|May 20, 2012||Warm Your Life||no comments|
|May 14, 2012||Is Anybody Listening?||no comments|
|May 06, 2012||Mirror, Mirror||no comments|
|April 30, 2012||You Can Make New Music||no comments|
|April 26, 2012||Foreclosure Activity Trends Mixed in Metros, According to RealtyTrac||no comments|
|April 22, 2012||Qualities of Mind||no comments|
|April 20, 2012||Short Sales Up 33% in January, Outpace REO Sales in 12 States||no comments|
|April 18, 2012||Fannie and Freddie Set Timeline Requirements for Short Sales||1 comments|
|April 17, 2012||Utah will Follow California's Market||no comments|
|April 15, 2012||Hearing Old Words and Learning Anew||no comments|
“My mother sold real estate. They used to call her the “Condo Queen.” She loved it. She sold until she was 85 and then she had to quit because of health.”
- Glenn Earl
Warm Your Life
Thursday in the middle of the afternoon isn’t marked on my calendar as a time where I expect to receive some inspiration. But, it is as good of time as any, and since I can’t recall ever having received inspiration at that time before, it must mean that encouragement can arrive into one’s mind at any time and in any place. Sometimes it comes to us at the least expected time and place.
The key to knowing whether an inspiration or an experience will enhance your life is to measure how active or passive the encouragement becomes within your heart. If you receive a flash and you remain utterly passive about it then it has accomplished very little to change you. For instance, time spent thinking about the stimulation does little to move you forward if it is not followed up by action to make it a reality. After all, aren’t you looking to warm your life with a little more love, success, friendship and fulfillment?
What does this have to do with a Thursday afternoon? Well, I was in a foyer waiting to go into a meeting when the office manager asked me what I did for a living. I told her, “I sell real estate.” And, she like most people I meet said, “Oh, how is the market?”
We spend a few minutes talking about the real estate market when her husband said, “My mother sold real estate. They used to call her the ‘condo queen.’ She loved it. She sold until she was 85 and then she had to quit because of her health.” I listened to him and soon became enthralled with his stories of her.
As I listened, perhaps the one single valuable point I learned was that her life was all about building relationships, not expanding her contact manager. For most people this one single point is both the hardest to absorb and, at the same time, the most valuable clue to successful relationship building. We must be trying to build relationships with other humans, not seeking new people to use.
During this time when many of the people I come into contact with are discouraged by the fact that their portfolios have been wiped out; and, they don’t see a clear way to their dream of retirement any more. This point, as taught by Glenn’s mother can be a beacon of hope. Succeeding in genuine relationship building will eventually increase you income. Just as important, it will immediately start improving your entire life.
I’m sitting in my chair right now visualizing my future and wondering if I’d like to have a life surrounded by people I like and admire or if I’d rather have money to live a life of leisure alone. Would I like to spend time with people who are constantly helping me grow in life and joy? Would I like to be doing something I love? The answer is clear to me. I’d rather constantly warm my life by succeeding in genuine relationship building. If you’d like to improve and warm your entire life, build heartfelt relationships with other human beings by adding value to them through constructive interaction. It will take you places you never dreamed!
“I told you before and nobody would listen to me.”
“I keep telling him I need his help and he won’t do anything about it.”
- Two Different Friends
Is Anybody Listening?
I was looking across the table at a close friend telling me about the challenges he was facing in his work. Then the next day I was standing outside a building listening to another friend, and Client, say, “I told you before and nobody would listen to me!”
I can still hear their voices and I can still see their faces. I feel the genuine dissatisfaction rolling from their bodies on its way to cover me in the same way I’ve seen fog engulf the Golden Gate Bridge. Their discouragement is a cold damper to my peace of mind. I didn’t know what to say to them at the time. I sat speechless, helpless and ineffective.
So, I’ve thought a lot about each instance and have been searching the experience trails throughout my mind in an effort to give each one of them a sure fire method of solving the issue. I was hoping for the discovery of a formula that has worked for me in the past. But, I haven’t thought of one!
