Friday, November 28, 2008

Shopping Madness!!!

  • What does the day after Thanksgiving mean to you? If you can roll yourself out of the house, like most people or should I say women. YOU go shopping right?
    This day has been called the official first day of the Christmas shopping season OR
    Black Friday. It’s not an official holiday but many take the day off anyway just to
    get a head start and a mad dash to the malls all over the USA. Black Friday can be traced all the way back to the 60’s and is deemed the biggest shopping day of the year by retailers. So if you are heading out with the masses you need to do some home work prior to leaving the house. Here are some tips you will want to write down and fellow.

  • Make a shopping list of all the people you will be buying for this Christmas.
  • Determined the big ticket items first and try to get them first as most savings will be found on Black Friday.
  • Get your newspaper and check out all the specials, see if any ads are offering early incentives. Look for the items on your list.
  • It is important if possible to research your market area before Friday compare prices.
  • Most important advice I’ll give you is this. STAY HOME and do yourself a favor.
  • GO Online and check the web for all your items on your list. In most cases you can order them with your favorite online retailer offering free shipping for the holidays.
  • You will be avoiding traffic – saving on gas – NOT standing in line for everything You do – buy – or eat!
  • If you’re a die hard shopper and you like trenching through the masses than
    Happy shopping – drive safety – and shop till ya drop!

Happy Holidays

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Thanksgiving Story

Most stories of Thanksgiving history starts with the harvest celebration of the pilgrims and the Indians that took place in the autumn of 1621. Although they did have a three-day feast in celebration of a good harvest, and the local Indians did participate, this "first Thanksgiving" was not a holiday, simply a gathering. There is little evidence that this feast of thanks led directly to our modern Thanksgiving Day holiday.
Thanksgiving can, however, be traced back to 1863 when Pres. Lincoln became the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving Day. The holiday has been a fixture of late November ever since.

However, since most school children are taught that the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 with the pilgrims and Indians, let us take a closer look at just what took place leading up to that event, and then what happened in the centuries afterward that finally gave us our modern Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church (a Puritan sect). They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to Holland (The Netherlands) to escape religious persecution. There, they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but they eventually became disenchanted with the Dutch way of life, thinking it ungodly. Seeking a better life, the Separatists negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America. Most of those making the trip aboard the Mayflower were non-Separatists, but were hired to protect the company's interests. Only about one-third of the original colonists were Separatists.

The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast -- including 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days.

Governor William Bradford sent "four men fowling" after wild ducks and geese. It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast. However, it is certain that they had venison The term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.

Another modern staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. But it is unlikely that the first feast included that treat. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. There was no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous. But the feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.

This "thanksgiving" feast was not repeated the following year. Many years passed before the event was repeated. It wasn't until June of 1676 that another Day of thanksgiving was proclaimed. On June 20 of that year the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established. By unanimous vote they instructed Edward Rawson, the clerk, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving. It is notable that this thanksgiving celebration probably did not include the Indians, as the celebration was meant partly to be in recognition of the colonists' recent victory over the "heathen natives," (see the proclamation). A hundred years later, in October of 1777 all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration. It also commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. But it was a one-time affair.
George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it. There was discord among the colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday. And later, President Thomas Jefferson opposed the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.

It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies' Magazine, and later, in Godey's Lady's Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season. Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.

Give Your Mortgage An Annual Once Over!

Give your mortgage an annual once over
If the last time you looked at your mortgage was when you closed on your loan, it’s time to take it out for an annual once over.New loan programs and opportunities to leverage your home equity can bring you lower mortgage payments and new investment opportunities.
Is a fixed rate mortgage the best choice for you?

Many of us opt for the certainty of a 20 year or 30 year fixed rate mortgage when we get our first mortgage.If you anticipate selling your home within the next 10 years, one of our new hybrid loans may be a better financial fit for you.Hybrid loans typically have a lower fixed rate than a traditional 20 or 30 year mortgage.The savings you receive can well be worth switching to a hybrid loan.

Are you paying for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?
There are a lot of new loan programs available that can help you eliminate PMI, even if you have less than 20% equity in your home. The monthly savings adds up quickly. This money can be put to better use to help you achieve other short-term and long-term financial goals.

Are your taxes and insurance up to date?
Even though your mortgage servicer is responsible for paying your taxes and insurance out of your escrow account, it just makes sense to periodically check to see that these payments are being made properly. While you’re at it, you’ll want to review your homeowner’s insurance policy. It’s a good idea to review your policy every two to three years to make sure it covers recent home improvements, replacement costs for the contents of your home, and that its reconstruction coverage is keeping pace with inflation.

Do you have a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) for emergencies?
Many homeowners are making the proactive choice to secure a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) for emergencies. A HELOC is a revolving line of credit that only charges interest when you actually draw money from the line of credit. As you repay the balance of the draw, the credit becomes available again. Securing a HELOC in advance can be a great help if you’re ever laid off or have an unexpected medical or other emergency.

How’s your credit report
The information in your credit report has a huge impact on whether or not you will again qualify for a mortgage loan. That’s why it’s important to periodically check your credit report.

Now it’s even easy to do so. A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates that each credit reporting company provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once a year. To request your free credit report, visit (Free reports are being phased in over a nine-month period, rolling from the west coast to the east beginningDecember 1, 2004. By September 1, 2005, free reports will be accessible to all consumers.)

Are you making the most of your home’s equity?
With rising home prices, you may have more equity in your home than you realize. Taking out a home equity loan to payoff credit card debt, car loans and other higher interest debts makes good financial sense.

