You Exceeded My Expectations

“If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations, you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goal.”–Norman Vincent Peale


Last week, I wrote about the challenges of getting loans for non-owner occupied investment properties. But as always, there is light within the darkness. Somehow, we can always find creative solutions.

Dr. Dan is a dentist who was referred to me by my friend who is his patient. He came to my office very well prepared with all the necessary documents.  His middle credit score was 815 (this is excellent) and he has a good income. Besides his own residence, he owns a second home and two rental properties. He is a typical middle class professional, who can easily handle his mortgage payments.

His objective was to lower his monthly payments by about $300/month. First I showed him that he can get savings of about $370/month, just by getting a 3.50% fixed rate loan with no out of pocket closing costs for his home. He was very happy, but I suggested taking a look at his other properties. At the beginning, he was reluctant. But after I compared myself to a good dentist, who not only fixes one tooth, but also examines the whole mouth, he accepted my suggestions.

After reviewing the monthly payments on all of his properties, I offered to increase his loan amount on his house to $417,000 and get a cash-out of about $120,000. Then I suggested refinancing his rental property with the maximum of $50,000 cash out limited to 75% loan to value. After that, he would combine both amounts and pay off a loan of $165,000 on his second home. As a result, this mortgage payment on his residence would only be $200/month higher, but his rental property would be $100/month lower. After paying off the mortgage on his second home, it would be free and clear with an overall savings of about $1200/month. If he would apply this amount to the mortgage payment, he could have his own home free and clear after 14 years.

Dan’s response was, “You exceeded my expectations.”

As it happened on the same day, one of our new agents brought a loan where the client wanted to refinance a $130,000 loan. He owned six properties, which created a limitation (only a few lenders can lend up to 10 properties).

When I analyzed his entire portfolio, I offered a completely different approach–to consolidate all the mortgages into two. One for the owner occupied home for $417,000 at 3.500% and another for $230,000 for his single-family rental property at 3. 75%. By doing that, four properties will not have any mortgage and the overall savings on the monthly payments would be $1,413.

How impressive is that?


By the time you read this email, I will be in Havana, Cuba with my wife and a group of photographers. To improve my photographic skills, every year I take a week off to attend different photo workshops. This year will be a completely different experience.

Americans can go to Cuba on a cultural exchange or through other countries, and this will be my first trip there.  So far, most of the images I have shared with you were without people, and I’ve mentioned that I do not specialize in any particular photographic field. This is only partially true; I love to photograph people, and not only when I travel. As a matter of fact, my photo exhibition titled “French Baguette” is still on the walls of the restaurant Chouchou. You can see more of my older images

The images you see today were taken recently in the Britex fabric store in San Francisco, when I accompanied my wife to buy some fabric.

Please let me know which one is your favorite. You will see images from Cuba upon my return.




Special thanks to Douglas Davis (pictured above) and the rest atBritex Fabric. Please make sure to visit Britex!


Best Wishes,


Rules for Lenders Relaxed

“A man’s treatment of money is the most decisive test of his character–how he makes it and how he spends it.“–James Moffatt

(Image 1)

When I saw this title in The Wall Street Journal article on January 7th, I got excited. It is about time for regulators to release their grip on lenders. But my joy was premature. The actual story was about a meeting in Basel, Switzerland. There, global banking regulators succumbed to the banks’ pressure and eased the “liquidity coverage ratio”. In other words, banks can keep less money in reserves since they need as much capital as possible to make risky investments to generate hefty profits.

After the global financial meltdown was caused by the reckless activities of banks and large financial institutions, the pendulum has swung in the other direction. It seems that the concern about the banks’ lack of capital liquidity became an international issue. After reading the article, I thought that this ruling had very little to do with you and me, but then I changed my mind.