Now I think there’s a reason I haven’t been able to find one simple formula. Perhaps it’s because every situation and the dynamic between singular people is different. Trying to force what someone else is going through into the prism of one’s own experience can be a mistake. In fact, it can compound the situation and can even make it worse. It can signal to another person that there is no effort being given to understanding their point of view.
Another wise friend of mine said, “Why do you want to spend your time walking the same trail over and over again when you know it won’t take you where you want to go?” Relying on our past’s personal experience too much can lead all of us into the same unwinnable trap!
It’s important to actively listen to others in order to stay out of this trap. What I mean by actively listening is: ask questions until you can feel as if you’re looking through the other person’s eyes. Really work to make sure you hear exactly what they’re meaning is. I find myself jumping to conclusions too quickly and too often.
So, I’ve set up a little frustration signal for myself; whenever I look into another person’s eyes and begin to see the fog of frustration beginning to flow from the center of their iris, I know I need to just take a deep breath and stop. Then I take the conversation back one step and ask them to “tell me again because I don’t think I got it all,” and sure enough, I didn’t! Slowing the conversation for clarification is lot better than having them take me by the throat while shouting, “Is anybody listening?” as they scramble my brain!
If you and I can adjust our listening skills just a little bit we can improve our relationships with countless numbers of people. We’ll have more close friends and best of all; we’ll have other people willing to listen to us when we need to be listened to.
“When my grandpa would see me he would say, ‘Megan, where’s your curly hair! I love your curly hair!”
I looked in my mirror over and over again for about a full week and when I did, the first thought that came to my mind was, “you need a hair cut!” I’ve tried lots of ways to keep to a good schedule for keeping what’s left of my hair trimmed up on a regular basis, but nothing has worked very well so far. Thank goodness for a good mirror. Sometimes it’s the only thing that allows me to see what I’ve become. I took one last look and then turned my mind to the day ahead. I realized that I had a couple of meetings very close to the barbershop I usually go to, so I vowed to take the time to drop in and make myself look a little more presentable; better in my mirror.
When I finished the two meetings on my early schedule I drove the two blocks to the barbershop and walked in. I was greeted by a young woman with a smiling face and long, curly brown hair. Her name is Megan. She invited me to sit in her chair and then she began to talk with me about what I wanted to have done. It just goes to show that there are people who are a great deal more creative than I am because I can’t imagine taking time to think about how to make my hair a lot different than it is. I replied to her question with my simple, reliable answer, “Just trim it up so it looks as good as it can.” I said. (The whole time thinking that since at least 25% of my hair is plucked away to the wind that I should be getting a discount for the lessened work involved. Silly notion! I should be paying her 25% more because she has to work so hard at making my depleting mop look great.) “Enough thought about such a depressing notion! I should change the subject to something more pleasing,” I said to myself.
I looked in the big mirror in front of me and saw Megan’s long wavy hair and said, “Does your hair naturally curl that way?”
“Yes.” She said.
“I love naturally curly hair.” I responded.
“I love it now,” she said. “When I was younger, and didn’t know how to style it I really hated it. I learned to straighten it and then spent all my time working to make it straight. When my grandpa would see me he would say, ‘Megan, where’s your curly hair! I love your curly hair! When I was a boy we always drew evil witches with straight hair!’ Then he would get out his pencil and show me how he had drawn witches with straight black hair as a boy.”
She took a quick glance through the mirror and looked straight into my eyes. I looked back and searched her eyes for the meaning expressed, beyond her words. What I saw there is so important!
Her grandpa was telling her over and over again that he loved her for who she naturally was. He knew that if she rejected her true self that she would eventually become dark inside and then unattractive on the outside as her belief would escape her skin to be revealed to everyone. She felt the love in his words and even though he is not with her any more, her undying memory of his love will always brighten her heart. His effect on her life is immeasurable.