Is it time to refinance?
The timing might be right to refinance your mortgage loan. New rates may help you significantly lower your monthly payment. Or you might want to “cash out” some of the built-up equity in your home, which you can use to consolidate debt, improve your home, take a vacation - whatever! Perhaps by refinancing you can even pay off your mortgage sooner!

I will work with you to determine if the timing is right to change your loan program, considering your cash on hand, how likely you are to sell your home in the near future, and what effect refinancing might have on your future plans.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Save Money During The Holidays

Save money during the holidays and buy that dream house in the New Year
The holidays can put a dent in your savings especially if you're planning to buy a home. But there are several ways to cut costs so your finances aren't in the red by New Year's Day. Consider the following money saving tips:
  • In lieu of buying presents for every family member, suggest a gift exchange and draw names out of a hat.
  • Agree on a spending limit for gifts for friends and family and stick to it.
  • Make your holiday meals a potluck and assign each guest an item to bring.
  • To prevent the urge to overspend when shopping, use cash and leave your credit cards at home.
  • Consider buying a joint gift rather than individual gifts for a family such as a zoo membership or movie tickets.
  • Instead of holiday wrap, buy monochromatic wrap in holiday colors such as green, red, or gold that can be used all year.
  • For young children, half the fun of holidays is often opening the gifts. Wrap small, inexpensive items separately - coloring books, crayons and picture books or novels, even stocking stuffers work well. Or recycle hand-me-down toys by wrapping them up and putting them under the tree.
  • Instead of spending a lot of money on gifts from the mall, give homemade treats like fudge, truffles, cookies or jams and jellies.
  • To cut down on postage and holiday card costs, send mail only to out-of-town friends and family you're not likely to see throughout the year. Or send e-cards, which are usually free.
  • To keep your electricity bill down, use a timer to turn outdoor lights on and off at designated hours.
  • If you know you won't be able to pay your credit card off right away, make sure you use a single low-interest card to make purchases - that way you can easily track them.
  • When traveling during the holidays, try to fly on the day of the actual holiday (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day). It's usually cheaper and there are plenty of seats.
  • Subscribe to receive e-newsletters from your favorite online merchants. They will often e-mail coupons to use for savings on purchases and shipping costs. Or subscribers may receive private sale information.
  • Sometimes buying an item online is cheaper than going to the store since many sites don't charge sales tax and offer free shipping. Use the savings to have the gift mailed directly to the recipient instead of standing in line at the post office.
  • Instead of buying an expensive gift, make a donation to a worthy cause in a friend or family member's name.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Avoid Holiday Theft

Although we'd like to believe the holidays bring out peace on earth and good will towards men (as the Christmas carol goes), the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day tend to be a prime season for criminals. During this busy time of year, you can take some easy precautions to prevent becoming a victim of theft. Consider the following safety tips:

When holiday shopping:
  • Don't park in unlit areas at night.
  • Put your shopping bags in your trunk. Don't try to cover items on your seats with a blanket. Better yet, take your packages straight home after a shopping spree and then go back out.
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash with you, or else, keep it in your front pocket not in your purse or wallet.
  • Be extra careful when carrying a purse - they are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas. If you must carry one, make sure it has a strap that can go over the shoulder and be held under the arm, making them more difficult for purse snatchers to grab.
  • Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you. This is the time of year when thieves may try various methods to distract you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

At home:
  • When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.
  • Leave a light on when you leave your home at night or put your lights (including Christmas lights) on an automatic timer.
  • Make sure your holiday gifts are not visible through the windows and doors of your home.
  • Never say you are away from home on the outgoing message on you answering machine or voice mail. Simply say you are unable to answer the phone at this time.
During the holidays, many people can become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crime. Protecting yourself and your home from potential crime is the easiest way to ensure a safe and happy holiday season.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Virus/Hacker Lurking Around Blogger????

I wanted to let everyone know about a virus I picked up on Saturday while blogging in
blogger. It pretty bad as I cannot use my laptop at all and will probably have to take it in
to the Geeks to fix it.

FYI - don't leave your computer idle and logged into blogger or any site for that matter.
It probably didn't have any thing to do with blogger but just beware.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stormy Days Of Winter

I lie in bed on this Saturday morning listening to the rain spill out of the sky in large cascading drops. The sun is nowhere to be seen hiding behind dark purple clouds.The wind blowing over the ocean waters creating white caps as far as the eye can see. Its high tide and the waves hitting the shoreline with the force of freight train speeding down the tracks. I listen as they crack the shore. Some say I am crazy for my weird obsession with bad weather. I think it’s mysterious and majestic with a life of its own. I can’t help enjoy the storm while having my cup of hot tea.
I think I’ll curl up with a good book.

The perfect day!

Tell me what makes a perfect day for you?

Friday, November 21, 2008

ALOHA Friday!!

Another week bites the dust. I have been contemplating what to do with my blog.
I would like to keep it business related to my field of expertise but then I like to write about myself and do more personally posts and show off my pictures too! I am considering TWO blogs.
I am not sure how I will managed both blogs but I think it might be worth a shot.

This blogging thing is addicting isn't it? I've really taking to it quite nicely! It's a great stress reliever. Takes up some of my time I'd otherwise spend thinking about and stressing about my business. So that has been very good, who needs to do that.
Being in the mortgage business I have nothing but time now as not a lot of business is coming my way and even when it does it's like pushing a square into a round hole. The lenders are just not loaning $$ right now. I've never seen such a TIGHT money market. Not impossible but very difficult. If you are thinking about buying or investing - get off the fence and do it. There has never been a better time.

