Elections are Serious Business

“To vote or not to vote is not the question…VOTE!” 




This year’s election date is Tuesday, November 5th. Every year a few weeks before the election, some friends gather in the house of Ahuva and Emanuel Jolish. Emanuel is retired and he loves San Francisco. He is a guide and is interested in the local politics, attends meetings, convenes with those who run for various offices, and helps those of us who are busy with our lives to understand what is really going on.

On our get togethers, we exchange views and opinions. This helps us make educated decisions for whom to vote for, and which issues to support. What is interesting is that Jolish’s family (like in many other families), spouses and growing children might have opposing views. I guess this is what democracy is all about.

The newspapers print  opinions on whom to support. Some have similar views, some differ. This year, the SF Chronicle and Examiner are on opposing sides. And then of course, there are flyers in which, like in any election, each side is claiming that the other is wrong.


What is unusual this year is that those who run for all three major positions are not opposed. It seems no one else wants to deal with our city’s dirty laundry. When it comes to the measures, all four of them could be resolved internally among the supervisors, and not brought up to the ballots. One of the participants in our group pointed this out and as a protest, thought to vote “no” on all of them. During the discussion, she’d change her mind and instead decided to abstain from marking the ballot.

There are two propositions B and C, which deal with the same subject: at what height can a particular new building be built. (For more information, please see some articles in the SF Chronicle fromyesterday and today.) This is a very good example of the dirty politics. There are so many high-rises that are built in San Francisco. When we drive on Van Ness, I notice a very tall new building which is literally growing up from the old one.In my view, it is a very ugly addition, and blocks the view on the hills. The decision to build this one was not brought up to the ballot, and like other decisions about buildings, it should be decided by the competent professionals.Though this brings to mind our national politics — are there competent professionals, or just attorneys/politicians as in San Francisco?



I love San Francisco. Every time when we come back from trips, we are coming home. I want my home to stay beautiful. The city is changing all the time. I remember when the Embarcadero freeway was about to come down, many protested the demolition. In my office, I have posters showing the barren hills in 1847 of the area that used to be called “Yerba Buena”—one hundred years before my birth.  Over the next 160 years, a lot of people contributed to what became San Francisco.

By voting, you are contributing. Please do it.

Meanwhile, enjoy some of my visions of our great city.

Do not keep me as a secret.


Today’s Market Special

What’s New for Wednesday?


*The interest rate is fixed for 30 years and the credit score is a minimum of 620. Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

Jane used to be self-employed. She recently found a great new job with a very good salary and felt she was ready to buy a new home. She had owned one in the past, but sold it without recouping her down payment. 

The problem was that she had very little left in her savings account. Fortunately years ago, she served in the Army and could use her certificate of eligibility to buy a home without any down payment by getting a VA loan. Those loans can be used for the refinance as well. 

Whom do you know who is a veteran?

Do not keep me as a secret.


Why Some Banks Can, While Others Cannot

“In a small bank, they want to know your name.
In a big bank, they want to know how much money you have.” 


Two weeks ago in my writing about the government shutdown, I made a reference to an article in the SF Chronicle.  One of the issues that the article brought up was that Wells Fargo needed the 4506T form to close mortgages; while, Citibank claimed that they did not need it. This little detail had become a huge issue in the mortgage industry during the shutdown. The 4506T is one of the forms that borrowers sign when they apply for a mortgage. This form authorizes lenders to request a copy of the borrowers’ tax returns from the IRS, to confirm that the 1040 on file has the correct information.

Because the IRS was closed during the government shut down, it literally stopped the process of loan approvals, or funding, since mortgages cannot be sold to the government owned Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and VA without confirmation from the IRS. It is unimaginable what effect this has on everything related to the real estate industry.


The reason that Citibank claimed that they did not require the form is because they offer portfolio loans (i.e. adjustable loans fixed for 3, 5, 7, or 10 years and NOT 30 or 15 year fixed loans), which are sold to the government owned agencies. The shutdown clearly marked the dramatic line in the banking industry, which started after the meltdown when the government had chosen to save Banks too big to fail, which as a result became even bigger. Those banks do not need to finance mortgages to generate profits anymore. They only offer mortgages to attract more depositors with their interest free money.

But the shift has already started. There are a number of articles like the one in the Wall Street Journal on September 3rd—“At Small Banks, Loans Rising Faster” and in the latest Consumer Reports magazine with the provocative article titled—“Dump Your Big Bank and Save”.

I am a strong proponent of smaller community and regional banks. We bank at the First National Bank of Northern California. After years of working with Wells Fargo and giving them millions over the years, they cut our business line of credit at a critical moment of our business. I refer my clients to Comerica Bank, where Leanne Gueco offers excellent service and good interest rates for lines of credit.

