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January 2014 Vol. 01 | Issue 2

the PIN magazine

IN THIS ISSUE: DONNEL SPIVEY Mel Watt: Why his appointment matters



CEO’s Corner: Generation Next


Brokers Are All Insane!


Your Home? Know the Perils of Off-MLS Listings

andrew jones

future of higher education.


happy New Year!

Global is the New Local

Realogy: The Business of Real EstateŽ Realogy Holdings Corp. is a global leader in real estate franchising with company-owned real estate brokerage operations doing business under our franchise systems as well as relocation and title services. Collectively, Realogy’s franchise system members operate approximately 13,500 offices with 241,700 independent sales associates doing business in 103 countries around the world.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE Esteemed Readers, Happy New Year and welcome to “The PIN” magazine’s January issue. I am excited about 2014 and looking forward to bringing our readers great articles from talented professionals in real estate, mortgages, business, health, technology and many more sectors every month. In the beginning our plan was to publish six issues a year. We have changed our plans due to some very wise counsel from experts in the industry and are going to publish twelve issues a year. I want to thank our readers and advertisers for their support in 2013 and for sharing the magazine with others. I also want to thank my incredible The Power Is Now team that helps make the Magazine and the Radio Show happen every day. From The PIN Magazine and the Frazier Family I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year. 2013 was an incredible year for me politically, professionally and personally. Politically, the year began with the inauguration of a second term for our first African-American President, which I believe no one really thought would or could happen. I certainly didn’t and I am so happy that I was wrong. Clearly it was not a fluke or luck but the mandate of the American People since it happened twice in row. When the President completes his second term he will be in the great company of 14 other Presidents who have completed two full terms. Not bad for the first and hopefully not the last African-American President. It was an inspiring moment to witness the inauguration on a big screen television from the California African-American Museum, and witness all the tears flowing from the older people in the audience who also thought they would never see the day when America had an African-American President (not even mentioning for two terms). It was truly a moving experience. I wish I would have made the trip to Washington. That was my first of many big mistakes in 2013. I am very proud that our country has come such a long way to achieve such an incredible milestone in our history. Jim Crow laws began in 1876 and ended in 1965. Only 49 years have passed since the end of Jim Crow and “We the People” of the United States of America have elected an African-American President, Barack Hussain Obama, twice in a row. This election is a victory for African Americans, for People of all Races, Religions and ethnicities and it is a victory for the Ideals that America stands for and is the reason why the Unites States of America is the greatest country on earth. Professionally, this was a challenging year for me and many of my peers. Contracting markets are always tough to deal with because there are fewer transactions and more competition. There are less resources, smaller budgets and layoffs that just keep coming. Our only hope was low interest rates, affordable prices and a thriving buyer market, but inventory has been constrained since 2011 and we saw interest move 100 basis points and drive many would be first time home buyers out of the market. It was also great to see real estate start to bounce back from four devastating years of foreclosure, unemployment and congressional gridlock, but we all know it is because of the low supply and high demand (although historically speaking, demand is low). It doesn’t take very many buyers to create very much pressure on price when there is very little inventory. What we are experiencing is the result of all banks selling in bulk to hedge funds who are renting and holding properties, and the banks modifying and holding, and borrowers sitting and waiting to sell or be forced out via foreclosure. Add to this malaise unprecedented regulatory reform that has already dramatically changed the landscape of lending, banking and real estate sales and we have potentially a nice little recession coming in the very near future. I hope I am absolutely wrong. But the truth is that no one knows what the ultimate outcome will be when the new regulatory laws take effect. All I hear is doom and gloom - hence this analysis. The conversation on Main Street is that regulatory reform will slow the economy down even more during a time when the Federal Reserve is pulling back from Quantitative Easing and causing interest rates to rise. This is not to say that regulatory reform is bad for the country but the reaction to the law is already bad and the unintended consequences are already being felt, and the laws are just now taking affect. Add Congress passing some version of QM and QRM, and unfortunately folks,

we are in for a rough ride. My prayer is that the ugly head of recession doesn’t raise its head as interest rates also rise and real estate values descend and put the country in an even more challenging tail spin downward. Unemployment is low but everyone knows it’s low because of how unemployment is calculated, and not because there are more people back to work. You do not have to be an economist to see how it all adds up. Save your money if you have any, even though unfortunately, if we all did that, spending would go down and we would be creating just another head wind to pull ourselves out of this mess. With this last sentence, do you mean to tell people that even though they should save their money, saving money will be bad for the economy overall? If yes, then the sentence is ok as is. Personally, 2013 was a big year because Ruby and I celebrated 32 years of marriage. During a time when divorce is so common place, especially during tough economic times, I am so thankful that I have a wife who understands that she and I are marriage partners for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, until death do us part. 32 years of marriage is a big win for me. If you have been married or you are currently married you know what an achievement it is for Ruby and I and for our family of four incredible, smart and beautiful girls. The second oldest is married to my wonderful Son-in Law Virgil and they are having their first child in March. So 2014 will be an incredible milestone for Ruby and I when we become Grandpa and Grandma. In addition, The Power Is Now Radio is growing and we have launched The Power Is Now magazine, which you are reading. There are other businesses that have grown out of The Power Is Now Inc., and we are just getting started. Now I know these business accomplishments should be put under the professional category but you must understand that I gave birth to The Power Is Now, and when you do that it’s not just business—it’s very personal. The January issue is an amazing collection of incredible articles on various subjects that all center on real estate. Please read all of them and share them electronically with your friends and family. They will appreciate receiving such valuable information for free. Thank you again for your continued support of The PIN magazine and The Power Is Now radio. God bless us all in our chosen profession, and the men and women and their families who serve our country all over the world, from our CommanderIn-Chief, to the infantrymen on the battlefield, to all the civil servants who keep us safe at home. May God Bless America. Happy New Year! Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA President/CEO of The Power Is Now Inc.

THE POWER IS NOW INC. Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA President and CEO Office: (800) 401-8994 Ext. 703 Direct: (714) 361-2105 Blogtalkradio: www.blogtalkradio. com/thepowerisnow

EDITION TEAM Eric Lawrence Frazier Editor in Chief (800) 401-8994 Ext. 703

Erica L. Frazier, MBA Assistant Editor (800) 401-8994 ext. 710 El Princess Eclar Digital Media Manager (800) 401-8994 ext. 702 Goldy Ponce Arratia Graphic Artist and Design Manager (800( 401-8994 ext. 711 D’Adrea Davie Assistant Editor

(800) 401-8994 ext. 704 Celeste Davie Copywriter (800) 401-8994 ext. 706 Rachel Bacol Relationship Manager (800) 401-8994 ext. 701 Eric Egana Staff Writer (800) 401-8994 ext. 701


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Mission and vision of the PIN Magazine (page 7)

What is a notary (page 13) Safety First (page 16) Realtist (page 20) Creating Buyrs (page 21) Being a top performer (page 22) Why brokers are all insane (page 24) Find your Why - Creating and maintaining leverage (page 28) Selling Your Home? Know the Perils of Off-MLS Listings (Page 30) Looking down the barrel of faith (Page 32) Current housing and economic challenges (page 36)

Is high tech replacing high touch? (Page 40) As market slows, successful home sellers shift to high gear (page 44) Building Wealth Through Responsible Homeownership (page 46) Mel Watt: Why his appointment matters (page 50) FHCRC 2012-2013: highlights and reflections (page 52) Courtesy and respect in business (Page 56)

THE CEO’S CORNER Generation Next (page 9)

COMMUNITY 100 Black Men (Page 11)

CONTRIBUTORS Aaron Zapata Anita Jones Bill Lewis D’Adrea Davie Bob Irish Brian Bean Regina Braun Brittany Hurd Bubba Mills Carla Elfield Jill Rand Darren Johnson Donell Spivey D’Adrea Davie David Allen

Antonio Perez Andrew Jones Eric Egana Eric Frazier Jessica Frazier Carla Elfield P.S. Perkins Gwendolyn Wynn Michelle Kristie Jill Rand John Reyes JOnathan Burgues Michael Totaro Linell King Lynn Effinger Michael Krein Milt Shaw

Monica Lopez Orlando Givens Paul Lejoy Kevin Brown Michael Green Lilivette Rodriguez Regina Brown Caroline Gim Shelley Kaye Ron Escobar Rose Mayes Skip Schenker Ray Warda Yvonne Salcedo Celeste Davie

Page 88 How to rebrand yourself for less than $100 (page 60) Leslie Appleton-Young (Page 62) Realtist and realtor (Page 66) Property Preservation and Repairs (Page 70) Special care for senios (Page 72) The Oakland I know today (Page 76) Home Buyers: Our 3-Strategy Plan to Get Your Offer accepted (page 80) California echoes: IRS tax exemption on short sales (page 82) Benefits of homeownership (page 84) Unlocking door to success (page 88) Survival of the fittest (Page 90) Strategies for success in 2014 (Page 92) The return of the multi-generational household (page 94) Detroit: A city in transformation (page 98)

COMMERCIAL Commercial equity loans (page 100)

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Bankruptcy: It’s not a dirty word (page 102) Sovereign (page 105)

“The Map And The Territory: Risk, Human Nature, And The Future of Forecasting” by Alan Greenspan (Page 120)

LIFE COACHING The Holidays are here again (page 109) Making people feel special (page 110)

HEALTH Speaking up about the new generation of deafness (page 122) Omega-3 Inside out (page 125)



The day I made God laugh (page 112)

Has the new hummingbird declared SEO...dead? (page 128) Real estate drives economyand technology does too (page 130)

FAMILY The best decition I have ever made (page 114)



Post & Beam (page132) The House of Mandela (page 134)

Coming home: It’s takes a villase to “Raise” residual wealth (page 115)


EDUCATION The future of higher education (page 118)


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St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (page 136)

Mission and Vision of the power is now MAGazine Mission


The Power Is Now e-Magazine is a national real estate and lifestyle magazine, bringing together consumers and the real estate, banking, insurance and investment professionals who serve them, through smart, fun, and timely editorial content, compelling photographs and quality advertising.

The Power Is Now Online and e-Magazine will be the premier Real Estate Magazine serving consumers, real estate and business professionals nationwide in all metropolitan markets. The Power Is Now Online and e-magazine will be viewed as the most effective medium for real estate and business professional to get exposure to consumers and to share their knowledge and information that will empower them to take action.

Each issue will feature a blend of articles from business and industry professional leaders, on residential and commercial real estate, default services, REO and short sales, finance, banking, insurance, dining, fashion, home design, travel, health/fitness, Book/Movie reviews and more. The Power Is Now e-Magazine will be a free subscription magazine available on www.thepowerisnow. com. The Online version will be a paid subscription with more content, video, radio interviews and commentary from news makers and the writers.

Cover and Feature story profiles: The cover of each issue will feature our visionary Eric Lawrence Frazier MBA, publisher of the Power Is Now Magazine and founder and executive producer of the Power Is Now Radio. Each issue will also feature a Power Player Centerfold of an extraordinary business professional who is an exceptional leader in the business, insurance, banking, the real estate and other industries. The Online and e-Magazine will have 26 sections for various articles under the Power Is Now theme: The Power Is Now Real Estate, Real Estate Resource, Real Estate Agent Spotlight, Headline News, Technology, Politics, Community, Health, Medicine, Ministry, Literacy, Education, Entertainment, Cuisine, Music, Youth, Social media, Research & Reports, Business, Energy, Economics, Life Coaching, Publishers Note, Power Player Centerfold, Art and Sports. The writers for each department will all be industry professionals who are practitioners in their field of expertise. We are bringing the best practitioners in the industry to share their knowledge and experience in their field of expertise. They are industry professionals who can provide advice, and information to make decisions that will enable consumers to navigate through the challenges and opportunities of life.



CEO & Publisher Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA 3739 6th Street Riverside, CA 921506 Ph: 800-401-8994 x 703 EDITORIAL Editor in Chief Eric L. Frazier, MBA Associate Editor Dadrea Davie Associate Editor & Writer Eric Egana, MA Associate Editor Erica L. Frazier, MBA Staff Writer Celeste Davie Transcription Gail Valeski ONLINE Managing Editor/Online El Princess Eclar Web Designer & Manager Rahul Patel DESIGN Art Director & Design Manager Goldy Ponce Graphic Artist Jaime Daniel Costico

ADMINISTRATIVE Executive Assistant El Princess Eclar Relationship manager Rachel Bacol SALES Sales Manager Perry Frazier HEADQUATERS The Power Is Now Inc. 3739 6th Street Riverside, CA 92506 Ph: 800-401-8994 Fax: 800-401-8994 Email: PUBLICATION AND SERVICES The PIN Magazine The Power Is Now Radio The Power Is Now Publications The Power Is Now Radio Guide The Power Is Now VIP Agent Program The Power IS Now Power Consulting/Coaching The Power Is Now Association Management The Power IS Now Event Management

STATEMENT OF COPYRIGHT: The PIN Magazine™ is owned and published electronically by The Power Is Now Inc. Copyright 2013-2014 The Power Is Now Inc. All rights reserved. “The PIN Magazine and distinctive logo are trademarks owned by The Power Is Now Inc. “” is a trademark of The Power Is Now Inc. “ “ is a trademark of The Power Is Now Inc. “ “ is a trademark of The Power Is Now Inc. “The Power IS Now Event Management” is a trademark of the Power Is Now Inc. “The Power Is Now Radio” is a trademark of the Power Is Now Inc. “The Power Is Now Publications” is a trademark of the Power Is Now Inc. “The Power Is Now Radio Guide” is a trademark of the Power Is Now Inc. “The Power Is Now VIP Agent Program” is a trademark of the Power Is Now Inc. “The Power IS Now Power Consulting/Coaching” is a trademark of the Power Is Now Inc. “The Power Is Now Association Management” is a trademark of the Power Is Now Inc. No part of this electronic magazine or website may be reproduced without the written consent of The Power Is Now Inc. Requests for permission should be directed to: El Princess Eclar at



Generation Next

By Sherry Chris, president and CEO Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC

Millennials. This one word brings with it a lot of clout. It represents an entire generation that has and continues to change the way most industries do business, and real estate is no exception. For many, this generation is intimidating. At nearly 80 million strong, it’s understandable. However, the key to serving this next generation consumer is to know who they are, what they want and what they expect from you. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has made it a priority to know the answers to these questions.

THE MINDSET This is the generation that leases luxury cars and even rents luxury clothes. Do they care about owning anything? Our findings tell us that yes, in fact they do.

According to a recent national Better Homes and Garden Real Estate survey of approximately 1000 respondents ages 18-35, 75 percent of these Millennials believe that owning a home is the biggest indicator of success ranking well above taking extravagant vacations or owning expensive cars and designer clothing. Furthermore, 40 percent of respondents are planning to invest in a home in the next 3-5 years. We have to understand that this generation came of age in one of largest housing market downturns our country has seen, and this has impacted the Millennial perspective on the entire process. While some see the Millennials as a generation of people finding themselves in far off countries and building relationships with 140 characters or less, we see them as cautious and calculated. For 61 percent of respondents, the “readiness indicator” is when they’ve landed a secure job, which we know isn’t as easy as it used to be. Sixty-nine percent believe someone is ready to own when they can afford to buy while maintaining their lifestyle. However, they are willing to adjust their lifestyle in the process of saving by eating out less, working a second job and moving back in with their parents.



WHAT THEY WANT For Millennials, bigger does not mean better like it did for their Baby Boomer parents. In fact, they want to ensure every room in the home serves a purpose – exit the formal living and dining areas and enter media rooms and offices. They want their home to have character and be customized to meet their lifestyle needs. In that same vein of efficiencies, technology plays a major role in purchase power. When it comes to the next generation of homeowners, more than half (56%) of respondents believe home technology capabilities are more important than “curb appeal.” If a home is not up-to-date with the latest tech capabilities, 64 percent of Millennials surveyed would not consider living there. In addition, 84 percent of the younger Americans surveyed believe that technology is an absolute essential to have in their homes.

• Videos: Even better! Not just of the house,

THE VOICE To bolster its research, our the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate network of brokers sat down with a group of recent Millennial homebuyers (none of whom had business relationships with the brand) to better understand what these consumers like and dislike in regard to the home buying process. While all had varying experiences, both positive and negative, one thing was clear – they want their agent to tailor service to their needs. The ever-informed consumer is not a new term. While information is plentiful and they spend as much time as possible online before contacting an agent, they want their agent to know much more than they do as a buyer. Here are select tips generated from our research:

but of the neighborhood, testimonials from neighbors, even personal anecdotes from the sellers. Buying a home is more than simply understanding specs, and Millenials want to know it all! Get Personal: “My agent was my therapist” was one of the best quotes we heard from a consumer interviewed. Provide guidance and do everything you can to get answers for your client. For example, if schools are the most important aspect of a community for a client, you may want to go as far as interviewing local principals for them. Under Pressure: They do not react well to feeling pressured to make an offer. Instead, offer them tips to get their offer recognized. For example: Writing a personal note to the seller. Get Creative: Understanding that Millennials look for tech amenities and functional space, here’s a tip for both buying and selling agents: Help your client envision the space. It’s as simple as placing tent cards in rooms to showcase where an extra television could be placed, or where a formal dining room could be transformed into a home office. Lasting Impression: Millennials share – both the good and the bad. Think about how many links and comments are shared through social media and the web. Aside from that, Millennials seek support from their peers and share more than others even during in-person interactions. If you provide exceptional service, that client will likely work hard for you in terms of referrals. If not, you cannot count on them or their friends (whether Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or otherwise) to give you a chance.

We have the opportunity to win customers for

• Listen: Understand consumers’ wants and life and to win their friends for life with the most needs. They don’t want their time wasted on being sent listings that go against their requests. And don’t call them if they prefer text messages. Establish expectations immediately. • Pictures: This generation is very visual. They want to see every aspect of a house online. Only a handful of pictures? They will likely scroll quickly onto the next listing.


knowingly connected and social generation to ever become home buyers and sellers. Recognize them. Understand them. And work relentlessly to best the serve them.


By Bill Lewis A group named 100 Black Men must have a story to tell and indeed this one does. In the early 1960’s a group of professional black men were sitting around talking about their collective journeys through life. They wondered out loud how they might be able to share their successes and failures with the next generation in order to make the youngsters’ journey a little easier. One of them suggested that it would be great if they could assemble 100 such men for this mission and thus was born 100 Black Men of New York. Over the next 50 years several more chapters would be chartered throughout the country leading to the formation of 100 Black Men of America. Today there are more than 100 chapters of the organization that are located in America, Europe and Caribbean with over ten thousand members. Each chapter is tasked with developing programs in four areas they are: Education, Mentoring, Health & Wellness, and Economic Development. These programmatic

initiatives were designed and implemented for the purpose of developing leaders and ensuring the future of America’s youth. In 1993 the 100 Black Men of Orange County California was chartered and has been in existence for 20 years. The 100 BMOC’s signature program is called Passport to the Future which has a life-skills education mentoring curriculum designed for high-school aged participants. The program provides instructions in the areas of Personal Awareness, History, Relationships, Leadership, Skill Development (which includes conflict resolution, career development, communications, financially literacy), and Community Service. The 100 BMOC has received awards from the national organization for the Passport Program and has also been recognized as chapter of the year. More than 90% of the graduates of the Passport Program go on to attend college and fulfill the goal of the program which is to help create socially conscience, respectful and responsible young adults

who know how to meet the challenges of life while taking advantages of opportunities. The 100 is proud of the members who commit their time, money and other resources for the purpose of developing the next generation of leaders, while at the same time living up the one of the organization’s core mottos of being, “Real Men Giving Real Time”. If you would like to learn more about the organization you can visit the national website at; the Orange County chapter’s website is

Bill Lewis President 100 BMOC 949-387-2194 714-914-0410



What Is a Notary by Jessica Frazier


notary, known more commonly as a common-law notary public, is a public officer who has been appointed by a government authority to assist the public in non-contentious matters dealing with estates, deeds, powers-ofattorney, and other official documents that require a government representative’s seal of approval. While most people have needed a notary to simply witness and authenticate the execution of certain classes of documents, notaries also serve to administer oaths and affirmations, take affidavits and statutory declarations, take acknowledgements of deeds and other conveyances, protest notes and bills of exchange, provide notice of foreign drafts, and provide exemplifications and notarial copies. Notaries can even function as the entity that prepares a ship’s protest in cases of damage. While a common-law notary is allowed by law to preside over the signing of legal documents, it’s important to understand the distinction between a common-law notary and a civil-law notary. Civil-law notaries are accredited lawyers admitted to the bar, and may be referred to as notaries-at-law or lawyer notaries. Being that they are attorneys, their functions fall under the umbrella of practicing law, and are allowed to give legal advice and prepare legal instruments. Common-law notaries, unless they are also qualified attorneys, are forbidden from giving legal advice and preparing legal instruments. All notaries receive brief training to be able to perform their general notary functions, with some specializing even further. Borrowers in the market for a

home may need the assistance of a certified Notary Signing Agent, which is a notary public that notarizes mortgage documents for clients looking to purchase new real estate, refinance their current mortgage, or consolidate debt into a first or second mortgage. These agents go through Notary Signing Agent training, which involves learning how to properly sign and handle mortgagerelated documents. Prospective candidates must also pass an exam and a background screening to be fully credentialed. Before visiting a notary public, be sure you are in possession of valid forms of identification. Without an accepted (and current) form of ID, a notary will not (and is not allowed to)



authenticate any document signing or other function that you may be in need of. In the state of California, for instance, accepted forms of identification include a state-issued ID card or driver’s license, a United States passport, a driver’s license issued by a Canadian or Mexican public agency, a United States military ID card, or an Inmate ID card (for those still in custody). Keep in mind that your identification card cannot be expired, and must have been issued within the last 5 years. Also keep in mind that a notary cannot assist you in filling out the document they will be notarizing. Other than with a few exceptions, a notary’s only legally allowed function is to act as a witness that you signed the document, and authenticate the process. If you present a notary with an incomplete document, the notary, by law, is required to refuse notarization. So be sure to seek assistance in completing any and all forms before presenting them to the notary. Finally, many people often wonder if a commonlaw notary in the state of California is allowed to notarize a will. The California State Bar mandates


that when presented with a will, notaries should decline notarization and advise the client to consult a qualified attorney. If the attorney recommends, in writing, having the document notarized, a notary may do so.

Jessica Frazier Program Manager Real Estate Acquisition and Sales *827148241455 7148241455



First A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend a course entitled, “Lady Be Aware,” at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department Training Center in San Bernardino, CA. The class is designed for women who want to learn and develop the necessary attitude, skills and knowledge to prevent them from becoming a victim. When I read the brochure about the class, I immediately signed up. Who could resist eight hours of safety training? The first four hours were spent in a classroom learning basic ways to help prevent women (and men) from becoming a victim in the home, driving or being in public areas. In the second four hours, we participated in hands-on weaponless defense tactics, as well as shooting a Glock 17 9mm or 45 mm handgun, a Remington 870 shotgun and a Ruger Mini 14 rifle. The classroom information was provided by a female instructor, who is a long time officer with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s department,. Some simple things can really make a difference in keeping you and your family safer. 1. Make sure all doors to the outside of a home are metal or solid hardwood and have good, sturdy locks. 2. Every home should have at least one strong dead bolt. 3. Peep holes should have a 160 degree view. 4. Sliding doors should have 2 screws in the upper track (this prevents doors from being lifted out) 5. Make sure all windows — especially those at


ground level — have good locks, and use them. 6. Illuminate all doorways. (Criminals like to unscrew lights) Motion-sensing lights are an especially good option for outdoor lights. 7. Keep any bushes or trees that hide doors or windows trimmed. 8. Make sure house numbers are visible. (In case of emergency –Fire and Police can easily find your home.) 9. Alarms can be a deterrent but do your homework and research alarm companies for the fastest response times. If you cannot afford an alarm company, sometimes putting up fake signs and camera props will deter an intruder. 10. Dogs can also scare away a burglar. 11. Never, ever open your door unless you either are certain you know who’s on the other side or can verify that they have a legitimate reason for being there. 12. Keep vehicles and windows locked up. 13. When walking to your vehicle, keep your head up (do not text or read messages) and keep an eye on your surroundings. Look at people that pass by you (notice them). Crooks do not like to be noticed. Stay alert. 14. Keep your phone and keys on you. (If your purse is stolen, how will you make a call or get into your car?) 15. Before you enter your car, look inside the vehicle. 16. Check your surroundings.

RESOURCE 17. Do not forget about your panic button (on your key). Crooks do not want any attention. The noise may scare them away. 18. Defensive sprays are probably one of the best non-lethal, simple, reliable and inexpensive choices available today. As with any personal protection device, the more you know and train the more effective it will be. 19. Open only your driver side door. 20. Do not open all your doors. 21. Lock everything once you get in the car. 22. Put any packages in your trunk if you are going to make another stop. Do not leave packages in your car in plain sight. Identity theft is also a very big problem. Do not carry your social security card. Put a lock on your credit report. Do not use a debit card linked to a bank account. After listening to all these great hints, I remembered several other tips that were specifically geared towards Realtors. 1. When knocking on a door to do an occupancy check, stand to the side of the door. You never know if someone is going to come rushing out or shoot through the door. 2. When parking in a cul-de-sac street park on the side of the street going out of the cul-desac. 3. When parking in the driveway, back your car in so you can make a fast getaway if necessary. 4. Familiarize yourself with the properties you’re showing: If you are showing a vacant house, walk the perimeter of the property before you or your client enter to look for signs that someone has been or is currently inside. 5. Note your escape route: When showing a property, leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit if needed. As you walk through a house, let the client enter rooms ahead of you. 6. When taking a client that you do not know through a vacant home, let them go through the house alone. Wait outside. 7. Listen to that inner voice that tells you that something does not feel right. (GO WITH YOUR

GUT) Better to be safe than sorry. 8. Let someone know where you are at all times. Talk to your office on the phone if you feel uncomfortable. After the classroom training, it was now time for hands on training. I always wondered if I could actually hit someone if attacked. Well, I found out, the answer is YES! The room was set up with 6 rubber dummies. We had 6 lines of approximately 8 women on each line. Two training instructors showed us defense tactics that we could use if we were being attacked. We learned how to hit with our fists, the palms of our hands, and of course our feet and our knees. After beating up the dummies, gouging their eyes out, and kicking them where we knew they would drop to the ground, we had a chance to demonstrate our defense techniques on the two officers After donning heavy protective gear, our instructors came at us as if they were going to attack us. I have never seen so many women go wild with adrenalin and kick and punch and scream. Oh yes, we were told to scream if we were being attacked. Call attention to what is going on. Scream “help, go away, leave me alone”, anything that will cause someone to know that you are in trouble. It was a good thing that our instructors were in heavy padding. Some of these women were brutal.



After catching our breaths, we were now in the last stages of our training. We were going to learn how to shoot a pistol, shot gun and rifle. Decked out in protective goggles, head phones to protect our ears, and chest padding, off to the shooting range we went. We learned how to load ammo in a clip, how to hold the gun, (never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot) and how to aim and shoot. The best part of the day!

I am sharing my experience as a way of letting everyone know that we do not need to be victims. We need to be proactive with our own safety, as much as we can. Keep your eyes and ears open to your surroundings. Trust your instincts. Awareness and the proper mindset will always play a key role in your safety.


Shelley Kaye is the Executive Director of WinDS (Women in Diversified Services), the fourth official minority trade organization. Shelley was a Senior Asset Manager for Option One Mortgage and the past president of REOMAC. Office: (949) 734-3466


I have heard of Realtist; what do they do?


ealtist is a trade name for the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB). Just as Realtor is a trade name for NAR. Realtist’ agrees to certain ethical and professional practices in their method of conducting business as a Real Estate Professional. NAREB’s mission statement is to “Democracy in Housing”. As a Realtist we have been on the fore front of Democracy in Housing, championing the cause for equality in the real estate profession from our inception. In 1947, Realtist sued for access to the Multiple Listing Service for all ethnicities and races. Other significant REALTIST legislative achievements assisted in the creation of HUD in 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, the FIRREA in 1989 and establishing affordable housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 1992, as well as the updates to each of these laws, and the implementation of many associated new laws, regulations and presidential orders to the present date. California REALTISTS played the leading role in getting the Rumford Act law passed, signed by the Governor, opposing the ballot initiative and arguing the successful initiative in the California Supreme Court. The Rumford Act Law, which is Section 5 of the California Health and Safety Code, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin or ancestry in the sale, rental, lease, financing or advertising of residential dwellings. It is also a


question for licensee examination. So some professional might ask, “What will the Realtist do for me?” When the question should be, “How can I help the Realtist promote Democracy in Housing and equality in the real estate profession?” For the Realtist history has proven its contributions it has made to the real estate profession and individual real estate professionals. We ask you to join us in making a difference, by going to and becoming a member.