It's a very depressing state of affairs. Just when I am sure I'll pull through this crisis no worse for the ware, guess what I get in the mail????? You'll never guess! A letter from the IRS, its an audit demand. So now I am being audited! GREAT! When it rains it poor - well of course if does!

At first I just panicked! Mainly because the audited date and time has passed and I just got the notice - my mail comes from California once a week so it runs about 2 weeks late.
Plus all my paperwork and files are in CA. in storage and I am in Hawaii. Not a good situation at all. Oh and did I mention my CPA is also in CA. and on vacation!!

Well now you know why Friday is such a GREAT day in my world!
I normally save Fridays for myself - I work 1/2 day and then I get to do something I want to do.
My freedom day!

Today I think Molly and I will go to the park!
If you have a minute to leave a comment - I always like reading them - If you have any suggestion about my blog or my predicament please by all means pour it out.

And just because its beautiful - I'll leave you a beautiful picture - Just because!
Mahalo (Thank You)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If YOU could do anything What would it be????

Tell me your aspirations - your dreams. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Maybe your retired - what do you want to do - What's on your bucket list?

How To Avoid A BAD Renter

If you can't judge a book by its cover, then how can you judge a tenant before you hand over the keys? Even the best property manager gets burned from time to time, but there are some warning signs that should tip you off to impending trouble.

Step One
As obvious as this sounds, looks can be deceiving. A potential renter's appearance should give you a general idea of the person's income level. If a man arrives in a three piece suit to rent a delapidated trailor, you have to wonder what is going on. Is he trying to go over the top with his appearance to scam you into renting to him? On the other extreme, someone who shows up for an interview in their pajamas might signal a problem too.
Step Two
You can tell a lot about a person by their body language. How does the renter react to your questions. Do they crossing their arms defensively or avoiding eye contact? Are they open with you, keeping their arms at their sides? Notice the way couples look at each other as they look around. Take note of any whispered conversation that would alarm you to a potential problem. If they seem secretive, then they probably have something to hide.
Step Three
Did the person take time to write neatly while filling out the rental application? Are any questions left unanswered or filled out improperly? Make sure to point these things out and request a completed application before you go any further in the rental process.
Step Four
After the application is completed, do a credit check to make sure there is not a history of unpaid debts or bankrupcy. You should set certain credit standards for the tenants you accept. This will give you an easy out when someone doesn't check out.
Step Five
Beyond knowing the financial history of perspective tenants, you need to know if there is a criminal history. Do a complete criminal background check and run the tenant's name to see if it appears on the national registry for sex offenders.
Step Six
Require applying tenants to give you contact information from prior landlords. Do not accept only personal references. Verify that the people are indeed landlords and not just a friend doing the tenant a favor. Once you have spoken with prior landlords, do a driveby of the property where your tenant is currently living. See how it is maintained to be sure they will not trash your property.
Step Seven
Verify information from the application with the tenant's bank. Do they actually have an account with that bank? Is it in good standing? You certainly don't want the first rent check to bounce!
Step Eight
Set a significant deposit fee to weed out those tenants who are not looking for long-term arrangements. Make sure your contract states that the deposit is non-refundable if the lease is not honored or if the property is damaged.
Step Nine
Leases should ideally be for a minimum of one year. This insures that you do not have a constant influx of tenants. If a renter is serious about the property, this should not be an issue worth arguing over. Most good renters understand that a lease agreement is standard procedure.
Step Ten
When all else fails, go with your gut. If something inside of you says that this renter will be a nightmare, then find a reason to turn them down. Somewhere along the way, you will find a reason to turn the renter down. If they check out as perfect, but you still feel uneasy, just take someone else instead. Then you can let the renter know that the apartment/house has already been leased. You can offer to keep their application on file if it will ease the blow. Just make a note on your personal records of your uneasiness so you will remember them when you go throught your applications in the future.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Government To Make Billions From The Mortgage Crisis

The mortgage crisis has had a negative impact on everyone, not just homeowners. Elected officials are working hard to pass legislation that is designed to prevent future banking debacles. Unfortunately, history has proven that when legislators over-regulate banks that it tightens the reins on lending. This is done by raising the bar on what it takes to qualify for a mortgage or installment loan. Predictably, it’s the middle class that will feel the pinch more than anyone. Specifically, it’s the middle-class, self employed small business owner that be injured the worst.

Most people are aware that you can reduce your taxes by deducting expenses and qualified charitable contributions. What most people don’t realize is that small business owners live and die by those deductions. Tax rates have risen on the self employed more than any other segment in our society. To counter these tax hikes, legislators created more “loop-holes” write off’s and deductions for small business owners to use.

For this reason, small business owners rely on creative CPA’s to maximize their deductions in order to show less income and pay less taxes.There are nearly 23 million small businesses in America and over 35 million sole-proprietors and almost every one of them employ savvy CPA’s to keep them in the black. The draw-back is that by doing this most self employed borrowers are unable to prove enough income on paper when applying for a loan or a mortgage.

Traditional mortgage lending practices of yester-year required that borrower’s prove sufficient income when taking out a loan. Over the years, taxes have risen for small business owners at staggering rates, far above what they have for W2 employees. At the same time the self employed borrower's “provable” income has dwindled proportionately. Under traditional banking rules most of the self-employed people wouldn’t be able to qualify for business loans or mortgages. This would ultimately force small business owners out of business and cripple our would economy.

