How to Celebrate the Chinese New Year

 “In the cycles of nature and life, the end of one cycle signifies the beginning of another.” 


For 20 years, I’ve been going to Dr. Angela Wu’s clinic for acupuncture, cupping and other treatments. The first time I went to her 20 years ago, she was able to help me with my asthma symptoms, by strengthening my immune system. Now, I see her quarterly for preventative measures. She keeps me from getting sick, and saves me a lot of money. I leave her clinic with a dose of herbs, which I take three times a day, and follow her recommendations religiously. On my most recent visit this week, I also received instructions on how to start the first day (Friday) of the Chinese New Year


According to the Chinese Zodiac, it is going to be the “Year of the Horse”. Like the Jewish calendar, the Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar. According to a legend, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on the Chinese New Year. Twelve came and Buddha named a year after each one. It is believed that those who are born on the year represented by a specific animal adapt its characteristics. Thus, those born on the year of the horse are thought to be cheerful, have money, are perceptive, witty, talented, and good with their hands.

Many famous people were born in the Year of The Horse. I was born in the year of the Pig and was very curious to find out the description of my personality. According to this site, those born in the year of the pig, are honest, straightforward, and patient people. The other qualities are close to the way I perceive myself. Have fun! Google your profile.


San Francisco has a very strong historical connection with China. According to Wikipedia, Chinese Americans in San Francisco represent 21.4%. Chinese New Year—also known as the Spring Festival (look at the beauty of the blooming trees), lasts for 15 days and includes many different kinds of celebrations and traditions. One of them is gifting red envelopes with money. They represent luck, happiness, and prosperity in the New Year for the receiver.



In 2012, we were invited to an office party of our mortgage bank in Downtown, San Francisco to celebrate the Chinese New Year. We somehow managed to park our car and had to push ourselves through the crowd, which was waiting for the parade to start. Luckily, I was able to catch some images. Enjoy!




Mortgage Solutions For You!


*Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

client had two mortgages. The first one was amortized for 15 years plus a line of credit with total monthly payments of $4,872. He wanted to combine both and pay off  the new loan in 7 years.

I offered him two choices:

  1. Both with the same interest rate of 3.75%
  2. One fixed for 7 years and adjustable after that with monthly payments of $2,148 OR fixed for 15 years with $3,574/month.
If he continued paying the same amount which he had today, the loan would be paid off in about 9 years. To pay it off in 7 years, the monthly payments needed to be $6,289.

The lower rate stimulates a faster pay off.

Whom do you know that might benefit from our tailored mortgage solutions?




Do not keep me as a secret.


Are You Free?

“Freedom is a God given right. Do not let anyone take it away from you.” 



This year, the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” national holiday coincides with my reading this week’s chapter in the Torah called Mishpatim, which translates to “ordinances”. (The Torah is divided into 52 chapters, which I read one of each week.) Last week, Torah readers were introduced to the Ten Commandments in the previous chapter. And this week, their meaning is explored.

“And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them: If you buy a Jewish bondsman, he shall work for six years; and in the seventh he shall go free, for no charge” (Exodus 27:1-2).

The word “bondsman” in this case, can mean slave. One of the definitions of the word “bond” in Webster’s Dictionary is anything that binds, fastens, or restrains. It is remarkable that the explanation of the core of our life conduct, the Ten Commandments, starts with the indication that any restraint has to be limited. Like the creation of the world, which by the Bible’s definition was done in six days, and on the seventh day there was rest. We live in a similar cycle.


We must remember the great teacher and preacher, Martin Luther King, Jr., who advocated freedom from oppression, our beliefs, our habitual behavior, the notion that “I know better” and there is “no other way”.

Slavery in America started in 1619 and was formally outlawed in December 1865, but the slave mentality continued for many more years from both former slaves and their masters.


It is difficult to imagine what it was like to live in the Southern States in the middle of the last century in today’s age. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929 and was fatally shot on April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

The world became a different place since, but there is plenty of prejudice and disparity. There is still the notion of “them” and “us”. And this goes much deeper than it seems. As much as we value our freedom (at least we say we do), we allow others to restrain our way of life and the way we can do business. (Just take a look at the rules set by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB).