As I mentioned before, I am in the middle of writing the sequel to“The Mortgage Game”. The title of my new book is going to be“Mortgage Solutions for Smart People: 5 Simple Ways to Get Your Loan Approved”. In my book, I write about the ways to increase the probability of getting a mortgage by improving each of the 5 C’s. One of the “C’s” is Capital.

While researching for materials, I came across a good book–“The Smartest Way ™ to Save: Why You Can’t Hang on to Money and What to Do About It.” by Samuel K. Freshman and Heidi E. Clingen. While reading the book, I realized that the Banks’ lack of capital liquidity has a great deal to do with all of us. It is a reminder that for many borrowers the lack of liquidity or “Capital” has caused a lot of problems while attempting to get a loan approved.


(Image 2)

The only difference is that there is only one regulator for each of us and this person is looking at you in the mirror. In my new book, I will give specific solutions for each of the “C’s”.

In our consumer society, where government keeps interest rates artificially low, to enable homeowners to refinance and to spend more, it is difficult to save and build the liquidity necessary to survive the challenges of home ownership.

In his book, Mr. Freshman points out, “It is not your income that makes you rich–it’s your savings habits.” The book has many ideas and suggestions on how to save and manage money. One of the suggestions in the book is to hire a coach or have an accountability partner to help to develop “savings habits”. While I will strongly recommend buying the book to all my clients, if you think you need a coach, Kathryn Amenta, I wrote about before, can be the right person.  She may be reached at 415.333.6972, email, or website.

(Image 3)

We celebrated my 66th birthday in Los Angeles with both of our daughters last weekend. Our eldest daughter, Alona, flew in from Paris. As always, I combined business with pleasure. It was a fun weekend meeting friends and clients.

One of my new clients–a well-known doctor–had a setback in his life. He is trying to refinance his jumbo mortgage and the main obstacle–if you can guess it–is personal cash liquidity.  He told me about his friend–a famous actor who lost his house in a foreclosure for the same reason.

Unfortunately, this person is not alone. In my view, every foreclosure can be avoided if borrowers just had money for a rainy day. You know what to do, “Just do it”.


In the photo poll last week, the winner was Image #2.

This week I continue our photo game with a small quiz.

#1–Which image do you like?

#2–Where was this photo taken?

a) Carpathian mountains

b) Near Los Angeles

c) Patagonia in Argentina      



Best Wishes,


Can Interest Rates Go Even Lower?

“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.“–Sir Francis Bacon

(Sun rise at The Sea Ranch // Image 1)

We were at dinner with friends whose mortgage I refinanced six months ago. Before leaving for dinner, I checked if the interest rates were low enough to justify another no cost refinancing, and they were. They could lower their monthly payments by another $107/month.

When I shared the exciting news with them, the wife asked me the question–“Can the rates go down even lower?”

We could have asked the same question six months ago, but who knew? According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the interest rates could be lower at the present. However, big banks who control interest rates keep them higher, to make more profits. Since overall interest rates are quite low, no one complains. To stimulate the economy, the Federal Reserve continues to buy Fannie Mae mortgages in the rate of 40 billion a month. As long as banks continue to make huge profits and consumers have extra cash every month by refinancing, why lower interest rates even more? Actually, rates started to go up in the first week of 2013, possibly as a result of the good feeling from averting the “fiscal cliff”. Refinancing has become “a big business”. Why else would the article, Refi, Save, Repeat be in the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Business Report Section?  

I stopped being surprised, but many of our clients actually do not refinance their mortgage to lower their interest rates. They are either saboteurs who do not want to help the economy, procrastinators who do not want to deal with all the extra paper work, or own shares of the banks whom they are making higher payments to.

Can you come up with another reason why some of my clients, whom I contacted and emailed loan applications to, do not even respond to my emails? How would you react if your favorite Bank/Lender sent you a letter asking to pay them $100, $200, $300, or even more every month? But this is exactly what those who wait for the interest rates to go down even lower do. Please do not wait. Remember “a small bird in the hand“?


