Although a great idea in the inception and complete with government blessings, HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) is not delivering on it’s promises. Not only are troubled homeowners not getting modifications anywhere near the predicted numbers, but many are dropping out in the early stages of the process. What went wrong and what can we do about it? To read more visit my latest blog on Money Press: http://www.moneypress.com/loan-modification-programs-fail-to-achieve-goals.htm
Archive for August, 2010
This could be a controversial post but in light of the controversy that has surfaced from Glenn Beck’s Washington, D.C. rally (on the same day that Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech), I thought it an appropriate time to address the issue of racism and respect in this country.
I am angry that racism exists; I will always be angry that there are people in this world who hate. Hate is a powerful emotion that can destroy people and cause violence and destruction. It is an emotion that is not natural, one that does not take into consideration that one person is no different, no more special, no more human, than another. It defies the notion that we are all equal. How can someone believe he is more entitled than the person standing next to him?
I have tried to teach my children that hate is wrong, but in school there are children who make racist comments all the time. My kids have experienced this. What do you think these children will grow up thinking? Is it really considered “cool” to insult people based on race or religion or differences in appearance? I would think we have come too far as a nation to raise our children to disrespect others, don’t you? But it is happening in our neighborhoods, our schools, even our own homes! Part of growing up is questioning: if kids are taught something is wrong, yet they hear it and see it when they are around other kids, don’t you think that they will question it? Or at least consider why this thing they were taught is so “wrong” is no big deal to many others? What kind of a message does this send?
Have we as a nation not learned anything from the Nazis, from the fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians, from the troubles in Iran and Iraq, from the drug lords of Southn America and Mexico who murder innocent people on a whim for being in the wrong place, from the terrorists who blew up the twin towers and killed thousands of innocent people? What will it take to make people realize that we all need to respect each other, to honor differences even if we don’t agree, to get along? After all, isn’t that the point of a democracy?
I know this is a heavy topic for a blog post, and one that I am sure will generate a lot of commentary (even it if is not written), but come on everyone! To see change we need to be change! Kids need to be raised to respect each other. While everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and those with power like Glenn Beck can draw hundreds of thousands out to listen to his views, we need to start in our own homes, in our own schools, churches and neighborhoods.
Thinking that your actions cannot make a difference is like pledging to accept hate, and saying it’s ok that these things occur. You don’t have to be a star, politician, talk show host or even have deep pockets to make a difference. Change often starts small. So stand up against hatred and small-mindedness. You CAN make a difference.
It’s that time…time for the kids to go back to school. Mine started yesterday, to their dismay. I have to be honest in saying that it was hard on me as well. Here in San Diego we never had a “real” summer, as the weather was downright chilly and overcast most of the summer. It was definitely not a normal summer, so I feel badly now that the sun has come out and it is beautiful and the kids are sitting in class all day! But luckily we still have the weekends to enjoy the beautiful weather, and even after school…so all is not lost!
It is important during this transition â€š from free-for-all days and sleeping late to schedules and homework â€što keep a few bits of advice in mind. None of them will be things you have not heard before, but they are worth repeating to assure your kids have the smoothest transition possible. So here it goes…
Sleep: I don’t know about you, but my kids were allowed to go to sleep and wake up anytime they wanted over summer. To me that is part of being a kid in the summer time. I have one early to bed-early to rise child, and one late-nighter-late-sleeper child. No matter, it worked. Sleep schedules do need to be altered during school, of course. It is important to stick to a set bedtime so that mornings are not so hard, and so that you children can get through the day without nodding off in class, especially since they (at least mine) don’t drink coffee yet. Most importantly, the tone set in the morning can set their mood going into the day, so it needs to be positive and there should be ample time for getting ready, not rushing.
Food: I am a big breakfast pusher. Personally, I don’t function without it, so I make sure my kids eat a healthy one before they are out the door. No sugar either!
Hydration: Ok, so we all know how important this is, especially when it is hot. But it also helps with concentration during school hours, so I really try to drill it into my kids to drink a lot throughout the day.
Lunch: Also important. I can’t believe what some parents pack their kids for lunch–sugar and fat! It really amazes me the few times I am at school for lunch to see what some of these kids eat! It’s not just because I am a health nut, but parents: you are setting your childrens’ habits for life here. If they think it is OK to eat white bread and sugared peanut butter, drink sugary drinks and have chips and a twinkie for lunch, then they will continue these unhealthy habits. I try fun things like carrot sticks with peanut butter, whole wheat crackers with cheese slices (none of the processed cheese dips), cut up whole wheat pita pieces or pita chips with yogurt sauce. For something sweet try cut up peaches or watermelon slices. The possibilities are endless, but please think healthy!
After school snack. This is another one of my rules…after school we have a healthy snack. I am amazed at how hungry my children are after school–they usually eat an entire meal. Sometimes they go over friends’ houses and are not offered any food after school, but when those same children come to my house boy are they hungry! It gives them a jump start to homework and also for getting some exercise.
