Do You Have Faith?


“Plant seeds of opportunity and help them grow.” 


I’ve been wanting to write about the subject of faith for a while. Not the faith for some deity or certain religious traditions, but rather faith in life. The kind of knowing that regardless of what happens; everything will turn out all right.

I do have this faith—and my life is the proof.


If you read my first book, “The Mortgage Game: The 5 C’s and How to Connect Them”, you know that I had many ups and downs in my life.

After working with us for over 20 years, two of our top producers decided to leave the mortgage bank we were affiliated with for another mortgage bank—the greener pasture. Despite the financial blow to our bottom line, I saw this as an opportunity to get rid of the old way of doing business, where we were heavily dependent upon the whim of the people, markets, economy, or regulators, and to rebuild ourselves as a commercial mortgage broker, while continuing residential mortgage brokerage the way it always worked—“only by referrals”.


After placing an ad in Craigslist, we immediately got responses. What was remarkable was that two candidates called without seeing the ad. As a result, five new associates who will focus on commercial loans, joined our team and this number will continue to grow.

But there is of course another faith, which probably has similar roots to the one I described before–faith in a higher power. We might call it either “Hashem”, “Allah”, or “God”, but it is all the same.


Faith can manifest in various forms. On the morning of the day that he passed, my friend Alex was unconscious. He lay down in his bed, his eyes closed, without any reaction. At 3 pm, the rabbi came and started to pray. Suddenly, Alex opened his eyes and started to repeat the words of the prayer as though the rabbi was following him. Alex never learned how to pray before. But he always had faith and at the last hours of his life, he knew what to say.

Have faith. Everything will be all right.

I have faith in your sharing this message and my ability to find tailored mortgage solutions for your friends.


In Cuba, after over 50 years of the Socialist regime, not many people demonstrate their faith to God, but I was lucky to capture a few who wore a cross, as a symbol of their faith. 




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.

A single mom with a daughter wanted to buy her own house. She felt she was over the bitter divorce, which left a short sale on her credit records.

She had $54,000 in her bank account.  We could get her an FHA loan, which would have high MI monthly payments. Instead, I decided to chose the program without mortgage insurance.

Her real estate agent found a house for $568,000. With 10% down payment (her sister lent her $10,000 to cover the difference and the closing costs), her new mortgage payment was $2,477 less than her current rent.

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




Do not keep me as a secret.


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Do Not Sell, Serve

“Selling is not an art–serving is.” 


A friend asked for advice. He has some skills, but did not know how to sell them. In my view, despite the general notion—salesmanship is not a profession. Though there are ads in newspapers claiming that a company needs sales people to sell some products, it can be misleading. The candidates for hire do not actually need to know how to sell, despite their experience in selling and sales training on their resume.

Those people need to be caring individuals, who first of all need to know how to relate to other people’s needs and desires. They will need to know the product of course, but only in relationship to the people who will benefit from it.


Lately, many of those who were involved in the mortgage industry as loan originators, who were supposedly selling mortgages, left the business. Some went to sell real estate, since it requires the same license and seems more lucrative (2.5% commission versus 1%). Some switched from residential loans to commercial loans because the loan amounts are higher and there are no regulators. (Thank God) Regardless of what the area is, some are going to be more successful than others, regardless of the field.

According to the 1964 study of David Mayer and Herbert Greenberg, successful salesman must have two qualities: empathy and ego drive. They must have enough empathy to listen and understand what is in the customer’s head, but enough ego to close the sale. I read about it in a book, “The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters About the Business of Life” by Philip Delves Broughton. If you are in sales, or planning to be, read this book.

Before getting into the mortgage business in 1983, I was an engineer and a manager. I did not have direct sales experience, but I was successful in selling myself. When I started, I was told that I would close my first deal in 6 months.