California Association Real Estate Brokers Broker/Owner, Embarcadero Investment REO Specialist 209-952-8861 510-681-4147 6777 Embarcadero Dr., Suite 1 Stockton, CA 95219


CREATING BUYERS By Michael Green of Michael Green Realty and Investment (MGRI)

he art of creating the buyer is seldom considered and rarely, if ever, employed by most realtors.


Many realtors choose to wait for something to happen. They will wait for someone to ask them to list their home, rather than go out and ask a home owner if they’ve considered selling and moving up. The vast majority of realtors lack self-motivation as well as creativity and if they are honest, they are somewhat lazy. I do not say this as an insult, but as a wake-up call. In Southern California, it is non-sense for someone who is a realtor to earn less than $150,000 a year. The true goal should be no less than $400,000 with a reach toward $1,000,000 a year. However, most realtors will sit around the office and wait for the “up call” from the secretary at the front to declare that there is a buyer or seller on the phone for the agent covering floor time at that hour. Many agents would rather do that, than go out and knock on doors to develop a farm area or offer perhaps a seminar on real estate investing opportunities to the congregants at the local church - all this in an effort to build a clientele. Most agents do not do the simple tasks that will guarantee business simply because they

are impatient, which is another poor quality to have in a business such as real estate sales. What I mean by impatient is best noted by examples. Many agents will send out mailers to a farm and will do this for two or three months and then give up and refuse to send out another mailer or postcard declaring that the farm is a bust, or over worked by too many agents and this method of trying to acquire clients is antiquated. The door knocking of a farm, the offering of seminars to local church goers, mailing of literature to residents of an specific area, each of these are still sound methods of advertising. McDonald’s continue to advertise even though the market is saturated with other fast food restaurants? If agents actually thought about it, and asked a probing question or two of himself his sentiment might be different, but being introspective is also a lacking of most agents. One question the agent needs to ask of himself is: why should someone do business with “me” after getting a card for two or three consecutive months? These people, the recipients of these letters, have had agents come and go by the dozens over the years as they all have done the same thing, sent mailers, dropped flyers and placed door hangers

and gave up after two or three months, never to be seen or heard from again. Why should these residential buyers and sellers believe I am the “Area Expert” as that is the same line used by the last nine realtors that came and went? That agent that chooses to ask that hard and honest question needs to understand that it is familiarity that builds trust and a potential desire to do business with that realtor. This familiarity and trust does not happen in two or three months. This may take 12 to 24 months. Yet, thereafter, it will typically be smooth sailing. It is the rare agent who realizes that realtors live and work within an Aesop fable, the Tortoise and Hare. The agent that stays the course and continues to send the mailers for six months, a year or two years and accompanies that effort with the door knocking and talking with the residents who will find himself getting the clients out of that farm area – The real estate licensed agent has become THE TORTOISE. Does not the tortoise win in the end?

Michael Green MICHAEL GREEN REALTY AND INVESTMENT 818 642 5843 818 832 3614




TOP PERFORMER Why do some individuals seem to excel with ease and grace, while the vast majority of people seem to stay at a much lower level of performance? What makes these individuals be at the top of their fields?

Well, the answer is not simple is complex, but in the next few paragraphs I will try to explore some ideas that I think may have a correlation to the subject. Let’s look at sports. I have to turn myself in here, I am the least sports-oriented individual. I do not follow any sport and do not play any sports neither. I do however live in planet earth, and as such I know that Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Lebron James are top performing individuals in the NBA playing Basketball. Let’s look at politics. I am not going to get into a left, right, liberal, conservative discussion. Instead, I am just going to drop some names that you may be aware of (if you also live in planet earth): Clinton, Bush, Kennedy, Reagan, Roosevelt, Tatcher, Churchill and my favorite of all time Lincoln. These are some of the all-time political leaders that have achieved greatness in their field.

Let’s look at entertainers. Chaplin, Monroe, Jackson, Eastwood, Banderas, and for some fun Gaga! I am sure you are familiar with these names as well. All these individuals or families have achieved top success and notoriety.



Were these people destined for greatness in their field? Was it a fluke? Was it a result of their hardwork? Or where they at the right place, at the right time? What was it that made them be top in their fields? What can we observe in them that would make us be top performers in our field? Of course, I do not have the answer to this riddle, but my guess is that it was all of them. Yes -they were lucky, worked hard, were at the right place during the right time, and were destined for it. If my hypothesis is right, how then can we attempt to be top-performers in our field? What if we were not destined to be amazing individuals? What if we are not lucky? What if success was meant for someone else? I chose to believe that ALL of US are connected and have the opportunity to achieve exceptional greatness and be incredibly amazing at what we do. We just have to find what we love to do and go at it with passion, dedication and all the fun and energy that we can muster for as long as we are around, and the magic will work itself out. There are a set of rules that I think I learned along the way, that have helped me be a top performing real estate broker. 1. Never work for money:

and go to sleep in a safe home that I helped then get. I am proud and happy to do that… and it keeps me going with passion and dedication. I do not do it for the money. Interestingly enough, I make a good living. I suggest you find the one thing that you like to do, and do it now. Life is too short to compromise your time doing something you do not like to do… and least do it for stinky money. 2. Be proud of what you do: Whatever you are doing, do it to the extreme best of your abilities. Are you sweeping the floor? Are you writing an article? Are you structuring a complex, multi-national real estate transaction? Whatever it is that you are doing, do your best. Do not half-do it, or do the minimum to get by. If your heart, mind, soul and passion is not into it, then do something else. Wait a minute! How can my heart, soul and passion be connected to sweeping the floor? Fair question. You need to look at the bigger picture and see how sweeping the floor is connected to it, then do the best darn floor seeping you can possibly do, because is connected to the larger picture and you want the whole picture to be amazing.

This may seem a contradictory idea. I think most of us are programmed to look at work as a thing we do to earn money, so we can pay for our bills and live our lives.

3. Always add value to others:

In my case my work is my life. I love what I do, and I would not like doing anything else. YES! I finally found my calling in life. I help people get homes. I love to think that in Los Angeles there are many families and kids eat dinner, do homework, play,

• The more you give, the more you get. • To get what you want form people, give them what they want. • Is not what you have is what you give. – Only what you give.

Many people say it, but few mean it, feel it and live it. There are many one-liners that capture it.



Why Brokers Are

All Insane!

by Michael Krein

After all - our own behavior proves it. Let’s start with the definition of insane provided by undeniably one of the most intelligent men to ever grace this earth.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

- Albert Einstein

Now isn’t this exactly what brokers do? All of us keep doing the same things over and over again and yet we expect a different result. In our case we are all looking for success in the form of profit and growth. We can blame the market, or the government, or our competitors—but we really need to put the blame for our own failures (as well as credit for our successes) on ourselves. We have to recognize that change is a constant in our industry and we must always be adapting, as adaptation is necessary for survival. Some of us are just waiting for the market to go up (which it will) or for the REO to come back (which also will) or for something else to happen that will change our careers and our businesses. I can guarantee all of those things—markets always go up and down, REO is cyclical, and the truth is markets are always in a state of change—markets can be going up, markets can be going down, and sometimes markets just stagnate and go sideways. But can we really afford to wait? That is the question we each need to answer for ourselves. What is even worse is that when we choose to wait for a change to occur—and then try to adapt—we are being reactionary, and by then it is usually too late to capitalize on that change.



We have to put away our own excuses, and change our own mindsets as rapidly as the market itself changes. More importantly we have to stay ahead of the market and change before the market does. It’s called being prepared. Now, none of this is new to you—you have known this your entire career, yet we are all still hesitant to change. We all have our own reasons in our own minds as to why we keep doing things the same way over and over again. Yet we still keep hoping for better days… and unfortunately remain “Insane”! Better days (success) will only come about for you when you choose to make it come about for you. We all know that this is easier said then done. But why is that? What is it about us as brokers that makes us so hesitant to change? Simply stated— What is it that by Albert Einstein’s definition makes us all “insane”? Is it that we are all just so hopeful and optimistic that we can wait for something to work out for us?Or is it just that we all simply hate and loathe change? In all of my years owning my own real estate offices and even more so in helping to train some of the most profitable and successful brokers in the country I have not only had to ask those questions of myself and face the real answers, but I have also had to put these very same questions to the brokers that I have been out there helping.. Strangely enough I have never really gotten a logical answer from anyone. Originally, not even from myself. You see, just like everyone else I came up with excuses for avoiding change—not reasons!

When I asked these questions of the brokers I was working with, I did not really get justifiable answers. Instead, I got excuses. We all make excuses and rationalize the reasons for our own failures; it’s certainly a lot easier to do that than damage our own precious egos. Speaking of egos, as well as optimism and hope, we all have those in abundance— especially the “ego” part. Otherwise we would never have gotten into this crazy business, let alone stayed here! For agents, it is those three things that keep us going, even when we just wanted to quit and give up—like after you had three of your escrows fall out, all in the same day! It was these same qualities that gave us the courage to go out and start our own companies, becoming brokers with our own offices. Unfortunately, these same traits tend to work against us when we do have our own real estate offices, as they get in the way of our success. I thought it fitting that with this article being published in January that we should all make a “Real Estate Broker’s Resolution” together. Your resolution for you and your business this year is to adapt and make the changes you need to be successful and to make those changes regardless of your own mental excuses. Just so we are all clear, let’s list the excuses that we are no longer going to use this year to avoid making the changes that are required for us to all be successful.



1. “Because we have been doing it this way for years.” Does this one really even need an 2.




explanation? Ok – let’s ask the guys who used to make 8-track tapes? “Because we have to do it this way” – Says who? There is always more than one way to do anything, regardless of what it is. Be creative and be open to new ways. “Because I like it this way” – Seriously? What does the word “like,” an emotional response, have to do with a business decision that needs to be made logically? “I can’t afford it” – Really? What can you afford if your business goes bankrupt because you failed to change? Besides, when the change works and you are making more money, you can afford that and a lot more. Sometimes you just have to find a way. “I don’t have time” – If you do not have a profitable and efficient business you will never have time for anything anyway. So bite the bullet and find the time. Strangely enough, we get this one most often when we talk about putting new systems or programs into place that will make an office more efficient, and save everyone time.

A great example of this is when we talk about technology and automating things in a real estate office. There are many different things you can do with technology that will save a broker, the agents and the staff several hours each day (such as a good transaction management and paperless system), which translates to literally thousands of hours each year, but you can’t invest $100 and two hours of your time to subscribe and set one up? And potentially lose thousands of productive hours that you and your agents could be spending actually selling houses and collecting commissions


instead? There are of course more of these “excuses” but these are the major ones that we all need to concentrate on avoiding because they are ones that are typically holding us back from success. This year, your New Year’s Resolution is simply to stop being “Insane,” to make the changes that you need to make and to avoid using the excuses you have in the past that have stopped you from being as successful as you deserve to be. If you would like more information on this topic, as well as many others, that will help you make your real estate business more successful than ever before, please visit us on-line at “Broker School.” It’s completely free and easy to follow and understand. broker-school Happy New Year, and together we can make 2014 our most successful year ever!

Michael Krein President Nevada Real Estate Services 702-480-1815 702-730-1306 702-675-8253


FIND YOUR “Why” CREATING AND MAINTAINING LEVERAGE by Linell King If transforming your health is as simple as changing our diet, being more active, and maintaining a healthy weight, then why don’t more people do it? Why is obesity such an epidemic? Most people that have not been successful at changing their lifestyle simply have not found an important enough reason to. One would think that the possibility of an early death would be a big enough reason. But the fact of the matter is that we don’t make an immediate link between obesity and death. It takes many years of a destructive lifestyle to cause the body to become overwhelmed with toxicity that can overflow into disease. During this time most people slowly become more and more obese and chronically ill. It happens so slow that it doesn’t make a big impact on our brains. We have to truly analyze the pain of the consequences of our unhealthy lifestyle. After we analyze and feel the pain of not changing,


then imagine what your life would be like if you did change and make healthier choices.

Determine Your “Why” With any goal you may have, be sure to ask yourself WHY you wish to achieve that goal. Why do you want to achieve ultimate vitality? Without the ‘why’ nothing is going to work. It just won’t matter. Success always depends on what your motivation is, because if you’re not motivated you aren’t going to take action. If you don’t take action, you won’t get results. So, again, the question is, “Why do you want to have a life full of vitality?” Where have your actions gotten you so far? And where do you want to be? Are you able to truly visualize it? What do you want to accomplish? What in your life is missing? Can you visualize your life with abundant energy? How will the people that you love be affected? What are your

ultimate health goals? What do you want your body to look like? How will your income, business, or career be affected? What does your life look like if you are at your ideal body weight and filled with energy and vitality? To help determine your “Why,” get a piece of paper. Draw a line vertically down the middle. On the left side, create a list of all the ways your current lifestyle has impacted your life, all the things you haven’t done, all the places you haven’t gone and all the clothes that you haven’t worn – or haven’t worn in a long time. How many times have you shrunk into the background? Who haven’t you approached at an event or party? What beautiful clothes did you see on someone else that you wished you could wear? What sporting or holiday event did you pass on to avoid embarrassment? When was the last time you adjusted


yourself in public because of your weight, sat a little taller or pulled your stomach in a little further? Make your list now.



On the right side, create a list of all the things you would like to do again, all the things you’d like to try, all the places you’d like to go, and all the ways ultimate vitality would change your life. What relationship would you be in right now if you were healthy, happy and confident? What new adventures would you go on? How proud would you be to attend the next party, fundraiser, wedding or graduation? Go back up to the left column and add anything you just thought of that you’ve missed out on. Add all the things you could do to the right column.

Look at the list on the left. What is it about your health or what is it about your life that you want to change? What problems has your lack of fitness caused you? What problems will it cause you if you don’t change it? What are you missing out on? Have you missed fun games on the beach, activities with children or grandchildren? When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Do you like what you see?

Now imagine yourself, the new you, the you from the right column… perfect, sculpted, the way that you want to see yourself. Or think about having the energy to play with your kids or your grandkids. Think of being the athlete that you were when you were in high school or college. Think of the person that you used to be when you were active, or when you had energy, or when you were your happiest. Is that where you want to be? Is that where you want to get back to? Another helpful activity might be to create a vision board of your ultimate life. Cut pictures and words out and paste them to a board. Place the board somewhere you will see it all the time. Create something that inspires you and reminds you every day of your “why.” If you feel that you are not sure if you have gotten enough leverage on yourself, lets go through a little brain storming activity to see what resonates with you. Get another sheet of paper out—or


better yet, a journal, and answer the following questions: Do you wish to live longer? Why? What would you like to do or contribute at certain age milestones in your life? Do you wish to be able to enjoy your golden years rather than living it in pain or discomfort? Describe your ideal self in your golden years. Would you like to have more energy? What would you do if you had more energy? How would this increased energy affect your life? Would you like to protect yourself from future medical costs? Would you like to be able to play and interact with your grandkids? How about your great grandkids? Describe the activities and the role you would play with them. Would you like to increase your productivity and income? How will achieving Ultimate Vitality achieve this for you? Would you like to have the body you have always wanted? Describe your ideal body and fitness level. Are there certain clothes that you would like to wear that you feel uncomfortable wearing now? Describe them and how you would feel wearing them. Would you like to feel more attractive? Would you like to improve your mental health? Would you like to have better sex? Anything is possible as long as you focus on “why.”

Dr. Linell King 239-273-9898



Selling Your Home? Know the Perils of Off-MLS Listings By Kevin Brown

As the California real estate market changes, so does the vocabulary of real estate. Once common phrases from the real estate recession such as distressed property, short sale, and shadow inventory are fast being replaced as the real estate market improves by new phrases, such as equity sale, multiple offers, and “off-MLS” or “pocket” listings. While not a new concept, pocket listings are growing in number; as many as 10-15 percent of homes offered for sale today are “off-MLS” listings, according to one Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Simply stated, a pocket listing is a property that is marketed without the benefit of being listed for sale on the MLS (i.e., “hidden” in an agent’s pocket). A property that is listed on the MLS has the advantage of being actively marketed to every real estate agent who belongs to that MLS and, through those agents, to their vast network of potential buyers looking to make an offer to purchase the property. Active marketing on the


MLS usually includes open houses, broker tours and inclusion of seller’s property in the MLS’s download to various real estate Internet sites commonly used to search for properties. On the other hand, as the term implies, a pocket listing generally is marketed by a single agent to one or a select few potential buyers. The marketing pool can be so small that in some cases, other agents within the same brokerage or brokerage office may not even be aware that a fellow agent has a pocket listing. Pocket listings are not illegal if the listing agent fully discloses the pros and cons to the home seller and follows rules that are designed to protect consumers. Nevertheless, many real estate professionals believe that off-MLS listings may not be in the best interest of the seller – particularly if a client does not know about the benefits of marketing his or her property through the MLS.


To keep a listing off the MLS, a listing agent who is a participant of an MLS is required, under the rules of most California MLSs, to obtain a signed certification from the seller that he or she does not wish to sell the property via the MLS. If a property is exposed to fewer potential buyers with a pocket listing, why would a home seller agree to one? Pocket listings sometimes are requested by celebrities, judges, prosecutors, or others who wish to maintain their privacy. The downsides to pocket listings may outweigh the advantages of pocket listings though. Primarily, the pool of agents and potential home buyers who will know the property is for sale and make an offer to purchase may be limited. That could significantly reduce the potential for multiple offers above the asking price, which is a frequent occurrence in today’s competitive market. With fewer offers, sellers may not be getting the best possible price for their home.

• A listing agent may ask his or her seller to sign a standard seller exclusion form (Seller Instruction to Exclude Listing from the MLS or C.A.R.’s SEL form). Sellers should be sure they fully understand what they are signing and the possible adverse consequences outlined in the form of not listing their property on the MLS. • Sellers should ask their agent to show their home and present all offers from both inside and outside his or her network. That may increase the chances of obtaining a more accurate selling price and could help avoid any potential for violations of fair housing laws. • Finally, working with a knowledgeable REALTOR® is always a good idea anytime you are considering buying or selling a home. So is being an informed real estate consumer.

How can consumers protect their interests if their listing agent suggests an off-MLS listing? • Home sellers should ask their agent about the pros and cons of selling their home off-MLS. The pros are that the listing remains private if sellers wish to maintain privacy. The cons are that their home is unlikely to be exposed to the full population of potential buyers, which likely may decrease the chance a seller will obtain the highest and best price for his or her property.

Kevin Brown is president of the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®



how one man turned a life-changing moment into a legacy By Eric L. Frazier, CEO/ Publisher of The PIN Magazine


n a sunny Friday afternoon in southern California, the lobby of the Home Savings of America was packed with impatient customers waiting in line to deposit paychecks and start their weekends. Two men entered together that could have been just like all the others, but that was not the case. With furtive glances toward the security guard, they separated and, with single-minded intensity, approached the busy counter. At first, those in line were annoyed at what appeared to be a line jumper when one man went straight to the front of the longest line. But, following their well-orchestrated plan, the “line jumper” laid a .38 caliber revolver in front of the teller while his partner jumped behind the counter. As the customers and bank employees watched in terror, the two men emptied the teller drawers of all the cash they could carry and ran out the door.


It’s a story that we see reported too often by news anchors about banks all across the nation. But this particular robbery was a defining moment for one man and a legacy that was born from that event. For Keith Murray, the teller staring down the barrel of the .38 revolver on that fateful afternoon, it was a sign. He quit his job and, just like that, his tenure with his first—and only— employer was over. But a bright future was just beginning. Keith Murray had started his career in the mailroom of that Home Savings of America at age 14. He worked hard after school and during breaks until he was promoted to a teller position. Later, when offered training in the valuations program, he jumped at the chance. He became an appraiser with Home Savings after 3 months of training and excellent mentoring in the field. During his time as an appraiser, he absorbed as much information and knowledge as he could about the different markets and property types. Unfortunately, when interest rates skyrocketed and the need for appraisals declined, Murray found himself back in the teller line. That’s when fate—in the form of that armed bank robbery— intervened. Murray decided that day it was time to make a change. He was going to start his own business and realize a dream of entrepreneurship he’d had since childhood.


Pacific Coast Valuations was born in Pomona, CA in 1981. After a rough few years of trying to grow a business Murray turned his company around by changing his focus. Murray made the decision that going forward his businesses would be based on providing best in class quality products and customer service. The concept of quality influenced everything— how he conducted business and how he treated all of his clients and employees. He surrounded himself with strong management staff that shared his values and Pacific Coast Valuations, renamed PCV Murcor, began to grow organically on reputation and word of mouth, establishing it as a nationwide company by 1988. Today, PCV Murcor provides appraisal management in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. As his company has grown, so has Murray. Through the years, he has earned multiple designations that demonstrate his commitment to achievement and excellence for himself and his business. He holds the prestigious MAI designation from the Appraisal Institute, an ASA designation from the American Society of Appraisers, and an IFAS designation of the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers. He is also a California State Licensed Real Estate Broker and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration/ Finance from California University, Northridge. Always looking forward, Murray recognized an opportunity to start a new line of business to bring value and stabilization to communities affected by foreclosures. Applying everything he and his PCV team had learned over the years, he established VRM (Vendor Resource Management) in 2005 to provide an outsourced option for managing REO assets. Based in Carrollton, Texas, the goal of VRM

was to create home ownership opportunities, not just sell REO properties. Their first client, Freddie Mac, gave VRM an almost instant nationwide footprint. When the market crashed in 2008, VRM became the industry’s leader for listing, managing and selling distressed assets. Over the next 5 years, VRM managed the preservation and disposition of over 400,000 properties. To help ensure the level of quality service for which Murray and his companies had become known, VRM focused on hiring experienced vendors with intimate knowledge and a vested interest in the neighborhoods where they worked. Murray’s vision of vendor selection is one of creating opportunities for talented people to do what they do in the areas they know. When professionals know the area, they know how best to market properties to maximize value and present the right candidates for purchase. Partnering with local businesses also brings stability to the marketplace and bolsters the local economies, something that is very important to Murray. He is proud of the companies’ track record of sourcing work with local vendors and the difference they have made in the communities they serve. Once VRM was fully established in the REO management business, Murray launched VRM University as a solution to what he saw as a deficiency in the industry—solid, professional REOrelated education. VRM University’s initial purpose was to train and educate the vendors contracted to work for VRM. Industry training, a requirement for VRM vendors that has become a significant mainstay for the company, not only helps ensure VRM quality standards, it helps the vendors excel in their businesses, as well.



VRM University has since been rebranded VRMU and has evolved to provide comprehensive training and certifications for real estate and mortgage professionals nationwide. VRMU offers professionals an avenue to learn and achieve more for their businesses through advanced education and expert guidance, both of which Murray pursued throughout his career and strongly believes are responsible for his success in the business world. But for Murray, it’s never been just about business; it’s about personal growth and helping others. To that end, he strongly encourages community involvement among employees and is proud to lead the charge. Building on VRM’s focus to rejuvenate distressed communities, he established the PCV|VRM Seeds of Hope. The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization was founded as a charitable fund for employees to promote education, outreach and involvement in communities. To date, the PCV|VRM Seeds of Hope organization has contributed to hundreds of global causes and programs and continues to be a major part of employee participation and contributions. Keith Murray is humbled and amazed that his youthful dream of entrepreneurship would actually evolve into the successful nationwide businesses he leads today. When his dream—and the bank robbery--compelled him to start his own business more than 32 years ago, he only knew it was his chance to be a business owner. The phenomenal success driven by both motivation and continual personal growth was simply icing on the cake. He is especially pleased that the commitment to service and technology that made the PCV Murcor and VRM Mortgage Services successful is validated continually by the client feedback that consistently puts them at the top of scorecards.


Now, with two successful businesses and a nonprofit charitable organization on his resume, what’s next for Murray? Vendor Resource Management, the company he founded in 2005, now rebranded as VRM Mortgage Services, continues to evolve as the market changes. VRM Mortgage Services most recently leveraged the knowledge and experience of its talent base to venture into rental management and property preservation. Murray plans to continue his expansion into new lines of business and expects to be fully established in the title & closing and Loan to Facilitate origination market segments within the next year. So while he has not ruled out expanding into other countries, Murray remains focused on other growth sectors of the industry within the United States. Whatever new opportunities Murray pursues, one thing is certain—he will chase after them with the same commitment to quality, client service and the ever present need to pursue excellence, personal growth and above all – giving back.

Eric L. Frazier, CEO/Publisher | The Power Is Now www.thepowerinsow.


(Part 1 of 3)

Current Housing & Economic Challenges by James Carr Since the collapse of the housing market and onset of the foreclosure crisis, the idea of and public policies to support homeownership have been under attack. Six years into the crisis, the housing market continues to struggle, and many influential policymakers have made it their goal to significantly limit access to homeownership for the American public, in particular first-time homebuyers, borrowers of color, and low- and moderate-income families. Yet for more than 60 years, owner-occupied housing has not only been a source of pride and self-esteem for America’s families but also the cornerstone of the American Dream and the most significant and reliable source of asset building for the typical household. The assault on homeownership can be linked to widespread misunderstanding by many key policymakers, as well as the public, on three critical housing issues: • The reasons for the collapse of the housing market and the foreclosure crisis • The government’s role in ensuring the availability of the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and the to-be-announced market • The current state of the housing recovery and its implications for families, communities, and the overall economy

1. Reasons for the collapse of the housing market and the foreclosure crisis In spite of a voluminous amount of data and other information on the causes of the foreclosure crisis, there remains substantial misunderstanding and confusion about the housing market’s collapse. There are three dominant public narratives on these causes: (1) A failed experiment in expanding


homeownership to households that were not prepared to accept that responsibility; (2) the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA, forced banks to make unsound and risky loans; and (3) people took out loans they could not afford. Both facts and common sense easily dismiss all three of these explanations. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, for example, only 9 percent of subprime loans, the high-cost loan products that were at the center of the housing market’s woes, were originated to first-time homebuyers. The majority of subprime loans were utilized for home refinancing. The argument that CRA was responsible is equally without merit; the Federal Reserve Board concluded that only 6 percent of subprime loans were covered under CRA. The vast majority of mortgages were originated and securitized by non-CRA covered institutions or did not otherwise meet CRA standards. And the idea that loans were originated to borrowers that financial firms felt were not eligible to receive them is, well, simply illogical. That fact is that in the decade leading up to the foreclosure crisis, the housing market had become saturated with reckless and unsustainable loans that were highly profitable to financial firms yet highly risky to consumers. And a major share of subprime loans were actually designed to fail—that is, they were designed to trigger an unaffordable increase in the loan’s interest rate typically two or three years after origination. That process was intended to force borrowers back to their lenders to refinance their loans back down to an affordable interest rate and, in the process, pay another round of unjustified high origination fees.

REAL ESTATE The public’s confusion on this issue is, however, not happenstance. Substantial money has been poured into the development of policy papers, media outreach, and conference presentations directly designed to misrepresent the facts of the causes of the crisis. Misleading the public as to the real causes of the crisis serves to deflect attention away from the need for greater regulation of the financial markets.