(Sun rise at The Sea Ranch // Image 2)


On January 13, I can no longer pretend that I am dyslexic. In 2012, when someone asked my age, I would say that I was 56. Now just one year later, I am turning 66. When people ask me when I plan to retire, I suggest that they should stick around for another 30 years. I actually want to follow the example of Irving Kahnwho at 107 is still a stock picker.

A client told me that when her father turned 99 and was asked his age, he would claim that he was 66. Apparently, dyslexia can be contagious.

So much to do, so little time.

As I’ve mentioned in my last email, I started writing a new book–a sequel to “The Mortgage Game: The 5 C’s and How to Connect Them”. A few copies of which can still be purchased online. I will keep you posted on the development.

Since some of you have expressed that you like my photos, I decided to show you how modern technology can help improve images to make them more interesting. Please email me and let me know which version most appeals to you–Image 1, Image 2, or Image 3.

(Sun rise at The Sea Ranch // Image 3)

And as always, please do not forget–


Best Wishes,


The Possibility of Impossibility

“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.”–Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
(Birds at The Sea Ranch)
Happy New Year Dear Friends!

It is the morning of December 31st, 2012. We are staying at The Sea Ranch. The house we rented is located on a bluff, a short distance from the ocean.

When we arrived here in the afternoon a few days ago, the sky was grey, it was drizzling rain, and a strong wind was blowing my umbrella away when I tried to walk along the bluff.

It was impossible at the moment to imagine that the next morning everything would change. In our bedroom, the window shades were broken and wouldn’t go down, so we woke up the following morning to see a pink sky.

Most “normal” people would stay in bed, just to enjoy the view and being on vacation, to linger in the bed a little bit longer. But for a photographer, this pink sky offered a possibility and here I was in my pajamas on the deck in the freezing morning air clicking yet another sunrise moment.

When I spoke with my daughter Tamar that night, after coming back from the bluff with another trophy of the most gorgeous sunset, she asked me, “You’re not tired of photographing all those sunsets and sunrises again and again?” “But they are beautiful,” I responded. “Yes, but why photograph them all the time?” she said. I think I do it to preserve the memory of the moment.



(Sunset // The Sea Ranch)

Men had to discover and improve the ability to “draw with light”–this is what photography means, not to create artistic masterpieces, but to record events, memories, and yes…the beauty that we are surrounded by.

And I am blessed to have the sensitivity and good tools to do it. Speaking of tools and the possibility to record photo images, this morning, the pink skyline jolted me out of bed again. I grabbed my fancy “professional” camera with a very good long lens attached to it and ran to the deck again, only to realize that I needed a different lens. Since the intensity of the light does not last long, I took out my pocket camera instead, and here you can see the result.

(Sunrise // The Sea Ranch)

It takes about three hours to drive to The Sea Ranch from San Francisco, especially if one stops for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate in my case, on the way.

To make the journey more palatable, we borrow audio books from the library. On this trip, we listened to The Apothecary” by Maile Meloy. We thought it to be a suspense story. It is, but as it turns out, for teenagers, in the likes of a Harry Potter-type book. It is about three fourteen year olds trying to find the father of one of the boys–the Apothecary (a pharmacist in American English), who turns out to be an Alchemist.

At one moment to escape from the pursuer, they drink a magic potion and become birds to defy skepticism and disbelief of the possibility that the body can change form and actually fly away as a bird. Adults could not comprehend where they disappeared and only a little girl said that they became birds to everyone’s dismissal. Of course most of us would say that this is only possible in children’s’ books. Sure, for most of the human history, the speed of travel was equated to the speed of the fastest horse.

Last week when I wrote about making time to dream, I mentioned Darren Hardy’s book, “The Compound Effect”. It is not only inspirational; but also, a guide how to create the Possible from the Impossible in our lives, which I intend to follow.

