Archive for April, 2011

San Diego May Calendar

Friday, April 29th, 2011
April 30 ‚ May 1, Annual Roots Fest & Healing Arts Fest
Free two-day event that will feature five stages of musical entertainment; folk, Cajun, country, gospel, jazz, blues, and bluegrass. There’s a beer garden, a separate beer-tasting area, tantalizing food, and merchandise. A Healing Arts Fest accompanies the event featuring health-related products
and services.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 7:00 pm
Location: Normal Heights ‚ Adams Avenue
For more information visit

April 30 ‚ May 1, Annual Mission Federal ArtWalk
An exceptional showcase of art in Littly Italy. This is the largest art event in San Diego with more than 300 visual artists from all over the world coming to show and sell their art.
Time: 11:00 am ‚ 6:00 pm
Location: Downtown San Diego ‚ Little Italy
For more information visit

May 1, Carlsbad Spring Village Faire
The largest one-day fair in California. Features hundreds of exhibitors with a little of everything such as arts & crafts, antiques, clothing, a large variety of food stands serving international foods, and children’s rides.
Time: 8:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Carlsbad Village, Carlsbad
For more information visit

May 6-8, Gator by the Bay Festival
It’s all about music, dance, fun and food!
More than 85 performances on 6 stages and 8000 pounds of crawfish!
Time: Refer to website for schedule
Location: Spanish Landing Park at Harbor Island, Harbor Island, San Diego Bay
For more information visit

May 7, Chocolate Festival San Diego Botanic Garden
Enjoy dozens of delectable chocolate tastings, demonstrations, a chocolate fountain, and more. This family-friendly event also features lots of children’s activities (ages 2-12) and a variety of Mother’s Day gifts.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 4:00 pm
Location: San Diego Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas
For more information visit

May 7, Annual SDHS & SPCA Walk for Animals
With a mixture of dogs and people, the event will begin with a pancake breakfast and canine activities. Then, it proceeds with a short walk around Crown Point Shores ending with an enjoyable afternoon mingling with new friends.
Time: 7:00 am ‚ 2:00 pm
Location: West Mission Bay, Crown Point Shores near Corona Oriente Rd.
For more information visit

May 7, Oceanside Heritage Day
This will be a day of family fun featuring music, local surf art, classic cars, crafts, face painting, and special guest speakers. Food & drinks will be available. Cost: $5.00 Adults / $1.00 Children.
Time: 1:00 pm ‚ 4:30 pm
Location: Heritage Park, 220 Peyri Rd., Oceanside
For more information call 760-435-5529

May 8, Annual Festival Cinco de Mayo
The event will include live entertainment on three stages, authentic food from Mexico and around the world, local crafters and contests.
Time: 11:00 am ‚ 7:00 pm
Location: Downtown Chula Vista, Stages at E & F Streets
For more information visit

May 8, Annual Mother’s Day Fancy Dress Swim
Fundraiser for World Swims Against Malaria. Mothers will “dip” in the ocean wearing their Mother’s Day finest.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 11:00 am
Location: North Pier Beach, Oceanside
For more information call 760-803-0837

May 13-14, Annual Allied Gardens SpringFest
Bring the whole family to this 2-day festival for guaranteed fun. Carnival, pony rides, inflatables, rock climbing wall and dunk tank. Food, beer garden (5-11 pm), three stages featuring local musical talent.
Time: Fri. 5:00 pm ‚ 11:00 pm / Sat. 9:00 am ‚ 11:00 pm
Location: Allied Gardens Community Park, 5155 Greenbrier Ave.
For more information visit

May 14, Wild West Fest
A re-creation of the “wild west” days when cowboys ruled. Shop at the trading post, ride the bucking bronco in the Fun Zone, pony rides, and create a cowboy hat to take home. Real cowboys will demonstrate shoot outs, rope tricks and much more.
Time: 11:00 am ‚ 2:00 pm
Location: Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, 6200 Flying L C Lane, Carlsbad
For more information call 760-434-2843