This new business paradigm literally forced the banking industry to create lending products that catered to small business owners who could not prove all of their income. These products were called “stated” income loans and did not require borrowers who had good credit to prove their income. These products originally required good credit and sufficient assets in order to qualify for them. Responsible guidelines and common sense underwriting kept default rates on these products in line with conventional mortgages. Unfortunately, as competition for this segment of borrowers stiffened between lenders the stringency to qualify for these mortgages softened, thus the mortgage crisis.

It is exactly this type of loan that our law-makers are trying to do away with through legislation. The new mortgage bill being bounced around has specific remedies for irresponsible lending. Meaning, if a bank loans you money and it can be proven in court (attorneys like this law by the way) that the bank was irresponsible in doing so they could be penalized. The definition of “irresponsible” is did the borrower have the capacity to repay the loan, meaning did they prove enough income. This bill will kill stated income loans, period.

So where does this leave the responsible self employed borrowers who needed these loans to live and operate their businesses? This leaves them with higher taxes. Should this bill pass self employed borrowers will be forced to claim more income each year on their tax returns in order to qualify for car loans, mortgages and even business loans. This will negate any of the loop-holes and deductions they were promised in lieu of higher taxes.

This means the government will rake in billions in extra revenue as a result of this bill. For example, let’s assume that a small business owner claimed $40,000 in income last year after deductions and business expenses. If she was in a 40% tax bracket she would pay roughly $16,000 in taxes. Under the new banking guidelines that same business owner may have to claim $80,000 In order to qualify for mortgages, car loans and business loans. Assuming she’s in the same tax bracket, she would now have to pay $32,000 in taxes.

Multiply $32,000 by 23 million business owners and that’s one huge pay-day for Uncle Sam. You can bet that the Senators pushing this bill through congress are well aware of this left handed tax raise. You will never hear them mention it either, I wonder why?. You will hear about the naughty lenders that put good wholesome red blooded Americans in the street through predatory lending practices. You will never hear about the 20 million business owners who paid their mortgages on time and actually need these loans to stay in business.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How To Knock $4000 Off Your Utility Bill

According to Josh Garskof, Money Magazine, “you don’t have to be a tree hugger or a miser to be a conservationist these days.”

Garskof says there are 6 things you can do, that will initially cost about $1,500 but will save you about $4,000 within a one-year time period. Best of all, once you do them, they will continue to save you money year after year. Even if you don’t have the $1,500 to spend right now, doing just a couple of these energy-saving tasks will save you a ton of money.

1. Insulate Your Attic – The attic floor is the most important barrier to heat
loss because heat rises. The insulation thickness should be at least
10 to 12 inches.

Cost: $500 to $1000 Savings: $500 to $1,000 per year

2. Cover the Heating Ducts – Locate your “exposed” heating and cooling
ducts, normally located in the attic or basement. If you find exposed
metal ducts; seal the seams with foil tape. Scotch-brand Duct Sealing
Foil Tape is suggested. After sealing the seams, cover the entire
ductwork with insulation (Thermwell Self-Adhesive Duct Insulation).

Cost: $50 to $250 Savings: $500 to $1,000 per year

3. Use a Programmable Thermostat – Lower the heat when you go to bed at night and set the time to warm up the house just prior to your alarm clock ringing. Just by lowering the temperature by 7 degrees, you will knock off 10% from your heating bill.

Cost: $40 Savings: $500 per year

4. Seal Cracks – Seal holes and gaps in your basement, attic, floorboards, chimney and recessed lighting. Use expanding foam insulation and you can save an additional 10% in heating and cooling costs.

Cost: $14 Savings: $500 per year

5. Wrap Your Water Heater – Keep the heat from leaking away by wrapping a
water-heater blanket around the tank. But don’t stop there. Wrap pipe insulation
around the cold and hot water pipes leading to the water heater.

Cost: $40 Savings: $100 per year

6. Service Your Furnace & Air Conditioner – Hire a pro to clean, repair and
service your heating and cooling systems. Gunk and dust build-up reduces the
efficiency of those units.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mortgage RATES & Market UPDATE

After weeks of sizable swings in mortgage rates, last week saw rates move significantly less. Most rates drifted downward as evidence of economic slowing mounted. Retail sales dropped for the fourth month in a row, plummeting by a record 2.8%.

This week was also filled with announcements regarding numerous government programs related to housing. Both the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced programs offering bounties to mortgage servicing companies for modifying troubled mortgages. New RESPA rules also began implementation, along with the announcement that the $700 billion dollar Troubled Asset Relief Program would not be used to buy toxic mortgage debt off financial companies' books.

While financial markets may continue to be rocked on a daily basis, we hope to see mortgage rates remain calmer again this week. If data from the Industrial Production numbers and both the CPI and PPI point to economic slowing with lower inflationary pressures rates my continue downward.

Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey
30 Year Fixed - 6.14%
15 Year Fixed - 5.81%
One Yr ARM - 5.25%

Bonehead Of The Week

A 'way too dumb to be criminals" bonehead award goes to Alexander Reddirk and Dennis States in Halifax, N.S., Canada. The pair of dimwitted criminals smashed through the front door of a home in the middle of the night. While certainly stunned, the homeowner kept his wits about him when the pair demanded cash. He informed then that he had none, but offered to get some from an ATM if they would wait. Once outside the homeowner called police who arrested the gullible waiting crooks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Obama Air Force One - Funny!