A few years ago in a “life transformational” event I participated in, I wrote down that I will write 5 books. At that time, I did not see a possibility on how to even start, and why 5? By now as I am almost finished writing my second book, I realize that’s how the possibility works. When we find the answer to why we want to do something, the “how” comes along. In my new book: “Mortgage Solutions for Smart People: 5 Simple Steps to Get Your Mortgage Approved”, I explain my reasons for why.

Someone asked me how do I have time to work and write, and do all of the things that I do? My secret is that what I do – help clients get mortgages, over 9 to 10 hours/day, five days a week, I do not consider work. I help people to better their lives. For my writing and photography, I have evenings, weekends, and of course when we go away.

As far as the mortgage business is concerned, I see the possibility to double the number of people I can help in 2013. We have a good process to help me and there is a very good possibility that interest rates will continue to stay low, while real estate prices will rise, and more people will have jobs to qualify for a mortgage. And of course there is the possibility that you will share this message with all of your friends.

Please do not forget to say a few good words about my services and suggest that they read “The Mortgage Game: The 5 C’s and How to Connect Them”.


The beginning of this year coincides with a weekly portion in the Torah, which describes the events which led to the Exodus of the Hebrew Slaves from Egypt. There is a famous part when Moses sees the burning bush in the desert and hears the voice of God, who tells him to go back to Egypt and lead his people out. He asks God, “But what should I tell them is your name?” God answers ,”My name is “I Shall Be, as I Shall Be.” (Exodus 3/14)\. Personally for me, this translates perfectly into “The Possibility of Impossibility”, because this is how Moses overcame his own limitations and with God’s help created the Possibility of Impossibility.

Create The Possibility for a Great Year and Share it with your friends.


Best Wishes,

Manny<br />

Do You Have Time to Dream?


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a little beginning.”–T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

As the New Year approaches it is time to ask ourselves: “What would I like to happen in 2013? How was the previous year for you and your family? What would you like to change?” As the saying goes, “Out with the old, in with the new” (this is especially prudent for many of us, if we have a look in our closets).

I had a conversation with an old friend at a birthday party a few days ago, and I asked him:

“What would you like to happen in your business in the New Year?”

He got quiet and responded: “Is that a very good question? How about your life and business?”

What we want, usually starts with a Dream.

After being around for almost 66 years, I have learned a thing or two from many different teachers, which I summarized into a formula of 5 D’s to accomplish my desired results in life.

Dream + Drive + Demand + Discipline = Desired Life

I followed this formula at the end of 2011 when I decided to write a book, which had been my Dream for a number of years. I actually only started writing, when my Dream became a Drive (the reasons were to create a marketing tool to ensure the continuation of my business). This led to the Demand of scheduling free time in my busy life. I was able to accomplish this by having the Discipline to write every evening. The result is my first published book, “The Mortgage Game. The Five C’s and How to Connect Them,”that came out in November 2012, exactly one year later.

The key is to ask the question: “How can others benefit from my Dream?”

When you have your answer, the Universe will help you to fulfill it. Since I developed the Discipline for writing, I have continued the process and my Dream for 2013 is to write another book, as a companion to the first one. I am working on this project every day and expect to finish by my birthday, January 13th.

I will keep you posted. But first please read “The Mortgage Game. The Five C’s and How to Connect Them”. Do you have time to Dream (or read books)? Please follow my formula, and report your results!

If your Dream is to improve your cash flow, developing a Discipline can help you get a Desired mortgage and many other things in life. Most of us need a coach or accountability partner to get specific results (For my book, I had my editor).

My good friend and a client Kathryn Amenta is just the right person to do that. She is a Financial Adviser, who coaches and helps her clients save more and spend less. As I pointed out in my e-mail last week, borrowers need to have cash reserves in order to qualify for a Jumbo loan. I’m currently reading (and listening to) Darren Hardy’s book “The Compound Effect.” Darren is the editor of “Success” magazine and one of the stories he relates is about how he taught his associate to save 10% a month instead of giving her a raise. As a result, she became a wealthy woman. If you need help, call Kathryn Amenta @415-333-6972.