Though Government regulators come up with more and more consumer protection measures which affect the ability to secure the mortgage, it seems that somehow we always find solutions. We do work with a number of lenders who offer loans without the need for a 4506T form, and many other creative solutions, which I write about in my weekly “Today’s Special”.



I used the images of the animals to bring smiles to your faces while I am writing about such a boring subject. Although big Banks earn enormous profits on Wall Street and do not care very much about you and me, the small banks are still very vulnerable. Most of the mortgage industry is blinded by the government regulations and is grateful for whatever food (mortgages) we can generate through government owned agencies. And I, with my little voice, try to bring you good news and joy when your mortgage is funded.

Do not keep me as a secret.


Today’s Market Special

What’s New for Wednesday?


* Loan is amortized over 30 years. Interest rate is fixed for 5 years. Credit score is 720. (Credit score can be as low as 660 with an increase in closing costs.) Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

John and Kim had a loan fixed for 5 years at the interest rate of 4.125% since 2011. John called me six months ago, since he wanted to buy another property. When we ran his credit report, we discovered that his credit score dropped to 625 because of some mix-up in payments. I referred him to a person who helps restore credit scores.

When we ran his credit again six months later, his score went up to 767. At the same time, I checked interest rates and we could refinance his $1,350,000 loan to 3.00%, lower his monthly payments by $851, and extended the loan life for 5 years without any out of pocket closing costs, and with no prepayment penalty. In addition, I was able to secure a line of credit for them of $50,000.

Do not keep me as a secret.


Today’s Market Special

 What’s New for Thursday?



* Based on a loan amount up to $417,000 for the owner occupied single-family residence with a 15/15 term. Interest rates are subject to change without notice and does not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.


Mr. Cramer needed a pre-approval letter. He was selling a single family home in San Francisco that he owned together with his sister. The proceeds would go to buy a four unit building in the North Bay.

He and his wife own their home with $250,000 balance of the mortgage of 4.00% and 28 years left to pay it off. He is 69 years young and recently retired. His wife is younger.

After checking interest rates and realizing that conforming loans (up to $417,000) dropped to 3.25% for 15 years amortized loans, I asked him if it would make sense to pay off their current balance 14 years sooner?

It did.

He wanted to be sure that by the time he is gone, his wife will have a smaller mortgage or not at all. Their payments are increasing, but would be offset by the extra rent on the new rental property.

Whom do you know who needs to lower their interest rate?

Do not keep me as a secret.


It’s The Economy, Stupid


“To complain and to blame is easy.
To know and to do requires effort.” 




“It’s the economy, stupid.”, was one of three messages campaign strategist,James Carville coined in Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 Presidential campaign. The other two messages were, “Change vs. more of the same” and “Don’t forget healthcare.”

As the wise King Solomon reminded us—“There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:4-11). 


“It’s the economy, stupid” was my response to a question my friend and client asked, “Would the actions of those damn Republicans help lower the interest rates?”

He missed the last refinancing wave, procrastinating in providing us with the necessary documents. This time, he would not mind if it would be the actions of the Republicans, with whom he obviously was not in agreement with, to help the interest rates go down again.

I really hope so too, since it would help millions of borrowers lower their monthly payments, whose property values increased during the last year (and it would help us pay off debts accrued from the previous economy slow down).


Paying off debts brings to mind one of the main reasons that caused the current economic/political conflict between the two parties. It was very well explained in the SF Chronicle article, “Does the national debt slow job creation?”, by Matthew Philips.

A comparison is made with a family (some economists do not agree with this analogy). If the family’s expenses are too high, there are a number of solutions: to cut down on spending, or to get another credit card. What would you do? Democrats want to keep all of those agencies, not producing, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who create a lot headache in the mortgage industry, while Republicans want to agree on cuts first. (Just a reminder, government expenses are paid by an increase in taxes).


The second issue is Obamacare, also known as The Affordable Care Act. It was interesting to read Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s response, which appeared in the October 13th SF Chronicle supplement Parade. He applauds the Affordable Care Act, calling it “an important step.” But he cautions that offering most Americans access to insurance is not a cure-all. “If you don’t make America healthier, you’re not going to control costs,” he says. “And ultimately that’s what we have to do.”


It seems, the core of the problem is our habits—either our eating, or government spending, and how to control them. In the end, it all boils down to what is the best solution for people, and who can answer this question without ifs and buts.



On our visit to Florence, we saw a lot of beautiful architecture, and art collections accumulated by the Medici family, who were bankers and business people and ruled Florence between the 13th and 15th century. Nowadays, Florence is a tourist destination. While there are many architectural marvels around, I wanted to show you how people today blend into the old beauty. 

Do not keep me as a secret.


How To See The Good

“Good is in your heart. Connect with it and you will see beauty.” 