I just couldn't resist posting this video sent to me

from a friend - leave it

to Snoop Dog!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Winterizing Your HOME

  • Inside Your Home

  • Have your furnace system serviced to ensure it's working efficiently and not emitting carbonmonoxide.
  • Clean permanent furnace filters and replace paper or disposable filters.
  • Replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • If you have a wood stove or fireplace, have your chimney swept thoroughly. It should be cleaned before the soot build up reaches one-fourth inch thickness inside the chimney flue.
  • Check your hot water heater for leaks and maintain proper temperature setting (120 degrees recommended by Department of Energy). On older water heaters with less insulation, for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit you lower the temperature, you save 6 percent of your water heating energy.
  • Check the attic to see if insulation needs to be added or replaced. This is the most significant area of heat loss in many homes, so it is also important to see that it has proper ventilation. Inadequate ventilation could lead to premature deterioration of the insulation materials. You may also need to check insulation in exterior walls, crawl spaces and along foundation walls.
  • Check all windows and doors for air leaks. Install storm windows and putty, caulk or add weather stripping as needed.
  • Check basement and cellars for seal cracks or leaks in walls and floor.
  • Make sure all vents are clean and operating properly.
  • Clean and vacuum baseboard heaters, heating ducts and vents.
  • Remove or winterize air conditioning units.

  • Outside Your Home

  • Store or cover outdoor furniture, toys and grill.
  • Purchase rock salt for melting snow and a shovel or snow blower if you don't already have one. Make sure you have the right kind of gas and oil on hand for your snow blower in the case of an unexpected snowstorm.
  • Caulk joints and minor cracks on exterior walls and siding.
    Look for deteriorating finishes. Minor problems can be patched to preserve the wood. Put bigger jobs, such as scraping and refinishing painted or stained areas, on the calendar for next spring or early summer.
  • Drain and shut off sprinkler systems and other exterior water lines to avoid frozen and broken pipes. Leave all taps slightly open.
  • Insulate exterior spigots and other pipes that are subject to freezing but can't be drained or shut off.
  • Rake and compost leaves and garden debris, or put out for yard-waste pickup.
  • Clean storm drains, gutters and other drain pipes.
  • Check the foundation for proper drainage. To do this, spray yard with a hose to see if water runs away from the house. A little shoveling to reshape the earth next to the house may make the water run away from the foundation.
  • Make sure dirt or piles of wood don't come into contact with or touch siding, inviting termites and carpenter ants into the house.
  • Seal driveway and walkway cracks, if needed, before ground freezes regularly.
  • Inspect the roof for loose, damaged or missing pieces.
  • Check attic vent openings for nests or other blockages.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Molly's Therapy Visits - Plus Pictures

Today Molly and I went down to a hospital in Honolulu for the elderly. It's a long term hospital and the elderly patients really miss having animals around to enjoy. Molly (my dog) is a Therapy Dog. Molly enjoys the attention and these wonderful folks enjoy a change in the day. It lifts their spirits and bring big smiles to their faces.

If you have a well trained pet this is very rewarding and a really great way to put smiles and happiness in someone life. Call your local Animal shelter or Humane Society and ask them if your area has a Dog Therapy program.

Refinance - What are the Costs? What are the Benefits

Ever heard the old rule of thumb, you should only refinance if your new interest rate is at least two points lower? That may have been true years ago, but with refinancing dropping in cost over the last few years, it's never the wrong time to think about a new loan! Refinancing has a number of benefits that often make it worth the up-front expenditure many times over.
When you refinance, you might be able to lower your interest rate and monthly payment -- sometimes significantly. You might also be able to "cash out" some of the built-up equity in your home, which you can use to consolidate debt, improve your home, take a vacation -- whatever! With lower rates and balances, you might also be able to build up home equity faster with a shorter-term new mortgage.

All these benefits do cost something, though. When you refinance, you're paying for most of the same things you paid for when you obtained your original mortgage. These might include settlement costs and other fees, an appraisal, lender's title insurance, underwriting fees, and so on.

You might have to pay a penalty if you refinance your previous mortgage too quickly. That depends on the terms of your existing mortgage. These penalties are illegal in some places, and more often than not when you have one of these penalties on your current mortgage it applies only for the first year or two. So you’ll want to check your current note and see if you have prepayment penalties.

You might pay points to get a more favorable interest rate. If you pay (on average) three percent of the loan amount up front, your savings for the life of the new mortgage can be significant. You should be aware that the IRS has recently said that points paid for the purpose of refinancing your mortgage cannot be deducted in their entirety in the year you pay them, unless the refinanced loan is primarily for home improvements. Consult your tax professional before deducting points you pay on your new mortgage from your federal income taxes.
Speaking of taxes, if you lower your interest rate, naturally you will be lowering the amount of mortgage interest payments you can deduct from your federal income taxes. This is another cost that some borrowers consider. So you’ll need to do the math or ask a professional mortgage consultant or CPA for advice.

Ultimately, for most people the amount of up-front costs to refinance are made up very quickly in monthly savings. I’d like to add that the cost of refinancing in most cases does not come out of pocket but will come out the new loan proceeds. Make sure you get the best loan for you and are working with a company that explains the many options available to you. Read your loan documents. In most states when you’re refinancing your primary home you have a 3 day rescission use that time to review your Note carefully and understand all the terms of you new loan.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


We have a big swell coming in with expected 18' to 20' waves on the North Shore of Oahu. Hopefully the Triple Crown can get underway now. Join in the fun and come to the North shore this winter. YOUR in for a good time.