Recently Kathryn referred me her clients with whom she has been working for almost a year. In spite of their high income, they did not have enough savings to pay off their line of credit (L/C). To enable for me to lower their mortgage from 6.75% to 3.75% with a savings of $1,300/month, I suggested that they request a short term loan from their family members, for which they would pay 3.5%, the rate of their current L/C. In turn, they could use their monthly payments savings to pay off the private loan. My new book will offer my readers practical solutions like this one, and many others.
Share my book with five of your friends, I guarantee they will be grateful.

The<br /><br /><br />
                                    Mortgage Game
Below is a comment I recently received:

“Manny Kagan’s The Mortgage Game is one of the best outlines of the mortgage industry to read it before applying for a loan”. – Samuel K. Freshman (Author of “The Smartest Way to Save & President, Standard Management Company).

I wish you a Happy, Prosperous, and Joyful New Year!P.S.

To work on my dreams this year we are going to what, according to my wife, is the best place in the world – “The Sea Ranch”. We rented a house and will stay there for four days through the New Year. I will continue to write and Dream about other events in my life. I will report the results of my revelations to you in my future writings. Meanwhile, please enjoy some of the images from our previous trips to The Sea Ranch.

(Low Tide at The Sea Ranch)
(Abalone Divers at The Sea Ranch)
(Dogs on the beach at The Sea Ranch)

(All images by Manny Kagan)


Best Wishes,

Manny<br /><br /><br />


What Jets, Shrimp, and Mortgages Have in Common

“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”–Oren Arnold

Plane over Water
(Image via Manny Kagan: Approaching San Francisco Airport)

The answer might surprise you, but in spite of the huge apparent difference they can all be called “Jumbo”.

When I fly across the country on a Jumbo jet, I always have my camera with me. These two images were selected from many photos I have taken throughout the years in the air and on the ground.

Ice Plane

(Image via Manny Kagan: Landing in a snow storm in New York)

Jumbo Shrimp is of course an oxymoron.

Jumbo mortgages are loans over $625,000. They are primarily offered by portfolio lenders and have different underwriting guidance. But here is where the confusion creeps in.

In terms of the terminology, loans up to $417,000 for single-family residence (SFR) are conforming; for 2 to 4 unit properties limits arehigher. And if the property is in Alaska or Hawaii, the limits are different again. Loan limits from $417,000 to $625,000, with their own scale of limits for 2 to 4 units, can appear under different names–some are called “Jumbo Conforming”. Then there are FHA loans which can go up to $729,750 for SFR and even higher for 2 to 4 Units. Loans for units have higher interest rates and some additional restrictions. The same goes for Jumbo Conforming, while real jumbos have completely different structures. You can borrow up to $5 million with limited LTV.

All jumbos have a reserve requirement, but the amount varies between lenders. Sometimes borrowers pay the balance down to get to a conforming limit, or we break the loan into “first” and “line of credit” (L/C) to get a better interest rate.

We are currently helping clients with quite a few jumbos. The amounts vary from $675,000 to $1,500,000 and every client has different preferences. I am sure you have a few friends who could use my help to get them Jumbo mortgages.


The holiday season is upon us!

(Image via Manny Kagan: One source can bring a lot of light)

When I wrote last week’s email, my daughter Tamar asked why I did not write about Chanukah. One of the reasons was that I did not have an appropriate image to illustrate it. I wanted to photograph all eight lit candles, which was only possible on Saturday, the last night of Chanukah. (Actually, there are nine, but the one in the center, called “Shamash” or “attendant” is there to light the other candles). The holiday of Chanukah, and the tradition to light eight lights (in ancient times, they were olive oil lamps) commemorates events that happened in the 2nd Century BC. The nine-branched Menorah or hanukiahcomes in different shapes and forms. However, there is only one very clear message. One light (one day) at a time, with the help of others, can illuminate our lives for many, many days and years.