You can have the same immeasurable effect on people around you! When you see someone who has not accepted something beautiful about themselves, take a moment to express your admiration for their beauty, intelligence, talent or whatever you see that they’re not seeing at that moment. Sometimes our mirrors don’t reflect ourselves as “the fairest of them all!” That’s when you can become a “mirror, mirror” to show a different reflection; a brighter, clearer expression that they’ll always remember and treasure deep within their heart.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin
You Can Make New Music
When I was a young boy my parents enrolled me in lessons so I could learn to play the piano. I practiced a little, but I wasn’t committed to the result of being a competent pianist. I don’t remember how long I took the lessons, but I remember I was thrilled when my teacher told me she was no longer going to be teaching lessons. It seems as if her husband was fine with her teaching students that played well. But, his opinion differed when she taught students such as me. He couldn’t stand another day of listening to her worst students plunk away at his expense. In reality my lack of commitment and skill was at my own expense. I put off learning an important lesson. The real lesson I was supposed to be learning was that I could improve myself through learning, understanding and practice.
Many years later, I had children of my own and wanted them to learn to play the piano. I enrolled them in piano lessons. They didn’t enjoy it much and they didn’t like to practice. I saw so much of myself in them that I looked on it as an opportunity to make up for my own deficiencies by taking lessons along with them. It gave me motivation to learn and practice hard!
I was seated at my piano in my home one night practicing “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain.” I played it over and over again trying to make my fingers make movements to create music. I went over it time after time so I could make it perfect. After some time, my wife came around the corner and said, “How many more times will she be coming round the mountain?” I had finally learned one of life’s most important lessons! Practice is how new material becomes part of you. It is how we become a better, changed person.
Now after all these years I’ve found that this lesson continues to apply in almost every area of my life. I’ve known for a long time that I needed to develop some new work habits so I could improve my performance. I finally got the internal courage to make a commitment to change and began to move forward. It hasn’t been easy because it’s hard to make permanent changes over night. I’ve failed a lot.
The first time I failed, I felt discouraged and began to lose my faith. As I thought about it more and more I began to hear music in my head. It went something like this: “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes, she’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes! I have a lot more practicing to do before the change becomes part of me and the new music comes from the inside. But, I know with continued practice it will all come together.
It can all come together for you too. If you have some things you’re working on so you can change your life, just remember these same three steps; learn, understand and practice. If you give it a try it won’t be long till she’ll be comin’ round the mountain for you too!
While 114 out of 212 metropolitan areas with a population of 200,000 or more saw increases in foreclosure activity during the 2012 first quarter, activity was still down compared to the same quarter a year ago, according to RealtyTrac’s 2012 first quarter Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report.
Last year, 135 out of 212 metros areas saw increases in foreclosure activity in the first quarter.
“First quarter metro foreclosure trends were a mixed bag,” said Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac. “While the majority of metro areas continued to show foreclosure activity down from a year ago, more than half reported increasing foreclosure activity from the previous quarter – an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets.”
Michelle Schneider, a public relations consultant for RealtyTrac, further explained increases in activity are mostly due to the backlog of two main types of distressed loans pushing their way through: loans that are 90 days or more delinquent that are moving into foreclosure and properties in foreclosure that are getting auctioned off or foreclosed on.
“There is little doubt that Happiness circuits are highly suggestible, and that they are transformable through intention and effort. They are among the most plastic circuits in the brain.”
I was talking with a friend regarding his children the other day. He was lamenting the verity that they were unhappy and lacked motivation in every aspect of their lives. One, a daughter, had all but given up her life and had returned to their nest rarely choosing to leave her small bedroom.
When I say she had given up her life, I mean that she had given up almost all the good that had existed in it. She had received a good education and had excelled in her classes, she had great friends, upon graduation she received a good job and she also enjoyed good health. In fact, if one looked at her life from the outside, it was almost impossible to conclude anything except that she was the recipient of great happiness. But, a closer look would have revealed a different conclusion.
