Loan MODIFICATION Opportunity, courtesy of President Obama

In my previous post I shared my excitment over a new refinance program.  Over the last eight days I have identified many of my clients as potential benefactors of this program.  Others, however, are not eligible for one reason or another.

As an alternative to this new refinance program, The Obama Administration has also released a universal loan MODIFICATION program.  A modification is different from a refinance in that you work with your current lender to modify the terms of your existing loan rather than obtaining new terms on a new loan.  Modifications are generally treated on a case-by-case basis, and up to this point modifications have not been wildly successful for homeowners nor banks.

Obama’s new program, however, provides guidelines for banks to follow when working through modification agreements, and financial incentives to both home owner and lender for maintaining successful modification terms.  These elements will hopefully increase the effectiveness of modifications and ultimately keep more people in their homes and keep fewer homes up for sale.

An article was just published by and announces that some of the biggest lenders and mortgage servicers in the country have begun to participate in the loan modification program. 

If you have either independently determined or had my help in determining your ineligibility for the new refinance program, go to this link to help determine if you are eligible for a loan modifiaction.  This site is a great resource for information on how the modification program works.

I hope this information is helpful.  Let me know if you have any questions.

March 2009: Hurricanes

If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead
It will make you strong.
Don’t try to explain it, just nod your head
Breath in, breath out, move on.
Jimmy Buffett, “Breath In, Breath Out, Move On”

These lyrics come from one of my favorite Jimmy ballads (listen to the song here), and they are words that resonate loudly in our world right now.  As a professional in the “eye” of the real estate market, I discuss figurative hurricanes on a daily basis with clients.  There is no shortage of hurricanes, but in all likelihood the hurricanes we are facing won’t leave us dead.  But how will we let them leave us?  Weaker or stronger?  Jaded or wiser?

I mistakenly am hung up on trying to explain life’s unexplainable hurricanes, such as the financial hurricane surrounding us all.  Over the last several months my laissez-faire philosophy on economics has been rattled.  Contrary to my previous beliefs, I now believe freely allowing capitalist forces to take their natural course has negatively exaggerated the boom and bust of this decade’s economic cycle as the policies of few have affected the lives of many.  I have explored explanations by revisiting an extremely influential book on my economic beliefs, The Worldly Philosophers.  While I have found new insight while re-reading the chapters about Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes and other great economic minds, there are obviously no explanations.  The current financial leaders of our world don’t seem to have answers; I should expect no more from myself.  I need to learn to just “nod my head”, accept the hurricanes outside of my control, and trust in my faith rather than my logic to explain life’s conundrums at the appropriate times.

Above all else, we should adopt the title of this song into our daily lives.  While it’s important to allow our struggles to make us stronger, and our faith to make us enduring, those mantras are useless unless we can learn to “move on” from difficult times.

January 2009: My Market Forecast



It has become tradition to take out my crystal ball at the beginning of each year and try to foresee the future, but also re-cap my previous year’s market projections.  New to this year, however, I hope you too will share your own market opinions through an on-line survey (see below).  Enjoy my market guesses for what they are (guesses!), and I will look forward to hearing yours.

As always, I simplify my housing market forecasts into 3 categories: supply, demand, and interest rates.


‘08 Projection: “I expect only homeowners who must sell their homes will be trying to do so in 2008, which will help prices stabilize by the end of the year.
‘08 Result: In Sacramento County, the median home price fell $100,000 to a new decade-low of $180,000.  But, during the 1st half of the year they fell markedly faster than the 2nd half of 2008, showing a slow-down of price drops.  From September to December, the median home price fell less than $15,000.  Additionally, there were 28% fewer homes up for sale in Dec. 2008 compared to Dec. 2007.
’09 Projection: Supply will remain low until April because many banks opted to not foreclose on properties during December and January.  Once those back-logged repossessed homes hit the market in the spring Sacramento will likely see a large number of homes for sale.  If I had to guess, the number of homes for sale will roller-coaster up and down throughout the year, and end up close to it’s current level.


‘08 Projection: “Buyer demand will…strengthen…as buyers get off the sidelines and pounce on amazing deals the Sacramento region has not seen since 2003.
‘08 Result: Contrary to main-stream media, gobs of Sacramento home shoppers bought in 2008.  According to the Sacramento Association of REALTORS, 81% more homes were bought in 2008 compared to 2007.  Most of these homes were at the entry-level price ranges (which largely contributed to the big fall of the median home price).  First-time home buyers and investors alike found many affordable homes with monthly mortgage payments comparable to a monthly rent payments.
’09 Projection: While the global economic crisis has raised fears as to whether home prices will continue to fall, I believe low prices, low interest rates, and tax incentives will keep entry-level buyers extremely active in 2009.