And since Christmas is next week and you can light all the lights at once on the Christmas tree, I included an image that I photographed from Macy’s with my iphone last week.


(Image via Manny Kagan: Union Square, San Francisco)




Best Wishes,


How To Find a Low Rate Mortgage

Mortgage Rate
(image via Multifamilybiz)

“If you do not raise your eyes, you will think that you are the highest point.”–Antonio Porchia

I got a call from a client who received a letter that offered a 2.75% mortgage. We are in the middle of refinancing his 30-year fixed rate loan. He specifically came to my office to show me the letter, which you can see below with questions on whether or not I can get him such a low rate:

(click through to enlarge)

He only saw the numerical rate, but did not seem to notice that it was offered for a 5 year fixed FHA program that has an additional 1.25% monthly mortgage insurance payments. Some lenders spend thousands of dollars on mailings just hoping to catch clients who are drawn in by the low rates. After explaining about the “fine print” of the letter, I offered my client a 2.75% fixed for fifteen years with the closing costs. The only problem was that his monthly payments would be about $1,000 more than the loan fixed for 30 years at a 3.50% rate with no closing costs (which he ended up choosing).

Since interests are so low, we have been refinancing our clients’ loans that closed as early as this past April. One such client wanted her rate to be 3.375%. She checked rates online and called me almost daily to share her findings. My response was always the same, let me check my computer. We have a special program that reports daily rates from different lenders. Sometimes the information changes a few times a day, but at least this information is reliable and we can lock the rates that we see on our computer program. Because lenders are overwhelmed by the volume of applications, we have to lock rates for 60 days (to complete the loan), which can be different from the rates advertised online by East Coast lenders for a shorter period of time.

In this client’s case, we decided not to lock the rate but let it “float” instead, until the lender receives an appraisal report and the majority of conditions. At that time we can lock for 30 days. It is a gamble. In my book, you will find a similar case, but with a twist and a surprising outcome.

In spite of today’s low rates, some of my clients procrastinate, perhaps being overwhelmed by the process. My assistant Samantha is very good at helping make it a smooth process. Please act while rates are still very low.


The gift giving season is upon us. I am sure that some of your friends will be very grateful to receive my book, The Mortgage Game: The 5 C’s and How to Connect Them from you as a present. You can also download it for your Kindle or NookIf you need a more elaborate present, feel free to contact my friend Phil Wiseman at UPP (Unique Product and Promotions). He sent me a basket to congratulate me for my book publishing. It was awesome.


(image via Manny Kagan)

Last weekend I was in Dallas, Texas for a conference. We stayed there with friends and their neighborhood had a lot of elaborate Christmas decorations. The image above is my creative rendition of a tree covered with lights.


Best Wishes,


What We B*tch About (Or Talk About on the Beach)


(image via Wexas Travel)

Don’t wish it were easier…Wish you were better.” – Jim Rohm

I had a conversation recently, with a client seeking a new line of credit. We are in the middle of his refinancing, combining his first mortgage with his existing line of credit (L/C). This is a common request from borrowers who want to eliminate the uncertainty of an L/C, which is usually tied to the prime rate and is basically an adjustable loan. In most cases, after combining two loans into one and getting approval, we apply for the subordination of the existing L/C, which now is paid off and has a zero balance. That means that after getting a new fixed rate loan, borrowers will still be able to tap into their equity, as long as the remaining equity is not more than 80% LTV. In the case of our client, his L/C will mature after 10 years, which is going to be next year. He wanted to be sure that he will be able to get a new L/C. When I mentioned that one of the lenders we are going to apply to is U.S. Bank, he liked that since there is a branch close to his house.

After our initial conversation, my client went on vacation to Europe. He returned with very exciting stories about Vienna, Prague, and Budapest. Then as he got back to the reality of the mortgage business, he started to complain about U.S. Bank. Before leaving for his trip, he made monthly payments on outstanding bills…or so he thought.