May 14, Annual Rockola Benefit Concert
Rockola, San Diego-based and nationally known as America’s Classic Rock Experience, will be performing and proceeds from this year’s concert will benefit the Fallbrook Food Pantry, FHS Warrior Band, and FHS Madrigals.
Time: 7:00 pm ‚ 10:00 pm
Location: Bob Burton Center for the Performing Arts, 2400 South Stage Coach Ln., Fallbrook
For more information visit

May 14, Bark in the Park ‚ A Dog Day Celebration
This event will include FREE demonstrations, pet vendor booths, contests for participants and their pets, and more. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be available for purchase throughout the event. A small entry fee is required to show dogs.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 2:00 pm
Location: Poway Dog Park, 13094 Civic Center Dr., Poway
For more information call 858-774-5017

May 14 ‚ 15, Annual Encinitas Sports Festival
Join 3000 of your closest friends and family for two days of sports and fun in Encinitas. The City becomes a sports destination the weekend before Memorial Day and you don’t want to miss it. Triathlons, Duathlon, Bike Tour with choice of 3 distances, 5K Run, Kids & Family 1K Walk/Run, Moonlight Beach Paddle & Swim, and a 2-day sports expo.
Time: Refer to website
Location: Various locations in Encinitas, refer to website
For more information visit

May 15, Annual North Park Festival of the Arts
An explosion of arts, culture and entertainment with live entertainment, specialty booths, food court, beer garden, Kid’s Art Beat, and tons more stuff. See website for various venues and prices.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 6:00 pm
Location: North Park ‚ University Ave. & 30th
For more information visit

May 15, Escondido Street Faire
The second largest street fair in California will feature live entertainment as well as over 600 booths showcasing arts & crafts, unique clothing, and international foods. Children’s rides, rock-climbing wall, and more.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 6:00 pm
Location: Downtown Escondido, Grand Ave. between Center City Parkway and Ivy
For more information visit

May 15, Annual Navy’s Original Bay Bridge Run/Walk
This is a rare opportunity to run or walk across the Coronado Bay Bridge. The route begins in downtown San Diego and proceeds across the bridge and on to Coronado Island to Tidelands Park concluding with fun festivities.
Time: 7:30 am ‚ 11:00 am
Location: Start at Bayfront Hilton Parking Lot, One Park Blvd., downtown San Diego
For more information visit

May 21, OB Beach Ball
An outdoor live music, action sports, and microbrew festival.
The event begins with a running race along the beach, but wait… there’s more! There will be beer, food, merchandise and a Ferris wheel, skateboarding demonstrations, mechanical bull rides, a tug-of-war contest, and a human haulin’ contest.
Time: 9:00 am ‚ 9:00 pm
Location: Ocean Beach, Pier parking lot / Veterans Plaza / Lifeguard parking lot
For more information visit

May 22, Annual Festa Siciliana
Celebrate Sicilian-Italian American heritage and enjoy delicious cuisine from local restaurants in a festive setting in Little Italy. Music, beer, wine, dancing and some interesting ethnic art & craft items to peruse. Free admission.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 6:00 pm
Location: Little Italy, Downtown San Diego
For more information visit
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Cheap Home Improvements That Make the Most Sense

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Spring is the time of year where many of us think about renewing, revitalizing and, revamping. I suppose you can call it the season for contemplation. If you are a homeowner it is often the time where you realize there are things around your home that need some attention or maybe just a little tender loving care. But you also may wonder which projects are the most beneficial or cost-effective. Here are some guidelines, whether or not you are planning to sell you home one day or stay there.

Clean, minimize and declutter. We all have busy lives and things can tend to pile up. This is a great time of year to go through your closets, book shelves and magazine racks, and garages or attics. Get rid of the things you no longer use. This is the number one way to improve your living space. Clean your carpets and sofas, try to really minimize – furniture, plants, books, “stuff!” Not only will it improve your home’s feel, but you will get a great sense of satisfaction in purging all the unwanted things. You can make it a fun family lesson by including your children in the clean up; don’t forget to take them along when you donate unwanted items, as it shows them full circle how those things can help better the lives of others.