She is lacking, as so many of us are, life skills such as regulating negative emotions, cultivating positive ones, and building and maintaining healthy personal relationships . Such skills correlate more closely with happiness and life success than any standard measure of academic or financial performance. A person’s capacity to cooperate, ability to regulate personal emotions, and capacity to focus attention on such skills is far more important for life success than one’s IQ or grades. Miriam Boleyn-Fitzgerald calls these attributes, “qualities of mind.”
Sadly, I find these qualities to be missing in my own life from time to time. When this is the case I begin to feel lost, alone and hopeless. So, I have begun to wonder if critical traits such as compassion and empathy are trainable and if I could change my life through practice; if so, it would have transformative implications for how I prepare myself and my loved-ones for the long emotional road ahead.
In searching my mind for the answer, I was reminded of the story of Mingyur Rinpoche, the author of “The Joy of Living.” As a young child he was hardly happy. From the time he was seven or eight until he was thirteen, he experienced severe panic attacks, despite growing up in a loving family and nurturing spiritual community. He believes that if he had lived in a Western society, he probably would have been diagnosed with a childhood panic disorder.
An emotional shift for him came as a young teenager during a three-year meditation retreat. At first his panic got worse, and he found himself caught in one debilitating anxiety attack after another. He describes that first year on retreat as one of the worst of his life. He became so deeply unhappy, he says, that he “really decided to apply mediation training.” At one point he confronted his panic alone in his room for several days, using it as a support for his meditation. After an intensive period of applying what he had learned from his teachers, to relate to his powerful emotions not as his “enemy” or his “boss,” as he puts it, but as his friend, the panic was gone. Since that time, he has not experienced another attack.
His story has given me renewed hope; we can train ourselves to live happily by practicing life changing qualities of mind such as compassion, empathy, kindness, gratitude, and capacity for love. We can be happier and more successful by transforming ourselves through intention and effort; becoming increasingly aware that the cultivation of positive emotions is vital to draw a map of personal happiness free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
RealtyTrac: Short Sales Up 33% in January, Outpace REO Sales in 12 States
04/19/2012 By: Esther Cho
With the number of short sales increasing and even outnumbering REO sales in certain states, experts are speculating short sales might become key to preventing an even greater swelling of foreclosed properties on the market.
Compared to a year ago in January 2012, pre-foreclosure sales, which are typically short sales, increased 33 percent, according to a RealtyTrac report released Thursday.
Short sales even outpaced bank-owned REO sales in 12 states, including Utah, California, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Colorado, New York and New Jersey.
Also, 32 states saw annual increases in pre-foreclosure sales, with the top five being Georgia (+113 percent), Michigan (+90 percent), Wisconsin (+77 percent), South Carolina (+76 percent) and Utah (+70 percent).
Despite the increase, Daren Blomquist, VP of RealtyTrac and author of the report, points out that short sales have declined on a long-term basis, but January’s report could signal a turning point.
“Short sales have long held great promise as a market-based solution to the nation’s foreclosure problem, but short sales transactions over the past three years have actually declined after peaking in the first quarter of 2009,” said Blomquist. “January foreclosure sales numbers, along with first quarter foreclosure activity, strongly indicate that downward trend is ending, and we believe 2012 could be a record year for short sales.”
Average pre-foreclosure prices saw a decline, according to the report, with the average sales price in January at $174,120, down 10 percent from January 2011. This, RealtyTrac stated, shows that lenders are more willing to approve more aggressively priced short sales.
In January, a home sold via short sale sold at a 21 percent discount on average compared to the average price of a home not in foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac.
The five states with the biggest discounts were Massachusetts (40.86 percent), Missouri (35.5 percent) California (29.93), Indiana (29.82), and Georgia (29.31).
The five metropolitan areas with the greatest discounts were Kansas City (56.53 percent), Louisville/Jefferson County (44.25 percent), Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis (43.64 percent), Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (41.57 percent), and Indianapolis-Carmel (37.26 percent).
The time it took to approve of a short sale was a bit lower for the 2012 first quarter, averaging 306 days, down from 308 days in the fourth quarter of 2011 and down from a peak of 318 days in the third quarter of 2011. The short sale timeline begins when a property starts the foreclosure process to when it’s sold as a pre-foreclosure.