Somehow U.S. Bank did not receive his payment on time. While visiting Prague, he received a call from his daughter that U.S. Bank urgently asked him to contact them. He finally placed a call to discover that his monthly car payment bill for $120 was due some time ago and there were no records of payment received. The bank agreed to wait for two weeks until his return home. Upon arrival, he went to the bank, made a payment, and received another call from U.S. Bank that same day, saying they did not receive payment. Now getting irritated, (the caller was not as nice as the first one), and feeling “unjustly” accused, it turned out that it takes 24 hours for the record of payment to show up. As a result of this unpleasant experience, my client no longer likes U.S. Bank or wants anything to do with them.

How many times have you been pissed off and made a hasty decision like this one?


(image via Dr. Pinna)

I look at the situation from a different point of view: U.S. Bank did my client a huge favor and he should be very grateful. In spite of his best intentions and efforts and claims, the bank did not have records of his “original” payment. Sh*t happens. If he did not receive a call from the bank and missed the payment, this would create a 30 day late payment on his credit history; this alone could drop his credit score down 100 points. I do not have to spell out what it means for the refinancing process.

Photo by Manny Kagan: I like to photograph from the air and have a number of interesting images. This photo was taken approaching San Francisco.

I read that 90% of airplanes use a navigation system to charter their course, yet the pilot still manually brings the plane back to reach its desired destination. The mortgage business is similar. When we receive loan documents from clients and submit them to the lender, there are many issues which seem to take over the progress of the course. Lenders have many unnecessary conditions and make errors. Appraisers mistakenly under-appraise the value of properties. Borrowers do not provide all the necessary documents on time or take vacations in the middle of the loan process. As a result, we have many reasons to complain and bitch about and we do.

In the end, we only have one destination and that is to get a good loan with a low interest rate…and we do.


Best Wishes,


How to Say Good-Bye to a Friend


(image via Teresa Teixeira)

You Need Me.” – Myrna Rothman Elgie

In August 1996, Ed Crane, a fellow mortgage broker and I, spearheaded the establishment of the first chapter of BNI in the San Francisco Bay Area.  BNI, which stands for Business Network International, is the world’s largest referral organization, founded by Dr. Ivan R. Misner in 1985.  There are weekly breakfast or lunch meetings, where members re-introduce themselves at each meeting, and give each other referrals. The resulting activity after the meetings is what actually makes a successful chapter.  Members meet, become friends and through the process refer business to one another. 

Over the years, we’ve had many members come and go, but the original core group of five members is still together.  Today we have about 30 members.  Sadly, last week we lost one to cancer.  Myrna Rothman Elgie joined our chapter about 10 years ago.  Her business card stated “Interior Design” but Myrna was more than that.  At our last meeting each of us spent 30 seconds sharing our appreciation of who she was.  Her specialty was to work with existing furniture and fixtures, to add color, plants or simply lower art work on the wall, to make any room, office or even the garden look beautiful and functional.  She re-did our living room and my study at home and lowered the pictures in my office.  Myrna’s skills and talents made her clients’ spaces more enjoyable.  Now that she is gone, I regret that I deprived many of my friends and clients of the joy they could have, if I only encouraged more of them to use Myrna’s services. 

Myrna was a spiritual person who meditated everyday. One of the BNI members told us a story; she asked Myrna how she dried her hair after showering.

Myrna replied, “I do not use a blowdryer. I only put on curlers and meditate.”

The woman asked, “And it dries?”

Myrna said, “Well, I meditate for a long time.”

Once a year, Myrna would travel to India for a few months. Upon her return, she would bring a suitcase full of beautiful scarves and sell them to BNI members. This was one of the best holiday presents.

Once a year, Myrna would travel to India for a few months. Upon her return, she would bring a suitcase full of beautiful scarves and sell them to BNI members. This was one of the best holiday presents.