These big waves are for the very experienced surfers ONLY!

So be happy just watching. We hear all to often about a tourist drowning in the Hawaiian waters. Be careful even on the shore line as these waves are hiting the shores like a freight train and the undertoe is incredible, even the best swimmers are threatened.
Winter in Hawaii is my favorite time of the year.
The weather is perfect and then there's the surfing- I mostly watch but I have a lot of fun watching. These waves are an incredible site.
I'd like to hear from any blogger /surfer.
I'd also like to hear from anyone who's been to Hawaii and has a vacation story or event to tell us all about.

Dumping Your Trash! The World Is Not Your Trash Can

Dumping your trash! The world is NOT your trash can!
Today while driving home I was behind a group of kids, about 8 in a pickup truck - some in the front and about 5 in the back cargo area.
I thought this was illegal but I live in Hawaii and it seems to be common place. These teenagers were eating and drinking food from a fast food restaurant as they were driving down the highway.
As they finished they ALL one by one threw their garbage out of the truck and onto the side of the road and a couple even out the back where I then run over it.
Needless to say I was very upset. I really couldn't believe my eyes. To see our youth with such a blatant disregard and lack of respect for their environment is so sad. Hawaiian people are continuously trying to keep their land and culture preserved for future generations but it appears that we are failing to instill the importance of something so simple as putting your trash in a trash can.
I mean didn't we all learn this as youngsters?
If you are a parent please teach your child how important this simple chore is and if you have a teenager remind him/her of this lesson I am sure was taught years ago. It's just so simple.
Go Green! Stay Green! Live Green. We just might have a tomorrow here on earth!

Scoring Your Credit - How Is Your FICO?

In today's increasingly automated society, it should come as no surprise that when you apply for a mortgage, your ability to pay can be reduced to a single number. All the years you've been paying your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

All three of the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a score. The best known is called the FICO score, based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company (hence the name) and used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON, while TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the primary factors are:

Credit History - How long have you had credit?
Payment History - Do you pay your bills on time?
Credit Card Balances - How much do you owe on how many accounts?
Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked?

Each of these, and other items, are assigned a value and a weight. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores range from 300 to 800, with higher being better. Typical home buyers likely find their scores falling between 600 and 800.
FICO scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

What can you do about your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Since the score is based on a lifetime of credit history, it is difficult to make a significant change in the number with quick fixes. The most important thing is to know your FICO score and to ensure that your credit history is correct. Conveniently, Fair Isaac has created a web site ( that let's you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO score from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available is some helpful information and tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score. Each of the credit services offers similar services on their web sites:,, and

Armed with this information, you will be a more informed consumer and better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage available to you.

Do you have a question - you know what to do!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Should I RENT Or Should I BUY now..........

Is renting just like throwing money out the window? Well yes and no depending on your view and circumstances. If you’re a smart renter you are putting away your hard earned money and investing in Stocks, Bonds and other investment vehicles. If your not then YES you are must likely throwing your money away and should think about purchasing a home. At least with a home you will hopefully grow equity. Real Estate should be a long term investment or at least the real estate you live in should be, investing in real estate is a whole other subject and not for the first time buyer.

But like so many recent home buyer’s that purchased during the boom you will want to make sure you can afford your new home. One of the first things I always ask a potential buyer is; what is your monthly housing comfort level. That is the best place to start because you may qualify for a larger payment but will you be comfortable making that payment. Remember you what to live in your house and be happy. NOT live to make your house payment. So be careful when someone tries to give you something you can’t afford, you are the only one that knows really what you can afford. Make sure you understand the terms of your loan. Make sure you have a well planned budget you can stick to.

Benefits of rent vs. own……

Renting leaves you free to move on when you want. NO ties to hold you down. With a home you are there until it sells. If it’s a seller’s market well no worries, but if you have to sell in a buyer’s market or slow market then you could be there for a while. Just as there are good reasons to rent so are there for owning your own home. The obvious reason come to mind like NO landlord, who needs someone always butting in if you want to paint your room purple or bring home a lost puppy. When you own your home it’s yours. Have your pets and purple room all day long. Oh and did I mention the tax benefits to owning. Well that’s just the frosting on the cake. You will get to write off the interest that you paid your lender every year on your taxes reducing your income and thus reducing your debt to the IRS.

Your geographical location could make all the difference……

Some areas in the good old USA are really hard for first time homebuyers. Here in Hawaii the medium Single Family Resident (SFR) is $625,000 while condos mediums are $300,000. Rents starts out around $1100.00 and up to $3000.00 for a normal 3 or 4/2 home on Oahu. Needless to say there are not many first time homebuyers in Hawaii. In fairness Hawaii does have areas of affordable housing we just need more. But many other states have this same problem. They too are finding ways to incorporate affordable housing and are closing the gap for the first time homeowners. Be patience – save your money – make good investments and if your company has a 401K plan you should be taking advantage of this benefit, if your company matches funds and you’re not participating then you really need to start participating today. Remember a 401k has penalties for early withdrawal but some will allow a withdrawal for the down payment of your primary resident.

If your thinking about buying and have questions - Ask and I'll anwser.
Even if you not buying I'd like to hear your opinion.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Fed Lowered Interest Rates - What About Your Rate???