Exercise. This is a key ingredient in the making of a healthy child. When I was a kid all the neighborhood children went outside after school and rode bikes around the cul-du-sac for hours. Many kids these days want to sit in front of a television or play video games. Get your kids up and moving, whether they take classes or you take the dogs on a walk, swim, go to the park…whatever allows them to get their pent-up sitting-in-school-all-day energy out.
Planning skills. School time is the best time to teach good planning skills that will carry your children far. Our schools have planners that the children receive each year. In it they write down all their assignments and homework. I also encourage my teen to put everything down in his calendar on his phone, so he will be sure to remember assignments. Organization is so important!
Those are my suggestions for easing back into the school year. I hope your children have a great school year!
In the challenging housing market of today, buyers have to be aware of many factors that can make or break their chances of owning a home. Most of these are lender-related, as the lenders scramble to do everything within their power to assure they have buyers who will not default on mortgage payments in the future.
As a real estate agent I am privvy to the crazy hoops the lenders make buyers jump through, even at the eleventh hour when the loan is supposed to fund. The fact is that very few escrows close in 30 days now, even if all paperwork is finished and all parties are ready to go. Lenders can order credit inquiries or bank statements the day of funding (which I have seen happen), can provide escrow with alternate conditions that must be met at the last minute, and more. So if you are a buyer and you have that moving van booked for the weekend after closing, keep this in mind. Here are a few things you should be aware of:
Credit Card Information for the Appraisal Order: If you are obtaining a conventional or FHA loans, appraisals are ordered online through appraisal management companies’ websites. They must be paid at the time of ordering, so a credit card is required. VA appraisals are ordered directly through the VA and are charged to the buyer at closing.
Proof Earnest Money Deposit Cleared Account: Once the initial deposit clears the buyer’s bank account, a copy of the cancelled check, as well as an updated balance statement from that account, will be required by the lender. These funds can also be wired, but a post-transfer balance will still be needed.
Homeowners Insurance Quote: Homeowners insurance is part of the housing expense and is therefore factored into the debt-to-income ratios. Having an accurate quote as early as possible in the transaction is helpful. Remember that â€šÃ„Ãºwalls inâ€šÃ„Ã¹ coverage is now required on all condominiums as well, known as an HO6 policy (ask your mortgage officer to explain).
Letters of Explanation: If not already handled in the pre-approval process, buyers will need to explain any derogatory credit (no matter how old), any credit inquiries within the past 90 days and if they resulted in new accounts, any larger than normal bank deposits, job gaps, etc. Be prepared, as the lenders heavily scrutinize everything.
Gift Letter and Source of Funds of the Gift: Whenever the buyer is receiving a gift for the down payment and or closing costs, the donor must complete a gift letter and also provide a recent asset statement to source the gift. Some donors are reluctant to provide copies of their bank statements which can sometimes cause delays.
Updated Paystubs and Asset Statements: All income/asset documentation must be dated within 30 days of funding. Exceptions are quarterly asset statements. Also, online bank printouts are typically unacceptable unless they show the full account number and account holders name.
By the way, you may have heard about Fannie Mae’s Loan Quality Initiative which is yet another effort to reduce loan defaults. Lenders are now required to monitor a borrower’s credit throughout the transaction to make sure no new accounts are opened during escrow. A â€šÃ„Ãºsoftâ€šÃ„Ã¹ credit inquiry will be pulled at time of underwriting and any new accounts, or even any additional inquiries after the lender’s initial inquiry, will need to be explained.
It is important to keep in mind that anything you purchase will be scrutinized by the lender. Wait until escrow closes to purchase new furniture, appliances, household items or vehicles. Definitely do not purchase any big ticket items like cars or boats, or pay for future vacations.
If you have any additional questions about lender requirements or perspectives please contact your mortgage professional. Information in this article was provided by Kevin Kueneke of Primary Residential Mortgage. He can be reached at 760-500-1919. Thanks Kevin!
Here are the home sale statistics for this week in Carlsbad, CA. You can click on “Live Market Data” above to see other North County sales statistics, and also to sign up to receive these every week. If you need statistics from another San Diego city that is not provided on my website, please let me know and I will sign you up to receive those on a weekly basis.
The first chart is for single family detached homes, the second for condos.
Many people are more conscious of the food they buy these days, especially with produce. Pesticides and other chemicals used to maintain flawless fruits and vegetables undoubtedly are not healthy for our bodies. Organic produce not only is free of these chemicals but the taste is incomparable, and local farms pick the produce when it’s ripe so there is no refrigeration and ripening on the market shelf like with most fruit…the difference in taste is astonishing.
Some markets have limited supplies of organic produce, and at times it is not so fresh. There is a great alternative to getting your weekly organic produce, and I guarantee it will be FRESH and delicious. If you have not heard of CSA’s , short for Community Supported Agriculture, these programs are fantastic. Local organic farms have members who pay to receive boxes of organic produce each week. The number of members determines how much produce the farmers will plant and harvest.
If you live in San Diego county there is a wonderful CSA called Be Wise Ranch. You can visit their website at http://www.bewiseranch.com/joinCSA.htm. Here’s how it works: you pay either $25 or $30 per week, depending on whether you want to receive a large or small box of produce each week (I have a family of 4 and the small box is perfect). The fees are prepaid on a quarterly basis and there is a $20 non-refundable membership fee.