Don’t forget to go through your pantry. Throw away food items that are expired, and organize your shelves. If you are selling your home this will be appealing to potential buyers as well–a decluttered space allows them to picture making that space their own easier than they are able to do if there is stuff everywhere.

For those who are considering selling their homes soon or down the road, a decluttered and clean home is the best way to obtain offers more quickly. It is also one of the cheaper ways to really show off your space, with the best return on the investment.

Lighten up! Take a good look at your home and assess how bright it feels. Clean your windows and window treatments, remove items that block windows. If you are selling your home this is another important consideration, as buyers don’t tend to like dark spaces. You may want to consider different window treatments if the ones you have don’t allow the natural light to filter through, or you can remove them completely. Another trick is paint–a fresh coat of paint can really affect the lighting and add value to your home with little expense.

Plants: If you have space in your home that is vacant, or if a room looks boring consider adding a few green plants. They add color, are relatively inexpensive, and can really liven up any area. When I help sellers stage their homes for sale plants and flowers are one of my favorite tools. If you don’t have a green thumb there are plant varieties that do not need much maintenance, so talk to an expert at your local garden center. Don’t overdue it with plants, just a few strategically placed can do wonders.

Landcaping: It is easy to completely change the curb appeal of your home -front and back – without spending thousands of dollars, and you can even do it yourself. Flowers and shrubs are the number one way to so this. Choose varying heights and colors and just have fun. If you need guidance flip through a few home and garden magazines to get some great ideas.

If you don’t have a big area for planting consider a potted garden. If your front yard has only grass think about clearing a way for a small flower bed. Making it flowing instead of angled (for example, cutting curvy lines instead of just a square) will make it more appealing on the eyes. If you can’t spend a lot on flowers you can use bulbs, and now is the perfect time to plant them.

It is important to make a plan before you go shop for plants. Pencil out your plans and measure the space so you know how many plants or flowers you need to buy. If you simply cannot figure out what to do you can always consult a professional landscaper, who can help you create a plan and sketch it out. The cost will be minimal but you can work in stages, as time or budget permits, until you finish your project.

Revitalizing rooms: Take a good look at the rooms in your home once you have decluttered and cleaned them. Do they still feel like they need an extra something special to give them new life? You can try new throw pillows , area rugs or pictures on the walls (all which you can purchase inexpensively at stores like Target, WalMart or Home Goods) but it might be even more fun to rearrange the furniture, space-permitting. I have done this in my own home several times, and it really makes a room feel new.

No matter what you do to spruce up your home there are always ways to do so, even on a budget. Getting the whole family involved is a great way to not only spend time together, but also to teach children to take pride in their home.

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Announcing the New Website for LaMar Real Estate

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

After months of planning and development I am excited to announce the new website of LaMar Real Estate is now fully functional! I created this site with the needs of the buyer and seller as my first priority.

The new home search links provide more detailed searches, and there are links to helpful tools and articles, localized live market data reports, real estate news, social media links and of course, my blog. In the coming months look for helpful vlogs to be added to the site, which will provide information about basic questions buyers and sellers ask, including information on how to sell distressed properties.

I wanted to capture the beauty of North Coastal San Diego with this new website, and I have highlighted some of the cities and areas in which I work on my Communities page. The great school information is still accessible, and you can enjoy the stunning photos that are displayed.

I am excited to offer this site to everyone interested in North San Diego coastal real estate, as well as those who already live here and want to keep up with local issues, news and trends. I welcome suggestions–if there is anything you would like me to highlight in my blog or something you feel would be helpful on the site, please let me know! If you are not there already you can visit the site at Enjoy!

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Royal Wedding Overshadows Another Wedding in England

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The Prince of England isn’t the only one getting married in London this weekend. In fact, there is another wedding going on the very next day, one that has been planned far longer than the royal wedding. The bride, whose mother comes from a line of royalty (her father was a member of the House of Lords) and whose father had been knighted by the Queen, will be married on April 30.