For many years, Havana was one of the largest centers of the slave trade to the Americas. It is estimated that over $600,000 Africans were taken from West Africa and shipped to Cuba over three centuries until 1886, when slavery was officially abandoned.

Today, Cubans are a mixed race. They are descendants of the Spaniards, English, other Europeans, Chinese, Africans, and remnants of the indigenous people. I recommend seeing the film “Traces of the Trade”, to get a sense of how the history affects our lives today.


I’ve chosen images of four beautiful women, who represent the diverse heritage found in Cuba today, for your enjoyment. 



Mortgage Solutions for You


*Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

One of the difficulties in getting a mortgage is time to close the transaction–but there might be other limitations.

One of our clients, who owns more than 5 properties wanted to buy another one. Not many lenders can accomodate such a request.

To get a better rate, they stated that their son is an owner-occupier. The son just recently started a new job. After we submitted to the lender who could do over 4 properties, the loan was turned down.

Luckily, we found another lender but had only 15 days to close before December 31st.

We did it!

Whom do you know that might benefit from our tailored mortgage solutions?



Do not keep me as a secret.


What a Papa Should Feel When His Son is Gone

“As long as I remember, you are alive.” 


My friend, Alex Vinokurov, passed away on January 6th. He was only 10 years junior to me, but he called me “Papa”.

At least once a month, he would call and ask, “Do you have time?”

He expected the same answer I always gave him, “For you, I always have time.”

He would come to our office and ask my wife, “Where is Papa?”

We would go to the local Starbucks and for an hour, he would share his joys, pour out his prayers, and ask me for advice.

He was a big, burly man with a gentle soul. During his short-lived disease, he “finally” managed to lose weight. But before dying, he started to sweat, water left his body, and by the time he passed on, his body shrunk.

“Shurick”, as I lovingly called him, was not with us anymore. Or was he?


Physically, he was not (at least not in this world). In my memory, he is alive. We are the sum of our memories. We choose what to remember and what to forget.

During our life journey, we meet a lot of strangers and we get close with some of them. I am privileged to work with and mentor younger people. After a while, some move away. There are those who follow my guidance, but most have to create their own life experience. Some, while physically still alive, disappear from our sight and I might never again hear from them. What is left is the memory.


Years ago, I made a decision that I have good memory—and I do. Especially when it comes to working with my clients. Somehow I remember the details of their mortgage transactions, which could have taken place 15 years ago. This good memory also helps me remember different loan options available to our clients. As a result, I can help find a mortgage solution tailored specifically to you.



On my last trip to Cuba, I met a lot of young people. I do not know who mentors them, but I believe in their future and would like to share some of the images that I captured of them.



Mortgage Solutions for You


*Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

Client bought a three unit building for cash. It was a trustee sale and she needed it to close fast. She came to me after the property became hers with the request to get money out, return the loan of $200,000 to her friend, and $250,000 to buy another building.

Her income was not enough to qualify for a mortgage. When I took her loan documents to a very special lender, I was told that she needed to wait for 6 months before she cashing out of her loan could be done.

Then we found a solution.

Since it was her own money, she created a new note for $450,000 to her trust, who now owned the building. After the note and deed of trust were created and recorded, we could finish her refinancing.

Whom do you know that might benefit from our tailored mortgage solutions?



Do not keep me as a secret.


How to Celebrate Life

“Life is what we make out of it while we are still alive.” 


January 13th will mark my second Bar Mitzvah, since I am turning 67 (6+7 = 13) years young. I remember the celebration of my first one. In Jewish tradition, when a boy turns 13, he is responsible for his own actions and can participate in the prayer with adults. Looking back on my life, I realized that from that date 54 years ago until today–I lived without knowing what the next day will bring, despite my preparations and going through a seemingly predictable life journey.

This thought came to mind after my very dear friend, Alex Vinokurov passed on. His cancer was diagnosed in November. After a “successful” surgery, he was ready to recover, but it never happened. We visited him on Sunday. He was weak, but holding on. Before saying good-bye, he opened his eyes, squeezed my hand, and said, “I love you”. I kissed him, and we left. Monday, before 9pm, he was gone, He was 56 years young.