However, the average time to sell a pre-foreclosure has actually tripled since the first quarter of 2007, when it took an average of 113 days.
There’s nothing short about short sales. If you can survive that process and make that happen it’s going to be a better outcome for everyone, said RealtyTrac VP Charlie Engel during a broadcast hosted by the Charfen Institute for Certified Distressed Property Experts.
Recently, Bank of America and GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced efforts to streamline the short sale process. BofA’s change requires a decision on a short sale in less than 3 weeks.
Starting in June, the GSEs are requiring servicers to make a decision on a short sale within 30 days of receiving an offer or an application package from a borrower; if more time is needed, a servicer must provide the borrower with a weekly update and come to a decision no later than 60 days.
With foreclosure starts – either default notices or scheduled foreclosure auctions – numbering more than 100,000 in March, this means more opportunities for short sales, according to the report.
Compared to the month before, March foreclosure starts increased 7 percent, but were down 11 percent from a year ago. When looking at individual states, 31 posted monthly gains in foreclosure starts in March.
Other properties with potential to become short sales are delinquent loans, which represented approximately 3.5 million properties, according to a fourth quarter 2011 survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
RealtyTrac is an online marketplace of foreclosure properties, with more than 1.3 million default, auction and bank-owned listings from over 2,200 U.S. counties, along with detailed property, loan and home sales data.
Fannie and Freddie Set Timeline Requirements for Short SalesFannie Mae and Freddie Macshould expect to receive a decision on a short sale offer within 30-60 days.
The GSEs issued new guidelines Tuesday that fall under the Servicing Alignment Initiative rolled out last fall and aim to bring greater transparency to the short sale process and expedite decisions related to these pre-foreclosure sales.
Not only is a short sale an effective foreclosure alternative when home retention is no longer an option, but it keeps homes occupied and helps to maintain stable communities, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
Addressing real estate practitioners’ No. 1 complaint about short sales, FHFA directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to establish a new uniform set of minimum response times that servicers must follow in order to facilitate more efficient short sale transactions.
The GSEs’ new short sale timelines require servicers to make a decision within 30 days of receiving either an offer on a property under the companies’ traditional short sale programs or a completed Borrower Response Package (BRP) requesting short sale consideration, whether it’s through the federal government’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) program or a GSE program.
If more than 30 days are needed, servicers must provide the borrower with weekly status updates and come to a decision no later than 60 days from the date the BRP or offer was received.
According to the GSEs, this 30-day add-on will provide some leeway for servicers who may need more time to obtain a broker price opinion (BPO) or a private mortgage insurer’s approval for a short sale. All decisions must be made within 60 days.
In the event a servicer makes a counteroffer, the borrower is expected to respond within five business days. The servicer must then respond within 10 business days of receiving the borrower’s response.
The GSEs plan to use the new short sale timelines to evaluate servicer compliance with the Servicing Alignment Initiative.
Edward DeMarco, acting director of the FHFA, says the GSEs new borrower communication and timeline requirements for short sales “set minimum standards and provide clear expectations regarding these important foreclosure alternatives.”
GSE servicers must comply with the new minimum communication time frames for all short sale evaluations conducted on or after June 15, 2012, although servicers are encouraged to begin implementing the new requirements sooner.
“I applaud Fannie and Freddie for finally coming out with real guidance with real world timelines for their servicers,” commented Anthony Lamacchia, broker/owner of McGeough Lamacchia Realty Inc., which specializes in short sales. “There is no question that this will help short sales and the market as a whole.”
Last year Freddie Mac completed 45,623 short sales, a 140 percent increase since 2009. Fannie Mae’s short sale completions shot up by 101 percent over the same period, totaling around 79,800 in 2011.
You may ask why would Lynn post this article regarding California Housing? My experience is that the Utah market follows the California market in a matter of months. We are already seeing this trend in Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele Counties. If you have been waiting for the bottom of the market my guess is that this is it. You had better get moving on your new home today!