2. The government’s role in ensuring the availability of the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and to-be-announced market Most Americans take the features of our housing finance system for granted and assume that the unique mortgage products available in the United States are made possible solely by private financial firms. However, there is substantial government involvement that directly supports homeownership in America, including Fannie Mae; Freddie Mac; the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, the Federal Home Loan Banks; the Veterans Administration, or VA; and several additional programs managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture. Strong federal support for homeownership in the United States is the reason that our nation is the only country to offer homeowners a 30-year fixed-rate loan. Yet most Americans are not likely aware of the connection between the 30-year fixed-rate loan product and government’s role in housing. Most consumers likely think it is simply a product of private-sector financial engineering and ingenuity. As a result, proposals to eliminate or severely restrict the federal presence in housing do not appear to be of great concern to the general public. Moreover, most Americans do not seem to be aware of the significant role played by special government programs, such as the FHA, to the overall performance of the U.S. economy. According to Moody’s Analytics, the countercyclical role played by the FHA during the recent housing-market collapse helped the United States avoid a second recession, an additional home-price decrease by an additional

25 percent, and a sizable increase in the national unemployment rate. Given the significance of housing to the wellbeing of America’s families, communities, and the economy, policy debates on the issue of homeownership should be a priority. Yet the limited degree of public awareness and interest is leaving the future of housing finance in a vulnerable position. The wrong choices could have potentially catastrophic consequences for the household wealth of America’s families and the financial well-being of the housing industry. Access to mortgage credit has rarely been more constrained, particularly for African Americans and Latinos, as well as young households and lowand moderate-income families. For this reason if no other, we need to reform our housing finance system. And the manner in which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are restructured or eliminated will significantly impact access to home mortgage finance. According to the Federal Reserve, nationwide mortgage originations for borrowers with credit scores between 620 and 680 have fallen by 90 percent since the onset of the housing crisis. And a study for the state of Illinois, conducted in June 2009 by the Woodstock Institute, found that in ZIP codes that had 80 percent or more African Americans, 75 percent of consumers had a credit score of 699 or less. Furthermore, even borrowers who can put down sizable down payments are being denied conventional mortgages. The average mortgage applicant who was denied credit in September 2013 had a down payment of 16 percent. Research on performing, Qualified Mortgageconforming loans originated between 2004 and 2008 demonstrates that 60 percent of loans to African Americans and 49 percent to Hispanics And the poor labor market for young adults is compounding the asset-accumulation goals of our next generation. Over the past 12 years, the United States has fallen from first place to last place among wealthy economies, in terms of the share of employed 25- to 34-year-olds.


REAL ESTATE had down payments of 10 percent or less. As we might expect, the effect of unnecessarily tight credit standards on lending to African Americans and Latinos has been large: Analysis of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data by ComplianceTech shows that loans for African Americans have fallen from 1.3 million in 2005 to 280,000 in 2011—a drop of nearly 80 percent. During that same period, loans to Latinos fell from 1.9 million to 442,000, or 76 percent. Moreover, housing policies that once were considered virtually sacred, such as the continuation of the mortgage-interest deduction, cannot be taken for granted given the continuing difficult battles over the federal budget. Without a major change in attitude among policymakers and the public toward homeownership, the ability of millions of creditworthy borrowers to access homeownership may be lost. And because homeownership is the single-most important asset of the typical American family, lack of homeownership access means less household wealth accumulation and further reduced economic mobility for communities and the nation in the future. Between 2007 and 2009, the Pew Research Center finds that Latinos in America lost an estimated two-thirds of their net worth, and Asian and African American wealth has fallen by more than half. The most effective way to help rebuild this lost wealth is with adequate access to homeownership opportunities. Moreover, people of color will constitute 7 out of 10 net new household formations over the next decade. As a result, failing to meet the mortgage-credit needs of these households will not bode well for the overall health of the housing market. Yet it is not just borrowers of color who are struggling with the housing market and economy. Young adults, regardless of race or ethnicity, are also struggling. The homeownership rate for young adults has declined markedly, and the share of young adults living with their parents is at a 40year high. When combined with nearly $1 trillion dollars of


student-loan debt, young adults are en route to becoming the first generation of Americans to experience a lower level of economic success than their parents. In fact, recent research by the Urban Institute already bears this out. It finds that young adults ages 29 to 37 have 21 percent less wealth than did their parents at the same age.

3. The current state of the housing recovery and its implications for families, communities, and the overall economy A final fundamental challenge facing homeownership is a lack of public awareness of the health of the housing market. There is an increasing perception that the housing market is recovering on its own and that significant public policy intervention may not be necessary. After all, foreclosures have fallen significantly from their peak, home prices are rising, construction starts have increased, sales of new and existing homes are up, and mortgage originations are strong. But a closer examination of almost any of these data calls for qualifiers. Take mortgage originations, for example. For more than the past year, in excess of 70 percent of conventional mortgage originations have been for refinancing a home, not home-purchase mortgages. This trend has continued into the current year, as roughly two-thirds of conventional originations in the second quarter were to refinance. In a healthy market, the refinancing versus purchase originations shares would be reversed. This unusually high proportion of refinancing as a share of all originations is an indicator of a market still struggling. Refinancing lowers the long-term cost of a home for borrowers, and that’s good for families. And refinancing generates earnings for financial firms. But refinancing activity is simply churning the same mortgages—it does not represent an expansion of homeownership, which is essential to a healthy housing market and expanded asset accumulation by households. Similar weaknesses can be found in the good news about rising home prices.

REAL ESTATE Additionally, recent impressive increases in home prices are, in important part, driven by investors purchasing formerly owner-occupied housing— often for cash. Some estimates suggest that 40 percent of investor purchases in May of this year were for cash. In some urban neighborhoods across the United States, 75 to 90 percent of all buyers are investors. And nationally, 68 percent of “damaged homes” sold in April went to investors, while only 19 percent went to first-time homebuyers. Yet investor purchases are a mixed blessing for a variety of reasons. First, wealth accruing from rising home values on investor properties, for example, does not remain in communities to the extent the properties are owned by absentee landlords. Second, a large proportion of investors’ purchases in distressed neighborhoods are in single-family units, thus raising potential management issues due to the scattered locations of these investment properties. Third, while investors contribute to rising home prices, helping strengthen home prices in the near term, they can also distort the market prices— upward or downward—particularly if they are buying for cash, since the homes do not require inspections or appraisals. Fourth, investors may also crowd out first-time homebuyers, including African Americans, Latinos, and young families, because those borrowers generally must go through the time-consuming loan-approval process, including property appraisals and inspections. Finally, because investors purchase homes solely to make a profit, they will not likely invest in their properties the same way as do homeowners. Financial bottom-line considerations may discourage landlords from investing any dollars in their properties beyond improvements required to maintain homes to local building codes. Moreover, a focus on financial returns could lead investors to dump properties in the event of an economic or housing-market downturn, thus driving down home prices if those assets fail to meet

investor expectations. As a result, communities where investors are concentrated do not provide the same level of stability and sustainability as a homeowner-driven recovery. Having said all that, investors can play a positive role in the housing market. But we must remain focused on the share of investors, as well as the manner in which they participate. If, for example, investors supported ownership-occupied housing as equity partners with owners, that would greatly enhance investor participation in the homeownership market while helping increase the wealth of families. This could be accomplished with shared-equity loans, wherein investors pay some or all of a borrower’s down payment in return for a predetermined share of the home’s future equity value resulting from rising home prices. Unfortunately, during this housing crisis, federal agencies have invested no time in innovating loan products. Instead, they have disproportionately focused on finding ways to sell distressed and foreclosed properties directly to investors. This focus on helping investors leverage the current low home-price and interest-rate environment is further compounding the growing wealth gaps between the middle class and the wealthy and between non-Hispanic white households and people of color.

James H. Carr Housing finance, banking and urban policy consultant 202-997-3839 P.O. Box 3732 McLead VA 22103





orty years ago, when I saw how the future was portrayed in The Jetsons cartoon, I thought it was far from my future. Would I get to experience microwaved meals, two-way video conferencing and my very own R.U.D.I. (Referential Universal Digital Indexer) the way The Jestons’ did? After all, I was the first generation of the electric typewriter, replacing carbon copies/mimeograph with photocopies and rotary telephones became touch tone phones.

When I first entered the real estate industry in New York, listings were marketed by word of mouth. The success of the sale of real estate was mainly due to high touch models. Years later, when I relocated to California and


built my career in real estate, technology took hold and made marketing easier with the use of the multiple listing service, commonly referredt o as MLS. Our industry has moved into an age where a multi-page contract is now a paperless, eco-friendly process. We provide a virtual experience to out-of-state clients. Email hasbeen quickly followed by texting as the preferred choice of communication. Technology is fabulous and has a place in our industry. However, have we allowed the efficiency of high tech to replace high touch? Real estate is about people. For real estate agents, it affects our livelihood and for our clients it impacts their lifestyle. However, if we allow high tech to interfere with high touch, our role as counselors, advocates and community stabilizers will be reduced to a less than minimum wage clerical function. Technology has and will continue to have value within our industry. However, we should not allow technology to

reduce a real estate agent’s value in the marketplace. Let’s look at a few examples of how high tech has influenced and impacted our industry.

Scenario #1: Lead Generation Firms The information utilized originates with the real estate agent when it is entered into the MLS. Our data is repackaged and utilized by various on-line companies to generate leads. At this point you might be thinking, “What’s wrong with a savvy company doing this?” The high tech approach has unbalanced the high touch.


How? 1) By giving the impression that the best value is obtained by primarily utilizing high tech services. Buyers and sellers might obtain fees reimbursed by utilizing these platforms. However, in a number of states it is illegal for a non-licensed agent to receive a real estate related fee. 2) The leads generated come from multiple service platforms. Agents are paying twice; first for being a member of the MLS and second when they pay the on-line service a referral fee for a client which they would have accessed via Why is this a growing phenomenon? Simply because real estate agents are not answering their calls or returning them. Have you set up your automated systems to be so high tech that calls are not answered by a live person? When you finish calculating all the factors, this high tech approach ends up costing more and you have to utilize an agent anyway. Think about that.

Scenario #2: Investors

Wall Street

There is nothing wrong with savvy investors taking advantage of wealth building opportunities.

However, properties are being purchased sight unseen. Think this is an exaggerated viewpoint? Take a look at the top 20 hardest hit areas in our country. Purchases made by R.E.I.T.S and hedge funds have been so aggressive that potential homeowners have been locked out of the market place. What does this have to do with high tech/high touch? Agents are becoming accustomed to not having to negotiate the deal which is a high touch approach. Preference is being given to cash investors, properties are not being shown and there is increasing difficulty in accessing properties. What is the effect to our profession? At a conference I recently attended, R.E.I.T.S and hedge funds see real estate agents as a “nuisance.” They believe that we provide no value to the transaction process and the only reason they utilize us is because we have the listing. Guess what, when it comes time to sell the property, they won’t be utilizing real estate agents because they have set up internal systems to dispose of the properties themselves. Many will be utilizing technology platforms to sell the properties. The other negative to utilizing high tech at the present level is that in some markets it has created

inflationary, unsustainable values. We are looking at a repeat of the very market we are trying to bounce back from.

Scenario #3: Auctions Simply put, they utilize our systems (MLS) to promote the property, provide limited access to the property, negotiability has been eliminated and in more cases than not the purchaser overpays for the property. Auction company viewpoint, agents don’t know how to establish value. Easy to say when the starting point is 1015% lower than market value because you know a buyer will end up paying more and is committed to paying because purchaser has to agree to waive appraisal value. Auctions have always played a part in our market place. In fact, the first property my family purchased more than 20 years ago was via auction. Big difference is I did my homework. In today’s market place the clients are not being educated by their agent regarding the pros



and cons. Agent, are you liking the reduced payment being made by the auction company for bringing the client to the table? How about the latest trend with short sales? Some servicers are requiring sellers to agree to sell the property at auction at the same time the property is on the MLS. If seller doesn’t agree, the servicer will not agree to the short sale. Where is the high touch? Great use of high tech.

Scenario #4: Buyers Viewing Properties Without An Agent How many times have you seen a buyer at a property without an agent? More than most of us are willing to admit. Not only is this a REALTOR board violation, but a great way to get sued if that client gets hurt at the property. Sure, the agent is utilizing great time management (high tech), but high touch is non-existent. This will definitely be utilized against you at time of sale when you tell your client how you will assist them in the sale of the property. Do you really think they are going to forget how you did not give access to the very same property they are now selling? Real estate is a profession which brings significant value.


It has to be treated as a profession and a business. This is not a job, therefore, an employee approach will not withstand the test of time. You need to look at your areas of specialty. If you are an REO agent, you tend to be more task oriented. Being high tech is essential. If you are developing a greater network with buyers and sellers, you are dealing with emotions and circumstances requiring a high touch approach. If you are working with investors, they look for high tech, but need to be shown that high touch plays a significant role as well. Learn the “language” of your specialty so that you can bring the best representation to your client. The best representation is not a high tech approach, it is a high touch approach which is complemented by high tech. There is a balance which can be reached and imperative to our industry’s sustainability.

Lilyvette Rodriguez is a real estate broker servicing the Inland Empire of Southern California for over 20 years. She specializes in equity sale, short sale, foreclosure, probate and corporate relocation. Lilyvette hosts a weekly radio show, Real Estate Radio Unplugged, Wednesdays from 11:00 am – 12 Noon on AM1510 KSPA, Financial News & Talk, a Bloomberg radio station. She serves on a number of boards, holds multiple certifications/ designations and is a consumer advocate. She believes that an informed community is an enlightened community.

Lilyvette Rodriguez CEO/Broker BRE License #01061272 Excel Realty (909) 333-6008 ExcelRealtyIE Twitter: @RealEstateLil


As market slows, successful home sellers

shift to high gear

By Brian Bean & Tim Hardin The once-torrid real estate market has leveled off, and many home sellers are now having difficulty attracting buyers. The National Association of recently that the number of September dropped for the months, pressured by higher economic uncertainty.

Realtors reported U.S. home sales in first time in three interest rates and

Nationwide, sales dropped 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 5.29 million units, NAR said. Economists predict home sales to remain at that pace. Southern California saw a reduction in the number of sales, according to the California Regional Multiple Listing Service, the main platform for real estate agents in Southern California. CRMLS data show 12,510 home sales closed in November, down 13.1 percent from 14,401 in October. It was a 15.5 percent drop from 14,812 in November 2012. Sales in the past year peaked at 16,812 in May and 16,567 in August. The reduced activity has also contributed to a taming of price increases that reached 3 percent to 5 percent per month earlier this year. In Southern California, the median sales price dropped to $377,000 in November from $379,900 in October, CRMLS indicated. The median price has hovered between $375,000 and $380,000 since June, when the slowdown started.


In Riverside County, the median price reached $270,000 in November, up from $265,000 in September and October, $255,000 in August and $262,500 in July, according to CRMLS. San Bernardino County prices dropped to $235,000 in November from $250,000 in October, $235,000 September and $228,000 in August. Interest rates are the most-cited cause for the reduction in buyer activity. Fixed-rate mortgages dropped to as low as 3.25 percent in May but ballooned to 4.75 percent in the summer. They have since leveled out at about 4.25 percent. The Federal Reserve is still weighing when to “taper� its Quantitative Easing program, in which it is purchasing $85 billion worth of mortgage bonds per month to keep home interest rates low. But just talking about the tapering caused the rate spike. So what can a seller do to adjust to the changing market? Here are some tips to make sure you stay ahead of the trends:

DRESS FOR SUCCESS Sure, when the market was pumping and buyers were lined up to make multiple offers on the few available homes, a seller didn’t have to do much to land a great offer. Today, buyers are competition matters.





REAL ESTATE Staging is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make your home stand out. Yes, you’ll have to make the bed every day. You may have paint the walls. You may even have to replace old, stained carpeting. But in the end, it will translate to a quicker sale and a higher sales price. Not all improvements are wise. An experiencedHomeowner Advocate can help you choose the best projects that give a good return on the investment.

PRICE IT RIGHT Earlier this year, when buyers were abundant, pricing a home was easy. Take the highest recent closed sale and add 10 percent. Today, homes are staying on the market longer; more and more home listings are expiring before the house sells. Choosey buyers will pass on a house that has been on the market more than 60 days, assuming there is something wrong with it. Make sure you hire a Homeowner Advocate to properly evaluate your home. They will take all your loving improvements into account when they compare your property to recent sales. But they will do so with an objective viewpoint, with your best financial interests at heart. But buyers don’t care that you spent $80,000 on your backyard oasis, or $65,000 on your chef’s kitchen, or opted for the top-grade wood flooring? The market and the buyer’s appraiser will not support a dollar-for-dollar value on those improvements.

is for sale. And make sure the presentation is topshelf. Your home marketing must include the maximum number of still photographs, video tours (actual video, not just still photos that float across the screen), and a lively description that touts the lifestyle of the home and not just a reiteration of the number of bedrooms and baths. The images should be of professional quality. Too many agents use their cell phone cameras, and some don’t even turn them sideways! This contributes to poor photos, and that will harm your bottom line. And your home should be visible everywhere. There are hundreds of real estate portals available, including Zillow, Trulia, Movoto, etc. Don’t let an agent dial you back. You could miss the buyer willing to pay more. Do newspaper ads work? Should you have an open house? Should your home be on Craiglist? For a copy of our “Max Marketing Program,” call 951-778-9700 today and we’ll show you how to make your home look like the best deal on the market. Thinking about selling your home? Want to know what it’s worth and strategize how to get the highest price? Call 951-778-9700 today for a 10-minute consultation.

Embrace the fact that you enjoyed those wonderful features when you lived there. Accept the fact that you overbuilt your home for the neighborhood. And lock down the best buyer you can, while you can.

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD Want to know how to get the highest possible price in the shortest period of time? Simple. Make sure that every potential buyer knows your home

Brian Bean and Tim Hardin, owners of Dream Big Real Estate in Riverside, are Local Homeowner Advocates. They can be reached at 951-7789700, or at http://




Historically, homeownership has proven to be a sound and secure long-term investment among Americans for accumulating wealth. The Federal Reserve, in a recent study, revealed that homeowners accumulate 30 times more net household wealth than that of renters. The value of homeownership does not always start and end with an investment to build wealth, but it also includes the pride of having a place for your family to grow old and carry on for generations.

Empower Yourself…Through Homebuying Education Classes Purchasing a home is a huge investment that takes goal setting, careful planning, sound advice, and savings. Currently, 90% of homebuyers begin their home buying research online. This is a great first step. Take note that there are HUD Approved Homebuying and Credit Counseling Agencies that offer classes for free. These classes are built as an interactive learning experience that allows attendees to learn hands on and ask questions about the homebuying process. Typically, these classes are at least 8 hours long…a small amount of time to invest and commit to in making one of the biggest purchases in your lifetime.


In addition to learning about the homebuying process Homebuying Counseling Agencies also educate potential homebuyers about available homebuying and downpayment assistance programs and the requirements needed to qualify for these programs.

Know What You Can Afford Responsible homeownership is about living within your means. In order to live within your means homebuyers must have a monthly household budget. A part of credit counseling is not only to improve your credit score but to address your spending habits no matter what your current income is. When determining how much house you can afford, lenders recommend that your monthly house payment (including mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, and home insurance) should amount to no more than 28% or your monthly gross income. For example, a family grossing $4,000 per month should spend no more than $1,120 ($4,000 x 0.28) per month for house payments.


The second part of the rule advises that your total monthly debt obligations should add up to no more than 43% of your gross income. For example, a family grossing $4,000 a month should spend no more than $1,720 ($4,000 x 0.43). This amount should cover all debt payments made each month: mortgage, credit card, college loans, car payments, etc…

to make their mortgage work for them. They have mortgages that are carefully underwritten with responsible terms, including low upfront costs, low interest rates, and most importantly they integrate their mortgage into their financial plan. The good news is that any homeowner can implement the same strategy of the wealthy to increase their net worth.

In addition to your debt to income ratio, saving enough money for a downpayment and closing cost is essential to successfully purchasing a home. The amount of your downpayment will determine the type of loan you will qualify for. Most lenders prefer a downpayment of 20%, however this is not always a feasible amount for low to moderateincome homebuyers. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires a low downpayment of 3.5%. The drawback of obtaining a FHA loan with a downpayment less than 20% is the recent change to FHA guidelines for the homebuyer to pay Mortgage Insurance for the term of the mortgage loan.

Using homeownership, as a foundation of wealth building may also be a part of your investment strategy for your retirement. The goal here would be to maximize your home equity by the time you plan on retiring. With a plan in place, homeowners can own their home free and clear, allowing them to live a healthy and relaxing retirement life. As a side note…a smart investor would have a diverse portfolio that includes other investments aside from homeownership.

Have A Purpose for the Equity That You Build Home equity is defined as the difference between the home’s value and the amount owed on the mortgage. So, as homeowners pay down their mortgage, equity will often increase. Equity built over long-term homeownership is a form of forced savings. Home equity, however, is not to be used as an ATM for ordinary living expenses. Unlike the quick moneymaker the market was perceived to be in the past decade. Real estate is about longterm investing. When analyzing affluent homeowners, those who have the ability to pay off their mortgage but refuse to do so, have an understanding of how

Stay Updated on the Current Housing Market On December 19, 2013, The Federal Reserve decided to begin “tapering” or pulling back some of their stimulus package that has helped the housing market by keeping long term mortgage rates at historic lows for the last few years. As a result, consumers may experience an increase in the cost of financing and interest rates. Beginning January 1, 2014, FHA loan limits will drastically decrease in 650 high-cost county areas across the United States. This reduction will affect higher-end properties. For example, in San Joaquin County in California, the maximum new FHA loan limit will be $304,750 decreased from $488,950. Which means that higher end homebuyers will need to obtain a conventional low and to receive lower interest rates they will need to have a credit score of at least 700.



On January 10, 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will implement their ability to repay rule before extending credit to future homeowners. This regulation was authorized by the Dodd-Frank Act, in an effort to protect consumers from predatory lending: balloon payments, interest only, and negatively amortizing loans; to borrowers with questionable credit and poor debt-to income ratios. The new mortgage rule also limits origination fees to no more than 3% of the amount for mortgages $100,000 or more. Lenders are required to do more work to thoroughly qualify homebuyers, which is a good thing considering the massive foreclosure market we are rebounding from. The downside of the stricter guidelines is that a number of potential homeowners that will not qualify and the cost of mortgages could be higher for those seeking conventional loans. With the number of changes occurring in the industry, homebuyers will be required to be more prepared and patient than ever. As a result, homebuyers should seek out a buyer’s real estate agent to assist in their homeownership journey to assure that the agent has their best needs in mind. A good homebuyers real estate agent will have resources, as those listed above, in place to assist homebuyers in making the most informed decision possible throughout the homebuying process. As stated before purchasing a home is big investment and shouldn’t be taken lightly or rushed in to. Plan on being a responsible homebuyer, and make homeownership a part of your financial plan to help build your financial wealth!


D’Adrea Davie Short Sale & New Home Sales Specialist P: (209) 565-4399 E: CentralValleyLivingandRealEstate

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he long-awaited appointment of former North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt by the U.S. Senate has finally happened. Not unlike other homeownership advocates, The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) welcomed his confirmation as the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). NAREB’s support of Mr. Watt rests upon his consistent 20-year track record as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee. During his tenure, Mr. Watt stood as a strong and constant voice for affordable housing, consumer protection against abusive financial practices, and his unwavering push against deceptive mortgage products. The wisdom demonstrated by President Obama in selecting Mr. Watt signals a return to FHFA’s founding mission: “to ensure that the housing GSEs [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] operate in a safe and sound manner so that they serve as a reliable source of liquidity and funding for housing finance and community investment.” The importance of Mr. Watt’s appointment cannot be overstated. While the nation’s economic turmoil appears to be ebbing, countless Americans in general, and minorities in particular, have lost their homes, or believe they can no longer afford to purchase a home. NAREB, whose mission is “Democracy in Housing,” advocates for fairness in the marketplace. We know the value of a chief regulator who understands that a balance must be kept. The safety and the stability of the capital


marketplace must be maintained. At the same time, there remains a continuing obligation to protect and preserve the right of affordable home purchase opportunities for all Americans. Mr. Watt takes the helm of FHFA at a critical moment. Homeownership prospects for African Americans and other minorities have not kept pace with the reported economic upturn. In fact, the African American community has lost more than one-half of its net worth, or wealth, along with experiencing high unemployment rates that hover just above 13percent – statistics that do not signal economic recovery. Evidence of pervasive, unequal treatment of minorities in the home finance marketplace is well documented in NAREB’s “State of Housing in Black America” report.

“… neither the job nor homeownership prospects have improved much for this population over the past few months and years. Accessing mortgage credit has rarely been more challenging for African Americans. Loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are all but impossible for many African Americans to secure. For example, the typical credit score for borrowers of loans insured by the GSEs are in the high 700s while typical down payment requirements are near, or at 20 percent. Moreover, loans insured by the GSEs — more than 70 percent for 2012 —are largely originated for refinancing, not purchasing a mortgage. As a result, the overwhelming majority of loans to African Americans today are backed by the Federal Housing

Administration (FHA). However, due to several fee increases and related program changes to improve the FHA’s balance sheet...these mortgages are more expensive nowadays than in decades.” The home purchase outlook for African Americans and other minorities depends upon steady and sustainable job creation coupled with a fair and balanced approach to increase home purchase prospects. If absent from the public policy dialogue, the prospects for economic recovery for African Americans remain dim. With this scenario as backdrop, Mr. Watt is the right person at the right time with the full vision and commitment to bring the

agency into balance, with a laser focus that serves fairly the financing needs of American home purchasers regardless of race, color or ethnicity.

Donnell Spivey President National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) To learn more, visit


FHCRC 2012-2013 Highlights and Reflections by Rose Mayes


he Fair Housing Council of Riverside County, Inc. (FHCRC) is a non-profit organization that fights to protect the housing rights of all individuals. FHCRC provides various services to the public that assist in analyzing and eliminating housing discrimination in Riverside County. These services help to strengthen the housing market and to build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination. FHCRC’s services also take proactive steps towards “affirmatively furthering fair housing” by ensuring all individuals will live free from unlawful housing practices and discrimination. FHCRC’s services fall into five main categories: antidiscrimination, landlord/ tenant, homebuyer education, foreclosure prevention, and advocacy. Through these services, FHCRC has had a substantial impact on Riverside County. For instance, in the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year (FY), FHCRC received 420 discrimination complaints. Of these complaints, 12 cases were filed with HUD, 7 cases were filed with private attorneys, and 20 were successfully mediated. FHCRC also settled 3 cases out-of-court, with the largest being a $125,000 settlement in a familial status case. These cases help to ensure that housing providers do not discriminate by holding companies or individuals accountable for their discriminatory practices.


Another significant accomplishment at FHCRC occurred in the 2012-2013 FY. Selvio Martinez, a FHCRC counselor, recently helped a Riverside resident receive a principal reduction of over $500,000 – from over $680,000 to less than $180,000. In the end, the resident was able to keep his home as a result of the loan modification. Rose Mayes, Executive Director of FHCRC, states that “individuals who take early action and utilize the loan modification process have a higher success rate in keeping their homes and avoiding foreclosure.” There are also issues within Riverside County that are concerning to FHCRC. As an example, discrimination against disabled individuals has increased greatly in recent years, shown by the fact that 53% of FHCRC’s total complaints

are based on disability. Because of this increase in disabilitybased discrimination, FHCRC has conducted outreach to educate housing providers on this subject. Although many housing providers have a “no pets” policy, this policy does not apply to service/companion animals. This is because service/ companion animals are not “pets” and are a necessary part of allowing the disabled individual full use and enjoyment of the property. Another point that FHCRC emphasizes is that a housing provider cannot charge an additional deposit for a service or companion animal. Lastly, another area where discrimination against disabled individuals commonly occurs is in regard to reasonable accommodations and modifications. FHCRC has helped countless individuals gain equal access to housing by ensuring that housing providers do not deny them an apartment, or alter the terms, merely because of their disability. One of the biggest problems that FHCRC is encountering in Riverside County is the gap


between what an individual can afford to pay for housing and the actual cost of that housing. The generally accepted definition of affordable housing requires a family to pay less than 30 percent of its annual income on housing costs. When an individual is forced to pay more for their rent than they can afford, they are often unable to afford other basic necessities. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) puts out a yearly report, titled Out of Reach, which analyzes the current state of affordable housing. This report relies heavily on the “housing wage,” defined as “the full-time hourly wage a household must earn in order to afford a decent apartment at the HUD estimated Fair Market Rent (FMR) while spending no more than 30% of income on housing costs.” For Riverside County, HUD has estimated the FMR to be $1,116 for a twobedroom apartment. Based on this data, an individual must earn $21.46 per hour to support his or her family and afford a 2-bedroom apartment at the FMR. Unfortunately, very few renters

are actually able to earn the equivalent of the housing wage. The estimated average hourly wage earned by renters in Riverside County is only $11.41. This means that an individual earning the average hourly wage for renters can only afford $593 in monthly rent. Furthermore, the average hourly wage for renters of $11.41 means that a household must have 1.9 full-time jobs in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the FMR. The outcome looks even worse for renters who are only able to earn minimum wage. For individuals who earn only minimum wage, 2.7 full-time jobs are needed in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent. To put this issue in perspective, an individual that earns the average renter wage of $11.41 is not even able to afford an efficiency unit while working only one job. Furthermore, if that individual is only earning minimum wage, working one full-time job and one part-time job still may not be enough to afford an efficiency unit. Current data shows that 60.2% of renters in Riverside County

are living in housing that is not considered affordable. This is a pressing issue, as it leaves individuals and families unable to afford other basic necessities. The necessities that become unaffordable as a result can range from clothing to childcare, transportation, health care, or even decent food.