Actually, in 6 months I became the top producer. In 9 months, I became the branch manager. And in 12 months, I started our first company with partners. And 24 months later together with my wife Elfa, we founded Pacific Bay Financial Corporation, which continues to prosper after all these years.

What is my secret?

I could not formulate it until I recently read in the bible, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will opened“(Matthew 8:7-8).


In my mind, it means that to sell you need to figure out which questions to ask and to whom. But, the answer will only tell you where to look for your client—the door. After you will contact him,  or her, find the door, then, you have to go to work: ask questions, understand their needs, come up with solutions and have a lot of patience, And then almost miraculously, the door will be opened. And it will be given to you–your share of commission.


In Havana after the Cuban government allowed small self-owned enterprises, almost all “doorways” became stores. The owners/sales people would display their wares in hopes that someone would stop by. Another type of sales people peddle their products or sales on the streets, or just ask for a dollar. I will share their images next week. Meanwhile enjoy the doorway stores.




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 a mortgage at 6.50% with monthly payments of $8,533. He needed to get an extra cash-out of $200,000. To get him his desired results, we found a lender whose loan program had a very low start rate (2.50%).

This same rate was used to qualify for a loan. Thus, with keeping monthly payments low, we were able to increase his loan amount. (With the extra $200,000 in the client’s pocket, the new monthly payments were $6,124.)

Based on the performance of the LIBOR index from the last five years (average of 0.627%), there is a good chance the rate will stay low in the long run, compared to loans fixed for longer terms. With time and the increase of revenue from rent, we can refinance into other programs since the prepayment penalty is only for one year.

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



Do not keep me as a secret.


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How To Know That You Are Loved


“The manifestation of love is happiness.” 


My friend and a client for many years, Ken Mitchell, called with excitement in his voice: “I have a new girlfriend!” After my congratulations, he continued, “And we want to buy a house together in Sonoma. Can we have dinner to discuss the details?” I’ve been working with Ken for about 20 years. His printing company, H&H Imaging takes care of all of our printing needs. When I needed quick service, he printed my book, “Soy Cubano—I Am Cuban”, in three days and he did a great job.

Throughout the years, I helped him buy his house and refinance it numerous times. This time seemed different. He planned to buy a second home together with a partner. Over dinner at our favorite restaurant, Zuni Café, I had the opportunity to meet his girlfriend, Heather. They found each other through the dating service “Our Time”. She is smart, beautiful, and an accomplished woman. It was a pleasure to see them together hugging and kissing. She asked me to take their photos with an iPhone and said that they looked artistic. Heather shared with us that the man she was previously involved with was moody and grouchy. “Ken is always upbeat. I am happy when I am with him,” she added.


The word love was not mentioned, but if it was not an expression of love, then what is?

Then the question of what to get for Valentine’s Day was brought up. This immediately led to my curiosity to find out what this holiday really means. It began as a liturgical celebration of early Christian saints. The name Valentine in Latin means strong, healthy, and there were at least 50 saints with the variant name, Valentinus. Apparently, it had very little to do with romantic love until the Middle Ages. In the 19th Century, handwritten cards led to the holiday popularity and were very well exploited by the marketing geniuses of Hallmark and similar companies. And of course, growers of red flowers (especially roses) jumped on the bandwagon.

Using this opportunity, I wanted to share with you my roses. Since they can be shared any time of the year, they do not have to be red.

As the writer, Gertrude Stein wrote, “Rose is a rose, is a rose.”



For the house purchase in Sonoma, we found a solution tailored for their needs. Instead of securing one mortgage of $800,000, which is a jumbo loan and has certain limitations, I came up with a creative solution: Divide the mortgages into two—one fixed up to $417,000 for 15 years against Heather’s condo (which does not have a mortgage). They will use this money for the additional down payment. The balance of about $417,000 is going to be Ken’s loan, amortized for 30 years, since otherwise he cannot qualify. The ownership title is going to be on both names. This way, both can use interest deduction and enjoy the ownership even before marriage. (I hope that I am going to be invited to the wedding.)