Julia, the beautiful bride from Southern California with dual citizenship (her mother was English), has been planning her dream wedding for over a year. She and fiance David left this past weekend for London to arrange all the last minute details. They are getting married at Our Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey Cathedral, where her parents married.

The bride and groom are very happy and are determined not to let the traffic, security, hoards of visitors and general chaos affect their special day. So I want to wish a very happy wedding day to my beautiful cousin Julia, and her wonderful fiance David. May your marriage be filled with love and laughter, and may your wedding day be the most special ever. Although I cannot be there I will be there in spirit, and I can’t wait to see the pictures!

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Celebrate Carlsbad and Have a Blast in May

Monday, April 25th, 2011

This is one of my favorite times of the year here in Carlsbad, our beautiful Village by the Sea. Our city offers events for the whole family, a time to get out and enjoy why it is so wonderful to live here. Here are a few of my favorite things that will be going on in May, so grab the entire family and enjoy being outside.

Celebrate Carlsbad Day at Legoland, May 14: Legoland carries on the tradition of Celebrate Carlsbad by discounting tickets to $15 for the day. This is a huge discount off the regular price–which is more than 4x that.. The catch is that tickets must be purchased in advance, so if you would like to spend a day at Legoland and enjoy the great prices, you need to call the Carlsbad Educational Foundation at 760-929-1555, or email You can also purchase tickets at some of our local schools, like Aviara Oaks Middle School.

The best part of Celebrate is that it is hosted by the Carlsbad Educational Foundation (CEF), which benefits local schools, so come on out and support our schools! For more information on CEF and how you can help, visit their website at

Carlsbad Vilage Street Faire, May 1: the famous and fabulous street faire will once again be open for business. If you have never been I highly suggest it–great food, entertainment for all ages, rides for the kids, shopping, crafts…the list is long. Come on down to the Village and mingle with fellow Carlsbadians and enjoy the sunshine. For a list of road closures and to figure out where to parke visit the City’s website at

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Oh So Many Number Ones in Real Estate

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Claiming to be number one in some fields is very prestigious–say if you are the number one tennis player or golfer, the number one company that donates to charity, the number one cancer research hospital. Being the best at a sport, discovering a cure…these things are all something to be proud of and are important to consider in marketing. But when it comes to businesses that provide a service, such as real estate, do we really want to hear that the service provider is “Number 1?”

The real estate industry has changed drastically in the last decade. The housing market crash, economic issues and the explosion of technology and social media have changed the way Realtors do their job. It has also changed the way potential customers feel about our industry. The home buyers and sellers have so much available today at their fingertips, and many feel that a Realtor is not necessary. Realtors need to change the way they run their businesses to make them more client-centric instead of agent-centric.

I read a great blog by Matthew Ferrara, a Realtor in the Boston area, comparing the real estate business to that of Starbucks. Starbucks has had to reinvent the way it does business as well, he says, because people just were not buying the “it’s all about the atmosphere and the feeling” anymore–when it comes down to it, they are still paying for a $4 cup of coffee. He says Realtors are the same–it’s not about the agent, it’s about what the agent can do for the client, and that has to be the focus.

When an agent advertises his services he needs to focus on the client: how would a potential client see that advertisement? I huge billboard with “I’m the number one Realtor in___” will not likely cause the person to want to pick up the phone and call you. The customer wants to feel that s/he will be well cared for, that you will hold their hands and guide them, answer their questions, provide valuable information and be there when they need you.

Recently I was at the movies with my husband. A Realtor in the area advertises on screen. Two middle-aged ladies behind me started to laugh when the advertisement came up proclaiming the agent was “Number 1.” One asked the other, “What makes him number one? How can he say that?” This was interesting to me, because it was an unsolicited response and it proved my point–do people really want to hear/see this? How valuable is it? Surely a customer wants to know their agent has experience, but realistically if you are “number 1” in sales can you truly provide the best service?

We can try to change the requirements for marketing in ways that do nothing more than espouse puffery, but the change has to come from the individual.