To contact FHCRC, or to simply learn more information, please visit or call (951) 682-6581.


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Thursday, April 24, 2014 Riverside Convention Center

Mayor- Rusty Bailey- City of Riverside Congressman Mark Takano

8 a.m. - 4 p.m. For more information please call: (951) 682-6581 FAIR HOUSING COUNCIL OF RIVERSIDE COUNTY, INC.

State Department of Fair Employment and Housing

Economist: John Husing

Attorney: Christopher Brancart

Levels of Sponsorship VIP Banner Sponsorship


Banner Display – on the stage and at registration

Name/logo on all printed materials & advertisements Full page ad in the booklet Paid Registration for a whole table Platinum Sponsorship


Banner Display- at registration table Name/logo of the sponsor on all printed materials ½ page ad in the booklet

Paid Registration for half a table Gold Sponsorship


Banner Display- at registration table 1/8 page ad in the booklet

Paid Registration of One Guests $500.00

Silver Sponsorship Name on the list of sponsors Paid Registration of One Guest

***FHCRC is also seeking a diamond sponsor to co-host the conference*** -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For additional information please contact Monica Lopez by email at: or by phone at: (951) 682-6581 Tax ID #: 33-0533809


Courtesy and Respect in Business By Milt Shaw


believe that many of us have become deluged with technology that occupies our thought process and actions to the extent that our responses can become perfunctory an not always thoughtful or respectful. I also believe that many of us don’t take time to think about the right or best approach to take when exploring business opportunities, developing business relationships and asking for business. I am writing this article in part to remind me of some of the things that have helped me develop strong relationships with clients , service providers, business associates , and family and friends because there are times when I have not done as I suggest. My hope in writing this article is that like me, others will now stop and think about about what we do and how we do it when we work with others Like many of you reading this article I frequently attend internal and external meetings, conferences and am on conference calls. While information and requests are being presented/ made to us at all times we need to recognize the importance of being engaged with those that we are with as they expect and want our undivided attention. Several years back I was involved in an executive management planning meeting. One of the key topics for our discussion was leadership. When asked for my thoughts, I said that the expectations that we have of our employees need to be


modeled around the expectations and actions that we have of each other as a management team. I said that we need to recognize that our employees look at as role models and their behavior, respect and action mimics our behavior, respect and action. If we want our employees to be engaged and be more productive they needed to see us engaged and show we care each other and about them. A key example of this was our monthly executive meeting and monthly meetings with staff. During the majority of our meetings our management team would accept and respond to emails during the meetings. This behavior is rude and a distraction to the individual receiving the e-mail, text, or call and to the others around that individual if not everyone attending. There is very little that can’t wait for an hour or two unless it is a family emergency. If an individual has something that they are expecting that can’t wait they should let it be known up front and then excuse themselves when the expected event occurs. Something else that occurs in meetings, usually larger meetings, are individual conversations beyond those precipitated by the individual speaking. This is disrespectful to the speaker and to the meeting participants who are listening to the speaker and trying to listen and focus on the presentation and discussion. Less obvious but also a potential distraction are those who pass notes back and forth during discussion.


My next point revolves around industry conferences. Many of those attending conferences are looking to learn and to network with individuals that they know and others they will meet. Networking can certainly include opportunities around earning new business. The approach used by many has always confused me as most individuals attending conferences like to consider themselves professional. Their actions often contradicted their approach as professional as many appear to have little or no clue on how to go about earning the attention and interest of someone who may represent a new business opportunity or business relationship for them. In virtually every presentation that I have been involved in as a speaker, a panel moderator or a panelist I am surrounded by session attendees who want to say hello and hand me their card and or ask for one of mine. The approach has varied from people who hand me a card and leave, to those who want to speak for minutes ignoring others who also would like to say hello. How does this relate to respect? Respect comes from recognizing others and their time, needs and objectives. Many of these individual showed no recognition of anything but interest in themselves and their opportunity to be heard, not a thought to how they were perceived by the direct recipient or others around and through their action. How different would it be if these same individuals who would like to introduce themselves took the time to write a note saying I recently heard you speak on or moderate a panel at the ...

conference? If they started by saying I was interested in what you or the panel had to say and I have some additional thoughts that I would like to share with you. If they would then include something to peak the readers interest and follow with, I would very much like to have a 15 minute conversation with you about this, please email me at and let me know if you are interested. It is likely that a very different opinion of the individual who would like to be introduced will be established. This individual is respectful, has taken time to differentiate themselves from the masses and I would certainly view differently. It may have happened 10 times in my career. My last point is to help those who are being asked for business. I often hear those individuals take an approach suggesting that the requesting individual/s submit their information through an on line registration process and that if a need or an opportunity to add them occurs their information is in the system and they may be contacted. Let’s be honest with each other and not create false hope on an unreasonable expectation. If I were the individual making the request I would want to have more information and understand if there was a real opportunity or was this just the standard response to appease the interested party. While the above is accurate there are facts beyond performance and volume that everyone who works with supplier networks ( in the REO and Corporate Relocation industries networks include real estate brokers and agents, real estate



appraisers, property preservation providers, title companies, attorneys and others) consider. Significant time is spent in building relationships with the individuals, firms and companies that support the industry. Performance is certainly the critical factor. In addition to performance relationship, ease of doing business, capacity, and politics can also be factors. So as an individual decides how they want to expand their business it may be wise for them to identify who would be a good fit for them and their organization considering the above and the ability to have a relationship, not just who has business that they may be able to get. I believe that all organizations are unique and some are better partners than others in achieving client objectives and expected results. I recommend looking for a relationship that is mutually respectful. A relationship where there is ongoing and two way communication between the parties. Clear communication between the parties creates reasonable and achievable expectations, understanding and the best opportunity to achieve results exceeding expectations. Look at creating opportunities for each other (not just what can you do for me), work respectfully recognizing the interests of all parties working together in the way that you approach existing and prospective business. If this is the way we proceed there is little that we will not be able to achieve in our relationships and business.

Milt Shawยนs leadership skills and multi-faceted relationship management background strengthen our efforts to be a valuable and respected partner with clients and service partners. Milt is responsible for establishing and developing relationships that will help PEMCO Ltd. and PEMCO Realty expand their influence and reach within existing and new markets. Prior to joining PEMCO Ltd., Milt held senior management positions with two of the top companies in asset management and corporate relocation. He is a nationally recognized industry speaker with extensive real estate experience and holds the Graduate Realtors Institute (GRI), and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designations from the National Association of Realtors. Milt Shaw Senior Vice President Strategic Relationship Management 4500 Cherry Creek Drive South Suite 410 Glendale, CO 80246 Office 720-509-3240 Cell 720-544-3725



How to rebrand yourself

for less than $100 By Bubba Mills

“Doing well is the result of doing good. That’s what capitalism is all about.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson probably isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of business, but I’ll bet you my last dollar he would’ve made a great businessman if he hadn’t spent so much time writing. His quote hits the nail squarely on the head. Yes, you as a real estate agent today can do quite well by doing good. I know that because I’ve experienced it personally in my own real estate career. And I see it in other agents, too – especially the top producers. Show me a top producer, and nine times out of 10, I’ll show you someone who has branded him or herself as an icon of philanthropy in his or her community. And what’s even cooler is they likely did it for well under $100. So how can you get on this branding bus and ride toward greater profits in your real estate business? Here are three tips you can start using today.

1. Donate to schools and other nonprofits. Well,

Bubba, donate what? Look, you’re in real estate. That means you’re around items worth donating practically every day, especially in a market that has had its share of short sales and real estate owned properties. A lot of times,


these properties are stuffed to the gutters with all kinds of things – old toys, balls, games, clothes – you name it. Now all you have to do is make it a habit to pick a school or nonprofit in your farm area that would appreciate these items and go donate them. Go regularly and often. And then guess who they’ll call when they need real estate services. That’s right. Yours truly. Simple. Easy and incredibly effective.

2. Offer free education seminars to local

nonprofits. Wanna look smart? Teach. Wanna find some prospects? Teach. Wanna increase your business? Teach. I know you don’t have a problem talking to people – you’re in real estate for goodness sake. Why not talk to a lot of people at the same time and help them understand the details of achieving the American dream? Tailor a talk about buying for first-time buyers. How about a class on selling? We’re smack dab in the middle of a hot market for sellers right now. Think about what you can share and then share it at the YMCA, the local library or a school. You’ll look great doing it and the attendees will be happy to get the information – it’s a classic win-win.


3. Get a “good neighbor” script. So a house is vacant in your farm area. Who do the neighbors call if something is going on with that house – kids messing around in it, for example? It can be you. Why not be industrious and hit the neighbors with a script, something like: “Hello. I’m Jane from Jane Doe Realty. You probably know the house across the street is vacant. Well, I’ll be selling it, working hard to get as much as possible for it so it helps your property values, too. I just wanted to give you a card so you can call me if you ever see a problem at the house.” This is a perfect opportunity to relate meaningfully and directly with consumers, and develop prospects for the future.

Please send any comments or questions you have to or http://

I’ll leave you with this: Reputations are earned, not purchased. Get busy.

Bubba Mills is the chief operating officer and managing partner of Corcoran Consulting Inc. (, 800-957-8353), an international consulting and coaching company that specializes in performance coaching and the implementation of sound business systems into the residential or commercial broker or agent’s existing practice.

Let me hear from you: What do you think about giving? Have you had any experiences with this? What opportunities exist in your farm area for giving? What obstacles are in your way to do this?

We look forward to hearing from you. Sign up TODAY for your complimentary business consultation. http://www.CorcoranCoaching. com/bpw.php


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LESLIE APPLETON-YOUNG Highlights CAR’s 2014 Housing Market Forecast By Lynn Effinger

The recent REOMAC Annual Meeting and Dinner, held at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles, was highlighted by featured speaker Leslie Appleton-Young, Vice President and Chief Economist for the California Association of Realtors (CAR). Among other things, she conferred upon the attendees that homebuyers should act now to purchase a home. Referring to CAR’s 2014 Housing Market Forecast, Young, who will have been working for the distinguished organization for nearly three decades next February, indicated that although data is somewhat limited, it strongly suggests that next year we may see a rise in mortgage interest rates and a further shrinking of inventory. This will drive home prices up. Both of these factors would then conspire to make it more difficult for many people, especially first-time buyers, to purchase a home. In fact, California housing prices have jumped by 28% this year and are expected to rise another 28% in 2014, according to CAR. Young’s basic message to homebuyers was to act now. No one really needs or wants to be reminded that the nation has been suffering through one of the most challenging economic periods in our country’s history. It remains a fact, however, that high unemployment and underemployment, the housing crisis, bailouts, government gridlock, perhaps (to some) questionable foreign and domestic policies, and so much more have created gnawing uncertainty among our fellow citizens about our collective future. And while many in America are reporting that we are now in an economic recovery, to countless others among us the nation’s purported economic recovery seems illusory.


In fairness, however, there are enough positive signs available that point to real recovery taking place—at least in the housing sector. For example, a recent Reuters report indicated that permits for future construction hit a five-year high last summer. The September 18, 2013 report noted that the Commerce Department said single family housing starts surged by 7.0 percent to an annual rate of approximately 640,000 units. This is encouraging indeed, as was the report in the first week of December that the unemployment rate may be as low as 7% for the first time since 2008. According to Young, the Bay Area of California, including San Jose, as well as Orange County and even downtown Los Angeles have all experienced the highest rate of housing price appreciation. This is due in large measure to the increase in employment these markets are experiencing. And the jobs that have been created in these markets tend to be higher paying ones, which is also driving up demand for housing.


Young prefaced her remarks by noting that anyone who tells you what’s coming in the future doesn’t really know. Nevertheless, she continued making the case that serious homebuyers should act now to get a good deal. While her remarks were California-specific, she pointed out that data exists across the country that mirror California, at least to some extent. With the Federal Reserve likely to begin tapering its monthly purchase of $85 billion in bonds by the second quarter of next year, the aforementioned rise in mortgage interest rates is expected. Since, as Young pointed out, Realtors did such a great job of helping to sell off the once massive inventories of distressed homes (investors bought mega-pools of said homes), overall housing availability is low. She noted that on average in California there is typically a 6 – 7 month supply of housing, but today it stands at 3.4 months. Although interest rates are still at historical lows, every rise of just one percent in mortgage interest rates kicks out many thousands of oncepotential homebuyers. While housing prices are rising, not just in California, but in other markets across the country, there are still great opportunities to buy today at existing pricing. But don’t expect to be able to buy a foreclosed home at a bargain price. Only 5% of home sales today in California are distressed properties. In January of 2009 it was 60%. In San Francisco for example, today there are fewer than 20 bank-owned homes on the market. It should be noted, however, that in judicial foreclosure states such as Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and others, backlogs of foreclosures remain higher due to protracted timelines with respect to the foreclosure process—in some cases it is taking up to three years or longer to complete the entire process from notice of default to foreclosure. While most attendees at the REOMAC event were Realtors who have specialized in marketing and disposing of distressed real estate, the rapidly shrinking inventory of these foreclosed properties has meant that they must look to other


opportunities in the real estate field to serve buyers. This is a potential boon for homebuyers. There is, as many people are aware, an old adage that used to suggest that 80% of all real estate transactions in America are really done by only 20% of the Realtor community. While that was perhaps true in years past, today most real estate professionals acknowledge that this figure now stands at a 95:5 ratio. To be fair, this is largely due to the fact that while there are many thousands of people who have a real estate salesperson’s license, the vast majority of these individuals are inactive. Those Realtors who are among the survivors of the recent housing crisis are some of the most talented and experienced real estate professionals in the business. On balance these professionals have a strong work ethic and are expert communicators. Young also noted that CAR surveys of home sellers and buyers indicate that responsiveness and timely communication are the most important ingredients to their being satisfied with their real estate agents’ performance. Homebuyers would be well served to seek out one of these time-tested professionals to help them purchase a home… apparently, sooner, rather than later.

Lynn Effinger (951) 514-5699 Lynn Effinger is a veteran of more than three decades in the housing and mortgage default servicing industries. He currently serves as business development manager for Assurant Field Asset Services.

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I would like to first introduce myself. My name is Gwendolyn Wynn. I have been a Realtor and a Realtist for 25 years, and am also a residential appraiser with 20 years of experience. I provide advice and counseling for my clientele base in the areas of sales (both commercial and residential), property management, title insurance, appraisals, and real estate development. I have been able to provide valuable insight to my community at large in the areas of growth and development. I have just completed my term of service as the 155th American to ever hold that position. While searching for my first topic to write an article about for this publication, The Power Is Now Magazine, I thought I would share my experience, observations, and opinions on, “The Realtor and The Realtist” agendas. I look forward to your response and comments or inquiries. My hope is for the continual collaboration of these two organizations on the professional and community interests they both share.

Associations / Organizations What should their main purpose be? TO GIVE VOICE………….. As American Citizens, we all have the right to be heard, but as members of an association or organization we have the Ability to be heard. History of both organizations:



Realtor – A Trade organization. The National

Association of REALTORS® was founded as the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges on May 12, 1908 in Chicago. With 120 founding members, 19 Boards, and one state association, the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges’ objective was “to unite the real estate men of America for the purpose of effectively exerting a combined influence upon matters affecting real estate interests.” Vision: The National Association of REALTORS® strives to be the collective force influencing and shaping the real estate industry. It seeks to be the leading advocate of the right to own, use, and transfer real property; the acknowledged leader in developing standards for efficient, effective, and ethical real estate business practices; and valued by highly skilled real estate professionals and viewed by them as crucial to their success.

Realtist – A Trade organization. The National

Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) was formed in 1947 by African-American real estate professionals out of the need to secure the right to equal housing opportunities, regardless of race, creed, or color. For more than 80 years, NARAB has participated in meaningful legal challenges and has supported legislative initiatives that ensure the availability of fair and affordable housing for all Americans. Vision: The Realtist’s national goal is to bring together the nation’s minority professionals in the real estate industry to promote the meaningful exchange of ideas about our business and how best to serve our clientele. We strive to create an environment where creativity flourishes in both the workplace and the marketplace. We make every effort to ensure training and educational opportunities are available to our entire membership across the many disciplines we represent, providing certifications and special designations in many areas of interest. Our ability

to professionally service our client base is the foundation by which we operate. Our mission and directive is “Diversity in Housing.” As a member of both organizations I think that I have come to appreciate the strengths of both, and how through our joint efforts we can better serve our communities. As I sat at a Realtist meeting listening to a discussion on the future of the organization and the goals for 2014, I was caught off guard when the conversation changed to the relationship between the two organizations. The conversation was guided by members that did not understand why we should participate with the Realtors, feeling that the Realtors don’t address our concerns and as a result, exhibit a lack of working together in our communities. It’s not a matter of needing to work together, but they are and should be allies, and both can benefit from a cohesive relationship. I am an active Realtor as well as a Realtist and I value both organizations. You have in both organizations a strong advocacy for legislative issues, education, community, and business development. They also offer opportunities to grow personally and professionally. One of the benefits for Realtist through the collaboration with the Realtors is improving the national, state and local political agenda. They both have the same political representatives for our communities and should be working together to ensure the effectiveness of the message. As Realtists, they should be getting more involved with the Realtors organization, through committees and Leadership, to insure that they are addressing issues that affect our communities. At the same time Realtists need to strengthen and improve their visibility. Finding creative ways of letting the practitioners and general public know who they are, and what they do to promote diversity in homeownership.



I was asked to start a Woman’s Council of Realtists in my local chapter. As I started to recruit members, I talked to another Realtor. They had never heard of the Realtist and asked the question, “Why should minorities have a separate organization when there is a Realtors association? They should join our Woman’s Council.” If you look at the statistics given in study after study, African Americans are lagging in education, health, wealth, access to capital, etc. They need an organization that concentrates on the needs of minority communities from their prospective. As a part of the Realtors, minorities are only a small percentage of the membership, and in Leadership that percentage is even less. So their issues get put on the back burner, if brought up at all. IF you read the newspapers or watch or listen to the media, the housing market is improving. If you walk through the areas of Urban Cities that have large amounts of minorities, or the outskirts of the Downtown and Waterfront areas, there is a different real estate market. There needs to be a focus in our neighborhoods to prepare prospective Buyers in what they need to do to prepare to become homeowners and be more prepared to stay. As Realtists we understand the issues and are in the position to make a difference, but we need to have, and execute, a plan. As Realtists they could use the strength of Realtors to help move our issues of accessibility and diversity. We need to partner with them, participate in committees and functions as well as the leadership in order to exchange ideas to benefit both organizations. Thereby ensuring the needs of minorities stay in the forefront of the Realtor agenda.There needs to be more


networking opportunities planned between both organizations. There should also be opportunities to partner on fundraising events, food drives, toys for tots and other non-confrontational activities. Most importantly, members of both organizations fall short in letting their membership as a whole understand the importance of investing in their future and the future of their profession though their Political Action Committees (PACs). In order to be effective we need to have a seat at the table and not be part of the menu. We need to participate in the process. I am sure my market area is not alone. Most of the larger Urban Cities have a similar issue. I am looking for good ideas and programs that make a difference, and I am willing to share mine. I am trying to make a difference, are you? Please contact me with your thoughts or comments.

Gwendolyn Wynn President GBBR Great Baltimore Board of reators 410-409-6854 410-514-1500 profiles/114903130192613302864


Property Preservation and Repairs: Why it still matters and why it should matter to you. By: Orlando Givens, VRMU Trainer & Principal, ABG Field Services LLC


s a real estate professional selling REO assets in today’s market, how do you make more money in the face of declining volumes? One avenue to increase the revenue from REO sales is to better manage preservation and repairs. When I started ABG Field Services in 2008, the volume of foreclosed properties was skyrocketing without an apparent end in sight. Corporate sellers were completely inundated with properties. For years, REO had been that sector of real estate sales that remained outside the industry’s focus. Then, when the financial crisis hit, REO went from the fringe to center stage seemingly overnight. I researched the foreclosure market very carefully before starting my company, believing the worst of the crisis was still ahead of us. I knew that there was a need for careful, professional management of those assets. I structured my company to strategically scale and respond to the heavy influx of properties while maintaining the highest standards of quality preservation—through the height of the crisis and the subsequent waning. As volumes continue to decline, the need to set your property apart from the next asset becomes increasingly important. That is where effective property preservation, maintenance and repair


can and should play a role. Today, volumes have significantly declined from the height of the foreclosure boom. According to RealtyTrac, September 2013 marked the 36th consecutive month of annualized declining foreclosure activity. Statistics also show that the median sales price of a non-distressed home was $186,500 in August, 2013. The same month, the median sales price of a foreclosure home was $112,520, or 40% lower than non-distressed assets. And while 60% of market value is the national standard for the REO sales, it is possible to receive up to 94% with proper care and maintenance. There are several corporate sellers that understand the importance of property preservation and are able to increase their resale values to well over the national standard. Take Freddie Mac as an example of a company that employs property preservation best-practices. Freddie Mac’s “Good Neighbor” property preservation and maintenance program begins no later than 3 days after a confirmed vacancy and continues until the property is sold. This program keeps property values up and preserves curb appeal for marketed properties. It also reduces complaints from neighbors and citations from the municipalities and generally yields this corporate seller a much higher resale value.

REAL ESTATE While this is only one example of how property preservation and maintenance & repair can drive higher values and increase revenue, there are some basic tenets that can help you achieve these results. In my experience, these 5 best practices have helped the brokers I work with improve their client relationships and their income. 1. Educate yourself on property preservation. As a certified instructor, I recommend courses like those offered through VRMU. The “Property Preservation Certification” course offers a thorough understanding of property preservation best practices as well as the knowledge to avoid common mistakes. Classes like VRMU’s “Raising Your Repair I.Q.” can give you the tools to successfully navigate property repairs and improvements. You will learn which repairs add value and which repairs to avoid. Successfully completing these courses will help you shorten marketing times and increase the sales prices of your REO listings. 2. Get to know your local code enforcement and building officials. Few things can cost your clients more money than code violations. Learn the critical issues that are specific to your market. If you get to know these officials and establish a good working relationship with them, they will often call you instead of just filing a lien. Notifying your clients of potential or active violations or even remediating issues before they become violations will set you apart from your competition and position you as a valuable partner to your clients. 3. Leverage the expertise of property preservation vendors in your area. Use a local vendor, or a panel of vendors, that you trust to help you determine the most cost efficient repairs and maintenance. Develop a good mix of individual contractors and all-in-one preservation companies. You may only need one contractor to keep the grass cut or clean the pool. For assets that need comprehensive repairs such as painting, new flooring or appliance repair & replacement it might be easier and more cost effective to leverage the expertise of a full-service vendor.

4. Inspect your assets frequently to verify that they adhere to the standards of the community. Research what other properties are available in your area and know how your asset compares. During your research and inspection, look for profitable ways to set your asset apart from the competition. Turn each asset into one of the best looking houses on the block, not just one of the best looking foreclosures. 5. Contact your asset manager and encourage them to embrace an as-repaired strategy, rather than an as-is strategy for their assets. If you’ve done your due diligence and understand your properties, neighborhoods and market comparisons, you’ll be in a better position to encourage them to pursue the 94% of market value rather than 60%. Effective, professional property preservation and maintenance can help you evolve and prosper in these changing times if you follow these few basic guidelines. The REO game is evolving rapidly and these few basic guidelines can set you and your business apart from the competition. The first time a buyer asks “are you sure this is a foreclosure?” you know you’ve done it right.

When he’s not lending his expertise to VRMU students, Orlando Givens serves as Principal and managing partner of ABG Field Services LLC. Founded in 2008, ABG Field Services provides comprehensive solutions to the default services industry, focusing on residential property preservation and maintenance. Mr. Givens held prominent positions in the mortgage banking industry for more than 20 years and is considered a respected authority in the industry. Information on VRMU courses can be found at



Special Care

For Seniors

When representing Senior Citizens in any real estate transaction, it is important to be very sensitive to their specific needs. It may have been several years since their last real estate transaction, and as we all know, things have changed.


irst of all, seniors may not be as technically savvy as most people are today. That being said, there are always exceptions…I recently met an 80+ year old man who could “out tech” me any day of the week! The majority of seniors tend to be a bit more comfortable with paper and ink. It is important to make sure that they feel as comfortable as possible when dealing with this very important transaction. Patience…it is essential that we take our time to review and make sure that our elderly clients understand the process and the paperwork completely. The excessive amount of disclosures would intimidate anybody. We should take our time, and even take breaks. It may be a good idea to have a family member present to reassure the client. Compassion…there are often situations when an elderly client has lived in this home for more than 20 years. Perhaps it is time for them to move to an assisted living facility, or move in with a relative. This is an emotional challenge to seniors in that they are being asked to give up much of


their independence. If at all possible, engage the client’s family to provide additional support and reassurance. Sensitivity…often, seniors have accumulated quite a bit of things over the years, and the property may not show as well as if it were less cluttered. Keep in mind that what appears to be “clutter” to most, are actually important memories to your client. A good practice is to appreciate their collection, and suggest a storage facility during the marketing of their home. Supportive…Be proactive (this is a good practice for ALL clients, not just seniors!). Call your client at least once a week with updates. Most clients will be very nervous if they do not know what is going on…As professionals, we know the timelines (i.e. waiting for appraisal report, file is in underwriting, etc…). Clients, especially seniors, may not be familiar with the process and a simple phone call to let them know that we are working on their file will reassure them and alleviate much of their stress.


SHOW SOME RESPECT!!! Senior Citizens should SHOW SOME RESPECT!!! Senior Citizens should NEVER be treated as children, or as being unintelligent! They are simply unfamiliar with a real estate transaction. It is a personal pet peeve when I see colleagues speaking down to clients of ANY age. Not understanding the escrow process is certainly not a measure of intelligence. As our population ages and the baby boomers are downsizing, as an industry we need to be proactive in understanding the special needs of our elderly clients. We should familiarize ourselves with 55+ communities, and provide a list of services and resources that may assist seniors in making educated decisions. This list would include moving companies, staging services, assisted living facilities, at home health care services and personal organizers. Often, these service providers will offer a senior citizen discount. By going “above and beyond� for our clients, we will not only be providing exceptional service, we will most likely receive many referrals and a reputation of excellence. Doing the right thing really is good business!

Jill Rand Phone number: 661-510-2112 Fax: 661-284-7544 27201 Tourney Road, Suite 200E Valencia, CA 91355



The Oakland I Now Know Today by Paul Lejoy When I relocated to the Bay Area in 2001, I landed in Fremont. MITAC, the company I worked for in Taiwan, knew that I was leaving the island. I had resided there for 7 years and even though everything was getting better and better for me each passing day, I had decided, perhaps prematurely and foolishly, that it was time to move west. Destination: Canada.

global expertise of sorts, so that made it the easier for the Canadian embassy in Singapore to grant me permanent residence in that expansive land.

