Happy Chinese New Year!
And This Little Piggy Went
February 5th is Chinese New Year and if you were born in these years – 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, then you are a Pig (in a good meaning of the word). The chubby cheeks and big ears epitomize the Chinese symbol of wealth. Here are some of the characteristics that the Chinese supposedly attribute to one born under this sign. Take it with a couple grains of salt!
- Beautiful personality
- Good fortune through life
- Problem solver, takes action
- Not great communicators or conversationalists
- Good providers for family
- Not wasteful spenders, but the women have a good track record at keeping their wealth
- Energetic and enthusiastic at whatever they do
- The best match for them is a person who is a Tiger
- The worst match is one who is a Snake
Interested in discovering more? Go to https://chinesenewyear.net/zodiac/pig/
NEW YEAR, NEW STRATEGIES
As we start this year of the Pig, it is time to review the old and plan for the new. Here is a short article on business planning strategies written by Ben Smidt, a digital strategy manager, that I came across. Don’t let the title of “Mortgage Expert Insights” turn you off, the 7 strategies that the author researched and recommends are well thought out and applies not only to any company in any industry but also to us as individuals. Here they are:
- Understand your personal values
- Make specific goals
- Block out times to achieve the goals
- Be accountable
- Develop content and brand yourself
- Evaluate your progress
So I have decided that my specific goal for this year is… to follow these 7 strategies in all the other goals I plan to come up with. We’re only 30 days into the year; I have time to plan… right?
RECESSION – THERE IS NO ESCAPING IT
I know we don’t want to hear the “R” word and we don’t want to talk about it. Unfortunately, seeing no evil, speaking no evil and hearing no evil doesn’t mean that evil does not exist.
I just signed 20 some checks for a transaction that was a HELOC refinance to consolidate debt. The Borrower had more credit cards but the 20 were the minimum that the Heloc lender insisted get paid through escrow. Does this sound familiar? Haven’t we been there done that, and not too long ago? A throwback to 2005-2006 when consumers were foolishly spending money they didn’t have and using their residence as a piggy bank.
There is no doubt that a recession is coming. Housing is down, the trade wars are a contributing factor, and this government shutdown did not do it any favors. It’s just a matter of how deep it will go, or will we be lucky enough to get off lightly? Here is the article that makes the case that it is time to tighten the belts. Again.
THERE IS HOUSING (NON) AFFORDABILITY….
A sign of the recession is the affordability of housing. The simple formula is that as non-affordability goes up, the chances of recession increases along with it. Across the world here are the 10 least affordable cities for housing and regretfully, California cities have the dubious honor of having 3 of them listed. Not too hard to guess – where else but San Jose, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Last month I mentioned that some tech companies in California’s Bay area are investing in projects providing affordable housing, given that they are the cause of non-affordability. More better news on that as $500 million has been pledged by a variety of companies, including Facebook and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
In Seattle, Microsoft is also doing the same, pledging $500 million to fund construction , give out grants, low income housing loans and developer loans. As the funds are repaid, it goes back into the pot and lent out again. This continuous cycle is awesome news and sure beats a single one-time infusion with no future replenishment.
On another note, the State of California is stepping in and will be filing legal action against cities which are obstructing affordable housing construction. This is an “unprecedented step for an unprecedented housing crisis,” says California’s new Governor, Gavin Newsom. The Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) is charged with accounting for how well the cities are meeting their residents’ needs and it looks like the first case of litigation is against the City of Huntington Beach (and of course they are suing the State back). And talking about the HCD….
Remember SB2, the legislative bill enacted in 2017 which would collect $75.00 per recording of certain documents and funnel the funds through for affordable housing? One year later the HCD has released a tentative funding allocations chart and a draft guideline on how they are planning the SB2 Grant Program. However, no actual figures have been made public as to how many millions of dollars have been collected, but on the other hand, the State is filing legal action against cities. How does this work now?
Where’s the beef? We are calling for transparency, Governor Newsom!
… AND THERE IS HOUSING AFFORDABILITY
Well, I would say that Ken Griffin, a billionaire hedge fund manager, has no problem with housing affordability when he closed escrow on the most expensive property ever sold in the U.S. for $238 million in New York City. That is besides the other prime properties purchased in other cities worldwide.
Is anyone else hyperventilating like me?
ANOTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION DATA BREACH
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but 24 million mortgage and banking documents were found online in an unprotected database. Here is the article on the first investigation and in a second investigation they found another server with unprotected mortgage documents. Seriously? Who dropped the ball? Did someone forget even a simple “password protection?” So here we are, floating in the ether for anyone to grab and look, 10 years worth of mortgage documents for loans made by various institutions like CitiFinancial, HSBC Life Insurance, Wells Fargo, Capital One and even the government HUD department. If you had any financial dealings with these companies in the last 10 years, whether they exist now or not, well, you may be getting information in the mail and be prepared to download your credit reports at least yearly to make sure nothing untoward has been happening….
WHAT’S NEW IN MORTGAGE FRAUD?
Interested in seeing how some mortgage fraud is being perpetuated? Fannie Mae has sent out two alerts to Lenders to be very cautious when verifying the borrower’s place of employment in the Los Angeles area. Dataplus Communications? Bridge Worldwide Financial? OC Media Developers? Fake! Fake! Fake! Apparently, fraudulent information is given on the place of employment and Fannie has been keeping tabs. Good girl, Fannie!
A second article adds to the list and also gives out red flags that a fraudulent loan app may be in hand – “starting salary appears high,” “paystubs lack typical withholding,” and of course, “employer does not exist.” Making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.
Did I mention in my blogs that in this day and age, we and the Lenders know that FRAUD in all its types and forms exist everywhere? Did these Borrowers think that Lenders don’t check if the employer company exists? Or perhaps these are cases of the fraudster being so skilled at FAKE documentation that the Lender is taken in, hook line and sinker.
AN INNOVATIVE WAY OF SELLING YOUR HOME
For $25.00 you can enter a contest and if you win, receive a $1.7 million dollar home. Yes, this is the very innovative way of selling a beautiful home. The Canadian homeowner, who was not able to sell her home at her listing price, designed a contest in which, for an investment of an entry fee of CAN $25.00 (Canadian dollars) and the submission of an essay on why the contestant should win, some lucky winner could walk away with her home. Once the contest closes, social media and a panel of judges would decide on the best essay and thus the winner. I am not smart enough to make up this stuff so here is the full article and pictures. There are conditions, however. The contest is good only if the homeowner does not sell the home through regular means during the time of the contest and only if the entry fees garnered totals up to the $1.7 million dollar asking price. That’s 68,000 people signing up.
It’s amazing what people will think of and with the advent of the Internet, some of these ideas can actually work. Just think, for the price of 4 lattes and a descriptive essay you could be the winner of a $1.7 million home. It’s like winning the lottery, except you have to have mad writing skills.
A “ROTARY” PHONE? IS THAT SOME SORT OF ANDROID PHONE?
I am not sure if kids today have ever seen or used a rotary phone but I am fairly certain that Gen Z kids (born 1995 or later), have not, outside of a museum, at least. So here, as the funny of the month, is a video clip of a couple of Gen Z-ers who try to figure out how a rotary phone works.
We laugh, but it’s no exaggeration; they really don’t know. These low or no-tech gizmos will floor them every single time. In fact, I have my own video clip of me teaching a Gen Z employee how to turn on a typewriter and make it work…
“My goal for 2018 was to lose 10 pounds. It’s 2019 and I only have 15 to go.”
Happy Chinese New Year of the Pig! Gung Hay Fat Choy!
You Have Questions? We Have Answers!
“Escrow is my FOREMOST language!”