Whom do you know who might benefit from creative mortgage solutions tailored to their needs and circumstances?




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Mortgage Solutions for You


If you have never heard about Meetup, do not be surprised! (I did not either before it was brought to my attention.) There are 5,927 meetup groups located here in the Bay Area alone. People with different interests form networking groups where they take the time to meet, learn, share, and to get acquainted. 

We decided to join the crowd and created our own group: Bay Area Commercial Real Estate Lending Group.

Looking forward to seeing you at our first meeting, which will take place on February 24th.


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



Do not keep me as a secret.

What To Do When Your Pet Is Dying

 “Dogs are our best friends, as long as we are theirs.” 


Such a sad subject to write about, but it can be very educational. A friend called, with tears in her voice, and told me that her cat, whom she has had for 14 years, will soon be passing onto another world. She asked for my words of wisdom.

Instead, I told her a story about Rabbi Meir and his wise wife, Beruriah, who lived in 170 CE.

One day when R. Meir was away, their two sons died. When he came back, instead of bursting to him with the horrible news, Beruriah asked him a question:

”Some time ago, a man came and gave me a deposit in trust and now he comes to claim that deposit. Shall we return it or not?”

Being a wise man, R. Meir gave her his answer.

“My daughter, whoever has a deposit in trust must he not return it to its owner?” Beruriah replied, “Had you not said so, I would not have returned it.”


After that Beririah took him to the room where her sons lay motionless. Her husband burst into tears and Beruriah said to R. Merir:

“Did you not say we must return the deposit to its owner? It is said, the Lord has given, the Lord has taken away.” (Proverbs 37:76-29)

I do not think there are any words of consolidation for a person whose pets or any one close to them dies. One needs to cry out their emotions out and keep the good memories.

The first dog we had in San Francisco was a very temperamental lady—she was an Irish setter, named Amber. She would jump the fence and I had to look for her all over our neighborhood. One day, she ran out into the street and a moment later I heard the screeching sounds of brakes. I ran out and there was beautiful Amber on the ground covered in blood.


I lifted her lifeless body and took it home, sat down, and cried. We buried her in our backyard.

We decided to get another dog—this time one with short legs. As per friends’ advice, we chose a sweet and tiny Welsh corgi, called Angus. He grew quite big (for a Welsh corgi) and lived with us for 13 ½ years. During the last month of his life, he did not want to go for a walk. Eventually, we took him to the vet, who told us it was time to say good-bye. Since then, we are constantly considering getting another dog, but feel that with our hectic lifestyle, traveling, and work, it would not be fair to leave a dog home alone for so long. One day, perhaps…



Oops! I made an error in last week’s email. Dr. Wu pointed out to me that since I was born on January 13th, 1947—my Chinese sign is not a pig, but a dog. This actually makes perfect sense since I am your best friend. It turns out that my wife Elfa and I are both dogs. Now this explains why we have been together for 47 years (but we belong to different breeds). In the description of the dog’s qualities, I especially liked how: “the dog possesses one of the best traits of human nature—a sense of loyalty that knows no bounds” (Ellen 2008).


Recently, I met a client who needed a mortgage to buy a home. She came in with her little dog, a Havanese breed. Apparently, the breed came from Havana, Cuba. We saw many dogs in the streets in Havana, but not this breed. Some were just street dogs, while others were growing older together with their owners.

 Please 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 a primary loan of $428,000 and a line of credit for $36,000. Originally, he wanted to combine both together and receive a new loan total of $464,000. Since this is considered a “cash-out” and the new total loan amount would be more than $417,000 (the conventional loan limit), this brought the interest rate up to 3.75%.

The solution?

We decided that he pay down his first mortgage (using his own funds) to $417,000 and subordinate his line of credit. This way, we were able to drop the interest rate to 3.25%.

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



Do not keep me as a secret.