A new yearly cycle of reading the Torah started on Saturday, September 28th. Five books of Moses are divided into 54 chapters, which are read every Shabbat in the synagogues around the world. The Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle. To adapt to the days we use from the Gregorian calendar (1582) in certain weeks, some chapters are combined. Every morning, I read the chapter of the day as an inspiration and a reminder, and I would like to share some of my observations with you.

The first book and the first chapter in English are called, “Genesis”, and as you probably know, describe the story of creation of the world. Among us, there are those who take the story literally. Some believe that the narrative is the product of human imagination, while others claim that there is no God and no story.


I personally believe that there are the sources of creation and sustaining of the life beyond our comprehension—this is what some of us call God. The Torah is not a history book and presents its narrative often in an allegorical form. For example, six days of creation is an evolutionary process, which scientists have calculated took place over 15 billion years ago. But what is remarkable for us readers, is how this complicated process is described in the Torah:

“In the beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the earth—when the earth was astonishingly empty with darkness upon the surface of the deep, and the Divine Presence hovered upon the surface of the waters—God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated between the light and the darkness.”—Genesis 1/1-5

Upon completion of each daily task:

 “God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”—Genesis 1/26-27

The question comes to mind, how it is possible to see good! After all, as we know, good is a relative term (Good vs. Bad).


Perhaps what the Torah calls “good”, refers to our definition of beauty, and in “God’s eyes” good is equivalent to beauty. Then there is a question—how do we feel good? Usually we say that it feels good in the heart. 

On my trip to Cuba in February, I met a very good Cuban photographer, José Martí. He taught me a valuable lesson. To create beautiful images, the photographer needs to see an object, not only with the eyes, but to connect with the heart.

This also relates to the mortgage business. To enable me to see a good plan of action for my clients’ needs, I need to connect with them heart to heart. That is when good solutions often come and I can “see” them.


At the same time, I wonder if God would see what our government is creating in the mortgage business as good? Just read “Shutdown Trips up Mortgage Lending” (in The San Francisco Chronicle), to get a sense of how we are all interconnected.


We traveled to Venice to see the La Biennale di Venezia Art Show, which has taken place there every other year for over 100 years. Venice is beautiful and incredibly crowded with tourists. It was our first stop on our trip to Italy—details of which I will share with you later. Meanwhile, see how good and beautiful it is.

In a separate email, I am going to send you from time to time—“Today’s Specials” about beneficial mortgage news.

Do not keep me as a secret.


How to Stay in Traffic and Enjoy Life


“While traveling life’s journey, choose the road less traveled, keep your eyes open, and record your experience.” 


I was taking my daughter Tamar to the airport. We left a little bit late and Tamar was nervous. I was considering between either Highway 280 or 101. It was a little past 9am, so I reasoned that the traffic on the 101, which is shorter in distance, would be okay.

When we got on the ramp, we saw that the road was a sea of slowly moving cars. Since there was no way to turn back, I made the only decision I could—“To stay in the traffic and enjoy life”. The traffic turned out to be because of a small accident up ahead. Meanwhile, the damaged vehicle, the tow truck, and the police car were on the other side of the road. Drivers were slowing down and did what Tamar said in LA is called “rubber-necking”. After that, traffic gained speed and we got to the airport on time.


Looking back on my life and reflecting on the times when I was late to something, I realized that I actually do not remember missing anything. Once when we just arrived to the United States, I was driving in heavy rain to a job interview for a property manager position. I could not get there on time and as a result, I did not become a property manager. I was not late to my next appointment and became a mortgage broker instead.


Too often we are afraid that life will happen without us—that we will miss something. As a result, our reaction is to become tense, nervous, and upset. And then when everything is okay and things turn out the way they are supposed to be in the first place, we promptly forget about our upset just to face another one later on.


As I’ve described in my first book, “The Mortgage Game”, every tense situation in a mortgage transaction is eventually resolved.

During the transaction, borrowers have a choice to get upset because of “something, or someone that is doing something to us”, or to simply enjoy life with the knowledge that “this” too shall pass—as it has many times before.
What is left though is the story, which you can tell anyone (who would listen), with some exciting details. Or if you need more stories, you can read them in my books. The latest one, “Mortgage Solutions for Smart People: 5 Easy Ways to Get Your Loan Approved”, is in its final stages of production and will be available shortly.



Traveling on vacation, as much as it is enjoyable, is a hard work.  Last night, we returned from a trip to Italy, and I am glad to be home and will relax at work. My first batch of images from our trip are from Lake Como, where we stayed on the last leg of our trip, after 4 days in Venice and a week in Florence. I will share more details and photos of our trip in the next Good News.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile I need to focus on serving new clients, and your help is greatly appreciated.

Do not keep me as a secret.