Recently, we’ve heard about other people we know who are not around anymore. Some of our very close friends are also dealing with the frightening “C” word.



I am sad—and when I think about Alex, my eyes become watery.

But I made a very clear decision for myself. There is no need to wait for one special day a year to celebrate; every day is special and there are always reasons to celebrate life with the friends and family members.

Hope you will join me.


There is a story told about a righteous Catholic priest who died. He, of course, went straight to heaven where Saint Peter himself greeted him. For his service to God, he was offered a special privilege to read the holy books in their original writing. He was ushered into a big room filled with shelves covered with manuscripts. Shortly after he started to read, he started to yell: “Oh No! Oh No!”

Everyone rushed in.

“What happened?”

“It is written here to celebrate, not celibate!”

Let’s celebrate!



We celebrated the start of 2014 at a friend’s condo on the 26th floor across from the Bay Bridge. I, of course, had my camera and tripod with me. When everyone was clanging glasses with champagne, I was pressing the button on my camera. While the champagne bubbles are long consumed, my special images will help you celebrate your new year. You will see more of them every week with my “Market News” on Wednesdays.



Mortgage Solutions for You

“Parents give us life. What did we give them in return?”


*Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

Our client wanted to buy a 4-unit building where his parents and his wife’s parents could live in their own apartment and he could rent the remaining units to cover the mortgage payments. 

He made an offer: fixed for 5 years for $1,500,000. With the 30% down payment, his new mortgage of $1,050,000 plus taxes and insurance will be about $6,700/month. The rent is currently $6,000/month.

Whom do you know that might benefit from our tailored mortgage solutions?



Do not keep me as a secret.


Up and Down…Here I Come Make It a Happy New Year


“In life, the ups and downs are part of the same journey.” 


In the new Malcom Gladwell book, “David and Goliath”, (which I strongly recommend together with many other of his books), he refers to a story about Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. The story supports the message that Malcolm conveys—that in life, many of those who seem disadvantaged, find ways to overcome their “limitations” to get ahead or to just survive.

In the story, Brer Rabbit falls into a well and he entices Brer Fox to come down and to catch him. While Brer Fox jumps into a bucket which was going down, the Rabbit holds onto a rope, which was going up and is able to climb out of the well.



Reading this brought to mind a story in the Torah about Jacob leaving home on his life journey to find a wife among his mother’s relatives. On the way, he went to sleep:

“and he dreamt, and behold! A ladder was set earthward and its top reached heavenward, and behold! Angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold! Hashem (God) was standing over him.” (Genesis 28: 12-13)

The commentators of the Torah were puzzled: why did the angels, who were heavenly beings coming down from heaven, not come up in the opposite direction?



I do not pretend to understand or know the Torah, but for me the dream about “Jacob’s ladder” is an allegory for life’s (or business’) journey. In the beginning, we start our journey with high expectations and our message is going up heavenward. And then, we get a “response”, which often brings us “down to earth”. Since life or business continues, this process is repeated again and again.




Sometimes on the weekends, I travel downtown to visit photo galleries (there are quite a few at 47 Geary Street), and just hang out with my camera.

We live in Monterey Heights, a hilly area of San Francisco. Our house is on the crest of our street, thus I can go down the hill to the Muni station and get down town in about 30 minutes.

Recently, I decided to walk downtown.

To do this, I have to go up the hill first before the road starts going down again. This choice took me 3 hours to get to my destination. On the way, I visited places and talked to people I met. One man I met told me that he takes Muni to different destinations on the weekends and walks back home.

What a great idea.



During this walk, I discovered Mono Street, a short street that is actually an alley with stairs, where the mailman goes up and down to deliver mail. And of course, I photographed. You can see some of my photo images.


Due to the new regulations starting on January 10th, the mortgage industry is going through ups and down again. Since it is our responsibility to find a mortgage solution for you, your families, and your friends, please do not keep me as a secret.

Have a Happy and Joyful New Year!