Each week you go to a designated location near you (usually it is someone’s home, where the produce boxes are stored on a side yard), sign for your box and transfer your produce to your own bags or basket. You usually receive about 10-12 different items. There is normally lettuce and lots of incredibly fresh tomatoes (most times you get different varieties like heirloom and beefsteak and cherry), and other items like fresh beets, melons, carrots (if you have never eaten a fresh organic carrot you are in for a surprise…even my kids think they taste “way better”), greens, onions, squash, citrus fruit and seasonal produce.
CSAs are a great way to assure your family is eating not only quality and delicious produce, but pesticide-free produce. It is fun to get your box each week and discover what is inside…sometimes you may get something you never used before, and it is fun to find recipes to try something new. There is always a content list for both box sizes under the sign out sheet. A few weeks ago we had a yellow watermelon in our box. I have had these before but they are hard to find and I have to say that this particular watermelon was the best I ever tasted, as were the pluots and oranges that came last week.
If you do not live in the San Diego area use a search engine to find out if there is a CSA near you, and bon appetite!
I love going out to breakfast, and here in Carlsbad we are lucky to have some great places to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites, so if you have not tried them you have something to look forward to.
The Naked Cafe: This is one of my all-time favorite breakfast spots. Located in downtown Carlsbad (with alternate locations in Solana Beach and Encinitas), Naked Cafe offers healthy breakfasts and lunches that are also delicious. There are plenty of egg dishes (my favorite is the Plate of Prosperity, which consists of egg whites with spinach, feta cheese and veggie sausage, red quinoa, zucchini, tomatoes, salsa and a fresh spinach wrap), and absolutely incredible pancakes. Everything tastes fresh and is good for you too. They have lattes, tea lattes, cappucinos and fresh juices.
If you prefer lunch there is an array of scrumptious salads, sandwiches, wraps and more. It is a little on the pricey side but well worth it, and is on 10 News’ A-list. The Carlsbad location is at 300 Carlsbad Village Drive, Suite 107a, on the corner of Carlsbad Village Drive and Carlsbad Blvd in the Village Faire shopping center. To see the complete menu go to http://thenakedcafe.com/. 760-720-7866.
The Broken Yolk Cafe: A popular breakfast place, the Broken Yolk has great food, large portions and decent prices. Select from a vast array of traditional American breakfasts such as omelettes and egg dishes, pancakes and more. The fruit is always fresh, as is the coffee (but no lattes or cappucinos). Most items are large enough to share if you don’ t have an enormous appetite. There is usually a line so plan to wait a bit for a seat.
Broken Yolk has been in San Diego since 1979 but just opened in Carlsbad a few years ago. Other locations include Pacific Beach, Eastlake, the Gaslamp district downtown and the newest location in San Marcos. Broken Yolk has won the “best breakfast” award multiple times. The Carlsbad location is in La Costa at the corner of El Camino Real and La Costa, at 7670 El Camino Real. Broken Yolk is definitely kid-friendly. To see the complete menu go to http://www.thebrokenyolkcafe.com/. 760-943-8182.
The Armenian Cafe: This is another place I highly recommend if you have not been, and the location is not so shabby either. Located in the Village of Carlsbad with an expansive patio for outdoor dining with an ocean view, the Armenian Cafe offers delicious breakfasts with a mediterranean flair. Choose from omelettes and scrambles unlike anything you’re used to: from lobster to seafood to gyros, Armenian and Lebanese sausages and falafel. The portions are large and there is a kid’s menu but only for lunch or dinner.
The lunch and dinner entrees are also fabulous and very fresh, so no matter what meal you enjoy there you won’t be disappointed–and if you go for dinner on the weekends you will get to enjoy belly dancing! The restaurant has also been the recipient of numerous “Best Breakfast” awards. The Armenian Cafe is located at 3126 Carlsbad Blvd., just a few blocks south of Carlsbad Village Drive. Visit the website at http://www.thearmeniancafe.com. 760-720-2233.
Now that I have made myself hungry I can’t wait until tomorrow! Enjoy and let me know what you think.
If you live in Carlsbad and are looking for a way to be more water conscious, you are in luck. As a resident you are eligible to participate in the city’s home water audit program, which just got a little easier.
The city has just completed two videos that can be seen either on the Carlsbad Municipal Water District website (http://www.carlsbadca.gov/water) and also on the city’s Time Warner Cable channel 24/126.
The program originally involved a city representative visiting a home to evaluate water usage and make suggestions, but due to the drought and the economy the increase in popularity of the program has made it too difficult to schedule so many appointments. The videos offer a great alternative and can be viewed any time on the website in the comfort of your home or office.
Residents who prefer a live visit are still able to obtain one by making an appointment, although you may have to wait 2 to over 4 weeks for your visit due to increased demand. Call 760-438-2722 to schedule an appointment.
Water conservation is more important now than ever before, as the drought has increased the price we pay to import our water from the Colorado River. These videos are a great way to get informed and bring your water bills down, so what are you waiting for? Just another perk offered by our fantastic city!