May 2016 Newsblog

As I compose this edition of my newsblog I am in the midst of preparing to go to Washington D.C.

Yep, it’s that time of the year again when I and my peers from EIC (Escrow  Institute of California) get to go and check out how our friends in high places are faring, what with the excitement of an … unusually polarizing political year (and how is that for a carefully crafted bland political sentence!).

In truth, my escrow industry needs help as we struggle with Lender demands and government regulations.

So here we go, hat in hand, hoping that as we seek so we shall find (Matthew 7:7).

Jockeying for time with Congressional reps, making nice with other trade organizations, begging for appointments with key government agencies, and strategizing how to take The Hill by storm, all this takes time and effort!

So in order to take on the extra work I decided to give up sleeping.

Thus I will have another 5 extra hours a day to race with the rat. Perfect!

Contact my Chinese clients at 12:00 midnight for my day job and contact the “friends” on the East Coast at 5:00 a.m. for the extracurricular activities.

Sleeping was overrated anyway.

I just love reading about how housing prices are falling in San Francisco, don’t you?

No need to look skeptical, yes they are. Well, really, when life is stratospheric there is nowhere to go but down, is there?

According to this article, housing prices in the Bay Area fell by 1.8%. So wow, a $3 million dollar 2 bedroom starter-upper now costs $2,946,000. I bet there is a huge rush to the signing table.

On the other hand, CAR’s pending home sales report says there is an increase in sales in that same Bay Area of 8.6%. Okay.

Before we get too excited let’s look at it this way. If 18 properties sold at gazillion dollars in February and there are 20 such sales for March that is an 8% increase, right?

See how my mind works? But you get the gist of it. It is all relative.

Talking about relatives, Wang Jianlin, Asia’s richest person (no he is not a relative yet, but if he has a marriageable age son, I do have a daughter…), is buying a Trump-like Tower in Chicago and I gotta admit, just looking at the pictures brings out the acrophobia (fear of heights) in me.

Except the picture of the wine “cellar” – that one brings out the oenophilia (love of wine) in me. I love Wikipedia.

I might also be a candidate for claustrophobia if someone were ever to shove me into this 84 square foot home where you can barely turn around before hitting a wall. Gives “arms-length transaction” a new meaning, doesn’t it? Does one really need to be so intimate with the toilet?

As we talk about real estate, large or small, there is a certain cache to be able to say that you bought your mansion on a fly-by, which means that your real estate professional is really showing you the property from a different viewpoint via helicopter.

Wow, how cool is that! Never mind the inside, what a great picture of the roof!

Better yet, have your real estate agent take you on a fly-by of Cal-Nev-Ari near that mining town known as Vegas.

For a measly $8 million only (Bay Area standards) you get your whole town, including the prerequisite casino and let’s throw in that airstrip for that glamorous heli of yours.

Picture the hat in one hand and the short long list in other and you will see us storming that infamously renown presently embattled but still mighty bastion of consumer protection that is the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).

I am never too proud to beg for the good of all consumers and my industry, but you have to wonder if this is a good time, given the recent strong denouement by the Wall Street Journal of their highhanded practices. Here is the commentary of the WSJ editorial. Ouch, right?

Yes, yes, I know that I myself haven’t had that many opportunities to say much good of them, but then my newsblog is not, (unfortunately)  the WSJ and it is doubtful they would  ever zero in on my rantings and kick me out the door, at least not next week.

So yes, there is some trepidation, but, like any character in Game of Thrones, we march forward, gamely soldier on, and hope that we don’t get viciously terminated to make ratings.

Admittedly, you have to give the CFPB credit where credit is due.

Have you ever visited their Complaint site? Fascinating!

If you have been placed on phone hold,  take those few minutes by surfing that site.

This is where consumers can memorialize their complaints on just about everyone and every industry that the CFPB controls. The staff reviews each and every one of the complaints and, if serious enough, the transgressor will get a “friendly” note.

Not only that, the complaints are published on site and gathered into a monthly report, which is a pretty effective method of publicly shaming the the transgressor.

Last monthly report showed 223,000 mortgage complaints since the site’s inception.

To reduce it all to stats take a look at these.

So, ready to jump in and borrow? This is one time you don’t want to go with the top ten. As the CFPB says, you gotta “Know Before You Owe”.

This, my friends, is my public service announcement. We will now return to the regular programming.

Boy oh boy, I am really, really looking forward to that plane ride coming up.

Notwithstanding the cramped seating, lack of leg room, lack of food, and no aisle seat reservation, it will be 5 and ½ hours of pure white-out that I am going to take advantage of – no e-mails, no phone calls and especially no guilt trips for actually falling asleep. According to this survey from the National Sleep Foundation,

I am at the advanced age in which passing out for 5 hours is actually normal and acceptable. Here is my chance to give my body a rest. At 40,000 feet altitude. Because it’s not the altitude; it’s the attitude!

Okay, always leaving the best to the last, one final thing to let everyone know,

Our San Marino office is in the process of relocating.

By May 21st we should be fully relocated – staff, files, computers and Keurig coffee brewer – to 136 W. Walnut Ave., Monrovia, CA 91016.

After 18 years at this (hazardous) corner of Winston/Del Mar and Huntington, we have finally found our permanent home – in beautiful, quaint Monrovia.

We are thrilled and hope that you will all come to visit.  Well… at least Google Map us!


“Some people ask the secret of our long marriage.

We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week.

A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing.

She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.”

 ̴ Red Skelton ̴