Indian<br />
(image via Damon Lynch)

I do not think about Myrna when I work on my heavy desk, which we have pushed together to the right place in my study, but her life work is there.  In my 30 seconds at the BNI meeting, I said that I want my work to be like Myrna’s.  I do not want anyone to think about me after my clients get what they want or need; whether it’s a lower rate, a better mortgage, their dream house, or just peace of mind knowing that what they have is good for now.

I also said that I want to bring my friends the joy of meeting with other professionals I know, to benefit from their experience, while they and I are still alive.  As I’ve done in the past, I will write about people I know whose expertise I trust.  It can be members of BNI or any of my clients.

One of the BNI members Michael Wolfe mentioned that Myrna used to say: “You need me”.  Since she is gone, I am going to take over this statement: “YOU NEED ME.”

Michael is the owner of Blue Sky Services.  He is a general contractor, and his team has done an excellent job in big and small projects including painting and restoration.  He performed different jobs in our house and office.  Michael is also a musician and songwriter.  He delights our BNI holiday parties with his songs and guitar playing. You can reach Michael at 415-235-6227 or call me.

P.S. I took this photo from the living room of a client in Berkeley, during their house warming party.




Best Wishes,

Manny<br />

What I Am Grateful For…And You Might Be Too

Thanksgiving Cornucopia

(Thanksgiving Cornucopia via Iron Bay Computer and Design)

“The Unthankful heart…discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!”–Henry Ward Beecher

A friend asked me if I am ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, to which I replied, that for me… I give thanks every day. Every morning upon awakening, I recite a Hebrew prayer:

            “I gratefully thank you, O living and eternal King. For you have returned my soul within me with compassion – abundant in Your faithfulness!”

Then when I am completely awake, I reason:

            “If the King would not return my soul, who would thank him?”

Why has the simple act of saying “Thank you” become a holiday? According to the article on the Plimoth Plantation Website, “to the Puritans, a true Thanksgiving was a day of prayer and pious humiliation, thanking god for his special providence”.

Black Friday
(Black Friday 2009 // Photograph by Manny Kagan)
What a surprise! I thought it was created to have a “Black Friday Sale”, and for families stuffing themselves with turkey the day before. But what does this bird have to do with the actual celebration of the end of the fall harvest? It is very simple. 

When the Pilgrims arrived on the shores of America, they were hungry. Turkeys were easy to catch and voila! Combining two events together—a new tradition was born in the middle of the 17th century. For vegetarians, who do not eat turkey, but want to keep the tradition (or even for those who do not want to feel as stuffed as a turkey after the meal), there is an inflatable one, like this one that I saw in a second-hand store.

Inflatable Turkey
(Inflatable Turkey // Photograph by Manny Kagan)
Now let me tell you what I am grateful for. I am grateful that after a week of no telephone service, our telephone system came back to life. AT&T blamed Hurricane Sandy for why it took so long to solve the problem. (If one believes it.) Now clients can actually reach us.

I am grateful that “Mortgage rates at record lows boost recovery”. You may read the entire article in the SF Chronicle.  The article stated, “the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process was down”. Thanks to historical low interest rates, we can help many borrowers.

I am grateful that the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, said that underwriting standards for mortgages are too tight and that reduced credit availability “slowing the revival  in housing and impending the economic recovery” (Reilly, Wall Street Journal). I hope it will not take another four years for regulators to remove the brakes and allow mortgage industry to revive; especially since the government owned mortgage enterprises, like FHA, are actually bankrupt.

I am grateful that those who read my book liked what I have written. One of the readers, Samuel Freshman–author of The Smartest Way to Save, which I strongly recommend, wrote:

            “Manny Kagan’s The Mortgage Game, is one of the best outlines of the mortgage market that I have come across. I recommend it to anyone who wants to get more familiar with the mortgage industry to read it before applying for a loan.”–Samuel Freshman, author.

P.S. If you want to save trees, you can read my book on a Kindle or a Nook.


Best Wishes,