I landed in beautiful Vancouver and immediately fell in love with that magnificent city on the west coast of Canada. I had always wanted to be a Canadian since childhood. One of my mother’s brothers had moved there from our native Cameroon. Boy fantasies! I had never met my uncle, but my mom sometimes talked about him. Perhaps that was what mesmerized me. So, I was destined for Canada, at last.

“Canadians are looking south for jobs. What are you doing up there?” a relative of mine asked me.

Getting my Canadian Green Card was a breeze. I had the job experience, the education,


I knew no one in Canada and had no Canadian experience so landing the type of job I wanted within a short space of time was not easy.

It wasn’t long before I found myself in Georgia. I stayed with that relative and his family for 3 months, mostly spending time at the Columbus State University library. I called MITAC and asked if they still had a job for me in Silicon Valley. They had sent me there in August 2000 to explore the area and decide if I liked it and if I did I could continue working for them at Synnex, their sister company in Fremont. They

said the job was waiting for me. I landed in Fremont in January 2001. A year later, I was anxious about getting my own home. “You can buy anywhere else but not Oakland,” a colleague of mine warned me. “That city is one heck of a crime infested place,” he said. I knew nothing about Oakland and did not spend a minute researching it online. I simply took my colleague’s advice and bought a fine home in Manteca, one and a half hours away from work. That was a disaster. If only I had done some research! If only I had explored Oakland! Ask most people who live in Oakland if they like it. “O, we like it when others talk bad about Oakland. The bad talk keeps the masses away,” Howard Parker, a former Bank of America employee told me when we got acquainted.


Ask Henry Ekwoge what he makes of Oakland. I met Henry when I attended Junior High School in Nyasoso, Cameroon. Henry has been a resident of Oakland for over 10 years and like many other Oaklanders, there’s no other city like Oakland. Recently, I met with Diana George, Owner/Broker of Vault Realty Group, at the fabulous Lake Chalet restaurant in Downtown Oakland. Diana moved to Oakland seven years ago and like my boyhood friend, she’s in love with the city.

some very interesting data. Just out of curiosity, I went on www. to do some research. I hit the advanced search and entered November 2-16 as my search period. There was a whopping 1357 assault cases in San Francisco as opposed to only 170 in Oakland, 74 in San Jose, 6 in Fremont, and 5 in Newark. I looked under homicides, and interestingly there was one in Oakland, San Francisco, Fremont and Newark. On the contrary, there were 2 homicides reported in San Jose.

feet above sea level, Oakland has been nicknamed the bright side of the Bay because of its sunny skies and moderate yearround climate. Even in the heart of winter, Oakland never goes 49.9° F (January); In the heat of summer it does not exceed 62.1° F (July) giving an annual average of 56.7° F. So, Oakland is not cold, nor is it hot and unlike San Francisco, its neighbor to the west, Oakland is hardly foggy nor does it rain annoyingly. Its average precipitation is 23 inches.

Attorney, Florence Ndedi, has been practicing immigration law in the city for several years now. She has lived and worked there for over a decade and she vows she will not move any place else.

My former colleague at Synnex lived in San Jose. Yet how many of us hear of San Jose as being unsafe?

In terms of views, a few in the world match what Oakland offers. I remember one day being led up the hills by my GPS. I was heading to Berkeley Hills and some reason the GPS thought I should relish the views before getting to my destination.

So, what’s so fascinating about this place? Have we not heard about the incessant crime in Oakland? Is Oakland not strewn with poverty and ghetto? Sure enough, one can’t help but hear news reports of shootings, almost daily, in Oakland. Here’s

So, in spite of the negative speak about Oakland, even in terms of crime, the city is not the worst in the world. Now, let’s talk about what makes Oakland extremely attractive. For starters, you’d love the weather in Oakland. Places Rated Almanac has ranked Oakland’s climate the number one in America. Located 42

I had never seen anything like that. It was the perfect postcard. From the hills in Oakland, I could see the entire San Francisco basin. I believe the designers of these cities conceived their ideas and architect from the top of these hills.



Oakland boasts magnificent rolling hills to the east and even 19 miles of coastline to the west. From the top of these hills pictureloving tourists and locals alike can take advantage of one of the most beautiful views in the world – the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate and Oakland Bay Bridges, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. You can’t talk about the beauty of a city without talking about the arts and entertainment. Most Bay Area cities have a festival in the summer. Oakland does have one too. But the city goes way beyond that. It has made sure that it has one each month. The Oakland First Fridays Arts Festival takes place in the evening of every first Friday of the month. It is simply outstanding and eclectic. An exciting evening filled with great arts, food, street vendors, music, comedy, interactive art, collaborative mural painting, live painting, dancers, fashion shows and other creative culture. We have talked about the crime not being too terrible. We have talked about the weather and the views and we


have talked about the arts and entertainment. Now, let’s talk about the investment beauty about this wonderful city. To be candid with you, I do not know where Pacific Realty Partners would be today had I not come across the wonderful investment opportunities in Oakland. It’s a tough market out there for a lot of real estate agents. It’d have been tough for my agents and me had we not been blessed with the discovery of Oakland. Most of our sales activity, which follows our investment activity, is in Oakland. Community First USA, LLC, the investment arm of my enterprises has bought and sold over 50 houses in Oakland since 2011. We have bought mostly single family residences, 1-4 units and we have bought them in almost every part of the city: West Oakland, East Oakland, Oakland Hills, you name it. We buy in posh areas and we buy in ghettos. It doesn’t matter where, so long as people live there, we buy. We beautify.

We create employment and hire locals: general contractors, subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, landscapers, painters, stagers, etc.). We buy building materials from Home Depot and other suppliers. We generate revenues for the city in terms of permit fees, sewer lateral fees and property taxes. We stabilize neighborhoods and rejuvenate the economy.

Paul Lejoy Pacific Realty Partners (510) 299-0093 (510) 818-0500 (510) 479-4481




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Home Buyers: Our 3-Strategy Plan to Get Your Offer Accepted Win the home of your dreams, even in a tight seller’s market, with our secret insider tips. By Regina P. Brown, Real Estate Broker


o you’ve finally identified the home of your dreams… it has the perfect kitchen, office space, back yard BBQ pit, and that bonus den you planned to turn into a media room! You can picture your family living there. But your agent informed you that many buyers are interested in this hot property, and you’re worried about a bidding war. How can you beat out other buyers to make sure YOUR offer is accepted in this tight seller’s market? You can WIN your dream home with our secret insider 3-fold strategy: (1) demonstrate that you are highly qualified; (2) submit a competitive offer; and (3) stand out from the other buyers. Meet with your agent and discuss how you can implement these stealth tactics to get the home of your dreams.

Highly Qualified Start by showing that you are highly qualified. Get preapproved for your mortgage loan, not just pre-qualified. Pre-approval means that you


have gone a step farther. Your mortgage lender has received your credit report, verified your employment, and calculated your finances. I recommend using a quality lender who has a good name and a trusted reputation in the community. It gives the seller assurance that you’ll be able to get your loan funded on time, and confidence that you will avoid last-minute fumbles at the closing table. While VA offers a great loan for military vets, we advise you to ALSO get qualified for another type of loan as a back-up. VA loans are not very popular with sellers because they require the seller to pay more of the closing costs than other loans. Also, the VA appraisal and inspection process is more rigorous, which is why some sellers shy away from accepting VA buyers. Bottom line: talk to your lender and get qualified for an FHA or conventional loan as well. When your agent submits your offer, you will need to gather and include 3 documents: • Copy of your earnest money

(initial) deposit, also known as EMD • Pre-approval letter from your mortgage lender • Proof of funds, also known as POF A copy of your bank statement will satisfy the POF requirement. It verifies that you have adequate cash for the downpayment, closing costs, and “appraisal gap”. Work closely with your buyer’s agent to coordinate the correct documents and submit them in PDF format. Be sure to black out your confidential information, such as your bank account number (except for the last 4 digits). Submitting 3 documents acknowledges that you are prepared and ready to close quickly.

Competitive Offer To craft a competitive offer, your agent will need to write a strong, clean offer. A “strong” offer means offering a higher price than other buyers, putting down a hefty downpayment, and putting down a substantial initial deposit.

REAL ESTATE Your agent will run a CMA (comparable market analysis) of the houses which sold recently in the neighborhood to make sure your office price is fair. But now is not the time for low-ball offers. You want the sellers to accept your offer right away, edging out other buyers before they have a chance to submit their offers. If you submit a low offer and wait for the sellers to counter-offer, the sellers may decide to accept another offer during the negotiating process. A “clean” offer means that the terms are in the seller’s favor and there are minimal contingencies. While I don’t advise you to sacrifice your right to a home inspection, you can certainly allow the sellers to use their preferred vendors. By letting the sellers choose their favorite escrow company, title company, termite inspector, home warranty provider, and Natural Hazard Disclosure provider vendors, they view your offer favorably. It’s okay to go ahead and compromise when you can. When you meet the sellers’ terms they will feel they have a “win” already on their side. This is a great strategy to begin the negotiation process. Prove that you have additional cash on hand. If the appraisal value comes in lower than the purchase price, you may need cash above the appraisal value to fill in the gap. With today’s limited inventory available, and with record numbers of buyers causing a rapidly upwardmoving market, additional cash can be critical. In one of my recent listings, we received over 24 buyer offers within a week. To narrow the buyer pool, we considered only those buyers who had $10,000 extra cash to fill the potential “appraisal gap”. The goal is to anticipate the shortfall and show that you are prepared.

Personal Letter Lastly, make yourself memorable! Write a personal letter to the sellers from you and your family. Explain your situation and tug on their heart strings. Emotional examples that may motivate a seller include: recent marriage, pregnancy, babies, young children, elderly grandparents, military service, career as a teacher, community service or ministerial experience, and relevant sports or

hobbies. Get the sellers cheering for you and wanting to be a part of your success. To further get the seller’s support, mention specific items you like about this home. Discuss how your family will benefit. Remember they are emotionally connected to this home. Paint a “picture” of your family lovingly caring for the house and continuing the pride of ownership. Consider including a family photo to make them smile. It will give the sellers a personal connection to real people. Research the property and do your “due diligence” by getting your questions answered in advance. And limit your letter to 1 page. Sellers who bought this house as their first home will be more inclined to select first-time buyers. They want to see that you will maintain the home’s beauty and fully enjoy it with your family. The satisfaction of a good deed is often more rewarding than a high-priced offer. As a caution, this “heart strings letter” only motivates sellers who care. Foreclosure properties owned by large, institutional banks will not be swayed by your heart-felt letter. Big banks are mainly concerned with the bottom line: net proceeds. So focus on buying a home that is being sold by owner-occupied sellers. Your touching letter will have the most influence on them.

Conclusion In conclusion, our insider 3-part strategy can help you conquer the daunting home buying process and win the home of your dreams. Work handin-hand with your real estate agent, and give her the tools she needs to negotiate on your behalf. By demonstrating high qualifications, submitting a competitive offer, and standing head and should above the crowd of buyers, you can win your home and become a home owner. Congratulations!

Real Estate Broker / Author at R.P. Brown 888-550-9340




IRS tax exemption on short sales By Brian Bean & Tim Hardin California’s Franchise Tax Board has fallen in line with the Internal Revenue Service, deeming short sales a non-taxable event for some homeowners. The FTB, California’s state income-tax collector, issued a letter this week to the State Board ofEqualization in response to an inquiry about whether homeowners in California must pay income tax on the debt cancellation that occurs in a short sale. “In short, based on recent guidance from the (IRS), a California taxpayer would not have cancellation of indebtedness where the taxpayer was involved in a short sale pursuant to CCP section 580e,” wrote Jozel Brunett, chief counsel for the FTB. The FTB said that some homeowners, however, still may face tax bills if they received a financial gain from the sale, including capital gains. The IRS ruled in November that California Civil Procedure 580e, which prevents lenders from pursuing a homeowner for the


balance owed after a short sale, also shields some from owing federal income tax on the bank’s loss. That landmark ruling came in a letter to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer from the U.S. Treasury Dept. after Boxer inquired about what will happen when a federal tax exemption expires at the end of this year. “We believe that a homeowner’s obligation under the antideficiency provision of section 580e of the CCP would be a nonrecourse obligation to the extent that, for federal income tax purposes, the homeowner will not have cancellation of indebtedness income,” wrote Michael J. Montemurro, an attorney with the Treasury Department. CCP 580e protects homeowners from repaying a lender’s loss after a short sale, regardless of whether the borrower occupied or refinanced the property. It was enacted in2011. The federal Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which expires this year,

shields homeowners from paying income tax after a short sale, foreclosure or loan modification, but only if it was their principal residence and had not been refinanced with cash out. “This clarification rescues tens of thousands of distressed home sellers from personal liability upon expiration of the (Debt Relief Act) on Dec. 31, 2013,” Kevin Brown, incoming president of the California Association of Realtors, wrote in a press November release. Anyone not covered by the protections of CCP 580e could still be liable for the income tax obligation, according to the IRS and FTB letters. Exceptions to 580e include fraud, waste, cross-collaterized loans or loans owed by corporations, LLCs or limited partnerships. And gains not related to debt cancellation could still be taxable. “Short sales may raise other tax issues and, as always, you should advise your clients to speak with their tax professional regarding the tax consequences of a short sale,” Brown said in the release.


WHY YOU SHOULD CARE Despite the recent appreciation in home values, millions of homeowners remain underwater on their mortgages. Online real estate market tracker PropertyRadar reported recently that one-third of California homeowners owe too much to sell their homes and fully pay off the debt. Of the 6.8 million state homeowners with a mortgage, 1.8 million had negative equity and another 500,000 had too little equity to cover the expenses of selling. After a short sale or foreclosure, banks claim their losses to the IRS as cancellation of debt and send the former homeowners 1099 forms. The homeowners must report the “phantom income” on their tax returns. That could mean $10,000 to $39,600 in additional federal income tax on a $100,000 loss to the bank, depending upon income level. And the tab for state taxes could add $1,000 to $12,300 more. Two federal bills to extend the tax exemptions are in the works

in Washington, D.C., but they are in their infancy. Most pundits didn’t expect their passage before the end of the year as lawmakers focused on the debt ceiling and Obamacare.

Want to know if you qualify for the existing tax exemptions? Call 951-778-9700 today for a 10-minute consultation.

And in Sacramento, state Sen. Ron Calderone, D-Montebello, introduced SB 30 on Jan. 3 to extend the state version of the tax exemption through the end of 2013. That legislation was approved by the Senate, but politics derailed it in the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee. It could still be approved up to April 14 next year, but it would only cover homeowners through the end of 2013. With the recent IRS and FTB rulings, the new legislation would appear to be moot for Californians attempting short sales, taking many homeowners out of financial crisis. But those who are facing foreclosure or who received a loan modification with a principal reduction are still in danger of hefty tax bills – CCP 580e only covers short sales.

Brian Bean and Tim Hardin, owners of Dream Big Real Estate in Riverside, are Local Homeowner Advocates. They can be reached at951-7789700, PE@DreamBigRealEstate. comor at http://www. CaliforniaShortSaleDecision. com.



BENEFITS OF HOMEOWNERSHIP by Bob Irish There are many obvious benefits to owning a home, but that is not how I look at things. I like to look beyond the obvious and try to connect dots that are very faint. Let’s look at buying vs. renting. Currently 65% of households in the US are owners rather than renters, which is the lowest since 1995. That is nowhere near the peak in 2004 of 69.4%. While percentage wise it does not seem like much, in raw numbers it is millions of households. The biggest disparities are in the over 65 and under 35 age groups. If the under 35 age groups can’t buy because of rising prices and unattainable credit, we are in for a long and slow recovery. And those new REIT’s that are based on rental income will be strong. So, will we become a nation of renters? For a few years, yes. Here are some practical facts you may not have thought about: • Mortgage Interest deductions save a homeowner about $3,000 in federal taxes • A homeowner’s Net Worth is 45.9 times that of a renter. • Federal and energy tax credits can be thousands of dollars a year • The children of homeowners may have higher reading and math skills by about 7% to 9% • 25% more children of homeowners graduate high school, and 116% more graduate college So, if you are buying why do you need a Realtor? Well, not all real estate agents are Realtors.


Those of us who are have made a commitment to be held to a higher ethical standard. We belong to a nationwide group of professionals that want to make the home buying and selling experience as easy as possible. It can be a complicated process, so use a realtor to: • • • •

Negotiate the price Negotiate the terms of the sale Determine comparables and affordability Answer questions such as: Where are the seller’s disclosures? What home inspections are available? Why is this house for sale? Has this home had a mold inspection?

New Laws for 2014 Real Estate Market Recent changes in legislation will affect real estate in California. The California Association of Realtors put out the following advisories for its members. The bills are noted and can be found in full by googling them.


Consumer Protection Against Prepaid Rental Listing Services Beginning on January 1, 2014, the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) is authorized to issue a citation to an unlicensed person for engaging in prepaid rental listing services without a prepaid rental listing service license or real estate broker license. As background, a prepaid rental listing service is generally a business that charges a fee for providing a prospective tenant with a list of available places for rent. Existing required content for a written contract that a prepaid rental listing service licensee must offer a prospective tenant before accepting a fee has been broadened to include the licensee’s license number as well as a specific statutory notice about refunds. An aggrieved person with a final judgment against a prepaid rental listing service licensee may apply to CalBRE for payment from the Consumer Recovery Account. Any payment from the Consumer Recovery Account will result in automatic suspension of the prepaid rental listing service licensee. Senate Bill 269. Adjoining Owners Equally Responsible for Shared Fences and Boundaries Commencing January 1, 2014, adjoining landowners must share equally the responsibility for maintaining boundaries and monuments between them. Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties, as well as equal costs for construction or maintenance, unless otherwise agreed in writing. This new law also provides specific procedural requirements for an owner who intends to incur costs for a division fence to notify the adjoining owner of the estimated costs and other information. Existing law enacted in 1872 which requires a homeowner who fully encloses a property to refund a neighbor a just proportion of the value of a division fence has been repealed. Assembly Bill 1404.

Smoke Detectors Specifications Changed Starting on July 1, 2014, the State Fire Marshall will not approve a battery-operated smoke alarm unless it contains a non-replaceable, nonremovable battery capable of powering the smoke alarm for at least 10 years. This rule was originally slated to take effect on January 1, 2014. Until July 1, 2015, an exception to this rule applies to smoke alarms ordered by, or in the inventory of, an owner, managing agent, contractor, wholesaler, or retailer on or before July 1, 2014. Furthermore, starting January 1, 2015, the State Fire Marshal will not approve a smoke alarm unless it does all of the following: (1) displays the date of manufacture on the device; (2) provides a place on the device to insert the date of installation; and (3) incorporate a hush feature. A previous requirement for the smoke alarm to incorporate an end-of-life feature that provides notice that the device needs to be replaced has been eliminated. The requirements taking effect on January 1, 2015 were originally slated to take effect on January 1, 2014. The State Fire Marshal has the authority to create exceptions to these requirements. Senate Bill 745 Revised Billing Statement for HOA Documents and Other Changes Commencing on January 1, 2014, existing law requiring a homeowners’ association (HOA) to use a statutory form for billing charges for HOA sales disclosures has been revised. The new law requires the form to be in at least 10-point type and include an itemization for “Rental Restrictions, if any.” Furthermore, existing law stating that, when an inconsistency exists, governing documents prevail over articles of incorporation, which in turn prevail over bylaws, and in turn prevail over operating rules, has been revised to apply when a conflict, not inconsistency, exists. Additionally, existing law requiring delivery of documents to an HOA by email, fax, other electronic means, or personal



delivery if the HOA consents to any of those methods, has been extended to allow delivery by first-class mail, postage prepaid, registered or certified mail, express mail, or overnight delivery by an express service center, regardless of HOA consent. Senate Bill 745. I find that our industry puts out warnings and advisories to its members, but rarely are the new rules relayed to the general public, which is ultimately affected. If you have any questions about these changes or any other questions regarding the rules of real estate, please call me.

Short Sales in 2014 2013 was an interesting year for real estate. It was predicted to be the year of the short sale… then there was 30% appreciation, the California Homeowner Bill of Rights and numerous bank regulatory issues. All of which sidetracked what had been foretold. Well, let me tell you what I think is going to happen in 2014.

a recent survey that 48 percent of Americans say the market could reach “bubble” status within the next two years.” Lastly, all the purchases in 2006 were made using 7/1 ARM’s or other creative Interest . Only mortgage products, and they are all going to reset and consumers may not be able to refinance. If the homeowner cannot afford the new payment, because all refinances must be 30 year fully amortized fixed rate loans, or the owner simply cannot find anyone to refinance their loan… Short sale may be the only option. This leads me to believe we will have at least another year or two of short sales before we can call this over and done. Hold on if you can. Refinance if at all possible. Short sale if you must. But don’t do nothing. Be diligent in your approach, cautious in your decision and you will be successful in the end.

Although we have seen a 30% appreciation over the past year or so, the last three months it has stagnated. Sales volume has dropped and inventory has increased. All those signs lead to a decline in value and reduction in appreciation. There are homeowners who were in a short sale mindset and have been waiting for the appreciation to catch up to them and then either sell or hang on, because now it doesn’t seem like a bad investment. Equity homeowners have put their home up for sale only to reduce the price due to no interest from buyers. And banks have yet to release much inventory in the way of foreclosed homes. DSNews recently reported “While many indicators suggest the housing market is on the road to recovery, some fear another bubble is already forming. Country Financial, a financial services company based in Bloomington, Illinois, found in


Bob Irish is a local Real Estate Broker who specializes in Residential Luxury Sales & Short Sales. You may reach him at (951) 313-6080 or (951) 343-3606 Lake Hills Realty BRE#01364068


UNLOCKING DOORS TO SUCCESS The most successful professionals in the world all have one critical component in common, and it is a four letter word that many real estate agents struggle with implementing. Donald Trump, Michael Jordan, Payton Manning, and Oprah Winfrey are all extremely successful in each of their professions, and every one of them has a TEAM. In fact it would probably be safe to say that without their teams working with them they would not be as successful as they are today.


t some point you may have heard what the acronym TEAM stands for, which is “Together Everyone Achieves More.” The phrase for TEAM is true, and every extremely successful real estate professional would agree, because they have a team in place, just like the famous professionals that were mentioned in the beginning of this article. Many good real estate agents struggle with implementing teams and their failure to implement can make the difference between being a good agent and a highly successful agent. Take for example basketball legend Michael Jordan. Before Jordan ever went pro or was even heard of in high school or college, he spent tireless hours honing his skills. This same discipline remained and stayed with him in college and during his professional career. Inject


this skill set with a TEAM and you have spectacular MJ. If Jordan took every shot of every game and never passed the ball do you think anyone would know who he was? The same could be said for Payton Manning with football, Oprah Winfrey with TV, or Donald Trump with business decisions. Could the same also be said about you? When it comes to showing every property, processing every disclosure, responding to every email and completing every listing CMA or BPO appointment, are you maximizing the potential of the TEAM around you? Knowing what task to pass to a teammate and what task to keep is where many agents struggle most and what keeps their ultimate success suppressed. Every superstar has limitations because it is nearly impossible for anyone to be excellent at everything.

As many of us know there is a lot that goes into a real estate transaction: creating the business/connection with clients, comparative market analysis/ BPO, showing, writing contracts, completing inspections, disclosure timelines, request for repair negotiations, coordinating closing, and marketing followup/lead generation. If you are like most agents you are probably struggling with what to hand off. I would suggest picking one or two behind the scenes tasks, like using a licensed Transaction Coordinator that can do more than just collect paperwork. If you are already using a Transaction Coordinator you are one step closer to implementing your team; however the key to a successful team is recruiting and putting the right players in place. I’m not saying that as an agent you just go out and form a team. However, there comes a time in your professional career that a TEAM will be needed to get you to the next level of success. There is one common denominator amongst every professional superstar and successful real estate agents. That denominator is, they all had to work extremely hard and became masters of their skill levels before their teams were ever built or became as enormous as they are today. In order to build or be on a team, you first must have something spectacular to offer the team. JJonathan Burgess Code 3 Realty & Mortgage Inc. Email: Website:


Survival of the FITTEST by Brittany Hurd

Know your community Regardless of the type of sale, e.g., distressed or standard, clients are searching for the real estate agent or broker who is most knowledgeable of their market area. Just as in any business, clients wish to hire the best person for the job. It is up to you to do your homework and equip yourself with the knowledge that will allow you to successfully sell a property for the most amount of money in the least amount of time. It’s no secret: we are all very well aware of the declining REO inventory and the predictions for the trend to continue into 2014. We must begin, then, by asking ourselves one very important question: In this volatile market, how do the strong survive? During my tenure as Director of Vendor Management at LRES Corporation, I have been fortunate enough to have had the privilege of speaking with numerous real estate agents and brokers from across the country to share with them what I consider to be a vendor manager’s ‘secrets to success.’ These so-called ‘secrets’ are simple practices that all business professionals should abide by. As we all know, in our industry you are only as good as your last deal, and referrals are gold. These guidelines will not only help you to keep your current clientele, but expand your business as well.


Therefore, understand the value trends and market conditions, e.g., economic, social, financial, environmental, and/or governmental, that are impacting the prices of properties in your area. Are prices stable, appreciating or declining? What is the current competition in the marketplace? Is there a shortage, balance, or oversupply and how will that affect the selling time? What recommendations can you give your client to allow them to make the best decision? These are all important elements of a real estate transaction that should be discussed with your client to educate them about market conditions, and also ensure realistic expectations.

Complete each assignment with the highest quality As I stated earlier, you are only as good as your last deal. This is especially true in an industry where


reputation is key and any number of mistakes may land you on a client’s do-not-use list. Remember that each assignment matters, whether you are an agent or broker who is completing BPOs with the hopes of securing an REO account, or if you have already landed the all-coveted REO account. You must make yourself aware of how the client’s grading system works by asking the right questions: How does your company grade its vendors? How is quality determined? Is there a monthly scorecard that is distributed? It is to your benefit to ensure that you are knowledgeable of your client’s expectations and are always keeping their best interest in mind. The facts are clear: High quality performance leads to high grades. High grades lead to new assignments and ‘preferred vendor’ status.

Out of sight- out of mind: remain visible within the industry These may not be the ‘good ol’ days,’ but relationships still matter! You must remain visible to your clients; keep the relationship strong and continue to remind them why you are the best at what you do. Network. Always follow up. Attend events such as conferences, meetings and training seminars. Increase visibility by joining various organizations. Gain exposure to new clients; make yourself available for assignments and always remain educated about the latest industry trends and regulations.

In a nutshell Ask any Asset Manager or Vendor Manager, and they will tell you that the key to surviving in this volatile market is simple: Be proactive, be

responsive, and follow instructions. Maintain the highest quality and above all, know your market!