California Home Prices Going Up, Inventory Down, C.A.R. Reports
After 16 months of year-over-year declines, median home prices in California posted a gain, according to the California Association of Realtors.).
The median price of a single-family home for March 2012 was $291,080, a 1.6 percent increase compared to a revised $286,550 for March 2011, and a 9.2 percent increase compared to February’s median price of $266,660. The month-over-month increase was the largest since March 2004.
When breaking up prices by specific regions, the San Francisco Bay area was an exception, seeing a year-over-year decrease of 1.6 percent, but a 9.1 percent month-over-month increase.
“In areas, such as Los Angeles and Riverside counties, where the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) wants to implement the REO bulk sale pilot program, inventory is running at levels well below the long-run average,” said C.A.R.
VP and chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “These low inventory levels demonstrate that the pilot program is not necessary in California.”
The pilot program involves the sale of government-owned REOs in bulk to institutional investors who will convert them into rental properties. According to C.A.R., in California, the program would call for the sale of more than 600 Fannie Mae-owned foreclosed homes in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.
Recently, 19 California congressmen sent a letter to Edward DeMarco, acting director of FHFA, asking him to make California an exception to the program.
C.A.R. reported that California’s housing inventory declined, with the Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family homes down to 4.1 months in March, compared to a revised 5.4 months in February and a 5.4 month supply in March 2011.
Los Angeles county had a 4.3 month supply, and Riverside county had an even lower number, with 3.8 months of inventory.
San Mateo and Santa Clara counties had notably low inventories as well, at 2.4 and 2.5 months, respectively.
Not only is California’s housing inventory down, but according to C.A.R., it takes less days to sell a home there, with the time it took to sell a single-family home dropping to 53.1 days in March 2012, compared to 58.9 days in February and 57 days for March 2011.
“Did you learn something this morning?”
Hearing Words and Learning Anew
Bonita asked me if I learned something last Thursday morning. I said no, but then stopped and said, “I need to think about it for a while.” This is the perfect example of how I’m just beginning to learn from, and be always amazed, at the difference between hearing something new and learning something. I used to think they’re the same; but they’re not! Since I discovered the difference between the two, I've learned to take some time to think about what other people say before simply giving a flat "no" when asked if I learned something. So rather than giving Bonita a flat “no” I spent time over the past few days rehearsing the presented words through my thoughts and as a result, have discovered at least two important things as a direct result of the seminar we attended.
First, the thing I love about being involved with Special Olympics is that it provides me with an active role to fulfill one of my core personal values and desires. It allows me an avenue to stand up and be an advocate voice for others that don't have the ability to be a strong voice for themselves. Helping other people gives my life significance. Volunteering with nonprofit organizations such as Special Olympics Utah allows me to work with like minded people on behalf of others who may need some protection from predators and a hand up to become their best selves. Aren't we all in a race to become the best people we can become before our time on life's stage comes to a quick end?
Second, I have known for some time that having fun is an important aspect of life. But, I have the type of personality that drives me to work hard constantly. It's almost an unquenchable thirst to work until I drop. Too bad for me and others like me! The presenter on this particular morning offered me the chance to live a better, more fulfilling life by demonstrating that at least as much, if not more, can be accomplished by breaking the shackles of being a drone-like-work –statue, to drink deeply from the fountain of friendship by having fun while enhancing relationships. This is a trait I am thinking about more and more as I age and ponder what has meaning in my life. Because of her words, I’m now motivated to spend more time internally so as to seek the fun person I know is hiding in there. I'm excited to give the world a chance to meet that person soon.
No, I didn’t hear anything new during this terrific seminar, but I'm glad I went so I could once again discover that hearing old words can be an important catalyst to learn new things. I may have allowed this opportunity to pass me by if my friend Bonita hadn’t prompted me with one of the best questions ever asked me; “Did you learn anything new this morning?” I'm real glad to have her as a friend and wanted you to know how much I admire her. Thanks so much for being part of my life and for making a difference in it! Let’s all go out and make a difference in the lives of others today.
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