month, might not notice or care or think about this $9.99.  Many would actually just “assume” their plan or the taxes attached to their plan went up….and this is how and why this particular scam works so well.

So while you can’t hide your cell number from these new thieves – you can check your bill and make sure you aren’t one of their victims.  Our provider was happy to provide the short code to send a ‘stop” message to this company on the same phone the message was originally sent to,  and even waited till I received a confirmation on the phone from them.  She removed the charge off my bill — and per my request blocked all premium services like this one from my phone.  You may not be able to block premium services as I know many of you use them every day – but you can and should make sure that you aren’t a victim to this type of scam. 

Your Recycling Floppies into what?

It’s been a while since I wrote about recycling floppy disks.  In that article (Recycling Floppy Disks Shouldn’t Be Annoying), I mentioned that the first and the best way is to just reformat and reuse them.  Floppy disks can last a long time and can be formatted hundreds of times.   But I also mentioned someone, in that article, who had purchased some from CCSS Inc for recycling them into a useable alternative.   And although most of the purchasers of floppy disks are really interested in using them in their older computers or camera’s – she purchased them purely to make into unique art.

Today I’d like to introduce her art to my readers and show you exactly what she’s making out of those old floppy disks.  It’s her innovative and “think out of the box” (yet still geeky) methods and techniques that take these ordinary, and often times discarded items and make them extra-ordinary.

Natasha Dzurny aka TechnoChic is one of the actual people who sell items made from floppy disks (and other old technology items) on the Esty web network.  Esty is specifically designed around homemade, custom crafted items giving the artisans a place to showcase and sell their wares.  She is a real person with a small business that actually makes useful art by recycling old floppy disks.  Not only that, but these pieces of art can be used by anyone and also serve a useful purpose.  Who could argue with that?  I sure can’t. 

Here are pictures of some of her work:

floppy disk disks art artwork

If you would like to check out her products you can here:   Natasha’s Esty Site

 **Natasha is a customer of CCSS Inc., I was not paid or reimbursed in any way for this write-up about her Esty site. All opinions contained in this piece are my 100% my own.

You Can’t Recycle That!

I’ve written a couple of articles on recycling (floppy disks and CD’s)  but how much do I really know about it?  Less that you might think.  Recently, I have been challenging myself – trash or recycling?  And I have been doing some things totally and utterly wrong.

Our trash hauler sorts the recycling trash … and that means we don’t have to  ~  but we do sort into the two main categories, recyclable or not.  In our house, it’s still difficult to keep different buckets, or bags in the kitchen to place these items into and it’s not going to happen at all if we have to walk around the house to the appropriate bin each time we use something.

recycling containers for glass,paper and plasticBut do you realize (I didn’t) how much you hurt the entire process when you throw something into the recycling bin, that should go in the regular trash?   The key word here – contaminate.  Just one item can contaminate your entire recycling bin contents – to the point it just goes into the regular trash and landfill and you’ve wasted your efforts? 

I am guilty of making the following mistakes,  so I’d like to “recycle” the things I have learned and use those experiences to educate someone else on what you should or should not recycle.

First, my biggest mistake, and on my priority list to fix, is using plastic grocery bags to both hold and then throw away my recycling.  These bags aren’t the type of plastic they want in the plastic mix at recycling plants, and worse they get stuck and gum up the works on the belts.  Since I make it worse by tying them closed – I am potentially making all my recycling efforts null and void. These bags need to be recycled at the grocery stores where they have specially marked containers for them.  Those containers keeps all that “type” plastic to one location and yes, although it’s not a “great” recyclable plastic, it will get recycled.

Next, I really didn’t know that some places cannot recycle/do not accept packaging from frozen foods – because the cardboard is wax coated.  This type of cardboard packaging is made to withstand moisture in order to protect the food that is inside.  Cardboard and paper are usually recycled using water to create a pulp, but paper sprayed with wax will not break down into a pulp for recycling.  Sometimes these can be sorted out of the recycling mix, and sometimes the recycler just “trashes” the entire can/truck/load containing them because most buyers of the paper don’t want the “contaminated” waxed cartons in the loads they are purchasing.   In fact any packaging made with foil, glossy, glazed or lacquer coatings need to go into regular trash.  This includes candy wrappers, pretzel bags, juice boxes and ice cream cartons!

And it really is all about selling these items in bulk to those who can and will reuse and remake them into more consumable products.  In fact, without those buyers, there wouldn’t be programs to keep these items out of the landfills.

I really thought by now we’d be able to recycle just about anything and so most of my trash is going into the recycling bin – but as you can see I was wrong about the plastic grocery bags and frozen food containers.  As I read advice on several sites about recycling I came across some other things you should not put into your regular recycling.  I am still hopeful someday we’ll find a way to recycle everything.

The list you still can’t recycle include wire hangers, paper towels, napkins or tissues, ceramic mugs, pottery, styrofoam,  photographs, molded plastic parts, pizza boxes, Chinese food containers, heavily dyed paper, plastic bags and wraps, household glass (think windows and mirrors) or cosmetics.   All these things still need to go into your regular trash.

One last thought, although you can’t recycle everything on trash day, there are many things you can recycle in non-conventional ways.  It pays to keep thinking outside the box and finding new ways to reuse those items.