About LRES Orange County, Calif.-based LRES is a national provider of commercial and residential financial services including property valuations, asset management and technology solutions. With more than 12 years of continued growth, LRES offers complete and customized solutions and managed business processes for the mortgage origination and default markets. For more information about LRES, or to complete the on-line vendor registration, visit

Brittany Hurd – Director of Marketing, LRES Corporation With almost 10 years’ experience in the real estate industry, Brittany Hurd has a broad knowledge of both property valuations and asset management services. Her industry knowledge has assisted in her role as Director of Vendor Management at LRES Corporation, where she was responsible for administering the nationwide network of real estate professionals while monitoring state and federal regulatory requirements. She has recently transitioned to her new role as Director of Marketing where she is responsible for conducting market research, supporting and implementing new corporate initiatives and increasing LRES brand awareness. Brittany holds her B.A. degree in Business Administration from Vanguard University of Southern California. Direct: 714-872-5872



Strategies for Success in 2014 PART I | THE POWER IS NOW! conscious about the success you want in your life.


elcome to the New Year! 2013 is history and is full of great memories and even greater lessons learned. I thank God that He allowed me to see it come to an end and that I continue on ready, willing and able to seize all the opportunities that He has set before me. If you did not achieve your goals in 2013 now is the time to get back on track. The Power Is Now . . . now is the time to reset, readjust, re-imagine, and rethink. Now is the time to realign, refocus and recharge. The Power Is Now to get pumped up and imagine the great things you will accomplish by 12/31/2014. Napoleon Hill said, “Success comes to those who become success conscious. Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to become failure conscious.” This is not the time to give up but to be


The Power Is Now to set and achieve production goals higher than we originally imagined. The Power Is Now to redouble our efforts, to work smarter and to get the assistance we need. The Power Is Now to take what the market is giving us instead of whining about what the market is not giving us. In every market and in every economic environment there are winners and losers. Are we winners or losers? Make a decision because you are who you choose to be. Failure is not an option – it’s a choice. We must learn to adapt and capitalize on what the market is giving us. There are many market opportunities before us but we must choose to execute on what we are great at. We must do what we have the most power and ability to accomplish because we do not have unlimited time and financial resources. We have a plan. The Power Is Now to execute the plan. We have a team of great people around us. The Power Is Now to maximize the individual talents on our team. We have the money and/or resources to invest in ourselves and our company. The Power Is Now to operate with courage and make the investment in ourselves and our companies, and plan to succeed and not fail. We have mentors to help us. The Power Is Now to be accountable to a coach/mentor/manager to guide us and keep us accountable to our plan, goals, tactics, and strategies.


There are 4 steps to exercising the power we need to win this year. In this article I will address steps 1 and 2.

Step 1. Perform sales activity that you are great at.

Give everything that you are not great at to someone else so they can do it. If you want to wake up in the morning on fire and ready to go then you have no choice but to focus on what you are great at doing and what gives you the most satisfaction and joy. Anything outside of our greatness and power makes us ineffective as a leader and as sales professionals. Our power lies in our greatness not in our weakness. Some people are great at many things, but there is only one thing they are the best at–and that is what will move the needle of their business and bring immediate results. We must focus on being great. You know what it is so just do it. The 80/20 rule only exists because the 20% get it. They stay in their lane and only focus on what they are the best at doing. Their focus is where all their power is and that is why they get the job done like nobody else can.

Step 2. Believe that failure is not an option–it is a choice. Choose to succeed!

Why a real estate and/or lending professional would chose failure is very simple. Their choice is not an intentional choice–it’s just a very easy choice to make. As human beings we always choose the easy option. It’s part of our human nature. Just looks at our kids. It requires no effort or real thought to choose failure and be a victim because it is the default setting in our natural carnal mind. No real estate agent or lender I know would ever say, “I choose to fail.” But our carnal nature will choose evil over good, negative over positive, and failure over success, especially if left unchallenged, untrained, undisciplined and unaccountable. It’s easy to fail, but it takes work to succeed.

What influences us to make the negative choices we make in life is fear. Fear robs us of just about everything good in life: the fear of failure, the fear of loss, the fear of criticism, and the fear of rejection. Fear breeds uncertainty and doubt and causes us to shrink back when we should be pushing forward. Fear diminishes our personal power, confidence, smile and positive attitude toward life. Fear is devastating to any business and is as infectious and dangerous as any lethal virus. Unfortunately, fear is not like some viruses (the common cold) that the body can handle and will eventually fight off and destroy. Fear is more like a flesh-eating disease that can destroy the body and take your life. That is what fear does to a business and all stakeholders of the business, especially the leader. It sucks the life out of the business and kills it. If we are going to succeed this year we must have a plan to succeed, and within that plan there must be an established routine that we must accomplish every day. Our routine must happen no matter what happens in life. The routine’s activities are non-negotiable, immutable, and inexcusable activities that must take place every day and at the same time. If you cannot be a person of integrity and do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it, then rest assured that this is the primary reason you are not achieving your goals. Take the steps to be a power player and achieve your goals in 2014. Perform sales activity that you are great at and believe that failure is not an option–it is a choice. Choose to succeed! You can do it! The Power Is Now!

Eric L. Frazier, MBA, President Coach, Strategist, Leader The Power Is Now, Inc.



The Return of the Multi-Generational Household As the housing crisis unravels and the economy staggers to get back on its feet, there is a subject few are talking about. An estimated 78 million baby boomers turn 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day and many will not be equipped to maintain the lifestyle they have become accustomed to living. This generation of Americans grew up during the birth of credit cards and TV advertising, and have become addicted to consumerism. The emergence of easy credit and advertising planted dangerous seeds that have the capacity to choke a family and a nation. This baby boomer generation (of which I’m a part) is a different breed. We had to be different. We did not follow our parents’ and grandparents’ Great Depression mentality. Our generation grew up watching TV, and is now currently being inundated via the messages of the internet and social media. Over the last 50 years we have slowly been led to believe that we NEED the newest “coolest” car, the latest cell phone, a bigger and better house with granite countertops and the latest appliances. We spend thousands of dollars on exercise equipment, diet pills, wrinkle cream and gadgets that waste time and space. Our ego and greed has led us down the path of desiring over-mortgaged big box houses and


expensive, fancy, leased cars. We chose to use the equity in our home for liposuction, breast implants and vacations instead of paying off mortgages or saving for our children’s education. We have a nation of baby boomers, many whom own homes with large mortgages (some with mortgages greater than the value of their home) who are saddled with debt and will be unable to maintain their monthly expenses and lifestyle when they eventually retire or are forced out of their job. Conversely, we have a nation of young people strapped with high debt and obligations of a different sort. Today’s college graduates depart their educational experience with an average of $35,200 in debt. The delay in the young person’s ability to purchase a home in the future is estimated to be substantial. Additionally, college graduates face stiff competition for employment, as those between the ages of 18 to 34 years of age comprise 45% of the nation’s unemployed. More and more young adults find themselves right back where they started… in mom and dad’s house. The Baby-Boomer Bubble and Student Loan Bubbles are shaping up to be the next big busts.


What’s the solution? Perhaps we get back to basics with how we treat and define housing… a home as a “nest,” or shelter, instead of a commodity? We can learn a lot from our parents and grandparents. My in-laws are perfect examples of 1st and 2nd generation Americans whose home was their nest. My In-laws, who are in their 80’s, moved from a row-house in the city of Baltimore to the suburbs in 1961 before their 4th daughter was born. They bought a ranch style home, new from the builder, that had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a full basement. As the girls grew, they built an extra bedroom and bathroom for the oldest daughter in the basement. Their home was their nest. They hosted birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners and dozens of gatherings over the span of 50 years. Their home is paid off and they will most likely remain in that home forever. Saving 10+ years for a down payment, buying a home in their mid-30’s and staying in the same home long term was a common practice amongst Depression-era Americans. The multigenerational household provided a support system that helped new immigrant families transition into productive members of our society and gave them the boost to pursue the American Dream. This same support system can be very useful in transitioning those families who suffered from the most recent economic crisis and are headed to the retirement depot. I recall hearing stories of my father’s family sharing a 3-bedroom apartment with his cousin and grandparents, each family occupying one of the bedrooms. They combined resources to save money and get through the tough times in the

late 1930’s. The funny thing is that they remember those times with fond memories and refer to them as “the good ole’ days.” The grandparents were there to cook and watch after the kids while the parents typically worked two jobs to get ahead. Perhaps it’s time to reexamine our priorities and reflect on the model demonstrated by our grandparents. What if our homes weren’t viewed as investments but as a NEST to protect us from the outside elements and to provide a clean, safe, comfortable place to come home after a hard days work? One solution to potentially be embraced is to One solution to potentially be embraced is to mirror what our immigrant families did when they entered into our great country and create multigenerational households. This isn’t a bad thing; in fact, I think it could be a very good thing for future generations. If both parents are at work, having extended family there when the kids come home from school that can help them with the cooking, shopping, laundry and homework, could create a highly productive and happy environment. So how do we create a multi-generational household today that offers functionality and privacy? One avenue is a little known government insured renovation loan that’s been around for 35 years, but is underutilized. It’s called the FHA 203(k) loan. With the FHA 203(k) renovation loan, or its sister version offered by Fannie Mae called the HomeStyle loan program, you can take your existing home and add an attached living space for your parents or grandparents even if you don’t have equity in your home.



For example, assume one has a 1500 square foot, 3 bedroom 2 bathroom home valued at $150,000 with a loan balance of $150,000. You can add a room addition equivalent to a 750 square foot apartment for about $125.00 per square foot (*construction costs vary in different parts of the country). The cost would be about $100,000, including architectural fees, permit fees and other associated construction costs. The new loan is based on a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with 2250 square feet. The home is appraised based on the hypothetical assumption that the remodel is complete. The addition can be designed for energy efficiency and based on aging-in-place building designs. The appraiser gets a copy of the plans and specs and actually appraises the home as if it’s already been completed!

them. Renovation loans are one such way to alleviate the housing crisis situation and provide for a new family landscape. A landscape that, looking back, wasn’t so bad.

If homes are selling for more than $125 per square foot, like they do in most California cities, a remodel like this could yield additional equity for the homeowner. Example: If home values were about $225 per square foot, and the addition cost $125 per square foot, they would be building in $100/ft. in equity which would be $75,000 in additional equity. To learn more about renovation loans and find certified lending and contractor professionals, visit The time is now to plan for a future that is quickly, and inevitably, coming. Creative solutions are necessary for a country that will need to brace itself for the tsunami of aging baby boomers who are retiring over the next 18 years and are not financially able to ride out their final wave without getting hurt. Additionally, our debt laden, unemployed young adults leaving our higher learning institutions may be turning back to the family for support. We can be fearful of these certainties or we can create solutions to address


Skip Schenker is a nationally recognized expert in renovation financing. He was a licensed contractor in the 1980’s, a mortgage lender since the early 1990’s and a licensed real estate agent since 1992 and Broker in 2008. He regularly speaks at REO conferences and Investment meetings about the benefits of selling distressed homes direct to consumers for higher returns using renovation financing. Skip can be reached at or at (714) 681-3768.


D e t ro i t :

A City in Transformation


was born in Detroit, I am a product of The Detroit School system, got married and raised two daughters in The Detroit Metropolitan area and have been in business in Detroit as an entrepreneur and Real Estate Broker for many years. Detroit, Michigan garnered a lot of attention in 2013 as the city descended into a municipal bankruptcy, becoming the largest city to declare bankruptcy in United States history. However, the news has not been all bad as many signs indicate that the city is destined for a transformation. I know and love this city and believe that Detroit is coming back. As Detroit undergoes this period of change, there is a lot of talk in the business and real estate investment communities as to whether there are opportunities for investment. Before determining where the future of Detroit lies, it is important to consider the facts of how Detroit became the city that it is today. Detroit, settled in 1701, developed from a small trading post of New France to become the 4th largest city in the United States. The majority of Detroit’s


economic growth was fueled by it becoming a center for the American automotive industry with the Ford Motor Company and General Motors leading in producing jobs for the city. However following the period post World World II, the city began to decline as the automotive industry jobs began to move away from the area. Globalization and politics have been blamed for much of the city’s woes. In July 2013, the city declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy after losing much of its population following the 2006 financial crisis and subsequent housing collapse. Detroit’s current economic climate is just an example of a city that was slow to make the transition into the global economy. Whilst Detroit attempts to make this transition, the unemployment rate remains high at 17.7% as of August 2013 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this statistic is a significant decline from a peak of 24.9% back in 2009. The high unemployment factor played a strong role in the city’s

decision to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection where the city remains as the courts process the filing. The city is in desperate need of replacements for the manufacturing jobs lost due to the exodus of the automotive and industrial sectors from the economy. Despite the popular image in the media that conditions in Detroit are still on the decline, there are several sectors of the local economy that are picking up steam. Detroit’s is currently making some headway in attracting new industries into the city by focusing on its existing assests such as the TechTown neighborhood near Wayne State University campus. A business incubator called TechOne is focused on bringing emerging technology startups to Detroit. Another option that is being discussed is for Detroit to redevelop itself as an example of green living and environmental sustainability. Projects to redevelop land plots for urban farming and also to take advantage of the Great Lakes for energy and water supplies.

REAL ESTATE Goldman Sachs is also attempting to revitalize the city with a $20 million dollar partnership with Ex Detroit Mayor David Bing to bring 10,000 small businesses to the city the attempt that will carry over into the newly elect Mayor Mike Duggan administration. The initiative is suppose to begin in March of 2014 and accepted applicants to the program will receive business assistance in the form of education and funding.

rents will the current median monthly rental prices of $700 for Detroit and $850 for Detroit Metro.

Some major employers remain within the city and have added jobs to the local economy in the past year. These employers include Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, General Motors, Henry Ford Health System, Compuware Corp., and Quicken Loans Inc. The city and surrounding area is home to four Fortune 500 companies and is the most concenrated area of automotive research and technical centers in the world.

The Future of Detroit

Detroit’s Real Estate Outlook According to, the real estate market in Detroit is heating up with home values having risen 23.2% in 2013. Home values are expected to rise an additional 5.7% over the next year. The median home value in Detroit is currently one of the lowest in the nation at $35,600 making it a very easy market to buy properties. The median list price per square foot in Detroit Metro currently stands at $91. The median price of currently listed homes for Detroit is $12,500. The median price of homes that have sold is $28,800. Rising home values has also resulted in rising

This news is also very positive for investors looking to get into the market for foreclosures as Detroit has a large inventory of homes to choose from. Statistics indicate that while the number of foreclosure filings is at a high for December 2013, the number of foreclosures on the market overall is beginning to strink.

The overall outlook for Detroit is still somewhat up for debate as many investors are still sitting on the sidelines waiting for the right time to jump in. However those investors may miss out on the gains as they fail to take note that a number of nearby cities such as Ferndale and Dearborn, Michigan are flourishing. The growth trends of these cities will likely begin to have a positive effect on Detroit in the near future in addition to the changes that are already taking place within the city itself. The potential for positive growth and development in the city is undeniable. With the entrance outside investors and local business people into Detroit’s economy and real estate market, it is very likely that Detroit will make a recovery. The longterm move away from the domination of the automotive industry on Detroit will bring a more balanced and stable economic climate to the city making it favorable for investment. In 2014, we will likely

see the upward trend continue for ideas on how to restore Detroit. For investors looking to take advantage of the coming benefits of the regrowth and for first time homebuyers are move up buyers 2014 is the right time to take action. Sources: http:// detroitmiforeclosurehomes. com/default.asp?searchBox=Ye s&minPrice=200000&maxPrice=1 0000000&state=&city= History_of_Detroit blog/goldman-sachs-10000small-businesses-initiative-groweconomy-detroit http://www.huffingtonpost. com/2013/05/27/greatlakes-freshwater-milwaukeedetroit_n_3341904.html http://www.huffingtonpost. com/jason-lorimer/techtowndetroit_b_2160206.html http://www.freep. com/article/20130721/ OPINION05/307210033/

Darren Johnson, Broker Johnson & Johnson Realty Co (248) 630.1599 (248) 737.9993 313-506-8861




by Antonio Cirilo Perez


ne needs to go back to settler days to find the initial beginnings of an equity loan (an equity loan will be interchangeable with a bridge loan or a hard money loan) equate the implementation of gold coins trading for pelts, food, everyday necessities and/or beads. The United States to motivate the early colonists would grant parcels of land to them in exchange for a promise to plant and grow staples such as rice, corn, wheat and/or raising livestock. Obviously in those days they did not have builders so the settlers/colonists had to build their own homes. We will address equity loans from the commercial side only. In non-judicial states, hard money loans are primarily executed on commercial properties or non-owner occupied single family homes. The primary reason for the use of equity loans is the need for quick access to funds. There are several states possessing usury laws for equity lenders like New Jersey and Tennessee preventing hard money lenders from excessively charging points and rate. Equity loan lending has been unregulated however the new Dodd-Frank bill will require all equity lenders to verify the “ability to repay” as it applies to single family homes. Equity loans are primarily employed by business owners for expansion. The difference for a business


owner in applying for an equity loan versus a bank loan is as follow:


• Bank will require excellent credit, bank relationship, reserves and a P&L showing ability to repay the note. • An equity lender does not necessarily use credit as a requirement for the loan.

Personal & Business Income:

• Bank will require complete documentation and verification of all income. • An equity lender does not always require verification although more than ever he wants to be assured the cash flow can pay the note.


• Bank will require from 10-25% equity for a loan. • An equity lender will never exceed more than 65% LTV of his appraised value.

Assets: •

Bank will always verify all assets sometimes requiring cross collateralization of all properties. • An equity lender does not need to verify assets and will only require cross collateralization if • insufficient equity exists.


Purpose of the Loan: • A bank requires the purpose of the loan and may impose limitations or restrictions. • An equity lender will want to know the purpose but does not impose limitations or restrictions. The exception to this rule will be in a declining market value where the borrower may use the maximum cash as a sale to walk away from the property.


• A bank will normally extend the term from 10 to 25 years. • An equity lender will do a short term loan from 1 year to 5 years.


• A bank will usually charge from 100 to 200 bps over the Libor rate. • An equity lender will charge from 8-15% rate.


• A bank will charge from 0 to 2 points. • An equity lender will charge from 2 to 1-10 points.

Turnaround Time:

• A bank will usually take from 45 days to 90 days to fund subject to appraisal time. • An equity lender after he completes his appraisal will take from 5 to 21 days.

The value of little documentation with a fast closing makes an equity loan an attractive alternative to a business owner who values time. Equity lenders will lend almost on all types of properties. The exception may be churches with a steeple and businesses requiring chemicals where leakage into the ground may require a Phase II or Phase III inspection. Not every equity lender offers a refinance or extension but paying on time increases probability. Lending parameters will vary from equity lender but the most important points are the collateral and desire coupled with ability to repay the note. Antonio Cirilo Perez Jr President NAHREP 9517128319 (951) 712-8379



(Part 1 of 4)


It’s Not a Dirty Word! By Michael R. Totaro, J.D., LL.M.

Most people think of Bankruptcy as the big “B.” They run from the concept, think it will destroy their lives, bury them forever and slap a big “B” on their foreheads. Nothing could be more from the truth. If handled correctly by competent counsel, if the debtor performs correctly, the bankruptcy process can be a useful financial tool, eliminating thousands of dollars in debt, even tax liability, and allowing the person to come out of the procedure in better a better financial and mental state, enabling them to concentrate on making money and being successful. Some prime examples are Milton Hershey who went on to establish a Chocolate empire, Abraham Lincoln (we know what he did), Walt Disney, Henry Ford. Need I go on? The trick is to do it once and do it right, forget it, then go on and lead a successful productive life.

Types of Bankruptcy Petitions There are a number of different types of bankruptcy proceedings but unless you are a government entity, a fisherman or farmer, you are only concerned with three: Chapters 7, 11 and 13. Each has its own purpose and should be used to accomplish very specific goals. Let’s look at some principles that apply to all bankruptcy proceedings first.


General Rules to Consider Dischargeability of Debt: The terms “discharge” and “non-dischargeable debts” have legal significance. A discharge is a court order that excuses the debtor from all debts listed in the bankruptcy petition, except those found to be non-dischargeable. While you may be able to rid yourself of all of your debt, sometimes you may have engaged in activity that may make a debt non-dischargeable which means it will survive the bankruptcy procedure. The following debts are per se nondischargeable which means even if you file for bankruptcy you will still owe any monies that fall within one of these categories. 1. Certain Taxes, if due within the last three years. 2. Money, property, services or credit obtained by fraud including false financial statements. This also includes certain debts incurred in the 60day period prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition. 3. Money obtained by fraud, embezzlement or theft and debts incurred for an intentional or malicious injury to the person or property of another.


4. Alimony, maintenance and support, with very limited exceptions. 5. Government fines or penalties including criminal restitution. 6. Money obtained for educational benefits and student loans except in limited circumstances. 7. Liability for death or personal injury caused by drunk driving. 8. Debts that were or could have been listed in a previous bankruptcy case where the debtor did not receive a discharge.

Exemptions: The Bankruptcy Code provides for exemptions for certain property. (11 U.S.C. § 522(b).) This means the property listed, or its monetary equivalent, cannot be taken by a creditor or trustee. If all of your property falls into the exemptions then the case is called a no asset case and the creditors get nothing. Property falling into one of the exemptions may be kept by the debtor both during the proceeding and after the case is discharged. Property that is not exempt may be converted to exempt property before any petition is filed. The value of the property is the value on the date of filing. (11 U.S.C. § 522(a)(2).) A State may choose to follow the Federal Exemption scheme or use its own. This is called opting out. California has chosen to opt out of the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions. (Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 703.130.) By opting out California permits the debtor to choose between two different sets of exemptions under state law. (Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §; 703.140(b); 704.010 et seq.) Each of these sections are more liberal in favor of the debtor than the federal exemptions. One set favors the debtor who owns a family home with equity, the second favors a debtor who does not own a home. Also there is a third section for those who want to avoid the court system and proceed under an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors. (Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1801 et seq.) Each state

which has opted out of the Federal scheme has its’ own set of exemptions. Your attorney will chose the exemptions that are most favorable to your situation. Generally if you have equity in your home within a certain range the attorney will chose the exemptions that best protect your home but may have to sacrifice an unprotected vehicle. How to protect that vehicle is part of the planning process. For the debtor who owns and lives in a home, there is a $75,000 homestead if the debtor is single, $100,000 if head of household or married, and $175,000 if over 65, disabled, or on limited income. However under this scheme cash is not protected and the protection for vehicles is very limited.

Types of Creditors: There are two types of creditors, secured and unsecured. A secured creditor is one that retains some rights as to the property of the debtor, such as a car lease, your mortgage company, etc. An unsecured creditor is someone with no lien or mortgage against the property. An example of this is medical bills, credit cards, personal loans, etc. Concerning a secured creditor, the debtor has three choices: 1. Reaffirm: This is an agreement (a reaffirmation) between the creditor and the debtor that the debtor will continue to make payments on the debt. The creditor cannot repossess the property as long as payments are made. The court must approve any agreement between the creditor and debtor for it to be binding on the creditor. While a debtor is free to repay any debt the debtor chooses, without any obligation to another creditor, this defeats the purpose of a “fresh start.”



2. Redeem: The debtor has the option of purchasing the property, usually for a one-time cash payment. 3. Release: The debtor may simply give the property back and the debt will be discharged. If the value of the property is less than what is owed, the additional sum is still discharged. 4. Concerning unsecured creditors, the court will notify them if there are any assets. If so they are entitled to file a claim. If there are no assets the unsecured creditor’s claim will be discharged even if that creditor was not listed in the petition. However, the better practice is to list all the creditors. Concerning utility companies, if you furnish the company with a deposit or other security within 20 days of filing the petition, to make sure future services are covered, they cannot discriminate against you. (§ 366(b).) However, the better practice would be to pay the bills before filing so they are not considered a creditor. Finally, after discharge a creditor cannot attempt to collect any pre-petition debt that has been discharged. The remedy for any attempt is a contempt order from the court. Any attempts at collection should be reported to your attorney who will provide the creditor with a copy of the discharge. If the creditor continues to try to collect the debt, an action may be brought in the bankruptcy court for the violation.

Next issue: Proceedings Under Chapters 7 and 13.


Michael R. Totaro, J.D., LL.M. Totaro & Shanahan, Inc. P.O. Box 789 Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 310 573 0276 (v) 310 496 1260 (f) 310 948 6301 (Cell)


SOVEREIGN The mortgage and real estate crisis of the late 2000’s led to unprecedented opportunities for scammers to exploit the real estate market. A unique subset of those scammers are the “sovereign citizens,” who seized on the overwhelming numbers of foreclosures in order to assert their unique view of property rights. As a result, law enforcement has seen incredible numbers of forged and fraudulent documents, squatting and adverse possession scams, foreclosure defense scams, and other related crimes. It is important for Real Estate professionals to recognize when they are dealing with a sovereign citizen and to use extra caution in engaging in any type of negotiation with one of these individuals. At first glance, their arguments and documents appear to be legal,

but in actuality they are legal gibberish. This series of articles will attempt to summarize the origins, ideology, and common schemes associated with sovereign citizens.

Part I – Ideology, Origins and Sovereign Contract Theory The “sovereign citizen”1 movement is a loosely organized right wing movement made up of individuals who believe they are exempt from the laws of the United States. This belief stems from a variety of complicated conspiracy theories interwoven with out-of-context legal “research.” In September of 2011, the FBI released a law enforcement bulletin listing the sovereign citizen movement as a growing domestic terror movement. They estimate that the number of sovereigns is currently growing.2 Of sovereigns’ “tools of the

by David Allen

trade,” the FBI states: Methods can range from refusing to cooperate with requests, demanding an oath of office or proof of jurisdiction, filming interactions with law enforcement that they later post on the Internet, and filing frivolous lawsuits or liens against real property. They convene their own special courts that issue fake but realistic-looking indictments, warrants, and other documents. They also can use real government documents, including suspicious activity reports, in an attempt to damage the credit or financial history of specific individuals.3 Sovereign citizen crimes and activities run from the trivial – e.g. the creation of fictional license plates – to the deadly, like the 2010 Arkansas incident in which sovereign citizen father and son Jerry and Joseph Kane shot and killed two police officers who pulled them over for minor traffic

Variously known as “freemen,” “patriot,” “constitutionalists” and with some overlap with the “tax protester.” In addition to the primarily white sovereign citizen groups that are discussed here are “Moorish” sovereign citizens, who have a different origin story but hold similar anti-government beliefs and practice the same paper terrorsim. “Moorish” sovereigns will often adopt suffixed to their names similar to black nationalist or black Muslim groups, such as “Ali,” “El,” “Bey,” “Dey,” and “Al.” 2 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (Sep. 2011) [as of March 27, 2012] 3 Id. 1



infractions. The Kanes were travelling around the country teaching a sovereign citizen debt elimination scheme.4 A number of other recent, newsworthy incidents, such as the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Loughner5 and tax protester Joseph Stack crashing his plane into an IRS building in Texas6, have involved individuals holding sovereign type beliefs. Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols was a sovereign citizen who once declared that he was no longer a “citizen of the corrupt political corporate State of Michigan and the United States of America” and was answerable only to the “Common Laws.”7 The FBI notes that it is important to recognize that not all members of this movement are violent. Like many fringe political groups, members run the gamut from merely interested in alternative ideas to hard-core ideologues. The sovereign citizen movement should not be confused with

current right wing political movements such as the “Tea Party” movement, for one overarching reason: the Tea Party recognizes the legitimacy of the United States but disagrees with the policies and organization of government. The sovereign citizen movement does not recognize the legitimacy of government. It does have some overlap with other, better known extremist movements such as militias and tax protestors.

claimed that the county level was the “highest authority of government in our Republic as it is closest to the people.” The basic Posse manual stated that there had been “subtle subversion” of the Constitution by various arms and levels of government, especially the judiciary. There was, in fact, a “criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice, disfranchise citizens and liquidate the Constitutional Republic of these United States.”