Interest Rates
‘08 Projection: “Mortgage rates will be incredibly low…as the economy will slow further…with sluggish employment and consumer spending figures.” 
‘08 Result:  Mortgage rates ended 2008 at ridiculously low levels, with 30 year fixed mortgages below 5%.  Most zero and low down-payment programs went away last year, leaving only well-qualified borrowers with these super-low rates.
’09 Projection: With continued government intervention, mortgage rates will remain well below 6% for the year.  Lending guidelines will remain tight, but those able to qualify will have unbelievable refinance and home buying opportunities.

Looking back, my crystal ball was working fairly well in 2008.  As our economic challenges widen and government interventions heighten, the housing market will be increasingly dynamic and unpredictable.  Nevertheless, it’s fun to predict and I would love to hear your market predications.  Fill out this brief survey, and I will compile and share the results of these surveys with you next month.

Regardless of the market’s behavior, I look forward to providing insightful, professional service to you and those you refer me in 2009.

November 2008: My Favorite Quotes from Leaders

7765_photo1_fuRegardless of how you voted in this year’s presidential election, I hope you had the opportunity to watch Barack Obama’s acceptance speech on election night.  Even though he will lead our country in a time of enormous doubt and difficulty, his speech was laced with optimism and potential for a “brighter day.”   It reminded me of some of my favorite quotes from other leaders in history:

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts.”
-Winston Churchill
Our economy has fallen flat on its face as of late.  Many have predicted Depression-esque conditions that will plague our country for years to come.  I encourage you to ignore those dramatizations.  While many consider our certain elements of our economy and banking system as failing, their circumstances are not fatal.  They will recover, and that determination to recover is what makes America great.

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
-Dwight Eisenhower
Our government has been handing out bailout packages left and right.  With all of this bailout talk, it would be easy for us as individuals to put our hands out to the government and ask “wheres MY handout?”  We are privileged to live in a country with such means, but do not let this privilege cloud the principles that make the independent, can-do spirit of America so strong.

“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
-Albert Einstein
I LOVE this quote.  As you may have come to know about me, I believe attitude is everything. Our country faces a difficult road ahead in economics, politics, and war.  You too may be facing challenges with an unstable job outlook or ailing health condition.  Don’t let these problematic events take away your positive attitude, for doing so will make your challenges even harder to overcome and bring on additional ones in the future. 

“Recession is when a neighbor loses his job.  Depression is when you lose yours.”
-Ronald Reagan
Keep in mind that our economy’s struggles are affecting us all differently.  Just because your job, finances, and investments have remained in tact doesn’t mean that others have fared as fortunately.  While news anchors may debate the definition of a recession, be considerate to others whose hard times are all the evidence they need to understand the state of our economy.

I’m not talking about politics; I’m talking about attitude.  Like President-elect Obama said about our county’s future; “the road ahead will be long; the climb will be steep.  But America I have never been more hopeful that we will get there.”  Adopt the right attitude in testing times, and you will prevail.

Next month I will elaborate on our current economic challenges and how they could very well mean good things for Northern California housing in 2009.  Until then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

August 2008: Challenges


“When you contend with challenges that test your strength, you move more surely towards the top”
“Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”

These quotes have encircled my life and those around me as of late.  Many of my close friends are going through challenging times: financial, relational, and health. Life is rarely a cake-walk, and I’d bet you have some significant challenges facing you right now too.

Some challenges we go looking for.  We may challenge our physical abilities by taking on a work-out regimen.  Or perhaps our intellect by going back to school.  We may challenge ourselves in our faith and ideals to evaluate our moral compass and to avoid becoming sedentary in our beliefs.  Challenges keep us sharp, make us passionately strive for improvement, and move us “more surely towards the top.”

Challenges can also come looking for us.  Case in point: Spencer, my friend who is battling cancer, is about to face his biggest challenge yet on his road back to a healthy life.  On September 5th, he will go to Stanford Hospital to undergo his final phase of his bone marrow transplant to remove the cancerous cells causing his multiple-myeloma.  The near lethal doses of chemo will come close to killing him, but then his body will come back stronger and cancer-free.  Up until Spencer’s challenge, I considered the “whatever doesn’t kill you” line a trifle way of finding the silver lining of a bad situation.  Spencer’s experience, however, has changed my perception of this quote.