No matter what business you are in you should consider how you market yourself and your company. Look at things from a different perspective–what would YOU want to see and get when hiring a service provider? Then project that in your marketing. It’s really a grass roots approach, back to basics. People have choices when they choose a service provider, so tell them what you will do for them. You will probably be pleasantly surprised at the results.

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Could Elimination of Housing Counseling Programs Hurt YOU?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

In what I personally think is a big mistake, Congress announced that it is eliminating $88 million in funds for housing counseling programs. These are the programs that allow struggling homeowners and others with questions to call in and get counseling advice. It is often the first step in pre-foreclosure, or even in avoiding foreclosure altogether.

One of my favorite counseling hotlines, HopeNow, stated that it is not being shut down, but will be effected by the cuts. I have referred people to HopeNow for years. It is approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the people who work the phone lines actually know what they are talking about. The biggest complaint I have heard is that sometimes one has to hold for help for some time, but the advice is real and they really do go over specific situations and crunch numbers with callers.

Why would the government want to cut these programs? Well, I think that the government is busy trying to come up with ways to prevent foreclosures and help the housing mess by implementing new programs (of course, we have not seen these as of yet, but the most promising seem to be on the way, stemming from the robo-signing lender punishment saga). At the same time they are trying to trim our exorbitant budget, so these goals may conflict.

Many states are creating their own programs to cover the slack the federal programs have left behind after being canceled, but there are only a handful that have such programs in operation already.

So what is a troubled homeowner to do now? Some federal programs have been eliminated, not all states have yet implemented programs to help, and the mandated lender reforms (currently in the works as punishment for the robo-signing scandal) are not yet finalized. People need to know their options.

Basically there are three options, and some of them have multiple sub-options:

1. Stay in your home. To do so you may need to look into a loan modification, change of job, or a complete reevaluation of your finances so that you can eliminate or lower other expenses. You may need to get creative, consider getting a second job, renting a room or putting your young children to work (just a hint of black humor/sarcasm–of course I don’t recommend this).

2. Sell your home. If you cannot make number one work and you need to sell it will either be a traditional sale or a short sale. Either way, make sure to work with a Realtor who is experienced in your area, and if you are doing a short sale make sure that person is experienced in this regard. You also should look into the HAFA program if you are considering a short sale–at least you can get money to help with moving expenses (up to $3000–see previous posts. To find them go to the categories list to the right of my blog and click on short sales).

3. Foreclosure. This is the last resort, or course. But many times there may be no other option if you are in over your head financially, have a job loss, illness, changed circumstances, divorce, etc. Just make sure you speak with your financial planner, attorney or accountant (or all 3, in my opinion) before doing so. You need to understand all options so you can make the right choice.

As we continue to see cuts to vital programs options may dwindle, at least for a while. I have discussed multiple times how I feel states will start to jump in to help residents with their own programs, much like California has done with Keep Your Home California. If you do not yet have a program in your state I would still advise contacting HopeNow or La Raza. Your lender may have counselors available to help you as well. But do not wait until it is too late. If you are not yet delinquent on your payments you need to start researching now. Best of luck.

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Distressed Property Market Update

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Much has been going on lately in the distressed property market. Here is the week’s news.

Regulators say lender punishment agreement is getting closer: While we have been hearing for weeks, maybe months (I lost count) about lender punishment in the robo-signing scandal and what form it will take, apparently an agreement is close. Keep in mind that a few weeks ago the Attorneys General and Federal Regulators, who were not seeing eye to eye on punishment options, parted ways. The Feds have been working with the lenders to come up with a solution.

The latest news is that the lenders will be ordered to fix foreclosure procedures and pay back homeowners who wrongly had their homes foreclosed upon (no dollar amount has been determined). Hmmm. Let’s see: lenders erroneously took your home from you and now they want to give you money to apologize. The money is nice, but the fact is these people still lost their homes! Not to mention their credit is decimated. Furthermore, who is going to foot the bill for hiring third-party companies to evaluate all foreclosures completed in 2009 and 2010? We assume the lender will do so. If they are paying these likely very high fees for review, how much will be allocated to pay the homeowners, the true victims in all this? Can banks actually survive this?