The Posse wanted to reverse this subversion and “restore” the Republic through (1) unilateral actions by the people (i.e., the Posse) and (2) actions by the county sheriff. The sheriff, they argued, was the only constitutional law enforcement officer. Moreover, his most important role was to protect the people from the unlawful acts of officials of governments like judges and government agents. Should a sheriff refuse to carry out such duties, the people (i.e., the Posse) had the right to hang him. In fact, the two most prominent Posse symbols became a sheriff’s badge and a hangman’s noose.8

Anti-Extremist watchdog groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the AntiDefamation League (ADL) have traced the origins of this ideology to the Posse Comitatus movement of the early 1970’s in California and Oregon. The ADL writes: Members of the Posse Comitatus believed that the county was the true seat of government in the United States. They did not deny the legal existence of federal or state governments, but rather

New York Times (May 22, 2010) Man Who Shot Police Had Anti Government Views. <http://www.nytimes. com/2010/05/22/us/22arkansas.html> [as of March 27, 2012] 5 Novak, Expert: Loughner Rants Sound Like Sovereign Citizen Beliefs (January 12, 2011) Forbes < http://www. >[as of March 28, 2012]; 6 Sovereign Citizens: Radicals Exercising ‘God-Given Rights’ or Fueling Domestic Terrorsim” (March 8, 2012) ABC News. story?id=15876417#.T3M8aXJ79Fk [as of March 28, 20120] 7 Sovereign Citizen Movement, Anti Defamation League,< Cat=Extremism&LEARN_SubCat=Extremism_in_America&xpicked=4&item=sov. [as of March 27, 2012] 8 Id. 4



The Posse C o m i t a t u s movement died out in the 1980’s, but the sovereign ideology lived on. Many of these ideas were adopted by the more familiar tax protestor movement. A complicated amalgamation of conspiracy theory, utopian political philosophy, pseudolegal research, and biblical quotation, the sovereign movement’s ideology is difficult to summarize. It is a closed philosophy that rejects any information that contradicts its premises. Conflicting information is attributed to government corruption and cover-up. The SPLC states: The contemporary sovereign belief system is based on a decades-old conspiracy theory. At some point in history, sovereigns believe, the American government set up by the founding fathers — with a legal system the sovereigns refer to as “common law” — was secretly replaced by a new government system based on admiralty law, the law of the sea and international commerce. Under common law, or so they believe, the sovereigns would be free men.

Under admiralty law, they are slaves, and secret government forces have a vested interest in keeping them that way.9 The sovereign movement has thrived on the internet. A search engine query for “sovereign citizen” will produce hundreds of pages, videos, and resource guides full of conspiracy theories, virulent anti-government rhetoric and pseudo-legal quackery. More disturbingly, a number of these websites fully advocate for the outright refusal to follow the rules of law and orderly society. In the current, uneasy political and economic climate, this movement appears to be rapidly spreading into a significant problem for federal, state, and local government.

Sovereign Contract Theory The sovereign citizen believes that they are not subject to the laws of the United States. They believe that they interact only in a contractual sense, governed by the Uniform Commercial Code. In reality, the Uniform Commercial Code only deals with transactions involving personal property. Sovereign “contract theories” also stem

from out-of-context language from the 14th Amendment, the Magna Carta, the Bible, the US Code, and other more esoteric sources. Sovereigns will sometimes refer to non-sovereigns as “14th Amendment Citizens.” Essentially, the sovereign believes that the Founding Fathers created a country in which the individual is only governed if they give consent to be governed. Any government power lay within the states. With the ratification of the 14th Amendment, a “de facto” government took control and created a new, voluntary class of citizen. This “de facto” government has no legal authority, so it had to trick citizens into giving away rights through contracts like vehicle registrations.10 As proof of their lack of contract with government, some sovereigns will refuse to use zip codes, license plates, or identification cards. Others will insist on oddly punctuated spellings of their name (e.g. John-Smith:Doe) or refuse to use paper money.11

Sovereign Citizens, Southern Poverty Law Center < ideology/sovereign-citizens-movement> (as of March 27, 2012) 10 Sovereign Citizen Movement, Anti Defamation League 11 See Sussman, Idiot Legal Arguments: A Casebook for Dealing with Extremist Legal Arguments (1999), published by the Anti-Defamation League at [as of March 27, 2012] 9



Other sovereign theories are based on such trivialities as the gold fringed American flag that often hangs in courtrooms. Sovereigns theorize that the Navy flag contains a gold fringe, and a gold fringe is not specifically identified in US Flag Code, therefore a court that flies a gold fringed flag is an admiralty court. Courts have rejected this argument as frivolous and preposterous. This belief colors the sovereign citizen’s interactions with government. They will directly challenge the authority of law enforcement to detain them, as they believe that traveling in a vehicle is exempt from the UCC. They will challenge traffic tickets all the way up to felony cases for a failure to comply with UCC regulations. In Kimmel v. Loeffler, a case out of Texas, a sovereign citizen sued the Judge who convicted him of speeding and the county attorney who prosecuted the case. He argued that because the police and judge were acting in a commercial capacity by accepting money to do their jobs, the case was governed by the UCC and only a federal court had jurisdiction to hear it.12


(1990) 791 S.W.2d 648.


To be continued in February Issue – Part II

Series Conclusion Real Estate professionals need to be aware of whether they are dealing with an individual with a sovereign citizen mentality. These individuals do not respect traditional property rights or the power of the courts to enforce them, so actions like unlawful detainers and quiet title suits will prove ineffective. Attempts to negotiate or reason with a hardcore sovereign citizen can result in harassment of a personal nature up to and including the filing of fraudulent liens against your own property. Real Estate professionals are encouraged to contact the District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit if you encounter one of these individuals.

David Allen is a Deputy District Attorney in the Riverside County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit. Complaints regarding Real Estate Fraud in Riverside County may be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office by going to http://www.rivcoda. org/opencms/resources/ consumerinfo.html and completing a Real Estate Fraud complaint form. Deputy District Attorney The District Attorney Office 951-955-5400


The holidays are here again. very year we have good intentions of making the holidays a time of celebration with friends and family.


We promise ourselves this will be the year we get our shopping done early. We won’t over-indulge at parties. We will have a stress-free holiday. But for many of us it becomes the most stressful time of the year. Our good intentions get swept away in the face of making gingerbread cookies, wrapping presents, and the never ending to-do list. Here are a few tips to help celebrate the season: Simplify plans with friends


Grab a latte, a few friends and tackle that shopping list instead of trying to plan another night out or have a gift wrapping session with family and catch up while you work. Make time for the people who matter most in your life. 2. Stay hydrated – Stay Healthy. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times. This might sound like a small thing but between cold season, running in and out of overheated shops, and bombarded with holiday goodies at every turn, you’ll be glad you stayed hydrated. If plain water doesn’t interest you, try adding a slice of lemon or lime. Remember, it’s hard to tackle your to-do list when you’re sick. 3. Make a Budget and stick to it! Know the number of people you need to buy gifts for and make a budget. The people that you love won’t want to see you accumulate debt just in order to give them gifts. Some of my favorite gifts

have been homemade and I love them more because it reflected the thought and care that went into it. Anyone can drop a few hundred dollars on the latest gizmo but not everyone knows your favorite childhood cookie or the kind of books you read while curled up in bed. It’s truly the thought that counts. 4. Embrace Traditions. The holidays are often a time of traditions. Traditions give us a sense of connection to the past. Growing up we couldn’t wait for the first cookies out the oven, or decorating the tree and gathering with our relatives for a cherished dinner. Traditions can be borrowed from the past or you can create new ones but whatever you do it’s the memories that matter most, to you and your family. So there you have it. Four steps to bring more joy this holiday season.

Carla Elfeld 646-541-1172





by Caroline Gim


ave you ever been somewhere and heard someone in a crowd call your name? As you turn to the direction of this unfamiliar voice, someone who looks vaguely familiar is approaching you, smiling warmly and extending a hand? And as you shake hands he reintroduces himself, reminds you where you met, and asks how your son is enjoying his first year at college? And you wonder how he remembers you so well and, in the back of your mind, you think, “Wow, I must have really an impression on him.” Over the next few minutes, you have brief conversation and you find yourself really liking him. Then he politely excuses himself, you see him do almost the exact same thing with someone else. He is working the room, making one connection at a time.


How does he do it? This man has a gift. He has the ability to make people feel special and memorable. Would you like to do the same but think it is impossible? Here are some tips:

1. Remember people’s names. There are several tricks to remembering someone’s name. When I meet someone, I usually repeat it back to them as I shake their hand. “John? Caroline. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” If it is a unique or cool name, I ask a little about the background. “Ophelia? Wow, that’s a really cool name! Who named you?” And then I find something easy that I can use to remember the name. For example, my name is Caroline. So I tell people to remember me as Sweet Caroline (like the Neil Diamond song), which

is easy and leads to lots of serenades. If I meet a really friendly woman named Bridget, I’ll remember her as Bubbly Bridget. If I meet a large man with the name Gus, I’ll remember him as Gus the Bus. (Of course, I do not tell people how I plan to remember their names. This is for me.) 2. Smile and make eye contact. It is much easier to remember someone when you are looking at them as they speak. And it is a lot easier for them to speak to you when you are smiling and nodding your head to show that you are listening. Use this opportunity to remember physical characteristics about the person as another way to remember him in the future.


3. Ask questions and let the other person do the talking. Let the other person’s responses naturally lead to follow up questions. Let the other person be the center of attention. This will allow you to learn a lot about him, of which you should remember at least one or two unique things that will further help you remember him in the future. And he will walk away feeling like he just had a great conversation. Because, really, who does not love talking about himself a little? 4. Leave the conversation with a business card exchange. When you are done with your conversation, ask for the other person’s business card. Study the card carefully to make sure you remember his name correctly. Shake hands, smile warmly, and

use his name one last time as you tell them it was a pleasure meeting him. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Bill. Let’s stay in touch.” If you meet someone early on at a conference or somewhere else where you may see one another frequently, be sure to give a wave, smile warmly, and say hello every time you see him. The biggest unspoken rule of making people feel special is this: DO THIS WITH EVERYONE YOU MEET. Do not introduce yourself and be friendly only with people you feel are important to furthering your career. Everyone is important. Everyone is special. Everyone is memorable. Make a great impression on EVERYONE you meet.

Caroline Gim CA BRE# 01366389 Expert Real Estate & Investment 9447-A Firestone Blvd. | Downey CA 90241 1410 Third St. #7 | Riverside CA 92507 Direct: (562) 861-4311, ext. 104 E-Fax: (866) 341-9008 E-Mail: Web:






hile in 8th grade, I met a real estate agent that I really didn’t like. So from then on, I didn’t want to be a REALTOR®. I’m not sure why I didn’t like him, but I know the feelings were real and they stuck with me. After meeting this guy, I told God I didn’t want to be in real estate. Little did I know that God would take me down the very same road I told Him I didn’t want to go. Now I’ve been in the real estate industry for almost two decades and I’ve finally begun to enjoy where God has placed me. It took a long time for me to get past the feelings I had since I was younger, but slowly God began to show me how He specifically gifts people for certain jobs and how He gifted me for this. I used to believe (I don’t anymore) that in order to be used by God and to make Him happy with me, I would have to be a pastor or work full-time as a missionary. I realize now that God is pleased most when I do the job He has gifted me for. Tucked away in the Old Testament are a set of verses that really changed my way of thinking about my career choices. This verse helped me understand that God was pleased with me, even though I am not a full-time pastor or missionary. “See, I [God] have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, 5 and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.” (Scripture Reference Link 31&version=NASB) In this passage, God is speaking to Moses and tells him that He has chosen a man by the name of Bazalel and filled him with God’s Spirit in order to be a master craftsman!



Do you see the significance here? God gave this man the skills he needed to be a master craftsman in order to make all kinds of crafts and artistic designs and when he was doing these things, he was fulfilling the very purpose that God gave him to fulfill. He wasn’t called to be a pastor, preacher, singer, or a missionary. No, his gifts were in woodworking and when he did that, he was pleasing God. I believe God still gives His Spirit to people today in order that they may succeed in the jobs that they have. When I realized this, a huge burden was lifted because I could pursue my job with passion and intensity, knowing that God was leading me in this career. I wish I had found this passage long ago because I would have enjoyed my career a lot more. After all, I was the one that told God, that I didn’t want to be in Real Estate, yet He is the one that specifically called me here. Not only did He call me, but He has also equipped me to do it well. For those of us that are truly called to the business, we must realize that we are here to serve people. As we serve people, we are to do it to the best of our ability with passion and conviction. I can say that I give it my all, because I believe that God has given me His Spirit of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding in order to successfully close real estate transactions that He brings my way. In the beginning I just thought that I was really good at this, then I realized that I was successful

because of God’s gifting me, not because of my own abilities. Have you been successful in Real Estate? Let me encourage you to give God the glory! Are you struggling in Real Estate? Let me encourage you to discover the skills and passions that God has given you and go in that direction. When you find your niche, you will find passion and peace, despite the money you make or the success you have. For me, I’m sticking to real estate.

Aaron Zapata 562-903-0088 x 112 (562) 903-0088 Ext 112 7149047877 profiles/109838300422915368387 Aaron Zapata is the Broker-Owner of Zapata Realty, Inc. in Yorba Linda CA. He has a Bible Degree from BIOLA University and a Master’s in Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton. He can be reached at Aaron@ with questions or comments.




Best Decision

I have Ever Made. On December 19, 1981 at 11:00 AM in San Bernardino, CA, I made my first major decision in my very inexperienced life and entered into Holy Matrimony with Ruby Lee Gordon. This year Ruby and I are celebrating 32 years of marriage. I cannot believe how fast time has gone by and how she is more beautiful and graceful today than I could have ever imagined. She is the love of my life and I am very fortunate to be her husband. Ruby and I decided to get married at the tender age of 19. We were just kids, totally naive and optimistic about life and our future together. That optimism and naiveté served us well and enable us to handle many setbacks on the pathway of building a life together. Looking back I can say it was the best decision I have ever made. I matured quickly into a man and her into a woman. We grew up together and jointly experienced the changes that adulthood, work, children and responsibilities brought about in both our personalities and world view. Today we have 4 incredible daughters, a granddaughter on the way, a beautiful home in Riverside, California and great businesses and careers that we are both passionate about. None of this would have been possible without Ruby staying at home and being a devoted mother, businesswoman and role model for our daughters. She sacrificed her dreams to make my dreams and my kids’ dreams a reality. As a family we owe her everything because she created the environment and the foundation of our home that enabled the children to thrive and me to work very hard and to go to school. We have one more child at home and soon she will be off to college. Her three older sisters have finished school, and since all three have a Master’s Degree, the pressure is on. Ruby has four MBAs under her belt (if you include my MBA), so helping our last daughter get a Master’s Degree will be a piece of cake.


Ruby will go back to school in 2014 and realize a dream that has been postponed because of her commitment to motherhood and family. I hope my children realize the sacrifices that have been made over the years for them, especially the sacrifices that Ruby has made for them. She is my Nubian Queen, a fierce Mother and protector of her children and a very successful businesswoman and Real Estate expert. She deserves all the credit for where we are today as a family. Marriage is full of ups and downs but I believe the key to staying together after 32 years is faith in God. Ruby is perfect and wise beyond her years. I am imperfect, terribly flawed and lucky to have her as my wife. She has put up with me only because God is the center of our lives and has kept us together all these years. No marriage is perfect and relationships are real work. It doesn’t get easier or harder—it’s just “marriage,” and the challenges that come never stop coming because we are all humans living in a world that keeps us all in a state of change. As I get older, wiser and humbled by the life challenges and difficult circumstances I have faced, I realize that we are both beneficiaries of the grace and providence of God. It is God that has provided everything we have, that has kept us together and our family blessed, and it will be God that keeps us together into the future. “Until death do us part” is a vow that I made and that I intend to keep until my life has ended. I love Ruby and I want the whole world to know how grateful I am for her presence in my life.

Ruby Frazier CEO/President of Frazier Group Realty, Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA CEO/President The Power Is Now Inc.


COMING HOME: It Takes a Village to “Raise” Residual Wealth by P.S. Perkins COMING HOME I decided to relocate back to my birth-home area of the Southeastern United States. No, not really. I left part of me in the suburbs and the rest of me returned to an urban city. That part of me was wary, tired, and fed-up with the pre-prescribed formula of who and how folks are supposed to act. The part of my life that had fled in search of the status consciousness I grew up being groomed for. Well, after time and circumstances enticed me to return home, that is when it got real interesting. And I mean REAL… My personal “stuff” is irrelevant to the point-ofview I would like to share. And yes, I do realize that ALL my writings are just that: a “point-of-view”— but that’s why I write. Maybe you should too if you have something to say to try to be a part of the solution; but I digress, anyway… My repatriation “home” presented a common story for millions of baby boomers returning to their roots caring for aging parents and “didn’t quite figure out the formula of American success” struggling family members. Or… maybe they were not sincerely invited. Whatever the situation, the story I am speaking of is becoming a huge bowl of baby-boomer CULTURE SHOCK! We look around and say, “Wow! Nothing has changed!” Really? In 40 years? How can that be? How can I have experienced such a full, rewarding

LIFE and return home to Bookie still hustling on the corner? What happened? Oh, I see…these people are/were caught in a vacuum. This kind of vacuum results in the gradual and sometimes swift removal of resources vital to the sustainability of a community. The physical resources that help create and retain residual wealth. RESIDUAL WEALTH Residual Wealth is a term I coined to explain HOW wealth remains and is maintained within a community while being siphoned into its families, businesses, schools, community centers, foundations, social institutions, and churches. We all understand these resources are vital to the healthy development of ALL children! “So you mean that is why Pookie the Bookie is still on the corner?” Yes, and the fact that Pookie may really be the trifling, conditioned person waiting on his lotto ticket that begins to form after many years of acclimatizing. Yes, something like that. At the Human Communication Institute, LLC, understanding WORDS matter and the word RESIDUE is a huge one for us. Residue explains all the left over stuff that forms our opinion of others, our surroundings, and OURSELVES. “Do I really deserve the American dream?” Sadly, too many have been told enough times in enough ways that they do not. So…How does this work?



From a Human Communication point-of-view, we understand the enormous power of “personal suggestion” that says you are what you think and say you are. I recently experienced a life-altering battle in my own life where I went very quiet about it. I fought and won the battle with God’s help, and I truly believe that part of the miracle was NOT voicing it to others. COMMUNICATING INTO THE FUTURE If you remember last month’s prequel to this article, Passing Down Generational Poverty, I discussed how the residue of impoverished thinking and words create a poverty mentality in our children. This is a TRUTH. Stop poormouthing our children into poverty just because we did not dream bigger, work harder or KEEP HOPE ALIVE longer because the deck was stacked against us! This type of residue is defeatist at its best. Believe in a new day! It is here if you say so! What thoughts are you thinking, then opening you mouth and speaking? P.S. I could stop right here and state this one scientific mould theory (linguistic determinism) which explains an individual’s entire life. Residue creates and maintains YOUR REALITY! However, we understand it is not that simple because of the myriad number of voices and factors adding to that one LIFE, plus thoughts that create self-image and hope (or the lack thereof) for the individual


and collective future. It does take a village. That is why I came home. Back to a birth-place suffering from the plight of suburban flight, gentrification, and the resultant lack of residual wealth. Residual Wealth is only possible with people that have passed down the residue of thoughts, words, and actions of wealth building! Have you been the beneficiary or creator of residual wealth? Well, (and you know where I am going) YOU CAN! Instead of the wealth formula some have resorted to - “beg, borrow, or steal” - use and create a new residual model of wealth. You are reading the right publication established to help you do just that! The “old” folks KNEW the wealth formula of land and property. Many of them survived the label and abuse of being used as property. They came out of that negative residue with a determination to own 40 acres and a mule! Side Note: Anyone know someone that got a piece of this residual wealth? Ok, let’s talk later! Again, I digress… Because we do not need to readdress the past wrongs, we need to address the current and future RIGHTS! To the “new” Americans, wealth was land and property! And yes, the practices were questionable and sometimes downright evil! Those that engaged by “hook, crook, or cranny” are NOW PASSING DOWN RESIDUAL WEALTH! How are you doing? (And you know HOW we say it!)


How many of us have truly THOUGHT into existence, SPOKE into existence then ACTED into existence, residual wealth while not wasting it on riotous living but handing down the residual effects of hard work and smart investment? Many getting our “groove on” as we flee and stay away from the aunties, cousins, neighbors, and children still striving for their piece of the American pie? I fully understand this wealth is not available, nor offered, nor cared about by too large a majority of people. The question remains though, how does this affect the quality of life for future “welfare” mentality generations of all colors and hues? Plus, don’t abdicate your village responsibility because of the “others”! That’s not YOUR FAMILY OR VILLAGE! By the way, the others have been “taking care of their own” for a long time. Just look around, and REMEMBER the struggle. RESIDUAL FUTURE GET UP! Pass down the residual thoughts of good health, prosperity, education, investment, selfrespect and village love (my brother’s keeper)! We are moving in times where those of us who remember to BE DO HAVE will be very happy and maybe safe because we did! BELIEVING IS SEEING, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND! P.S.

Instead of our children ALWAYS asking, begging and stealing what they want, teach them BY EXAMPLE to grow residual wealth by investing early and knowledgably with those introduced through vehicles like THE POWER IS NOW! I will never forget as a young adult when a lawyer knocked at the front door of our home many, many years after my earthly father passed away. He had a check for my mother written out for several thousands of dollars to help her through what dad felt might be the more lean and relaxed years of her life! Dad of course did not realize “times” would have changed drastically and she would still be raising us not-so-grown folks and helping to raise others’ grans! I cannot tell you the utter surprise, wonder, and joy my mother and family felt when we realized my daddy understood the principle of “residual wealth”! It was a good day because it taught us all valuable lessons AND… more than a few bills were paid and good times returned, at least for a moment. We are still learning. That is why I am writing this article! I have work to do because MY village is suffering. How about yours? The villagers are gathering and we need your involvement! Let us communicate and create residual wealth!

P.S. Perkins



The Future of Higher Education


here are a number of commissions across the country charged with the task of framing the elements of what the likely future for higher education will be in this country and globally. 300 years plus of tradition has largely ensconced us in rigid practices and policies which purport to guarantee and sustain quality. However, not all institutions are equal nor do they all purport to be, even in their mission statements. The private research universities in the form of Stanford, Harvard , MIT and Johns Hopkins as examples, have long maintained traditional approaches, but have also been places where some of the most innovative discoveries have taken place. One of the most recent developments, the Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) was conceived and refined at Stanford, Harvard and MIT. These 21st Century delivery modalities offer free courses to tens of thousands of interested people across the globe, some as large as 125,000 course takers. I use the term course takers because in most instances these persons are not officially students and there is no academic credit for the courses. The MOOC is a model of delivery designed to democratize education. That is to make accessible high quality coursework to an infinite number of people. It is an innovation perhaps, but not without its challenges. How do your ensure


quality, that learning takes place, accountability is ensured and academic rigor is established and maintained? All these questions are crucial elements of a college education. How do you receive credit for the course and under what criteria? And, how do you make certain that the courses are widely accepted and transferable? Is it a fad that only the well funded and well heeled colleges and universities can sustain? Apparently not, as public colleges and universities and community colleges begin to develop, borrow and offer MOOCs and to address the thorny issues and challenges I raised earlier. As the MOOCs transcend from being free to takers, to various fee structures and as faculty senates and curriculum committees determine the criteria for acceptance, this modality may begin to level the field of access.

Millions of would be students from around the globe could have access to some of the most prestigious institutions and the most renown faculty on the planet. Transferability, practical business models and technology will address many of the issues constraining the growth and acceptance of MOOCs. Consider all the real estate and related and adjacent fields that a MOOC might address. Suppose you could get all your agents, suppliers, customers and colleagues â&#x20AC;&#x153;educated â&#x20AC;&#x153;and informed through short term on-line MOOCs through a virtual 24/7 delivery mechanism for little or no costs. Could easily be a pretty positive innovative disruption in the industry. What else is out there on the fringes? What disruptive innovations and technologies lie in wait for unsuspecting and the unprepared public? Community colleges offer baccalaureate degrees in 21 states. California is considering the concept for bachelor programs at capacity in the 4 year college and university sector (Nursing, Business, career and technical studies). While limited in the number and types of baccalaureate programs,


might the community college bachelorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree impact higher education and the professions that are supported by them. Many real estate professional have unrelated degrees. Might easier accessibility to a bachelorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree create more demand for industry specific credentials? Only time and state legislatures will tell. What role will digital cognitive assistants like Siri play in education and professional development? Imagine a world where a Siri like application could synch with automated calendars, travel and traffic options and institutional and professional schedules. That world is 2013 and we live in it. Digital cognitive assistants with customized and personalized individual life maps can increase efficiency and productivity by optimizing the use of time. Saving 2 hours in traffic per week, making use of opportunities for study and productivity and the maximization of convergent study, professional and personal time would allow human productivity and perhaps performance to reach new heights or enjoy more leisure time. The integration of technology, strategic forecasting and human development theory has the potential

to create a new world of educational, personal and professional accomplishment. The question is not if, but when will the society heavily adopt these complementary tools. And, the decisive factor is whether the delivery will come from higher education, corporate, non profits and/or some combination of providers. Next month we will examine the role of big data, predictive analytics and behavioral diagnostics in educational and professional development and programming. How will these concepts impact the real estate and real estate related enterprises? Stay tuned!

Andrew Jones 2145570493 7144384888 7144384882



“The Map And The Territory: Risk, Human Nature, And The Future of Forecasting” by Alan Greenspan

By Eric Egana

The venerable and distinguished Alan Greenspan, one of the leading economic minds of our time, attempts to make sense of the recent (and continuing) chaotic financial landscape in his second book, “The Map And The Territory: Risk, Human Nature, And The Future Of Forecasting.”

to the irrational actions of humans, brought about by fear, euphoria, and herd behavior. And it seems that even after a century or two of studying markets and human behavior, mankind is still no closer to being able to predict what lies beyond the financial horizon.

Given his position atop the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank, from 1987 until his retirement in 2006, Mr. Greenspan was in a better position than anyone to not only foresee the coming financial crisis, but to implement monetary policy to mitigate the damage.

While the book predictably contains the statistics and graphs that are the hallmarks of any respectable publication dealing with a topic of this nature, readers with an aversion to hard numbers and data will find plenty of enjoyable sections that read more like sociology and political science textbooks than economics ones. The author does a great job of outlining the failings of non-democratic political systems that have plagued Latin America. He also highlights the drag that the lackadaisical cultures of southern European countries (i.e. Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece) cause on the more industrious-minded north (i.e. Germany). And anti-Washington types will be thrilled with his conclusion that without a functioning government, regained economic growth is hopeless.

Sadly, he did neither. Incredulously, he even admits that,

“We at the Federal Reserve were aware earlier in the decade of incidents of some highly irregular subprime mortgage underwriting practices. But, regrettably, we viewed it as a localized problem subject to standard prudential oversight, not the precursor of the securitized subprime mortgage bubble that was to arise several years later.” Also glaringly absent from the manuscript is the role his low interest rates played in inflating the credit and housing bubbles leading up to the crash. But in fairness, as Mr. Greenspan claims, the worlds of economics and finance are, and always have been, complicated places. Markets are subject


But it’s hard to overlook the enormous contradiction that arises when, after a career at the Fed spent lowering bank capital requirements, he now advocates for higher bank capital requirements. True, hindsight is always 20/20. But his position just seems to stand on such shaky ground, given that unlike the rest of us who can merely suggest what we would have done as chairman of the Federal Reserve, he actually was chairman of the Federal Reserve.


Mr. Greenspan does redeem himself a bit with his forceful critique of the crony capitalism that is setting in. He rightly states that,

“To be sure, the senior officers of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers lost hundreds of millions of dollars from the collapse of their stocks. But none, to my knowledge, has filed for personal bankruptcy.” He also laments the auto bailouts, as there are now “no areas of the economy that are beyond the responsibility of the federal government.” But he acknowledges the pain and angst most redblooded Americans must have felt at the thought of an American icon such as General Motors going under. He holds his ground well, however, making the point that,

that capital can be reallocated for better uses. But even after reading “The Map And The Territory,” you will likely feel just as clueless as to when that “from time to time” exactly is, and what policymakers exactly should do about it. It seems that even after decades at the helm of the economic ship that is the United States of America, the map of the road ahead resists being drawn, leaving the territory still uncharted.