For those of us outside the vortex of the challenge, they are words of encouragement.  For those of us facing the challenge, it is a mantra to help you get through the pain.  For those of us who conquer the challenge, this quote is a life-defining testimonial.

If you feel inclined, I urge you to send your thoughts, prayers, and emails to Spencer prior to and during his stay at Stanford.

Challenges are opportunities to learn, endure, and strengthen.  Just don’t allow them to kill your spirit or positive attitude along the way.

May 2008: Get Out There…In Your Community

In last month’s post I passed along encouraging words from Spencer for all of us to “get out there” and enjoy life.  I hope you took Spencer’s encouragement seriously, and that you are looking for a good work/life balance that I too am striving for.  I would like to stay with the “get out there” theme this month as well, but in a different light.


I have had the opportunity over the last several months to get out and become involved in my community.  For the last nine months, I have participated in Folsom Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy.  It is a class geared towards developing leadership skills, and I am honored to have been a part of the 20+ enriching sessions.  As a result of this academy, I have become involved in the Folsom community in a number of ways; ways I never thought possible prior to my participation.  My involvement has also increased my awareness, appreciation, and connection to a town I’ve called home all my life. 


Additionally, I am currently working with a group of my peers to create a Young Professionals Organization within our community where young professionals can fellowship and develop in their career pursuits.


This process of getting out there and becoming involved in my community has been a very rewarding experience.  I encourage you to get out into your community and become involved in causes, benefits, and projects that interest you.  You will become a fuller person, your career will indirectly benefit from your involvement, and your world will be a better place.  Get out there, and make a difference.

April 2008: “Get Out There” a la Spencer

Spring is here!  It’s expected to be 80 degrees this weekend in Sacramento, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.  I read something a few weeks ago that I wanted to pass on.  It was written by Spencer, my friend I wrote about in February, on his blog.  He was encouraging everyone to “get out there” and enjoy the weather, and life in general.  Here it is:


Yesterday’s (weather) was perfect…It seems not so long ago that a day like this would be all I would need for an excuse to get out and enjoy. Somewhere along the way things like paying mortgages and health care bills, meeting deadlines and closing deals became more important. Now I see the error in my way. The fact is that we are all living on a finite schedule and at the end I am going to measure our life not in the things that I have acquired or the amount of money I have made but in the experiences I have had and the differences I have made in other people’s lives. I can not make a difference in someone else’s life unless I am centered. The way that I get centered is to enjoy perfect moments. Days like yesterday…are so conducive to that perfect moment that there should be NO excuse not to get out and enjoy them.

You may be reading this right now and thinking “yeah sounds good but I have got to do XYZ thing or else blah blah blah.” Well you may be right but I would encourage you to ask yourself what will really happen if you take the day or the afternoon or morning off? I mean really what would happen? There is someone willing to watch your kids or do a trade with you. Your clients will either not know or understand that you need to take some time for “personal issues.” Your work will not bust you for taking a sick day. I can guarantee that all that stuff that you are working on will still be there when you get back and the only difference is that you will be refreshed and ready to go to work…

So call your friends, make a plan and get out and enjoy. While you still can…Go ahead, I give you permission. Your spouse will understand. The people around you will appreciate it because you will mellow out a bit and god knows you need it. Do this and I promise you this, you will be happier and better for it, and you will feel better than those who choose not to do it.

His message really inspired me.  For the next several weeks, Mary and I have made a conscious effort to “get out there” and do what we love most…travel.  We plan on going on vacation with some friends to Donner Lake, then with family to Dillon Beach, and then the two of us are off to Switzerland.


I encourage you to take Spencer’s message to heart, get out there, and live it up!

March 2008: C’est la vie

This time of year is a time of great anticipation for me.  I can’t wait for the warm weather to arrive.  When late winter teases us with a few days of sunshine I don my shorts and sandals, convinced that spring is here to stay.  Then suddenly the rain clouds settle in again and I wonder if spring will ever come.  C’est la vie…


“Such is life”…the weather can be a reflection of the tides of life.  Consider these little nuggets:


The weather never asks us what we want.  It has its own agenda.  C’est la vie…we never ask for many of the things we get in life, especially the bad things.  We must deal with the rain clouds of our lives, and have faith that a rainbow is just around the corner.


The weather is never constant.  It is always changing.  C’est la vie…no two days are the same, nor would we ever want them to be.  We all need to think about this blessing of change the next time we find ourselves complaining about the weather, or life in general.