Finally, what of the Attorneys General, who did not agree to the punishments being discussed? Are they going to get together and come after these lenders, or will they sign off on whatever agreement the lenders and Feds concoct? It is all a bit confusing.

Legislation Proposed to speed lender response to short sales: On another note, there is a bipartisan effort by lawmakers to introduce a new bill that will curtain short sale timelines. The bill will mandate that a lender responds in 45 days or less to a short sale offer–either accepting, declining, or providing status on the decision. The National Association of Realtors is behind this bill, as it would help with home sales across the country. Note that this is the second time a bill such as this has been introduced, so hopefully the second time will be a charm.

Foreclosure numbers have dropped: The latest reports indicate that yes, foreclosure activity is the lowest in three years. Don’t get excited though, as RealtyTrac says that this is due to processing delays. Still, there were much lower numbers reported in the foreclosure arena. Also important to note is that reports have stated that states using non-judicial foreclosure (like California) have shown quicker movement through the foreclosure process.

Bank reposessions: These have ncreased in non-judicial foreclosure states 9% from the last quarter, making more REO (lender owned) properties available. The good news here is that if they are Fannie Mae properties and you are a buyer you could qualify for receiving money toward your closing costs…see my last post before this one. REO properties that are listed on the market tend to have lower prices and negotiating power for buyers. Also, many lenders will go in and spruce up these homes a bit (like painting, new carpet, appliances, etc.) before listing them, making the situation even better for buyers.

The bottom line is that there are changes being made in the distressed property market. Some will be for the good, some may not pan out. But the fact that the government is making strides here is important. My hope is that by continuing to focus on this enormous problem and the even bigger repercussions it has on not only housing but the economy, will eventually help both.

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Fannie Mae Will Pay Buyer Closing Costs

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Fannie Mae just announced that it will help buyers purchase REO (lender owned) properties by providing up to 3.5% in closing costs through the HomePath program. In order to qualify buyers must submit their initial offer on or before April 11, 2011, with a mandatory closing date before June 30, 2011.

The main restriction for this new program is that the home being purchased must be the buyer’s primary residence, so no lenders can get in on this deal. A few states are even offering small bonuses to buyer’s agents if they close escrow on one of these properties by June 30.

By offering this incentive Fannie Mae is recognizing that we need to stimulate the housing market in order to bring it back to a normal stabilization. It also helps to get the amount of lender-owned inventory off the market. Typically these properties are priced well, usually lower than the comparables; and in most situations the lender has gone in and spruced up the home, oftentimes with new paint, carpet or appliances. This really is a good deal for buyers to get a home at a good price with financial assistance in closing costs.

To see which properties are Fannie Mae properties in your area visit for a complete list. Many of these properties also qualify for special mortgages through HomePath Mortgage and HomePath Mortgage Renovation financing–these could provide an opportunity to complete your purchase with as little as 3% down.

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CA Foreclosure Relief Programs Expand Eligibility

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

If you are a home owner in California and are having difficulty with making your mortgage payments, you may be in luck. California recently announced an expansion to three of its four Keep Your Home California programs.

Originally the Keep Your Home California programs did not apply to home equity accounts, but that is no longer the case. Those with equity lines of credit or who took equity out from a refinance can now qualify for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance and Transition Assistance Programs. Mortgages originated after January 1, 2009 will now qualify under these programs.

The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program helps unemployed homeowners who are in imminent danger of defaulting by offering up to $3000 a month to cover the mortgage.

The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program assists homeowners who have a documented financial hardship by giving up to $15,000 to help with mortgage payments.

The Transition Assistance Program offers funds to help homeowners with relocation where they cannot pay their mortgage and are in the process of a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure.

So far the California programs are in the process of helping over 2,000 homeowners, and these new program expansions will undoubtedly help many more people seek assistance under the Keep Your Home California general plan. Many servicers are participating in these programs, either completely or in part. To learn the requirements and find out if you are eligible please visit the website at or call 888-954-KEEP (5337).

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