“Of the original names that made up the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than a century ago, only General Electric is still on the list.” Mr. Greenspan is, after all, an unapologetic proponent of the free-markets. Like all true freemarketers, he believes that only true competition and unfettered allocation of capital will raise the standard of living for all citizens, from the ownership class down to laborers. That means, though, that from time to time, the necessary evil of “creative destruction” must occur, whereby inefficient and unproductive uses of capital are purged from the playing field, so

Eric Egana, MA Associate Editor



Speaking Up About the New Generation of Deafness by Dr. Michelle Christie Helen Keller said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;If I had to choose between being deaf or being blind, I would chose blindness; blindness separates you from things while deafness separates you from people.â&#x20AC;? As an educator of the deaf for the past 18 years and founder of the national nonprofit organization No Limits for deaf children, I have witnessed the struggles of children with hearing loss and their families, and also have been privileged to celebrate their remarkable accomplishments.


t is surprising for most people to learn that approximately 3 in 1,000 babies are born with permanent hearing loss, making hearing loss one of the most common birth defects in America (Ross et al., 2008). In fact, ninety-two percent of children with permanent hearing loss are born to two hearing parents (Mitchell & Karchmer, 2004) and thus, most parents have no experience or knowledge of hearing loss. When their child is diagnosed, it can be overwhelming and life shattering as parents struggle to learn how to best communicate with their deaf child. Many decisions must be made including how their child will communicate and what type of educational setting is best for him/her. The primary options of communication are either sign language or spoken language. Most of us tend to correlate deafness with sign language. Yet, due to


advancements in technology, profoundly deaf children can learn to speak. Hearing devices, such as cochlear implants and digital hearing aids, are allowing deaf children to integrate into the hearing world more than ever. The capabilities of deaf people are endless, as hearing loss is unrelated to cognitive aptitudes. Why is it then that research indicates the majority of deaf children are graduating from high school functionally illiterate, not reading or writing higher than a third or fourth grade level? Many factors can contribute to these dismal statistics. However, I believe that there are inequities in the field of deaf education especially among economically disadvantaged and minority children who tend to have fewer resources available to them and as a result, fail to succeed in school and life.

No Limits provides the only national theater program and after-school educational center for deaf children (ages 4-18) who are learning to speak. The majority of the families lives in poverty and has little to no resources. Deaf children are arriving at No Limits at age 7, not knowing the alphabet or how to read a simple sentence. Many deaf children at age five do not know how to say their own name. A typical hearing child has 5000 vocabulary words at that age, yet many of the children entering No Limits at age five have fewer than 50 words. The road for these children is difficult if comprehensive resources are not provided during their early years (preferably before age 5). When a family misses those opportunities for reasons such as late diagnosis, inability to afford hearing aids, or lack of resources, their childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s communication becomes gravely delayed. No Limits Educational Academy provides free services to deaf children and their families who reside within the greater Los Angeles area.


The Academy provides individual therapy, literacy intervention, academic tutoring, science and technology training, a leadership and mentoring academy, college preparation, and weekly parent education classes. As a result of its comprehensive program, deaf children are learning essential skills that will allow them to not only graduate from high school, but college as well. No Limits believes that every deaf child can attend college if given the tools. In fact, every 10 weeks, No Limits students dress in a cap and gown and recite a graduation speech in front of hundreds of people. At the end of the speech, each child shares what they want to be when they grow up. This past graduation little Josue declared, “I can be a doctor. I can do it!” Jasmin resolutely stated, “I can be a teacher. I can do it!” Kian confidently professed, “I can be the next President of the United States. I can do it!” I am proud to say that many of our alumni nationwide are either in college or have graduated from college. They are pursuing careers as scientists, teachers


of the deaf, psychologists, occupational therapists, and accountants. No longer should we accept the outcome of “functionally illiterate” for children born with hearing loss, but should recognize the possibilities for these children and give them the resources they so desperately need. The fact is that we have a new generation of deaf children for whom advancements in technology have opened the doors for them to hear sounds they have never before heard. As a community we can provide the resources to help these children with school supplies, books, mentoring, speech therapy, literacy intervention and so much more. Deaf children, without a doubt, can dream, speak, achieve, inspire and become active contributing members of society. The future of deaf children has no limits.

Picture by Society Social Calendar Magazine

To contact No Limits or learn more about our services, please contact me at: Michelle@ nolimitsfordeafchildren




by Ivonne Saucedo

Omega-3 is super healthy… consumers know that. In 2010, food and drink products containing omega-3 shot up 11%, and are predicted to almost double their worth by 2015. (1) And if you have been reading my newsletters, you know that “food trends” are often a bunch of nonsense. Is the omega-3 craze based on science, or the insatiable need for profit that food marketers feel when they wake up in the morning? Let’s see…

Let’s Define Some Words. Talking about omega-3 fats can become confusing really fast, so let’s start with a couple of boring — but very necessary — definitions. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) = Fats your body can’t synthesize. In plain English: You need to get those fats from your diet in some

way, or your health will suffer. EFA include the group of fats called omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-9 = They are NOT considered essential fatty acids, because they can be created by the human body. That’s why I won’t talk much about the omega-9 content of foods in this article. Omega-3 = A group of EFA comprised of 3 distinct fats: ALA, DHA and EPA. Found in animal products, but also in nuts and seeds and various plant-based foods. Omega-6 = A group of EFA comprised of multiple kinds of fats. The most popular is LA (linoleic acid), found in plant oils, grains, nuts, seeds and some animal products like eggs.

What Makes Omega-3 So Popular Omega-3 has a ton of proven benefits, backed by hundreds of studies:

• Improved blood pressure and cholesterol • More energy • Smoother skin • Healthy heart • Healthy joints and cartilage But we need both omega-3 AND omega-6 in our diet. Like I said, they are both essential fatty acids that can’t be synthesized by the body. So what is all the hype about omega-3? It’s simply because omega-3 and omega-6 need to be in a certain balance inside your body. The huge problem is that while the optimal omega-6 to 3 ratio is anywhere between 2.3:1 to 1:1, it goes as high as 25:1 in favor of omega-6 in the U.S. (2) Knowing that, we can easily conclude that almost everyone should be consuming more omega-3, and less omega-6 — which would eventually make people reach a healthy ratio.


HEALTH Here Comes The Shocking Part… Not a lot of people know this — Not a lot of people know this — and vegans will feel offended, but the truth is that omega-3 from animal foods is generally vastly superior to omega-3 from plants. Remember that in the definitions, I said that Omega-3 fats include ALA, DHA and EPA? (Here’s why definitions matter.) Plant-based omega-3 sources like flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, canola oil (terrible choice) and soy (terrible choice) contain ALA, which needs to be converted to DHA and EPA before being absorbed by your body. The thing is… because of this conversion, you end up getting 800% to 3300% less omega-3 from ALA than you would from animal-sourced DHA. (3) Some experts even say you only absorb 0.5% of the omega-3 in flax seed oil, nuts and seeds. (4) That does NOT mean that you should avoid plant-based omega-3. I eat plenty of chia seeds and nuts myself every day. But plant foods will never really help you maintain a healthy omega-6 to 3 ratio.

How Much Omega-3 Do I Need? Fair question.


There’s no such thing as a “perfect amount” of omega-3, simply because the ideal dose depends on how much omega-6 you’re consuming. Maintaining even the minimum 2.3:1 ratio is hard to achieve if you consume a lot of omega-6 from vegetable oil and processed foods. Even if I’m terrible at math, I’ll try to crunch some numbers. Bear with me here. Estimates show that most people consume 9% of their daily calories (average 2,000 calories diet) in omega-6. (5) If you consume that much omega-6 (20g per day), that means you need to consume around 9g of omega-3 (DHA + EPA) per day just to attain the minimum 2.3:1 ratio – or more than 1.5 pounds of salmon every single day. (6) That’s a LOT of fish. If you reduce your omega-6 consumption to 2% of your daily calories (around 4.5g) – you’ll only need to consume 2g of omega-3 per day – about 6 oz. of salmon. Much more reasonable . The key to getting all the benefits you’re looking for from essential fatty acids is both reducing the amount of omega-6 in your diet and increasing omega-3 with food or fish oil. And if you think that reducing your omega-6 consumption seems like a lot of work, and

that you’d rather gorge on both omega-6 AND omega-3… let me tell you it’s a bad idea. Consuming too much omega-3 from fish or fish oil during a long period of time is shown to increase lipid peroxidation – which means more free radicals and inflammation in your body. (7,8)

How To Get Your Omega-3 Getting your daily omega-3 from these sources simply won’t work: • Nuts & seeds (mostly ALA) • Flax or chia seeds (mostly ALA) • Juices, breakfast cereals and yogurt with added omega-3 (mostly ALA, of very poor quality…) To get your daily omega-3, you can choose to stick with whole foods, or to use a supplement.

Option 1: Whole Foods Here are the best food sources of combined DHA & EPA – the most important omega-3s: • • • •

Mackerel (4.5 oz.) = 2.5 g Lake trout (4.5 oz.) = 1.6 g Salmon (4.5 oz.) = 1.2 g Sardines, canned (4.5 oz.) = 1g • One pastured egg = 600 mg (9) • Shrimp (4.5 oz.) = 500 mg • One factory-raised egg = 200 mg (don’t bother with omega-3 eggs, they contain ALA from the flax seed meal hens are fed with…)


• Grass-fed beef (6 oz.) = 165 mg (seems like a small source of omega-3, but a recent study showed that grass-fed beef increases omega-3 levels by surprising numbers — (10)) Not surprisingly, the wild-caught, grass-fed and pastured healthy animals provide the most omega-3 of all food sources.

In 2012, the testing authority Consumer Labs found problems in over 30% of all fish oil supplements, including (11): • Trace levels of PCBs, with 6% of supplements showing dangerous levels • 20 to 30% less omega-3 than claimed on the label • Spoiled fish oil • Wrong labels

you would have to take multiple doses daily, and that would get expensive very fast. So, there you go. Now you know the real deal about omega-3. If you are not sure where to purchase these oils or need a free nutritional analysis, contact Yvonne at (909) 214-9660.

Option 2: Omega-3 Supplement I personally love the quality of If you do not eat grass-fed beef or wild-caught fish daily, supplementing with a quality omega-3 supplement is your best bet. In fact, it’s one of the two most important supplements everyone should use daily in my opinion — along with a greens product or food-based multivitamin.

Metagenics EPA-DHA 720.

Metagenics, one of my favorite supplement companies, carries this in capsule form and it is tasty and high in potency. I also like Barleans Fresh Catch Fish Oil liquid in orange flavor (very high quality and high potency).

But like I’ve said before, most supplements suck.

If you’re vegan or prefer plantbased alternatives, a Swiss company discovered a way to produce a DHA/EPA supplement from algae. Check it out here: Deva Vegans DHA/EPA

Fish oil — the most popular omega-3 supplement around — is not different.

The problem with this vegan alternative is that it’s very low in DHA and EPA, which means

Yvonne Salcedo 9092149660



Has the New Hummingbird Declared SEO…Dead? Search Engine Optimization is one of the most integral parts in your online business. Without it, you probably will have a hard time existing online. Has this changed? defines Search Engine Optimization SEO as “the methods used to boost the ranking or frequency of a website in results returned by a search engine, in an effort to maximize user traffic to the site.” This is where Google comes in as the most popular search engine where people go to find what they are looking for. With that said more and more people rely on Google to get their questions answered and/or find the items they are researching on. In order for Google to provide the best results for the search criteria that the end user inputs, they created a search algorithm. Google changes this search algorithm quite often to make it better and to produce the best relevant results for its users. So, what is a search algorithm? Wikipedia defines a search algorithm as a step by step procedure of calculations for finding an item with specified properties among a collection of items which are stored individually as records in a database or may be elements of a search space defined by a mathematical formula or procedure. HUH?!?!?


TECHNOLOGY In a nutshell, a search algorithm is just a mathematical process that Google and other search engines developed in order to show relevant results of search queries entered by the end user. One of Google’s latest search algorithm changes is called Hummingbird. Think of the Google Hummingbird like a car with a new engine but keeping some of its old parts. These old parts were in good shape and didn’t need changing. With Hummingbird, it’s a new algorithm unlike the previous ones like Panda and Penguin which were just updates of the current algorithm used at that time. So, why did Google call this latest new algorithm, Hummingbird. Well, that’s simple. Its search engine is fast and more accurate like a hummingbird. Amit Singhal – Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Google said “Our algorithm had to go through some fundamental rethinking of how we are going to keep our results relevant.” In a nutshell, Google is conforming to more mobile users that are using voice recognition software where they are asking questions utilizing this software which makes it in a more natural way instead of using the more intricate way of typing in requests which is a more complicated algorithm. This is smart of Google to do since we are moving in a mobile technology world. As a matter of fact surveys have found that in 2013, more mobile devices were sold than laptops and desktops. Mobile technology is definitely where we are headed towards in a rapid manner. Google is moving away from matching keywords and instead focusing on matching results based on your questions. Google’s initiative has always been to give you a better quality experience and improve the results that you get will be more related to your searches. So, a lot of Search Engine Optimizing experts are asking the million dollar question? Will we be losing traffic on our websites? Since the update was recently done, if you haven’t lost any traffic, than it probably has not affected your site.

So, are you still worried if SEO is dead? Well my friends, I say absolutely not. The foundation of SEO will still continue to be keywords, content and backlinks. However, SEO is moving towards more of a relationship type of digital marketing, especially when it comes to backlinks. This means that you will have to create stronger and tighter relationships with other sites that will have links pointing back to your site. You will have to be more engaging with your visitors by building more social signals. Your website will have to be fast and have excellent quality content. Gone will be the days of producing bad content articles that are being re-spun or keyword filled articles that don’t have a beginning and an end. Gone will be the days of producing low quality links normally used in Blackhat SEO which will have an inverse effect that will hurt or destroy your page rankings. Stay away from these things especially if your business depends on online exposure. SEO is certainly not dead, but it is evolving. It’s time to rethink your SEO strategies and become more sociable, engaging and influential to capture more relevant visitors to your site. If you would like to find out when and where my next business and marketing workshop is or if you need help with anything, a consultation or coaching, please visit or call Ray directly at 949-698-9858. I wish you the best of success with your business. Extraordinary my friends!

Ray Warda Business and Marketing Aficionado Advance Business and Marketing



Real Estate Drives the Economy

â&#x20AC;&#x201C; And Technology Does Too by John D. Reyes, President / CEO of Social NetworX Inc.


t is well known that real estate is a primary driver of our economy and that a growing number of consumers are turning to the Internet for comprehensive information. Steps need to be made to improve the consumerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s online experience when purchasing or selling real estate. Streamlining and enhancing the entire process results in a more confident and informed consumer that is unencumbered and much more likely to close on a transaction. When a home is purchased, housing-related spending increases greatly. Research shows that a typical buyer of a new home will spend $7,400 more than a non-moving household over the first two years after purchasing a new home. Similarly, the buyer of an existing home will spend $4,000 or more over the same time span. Spending typically includes the purchasing of furniture, household dĂŠcor, remodeling work and new appliances. Having access to a comprehensive, informational and city specific website increases the rate at which consumers close on a deal; and thus, boosts spending and job creation in related sectors. The amplified spending sparks job growth in many labor divisions, including: areas of finance, property management, leasing, housing-related retail, furniture and appliance manufacturing, logging, and service provisions. With over 70% of consumers utilizing the Internet


for their real estate needs, Social NetworX has programs in place to connect consumers with qualified agents and local experts as well as deliver a platform to further educate online visitors. Educating the consumer is a vital part of the real estate process since information gathering and the evaluation of alternatives are essential steps in the home buying process. Through our in-depth involvement with agents and consumers we have seen countless examples of the current disconnect that exists between tech savvy consumers and agents that are not taking advantage of social media and online marketing. By providing a comprehensive, city specific online resource, agents give the consumer the resources they need to enhance their ability to move forward on a real estate transaction. The result is a faster process, a happier consumer, a boost to the economy and job growth in many sectors.

John Reyes CEO of Social NetworX Inc. 909.917.5567


post & beam By Celeste Davie


estled in the historical Baldwin Hills area is a dinning scene that brings a lighter fare to Southern food. Post & Beam is a upscale restaurant that stands out in the neighborhood. The high fence surrounds the establishment to create a cozy secluded ambience. Once you step inside Post & Beam, you’re greeted by an organic dinning room and a rustic patio that comes complete with a kitchen garden. The restaurant sits adjacent to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The plaza is a central gathering place for the local community. The commitment to future investments will put this area on a Class-A status and provide a great dinning and shopping experience. Post & Beam was put together by celebrity Chef Govind Armstrong and restaurateur Brad Johnson. Their mission was to bring real food in a casual setting to the Baldwin Hills area. Together they assembled a unique social dining experience. Although Post & Beam is the new kid on the block, this top notch team is no stranger to the dining scene in Los Angeles. Former “Iron Chef” contestant Govind Armstrong found Hollywood success with Table 8 and 8 oz. Burger Bar. Brad Johnson has created memorable places since relocating to California from New York in 1989. Post & Beam is one of those must try places. Chef Govind has crafted a menu that will not disappoint you. My motto is to always try something new. I visited Post & Beam for lunch and was completely mesmerized by the chic decor. I decided to arrive early to avoid any crowds. I was greeted by the gracious hostess, who was ready to seat me at my table, but first I had to check out the garden on the patio. Talk about knowing where your food comes, the homegrown concept is great! You definitely know where your food is coming from, which is always a good thing. This led me to try


one of their fresh salads. I ordered the classic Caesar salad with focaccia croutons, which is my favorite salad to eat. I made the right choice because the fresh crisp salad was good. With that I also ordered the deviled egg sandwich, made with asiago, house smoked bacon, garlic roasted tomatoes. If you’re looking for comfort food, this is the sandwich to order. Don’t bother looking for fries! The healthy twist is that all their sandwiches come with a side order of baked kale chips. Other items on the menu include deviled eggs with house-smoked catfish, shrimp grits with beef bacon and roasted peppers, buttermilk fried natural chicken, long-cooked greens with ham hocks or black-eyed peas with sweet potato and bacon are both satisfying. For a lighter fare try one of Post & Beam’s hand stretched pies from the wood burning oven, such as a wild mushroom, goat cheese and black kale pizza. If your stopping by for happy hour, gather at the bar and enjoy something from the well-chosen wine list or sip on elegant bourbon cocktails. Before visiting Post & Beam, call for reservation because this eatery does get packed. Whenever you decided to visit, you will enjoy the great food and good vibes Post & Beam is located at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3767 Santa Rosalia Drive in Los Angeles, CA, 90008. 323.299.5599. Visit Post & Beam on facebook or online postandbeamla. com


The House of Mandela By Celeste Davie

The roots of the South African wine industry can be traced back to the Dutch East India Company that planted vineyards to produce wine and grapes to ward off scurvy amongst sailors during their voyages. Now, South Africa wine business is an influential economic sector in the Western and Northern provinces. The booming industry is producing great wines that are sold all over the world and it is manufacturing 3% of global wine production (number nine in the world). “The wine movement is growing. More people are experimenting with wine beyond spirit drinks. And there’s a large segment of the black community which is interested in wine now,” says Tukwini Mandela. Today, the Mandelas are building their own roots in the winemaking business. Nelson Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe and granddaughter Tukwini launched the House of Mandela Wines. They believe that their wine collection captures the soul and energy of South Africa. In the beginning, vinification wasn’t something that the Mandelas wanted to do. “The project started about 6 years informally. A friend of my brother wanted to do a quote on quote Mandela wine for a long time. He brought the idea to us and we weren’t to keen in the beginning. My mother and I said it wasn’t something that we were interested in doing. At that time we didn’t really know anything about wine or the wine industry.” After deciding to venture into the wine business, it was only natural that they would use the name


Mandela. “Subsequently we went and did our research into the wine industry and found out that South African wine is a billion dollar industry. Another interesting thing we found is that the way the vine grew was very similar to our family story. It doesn’t grow in a straight line, it sort of weaves and bops and eventually it produces this very fine fruit to make this great final product. We wanted to tell our family story for a very long time and perhaps this is a way we can do it. People ultimately know Nelson Mandela the politician and they forget that he has a family: he’s a father, grandfather, and an uncle. Our family story is sort of linked to wine and we thought we could use wine as a vehicle to tell our story. That’s when we decided to get involved in wine.” The House of Mandela wine bottles are embellished with an image of a bee. The bee symbolizes one of the supreme givers of life. The inspiration behind the family tree logo comes from their royal lineage. The wings of the bee represent the many branches of their family tree and Nelson Mandela and other ancestors are its roots. The Mandelas paid honor to those who gave birth to them and they continue to make the point that their ancestors should be celebrated.


When it comes to starting a business, it’s never an easy task. Like any other business, the mother and daughter team had to work hard and do their homework. “My mom and I didn’t want to take anything for granted. We didn’t want to take the fact that we had a name that was known worldwide for granted. We wanted to make sure that whatever we created, he quality was unquestionable. And to make sure that the project that we decided to get involved in had a lot of integrity. So we did our homework first before we even thought about launching the brand. We had the same challenges that anybody would have in terms of building a brand and in terms of building a business. That hard work is starting to pay off now.” The Mandelas employed a team of wine connoisseurs to help them select the wine farms (the South African term for wineries) that would cultivate their grapes. “We wanted to work with family owned wineries. We wanted to work with wineries that had good labor practices that treat their inquiries well. And we wanted wineries that preserved the soil for generations to come.” After the examinations of 70 producers, they appointed three wineries; the Hartenberg, Fairview, and Thelema. “Those wineries blend and bottle the wines for us and we are involved in the total winemaking process. We go and see the operation at the winery. We speak to the people who own the wineries and we look around and speak to the employees. We taste the wines to make sure they reflect our style and our story.” The House of Mandela collection includes red, white and sparkling wines. We have the Royal Reserve which are our premium wines. Within that we have a chardonnay, a shiraz, and a cabernet sauvignon. With the Thelema collection we have 3 reds and 3 whites. For the reds we have a shiraz, a pinotage, and a cabernet sauvignon. The pinotage is a unique South Africa grape that can only be found in South Africa. And with the whites we have a chardonnay, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, and a sparkling as well.” Prices for the Royal Reserve collection range from $48-$51 and

the Thembu collection ranges from $12.99-$15.99. In efforts to resolve education, health, culture and energy issues in South Africa. A percentage of the proceeds from the Thembu collection will directly benefit farm workers. There is a fair-trade premium that goes toward the worker’s salary and housing, and some of the workers have a stake in the wine farm itself, so whatever profits they make from selling their grapes or their wines goes back to the farm and the workers. “It’s always been something that we wanted to do. It’s been apart of who we are as a family. When we decided to get involved in the wine industry, we knew very well what South Africa wine history was and some of it wasn’t all together positive. So we wanted to give back to the wineries that helped us to create this wine. That’s why we choose the Thembu collection as fair-trade. There is a fair-trade premium that is paid on the wines and that premium goes back to the inquiries,” says Tukwini. South Africa still struggles with its unpleasant past. Nelson Mandela took endless risks during his fourdecade struggle against the racist policies of his nation’s minority-white government. His release from imprisonment was instrumental in lifting trade sanctions that had prevented South African wines from being imported to the United States. When the export trade opened, so did the wine industry. Hartenberg winemaker Patrick Ngamane is one of several black South Africans pursuing careers in wine. Having the opportunity to interview the Mandelas taught me a little bit about wine and the importance of heritage. If you want to enjoy a piece of the House of Mandela history, then you must try their fascinating wines. South African signature pinotage, a red wine grape, is a Mandela family favorite! You can learn more about the House of Mandela story and information on where to purchase their wines at the houseofmandela. com.



St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Picture this scenario. You’re on a tropical island lazing around on a white sandy beach, watching the turquoise blue Caribbean waters softly lapping at the shore line. You’re sipping an exotic cocktail while soaking up the sun. Oh and did I mention that you don’t need a passport to get to this tropical paradise? Well if you pictured yourself in St. Thomas, then you were spot on. Along with its two sibling’s islands, St. John and St. Croix, this captivating destination is an unincorporated territory of the United States. When exploring the island, you should rent a car (make sure you have a map) or hire a taxi. St. Thomas is mostly mountainous. It has 31 square miles and is the second largest island in the USVI. Remember to drive on the left side of the road and since most gas stations are on the more populated eastern end, fill up before going to the north side. There is plenty to do and see on this 13 miles long and 4 miles wide island. Many roads around St. Thomas offer spectacular views of the island and ocean. The highest point of St. Thomas is Mountain Top. On the observation deck, visitors


will enjoy panoramic views of St. John, the British Virgin Islands, and Magens Bay. The biggest draws to St. Thomas are their pristine beaches with crystal clear warm water. USVI has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You can charter a boat for a deep-sea fishing adventure, scuba dive at numerous crash sites, or rent jet ski and ride some waves. There are several beaches in St. Thomas to choose from. Magens Bay is St. Thomas’ most popular beach. This beautiful one mile stretch beach is an excellent for swimming, do to the calm water with no waves or current. The bay deepens gradually from shore making it perfect for small children. The water sports booth rents paddle boats and kayaks. Beach chairs, floats and snorkel sets are available at the concession. There are lifeguards on duty everyday. Coki Point is a veritably small beach that is located on the eastern end of the island. If you want to go snorkeling, this popular beach is a great spot. The fish will eat right out of your hands. There is a jet ski rental booth and a dive shop on site. Coki Beach is located right next to one of St.

By Celeste Davie

Thomas’s greatest attractions, Coral World Marine Park. Here vacationers can swim with sea lions, encounter turtles, sea trek along the ocean floor, feed the lorikeets, and much more. Other highlights include the Undersea Observatory Tower built 30 feet underwater and the Marine Gardens gallery of 21 aquariums. These beaches can get crowded on days when there are several cruise ships in port. While vacationing in St. Thomas, be sure to enjoy some time on land. Check out the attractions in the capital of the Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie. Visit Fort Christian, the oldest standing structure in the USVI. It has overlooked the Charlotte Amalie Harbor for more than 300 years and is an U.S. National Landmark status. At the east end of Charlotte Amalie is The Emancipation Garden that was built to commemorate the freeing of the slaves on July 3, 1848, ten years before Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. If you want a workout, climb the 99 Steps that leads to Blackbeard’s Castle, a U.S. national historic landmark.


The castle’s tower, built in 1679, was once used by the notorious pirate Edward Teach. St. Thomas is enriched with culture and history. The island gives credited to Christopher Columbus for discovering it on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. Since he wasn’t impressed by the island, he left it unattended. In 1671, the Danish West India Company took possession of St. Thomas and islands thereabouts. After slavery was abolished and the islands were poorly being managed by the Danes, The United States purchased St. Thomas (along with St. John and St. Croix) for $25 million in gold. Attractions in St. Thomas appeal to both those seeking adventure and those looking for peaceful relaxation. If you’re not into sightseeing try golfing. St. Thomas has amazing views on the Mahogany Run Golf Course. The course offers 18 challenging holes culminating in the spectacular “Devil’s Triangle,” the world renowned signature holes on the Atlantic Ocean. Love to shop? If so, then you should dive into the duty-free shopping on Main

Street in Charlotte Amalie. This city is the main area and sub district. Almost half of the islands residents live there. Charlotte Amalie is home to one of the best shopping plaza in the Caribbean. Some best buys are perfume, jewelry, electronics, liquor, china, and crystal (most stores offer shipping). You will also find local crafts, spices, hot sauces and other native products to choose from. Remember, there is no sales tax in the USVI, so take advantage of the $1,200 duty-free allowance per family member (save your receipts). In the evening you can indulge in a wonderful dinner while listening to live music. Several restaurants are located in Frenchtown and Charlotte Amalie. Those located along the hillsides above Charlotte Amalie offer sublime views of the harbor at night. St. Thomas’s cuisines are influenced by the various peoples who settled in the islands. They offer Caribbean, Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian and Mexican cuisine. You can dine at a different restaurant every day.

to compliment your vacation. They have everything from resorts, hotels, historic inns, guest houses, vacation homes, villas and condos rentals. If you’re looking for luxurious you can book a reservation at The RitzCarlton or Marriott Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Beach Resorts. These sophisticated accommodations with secluded beach offer complete health clubs, elegant spas, and spectacular swimming pools. If you are on a modest budget, check into Sapphire Village or Best Western Emerald Beach Resort. Whatever you decided, it’s your experience and you can customize it to your preferences. Whether you are re-discovering history, admiring panoramic views from the sky tram, playing a round of golf, swimming in the turquoise blue ocean, or dutyfree shopping, St. Thomas Virgin Islands has much to enjoy!

You will find an assortment of accommodations on St. Thomas


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TPIN January 2014  
TPIN January 2014