At its meeting in October, the Federal Reserve cut its key interest rates by 0.5%. This is good news for many consumers who carry various types of debt. Within one or two payment cycles users of home-equity-lines-of-credit that are tied to the prime rate should see their interest rate decrease. Small business loans and consumer loans tied to prime rates will also carry lower rates moving forward. However credit card issuers are unlikely to pass along a reduced interest rate to any of their customers. So what's a card holder to do?

The answer is actually fairly simple - call the company and ask for a lower rate. In most case the first customer service representative that you speck with will be unable to help you, so make sure to ask for a supervisor. If you've been with the company for a longer period of time and have never had any late payments, make sure you point this out. Pointing out good credit scores and reminding the company that you can easily close your account and move to another issuer will often be enough for the supervisor to get the process started for your new lower rate.

If you have any comments or questions I'd like to hear them.

Mortgage RATE & Market UPDATE

This week brings us the release of only three relevant economic reports with only one of them being considered highly important. It is a holiday shortened week with the bond market closing early Monday and remaining closed Tuesday in observance of the Veterans Day holiday.

The first data of the week is September's Goods and Services Trade Balance report Thursday morning. It helps us measure the size of the U.S. trade deficit, but usually is not a major influence on bond trading or mortgage pricing. It does affect the value of the U.S. dollar, which makes U.S. securities more attractive to international investors when the dollar is strong. This is because the securities' proceeds are worth more when sold and converted to the investor's domestic currency. However, its results will not likely directly lead to changes in mortgage rates.

There are two reports scheduled for release Friday. October's Retail Sales report is the first. This report is very important to the financial markets because it measures consumer spending. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, any related data is watched closely. If this report reveals weaker than expected sales, the bond market should thrive and mortgage rates will fall. Current forecasts are calling for a drop in sales of approximately 1.2%.

The last of the week's three reports comes late Friday morning when November's preliminary reading of the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment will be released. This index measures consumer confidence, which gives us an indication of consumer willingness to spend. It is expected to show a reading of 57.0, down from October's final reading of 57.6.

There are 10-year Note and 30-year Bond auctions this week, Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Strong or very weak results from these sales could affect the momentum in the bond market and lead to afternoon changes in mortgage rates. It i s common to see pressure in bonds ahead of these sales, but as long as interest from investors is decent we should see those pre-sale losses recovered during afternoon trading of the sale days.

Overall, look for a fairly quiet week in the mortgage market compared to previous weeks unless something totally unexpected transpires. As long as the stock markets remain fairly calm, I am expecting to see mortgage rates follow suit.If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Lock if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now... This is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bonehead of the Week

A "to dumb to be a criminal" bonehead award goes to an unnamed man in San Francisco, CA.

It was the day that the jury was to decide whether the man was guilty or not for auto theft. While the man sat inside the courtroom, bystanders outside noticed an SUV with dogs inside. With the warm temperature the bystanders alerted the police. The man exited the court and headed to the SUV where police charged him not only with animal cruelty but also with stealing the SUV he drove to his auto theft trail!

Any comments?

If you have a bonehead story, I'd like to hear from you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Owning A HOME Costs More Today!

A major study from the Center for Housing Policy has confirmed what most people already knew- housing expenses are growing faster then paychecks. While mortgages often get the headlines, other household expense are raising even faster. From 1996 to 2006, incomes rose 36.3%. During the same period here is how much these expenses increased.
Mortgage Payments 46%
Utilities 43%
Property Taxes 66%
Property Insurance 83%
Most middle class Americans feel the presure of our current economy.
Some of you made have lossed jobs or taken a cut in your salary.
If you would like to express your opinion about the US financial state or maybe how you think it could be improved, I'd like to hear from you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mortgage RATE & Market UPDATE

Friday's bond market has opened in negative territory despite the release of a much weaker than expected Employment report. The stock markets are showing gains after a couple of sizable down days this week. The Dow is currently up 84 points while the NASDAQ has gained 17 points. The bond market is currently down 19/32, but we should still see an improvement in this morning's mortgage rates of approximately .250 of a discount due to a strong rally in bonds late yesterday. This morning's losses are taking back some of yesterday's late gains, but mortgage rates are still lower than yesterday's morning rates.

The Labor Department gave us some surprising readings this morning, saying that the U.S. unemployment rate jumped from 6.1% in September to 6.5% in October. They were expected to show a 6.3% unemployment rate. This was the highest rate of unemployment since March 1994.

The number of payrolls added or lost during the month also opened some eyes. The economy lost 240,000 jobs last month, which was worse than the 200,000 that was forecasted. But equally as bad was a large revision to September's payrolls. What was previously announced as a loss of 159,000 jobs in September is now being estimated at 284,000. This was the 10th consecutive monthly drop in payrolls and brings the yearly total to 1.2 million jobs lost and the first time we have seen 1 million jobs lost since 2001.

Today's report gives us little to be optimistic about in regards to the employment sector. It is becoming more and more clear to many analysts that the economy is actually in a recession despite the lack of an official announcement or other benchmark indicators. What is equally concerning is that many think the problems are going to get worse before better. This could be good news for bonds and mortgage shoppers, but the crazy volatility we have seen in the markets recently makes it very difficult to follow historical patter or make realistic predictions. There is little doubt that we will see more volatility in the coming weeks.

Next week is light in terms of the number of relevant economic reports scheduled for release. We will get some important data late next week, but the first part of the week there is nothing scheduled for release to be concerned with. This make sit very likely that the stock markets will be the biggest influence on bonds and mortgage rates the first couple of days of the week. But look for more details on next week's event sin Sunday's weekly preview.

If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Lock if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now... This is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.