There isn’t a single place on Earth where it never rains, or a place that never receives sunlight.  C’est la vie…we all have our ups and downs in life, and none of us are blessed with permanent happiness, nor cursed with constant depression.


The rain is a necessity in this world.  Without it, our flowers would never bloom.  C’est la vie…the struggles we face and the obstacles we overcome are what make us human.  Without them, we would not be the dynamic people God intended us to be.


The weather can be transcendent to each of us.  If you’re soaking up the sun in your life right now, that’s great!  Be thankful for your happiness everyday.  Or, if you have a rain cloud hovering over you, hang in there.  Your sunshine will come soon.


As I have collected my thoughts for this letter, I have found myself inspired to embrace this unpredictable weather, knowing that consistent sunshine will be here in no time.  I hope that you too find inspiration from this letter.  If not, at least you now know what “C’est la vie” means.

February 2008: Living in Gratitude

Gratitude…that has been the name of the game for the last several weeks.  Most of the time we find ourselves grateful for when life is rolling right along and everything is going our way.  To the contrary, I am currently witnessing a great friend live in gratitude while being dealt the worst news of his young life.  This friend has been diagnosed with cancer on the eve of his 41st birthday. 


You may know this friend…he is my co-worker of seven years, Spencer.  In the face of this battle with cancer, a battle that so many of us would face with anger, resentment or self-pity, I have witnessed Spencer begin this battle in gratitude.  He isn’t grateful to have cancer, but rather he is grateful for the circumstances, tools, and people in his life that will allow him to fight this battle fiercely.  He is grateful he will fight this battle instead of a loved one.  He is grateful for the support he has around him that won’t let him fight this battle alone.  He is grateful he has reasons to fight.


As for me…I am grateful to have the opportunity to watch Spencer be a shining inspiration to those around him during this difficult time.  He reminds me to not face adversity with fear, but with gratitude.  He reminds me that it is attitude, not actions or accomplishments, that makes a great man, father, leader, and friend.  Spencer has been all of these things during the best of times.  Now I get to watch him be so during the hardest of times.


I pass this story and my feelings towards it on to you for three reasons:

1.) I want you to keep Spencer, his wife, and two young daughters in your prayers;  

2.) I want you to be as inspired by Spencer as I am; and

3.) I want to challenge you to face your adversities in gratitude. 


As Mary, my wife, so eloquently said this past weekend…the importance is not what happens in our lives, but rather how we handle life as it happens to us.  We are all faced with things in our life we didn’t ask for, deserve, or control.  What exactly these things are is immaterial.  Instead, our character is defined by how we decide to approach these challenges life throws our way. 


When life gets rough, will you chose to live in fear, anger, isolation, confusion, and bitterness…or in gratitude?  I promise you that single attitudinal choice will do more to determine the outcome of your battle than any other action. 

Choose well.

July 2007: Working and Playing Smart

Last month, I wrote to you about my excitement for an upcoming vacation.  This month I am happy to report the vacation was as incredible as we all had hoped!  I’ve been back for a few weeks now, still reflecting about the good times that were had.  Reminiscing about our vacation also led to me to reflect about my business too; a result of me approaching both business and pleasure in the same manner.  Let me tell you about one characteristic that heavily influences both my work and my play, and also ask for your help in addressing it.


I’m the type who’s always looking to improve from one experience to the next.  On our vacation I was the unofficial captain of our sail boat, so I had the responsibility of protecting my crew and our boat (and barking out orders too!).  Thankfully, everyone came home in one piece and we didn’t run into anything all while having a fantastic, uninhibited time.  Once back home, though, Mary and I were discussing the things we learned that can be applied on the next trip to make it that much more enjoyable.


I am the same way about my professional life too.  In my business of serving you, I am always trying to identify better ways to make my business more valuable to you.  Most notably, I expanded my services four years ago to include one-stop shopping for both mortgage and real estate services at discounted prices.  My working goal is to find ways to make your next transaction that much more enjoyable for you.  The only problem is, however, I have no way of fully knowing how I can better serve you unless I ask.


Included with this letter is a survey that will immensely help me in improving my business of serving you.  It is comprised of questions to address our past, present, and future workings together.  I would greatly appreciate it if you took two minutes to complete the nine question survey and return it in the included pre-postaged envelope.  As a thank you, I will also send you a gift card of your choice.


Most of us work the same way we play.  Some folks work hard and play hard.  I would like to think I work smart and play smart by striving for improvement in all I do.  It is my honor to work for you and those who you refer, so thank you in advance for helping me identify ways to better fulfill this honor.