Aloha FRIDAY!!!

Another Day In Paradise..... I am on day two of my blog. I have to tell you I didn't think I was going to like all the writing much with so little time. But I think if I can do it first thing in the morning I'll be able to fit it into my oh so busy schedule. But it's Friday and I normally work 1/2 days on Friday. Molly(my dog) and I will be hitting the beach this afternoon. So you blogger's out there, I hope you like my new blog. I get a lot of questions on a daily basis from clients and associates, so I thought I'd start answering them in a blog too. I have an endless amount of material so I shouldn't have any problems with that dreaded writer's block or the WB I've heard tell about, but never experienced. So tell me what you want to hear or ask a question about anything that has to do with Real Estate and the financing of Real Estate, Credit and Credit Repair. I've got your answers!

Oh my market report will be finished soon. It will be interesting to see if anyone is interested or if you are all just tried of hearing about the market. It's alot of work so if no one wants it or comments on it - I will delete it from my blog. But you be the judge and let me know!

For The Mortgage Industry, It Is BACK To Basics

Over the last few months, we’ve seen sweeping changes to many facets of American life. From election to the financial market to the mortgage industry, change seems to be the norm. However, for many of the older generation and those who have been in the mortgage industry for a long time, many of the changes represent a return to the basics. With the disappearance of the NINA (NO Income, No Asset), the SISA (Stated Income, Stated Assets) and other exotic loans, we’re now more focused on another mnemonic, the Four C’s.

The Four C’s of mortgage lending refer to the four major elements that underwriters review when making a decision on whether or not to approve a mortgage loan. These elements are Capacity, Character (often referred to as Credit); Capacity refers to a borrower’s ability to repay the loan, based on the borrower’s income and various assets that a borrower could convert to cash, should they need it. Whether or not you are likely to repay the loan is summed up by your Character. Lenders rely primary on your credit report, and other sources of payment history to assess your Character. The property itself is the Collateral for the loan. In other words, it is what the lender would have if you failed to make your payments. The final C is the Capital or the town payment that the borrower brings to close the deal. The Four C’s are often explained as the four legs of a chair. While a chair might be balance with three legs, no chair will remain upright with only two legs. Of course the logic follows that a chair with four strong legs will almost always stand.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mortgage RATE & Market UPDATE

Thursday's bond market has opened in negative territory despite another round of stock losses and favorable economic news. The stock markets are continuing yesterday's late selling that drove the Dow down 486 points and the Nasdaq down 98 points. The Dow has currently lost another 174 points while the Nasdaq has fallen 41 points. The bond market has fluctuated this morning between positive and negative ground, but currently stands down 11/32. This should mean that this morning's mortgage rates will be approximately .125 - .250 of a discount point higher than yesterday's rates.

This morning's release of the 3rd Quarter Productivity reading revealed a larger than expected increase of 1.1% in employee output. This was slightly higher than forecasts, but is still considered to be good news for bonds because high levels if productivity allows the economy to grow without inflationary pressures rising.

The second piece of data this morning was last week's unemployment figures from the Labor Department. They reported that 481,000 new claims for benefits were filed last week. This was a drop from the previous week but higher than expected. This news isn't the cause of this morning's stock weakness, but today's data was watched more closely due to the importance of tomorrow's monthly report.

October's Employment report will be released early tomorrow morning. It is expected to show that the economy lost 200,000 jobs, that unemployment rate moved from 6.1% to 6.3% and that average earnings rose 0.2% during the month. The large drop in payrolls and 0.2% jump in the unemployment rate are numbers of concern to the markets, therefore, I don't believe that we will need to see weaker than expected results to see bonds improve and mortgage rates move lower.

I am expecting to see more volatility in bonds and mortgage rates in the days ahead. Accordingly, it may be a good time to lock if closing in the immediate future. Regardless though, I strongly recommend maintaining contact with your mortgage professional over the next week or so.

If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now... This is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.

Reverse Mortgage

As us baby boomers move into our senior years one of the most asked questions I get lately is about REVERSE MORTGAGE (also called home equity conversion loans) This product enables elderly homeowners, that's right elderly don't you just hate that term anyway reverse mortgage allow a 62 plus homeowner to tap into their equity; you receive a lump sum, a monthly payment or a line of credit. The best part about this is you don't have to pay it back until you sell the property, move into a retirement home or well I hate to say DIE!
When you sell or no longer use it as your primary residence, you or your estate must repay the cash you received form the reverse mortgage plus interest and other finance charges to the lender.

REVERSE MORTGAGE is ideal for a homeowner who is retired and no longer working. They can supplement their income, rates can be fixed or adjustable - I recommend fixed!!!! The money is nontaxable and does not, I repeat does NOT interfere with Social Security or Medicare benefits.

Another misconception I hear a lot is will the lender be able to take my properties?
Your lender cannot take property away if you outlive your loan nor can you be forced to sell your home to pay off your loan even if the loan balance grows to exceed property value.

The most important issue when considering a Reverse Mortgage are;
2. Check out Reverse Mortgages at;
3. Know the difference between US HUD Insured vs Non HUD Reverse Mortgages.

1. No Monthly payments while you live in YOUR home!!
2. Stops foreclosure or Late payments
3. Easy to qualify
4. Get Cash Out OR just stop current Mortgage Payments
5. Your family can keep the property after you died. They just have to repay the loan.
6. REVERSE Mortgage is available in all 50 states.

I hope this blog has been informative for you. If you have comments or questions please let me know.