Florida Governor

I have just finished watching the gubernatorial debate on TV. Here is my post on Rick Scott’s web site: (Rick Scott has several websites that do not allow comment – this was the ONLY one that allowed comment – we wonder why!)

Sir:

I have just finished watching your debate against opponent Alex Sink and to be quite honest, I don’t know who is worse…. you or her!

Number one: Your body language is appalling and you falter with every statement. This does not foster confidence in your voters. Neither of you have confidence in what you are feeding the voters and this leads me to believe that BOTH of you are simply currying favor with the voters, only to feed your own egos after elections!

Number two: You did not answer A SINGLE QUESTION! All you did was to attempt to discredit your opponent. Now don’t get me wrong ~ I am not convinced that she is the right choice either but by gosh…. you did a great job of playing right into her hands with your hell-bound mission to bring out every single infraction in her career! If you are so religious (as you claim to be), then you will respect the notion that they crucified the last perfect person!

Number 3… and more to my point: You blatantly state that you will reduce unemployment. Exactly how do you plan to do that, Sir? What is your plan as this was never addressed in the debate? And BTW… I expect a tangible answer to this question – in detail – not the waffling and evasion that you employed on television.

As a REALTOR(R) in both California and Florida, having suffered through the bad decisions and laws passed by government which has simply taken us from a bad economy to a WORSE economy, I would like to know what you plan to do to resolve the distress sale issues that we have in this State.

How strong will you be in representing the distressed owners against government officials and representatives who are so far removed from the problem, as to not care about it. PLEASE tell me that you do NOT favor a bank bailout because I cannot see why banks should receive funding – they are the ONLY ones making money out of this recession and the ONLY ones that have not had to make any sacrifices.

What do you plan to do about the banks who are grossly overcharging customers to the point where homeowners have no alternative BUT to go into foreclosure?

What do you plan to do about banks that encourage homeowners to stop paying their mortgages while they assess a loan modification, only to foreclose on them for non-payment of their loan?

What do you plan to do about fraudulent charges that banks bring to their customers, that they cannot reverse, due to the change in dispute law?

What will you do to combat the inflated appraisals that banks obtain through THEIR appraisal companies (at listing), which are then low-balled at a later stage (after sale), so that banks can sue to get the appraisers insurance money and put them out of business?

Education in this country, but moreso in this State is a JOKE! I have no faith in the next generation of so-called leaders, who have been schooled and graded, not on merit, but graduated on multiple choice question papers, marked by teachers who fear their students.

Oh…. and what would you do about curbing government spending on unnecessary staffing? Government – Federal, State and local – is fraught with staff that spend 20 years with nothing to do only to draw healthy government retirement plans (yes, I have known a few)! Are you prepared to CUT those members of staff to save tax payers money? And while we’re talking about it, how much clout DO you have? … Do tax payers REALLY have to foot the bill for past Presidents and other Officials, to live out their lives on pensions to the standard that they have BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO, when the taxpayer can’t afford their own retirement?

I have SO MANY QUESTIONS that I, my collegaues and our clients have brought forth, that this post could never be long enough. If you could answer just 1% of these questions satisfactorily, you might be successful in getting my vote – although I very much doubt it, because I am of the opinion that you have not thought further than the day of elections.

Furthermore, you state that with regard to marriage between homosexuals (that was how the question was put to you), is concerned, you believe that marriage is a state that exists between a man and a woman. You said this TWICE! Are you aware that gay people do not wish to live in Florida BECAUSE of that archaic belief? Because they KNOW that GOVERNMENT opposes same sex relationships? Are you aware that this drachonian belief is the very reason that our State is not more prosperous than it is now? If you believe that this is what your Bible says, then, Sir…. why do you shave your head? There was a time when Biblical law provided that men should not cut hair/shave their heads OR their faces! I mean…. if you are going to take the Bible at the very meaning of the letter, then please, Sir, do so in entirety – don’t pick and choose according to what suits you at the time. If, however, you are progressive enough to shave your face and shave your balding head, wear a red tie (which, incidentally was ALSO not dictated by your Bible), then at least have the progressive nature to allow the same courtesy to others! Live and let live!

Oh, and incidentally, I am a US Citizen who was once an immigrant. Secure our borders? What a stupid statement! Have you ANY idea how many THOUSANDS of miles constitute our borders (hint: look at a map of the US… um… Google?)? Clearly you have NO idea what this issue involves! Believe me, having come through the process of what took me 25 years at a cost of over $100,000, you cannot teach me anything about the immigration laws that I don’t already know and which NEED REVISING! You, Sir, have never been an immigrant, know nothing of the process and cannot even begin to understand how to improve the situation!

Please understand that I have not yet made a decision as to who I will vote for, but vote I will! I will not vote for a party – I will vote for the BEST person for the job, but help me out here…… at least give me A LITTLE SOMETHING to work with!

(I came to this country with the intention of having a beneficial input into the lives of the people – I will not be silenced when so much needs attention! I have no doubt that this post will never air on this site, so I am posting it on other sites, so that the people of Florida may be better informed).

Althea Garner
REALTOR (R) MBA, MCI, e-Pro
Exit Beach Cities Realty (California)
Preferred Realty Executives (Florida)
Your House Of Homes Online
DRE 01516817
772-626-1768

Search over 50,000 listings at my web site:
http://www.HouseOfHomesOnline.com
http://www.isellpslhomes.com

Women’s Council of REALTORS(R):
President-Elect – 2011 (Saint Lucie County)
VP Membership – 2010 (South Orange County)
Treasurer – 2008 (Coastal-West)
Webmaster – 2009 (Long Beach)
Editor – 2009 (Long Beach)
Education Committee – 2009 (California State)

Orange County Association of REALTORS(R):
Education Vice Chair – 2009

REALTORS(R) Association of Saint Lucie
Vice Chair, Global Business – 2011

Last Week In The News

New home sales rose 23.6% in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 330,000 units from a revised rate of 267,000 units in May. Economists had expected a pace of 310,000 units. On a year-over-year basis, sales of new homes have fallen 16.7%.


The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index — on a seasonally adjusted basis — rose 1.3% in May after a 0.9% increase in April. On a year-over-year basis, property values increased 4.6%, the largest gain since August 2006.


The consumer confidence index fell to 50.4 in July from an upwardly revised 54.3 in June. Economists had anticipated a reading of 51. The index was benchmarked at 100 in 1985, a year chosen because it was neither a peak nor a trough in consumer confidence.


The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending July 23 dropped 4.4%. Refinancing applications fell 5.9%. Purchase volume rose 2%.


Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — fell 1% in June after decreasing a revised 0.8% in May.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 to 457,000 for the week ending July 24. Continuing claims for the week ending July 17 rose by 81,000 to 4.57 million.


The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at an annual rate of 2.4% in the second quarter of 2010. Economists had expected a slightly larger 2.5% increase. This follows a revised 3.7% pace of growth in the first quarter of 2010.


Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on construction spending on August 2, pending home sales on August 3 and consumer credit on August 6.


Althea Garner
REALTOR (R) MBA, MCI, e-Pro
Exit Beach Cities Realty
Exit Realty All Professional
Your House Of Homes Online
DRE 01516817
772-905-9133

Search over 50,000 listings at my web site:
http://www.HouseOfHomesOnline.com

Women’s Council of REALTORS(R):
VP Membership – 2010 (South Orange County)
Treasurer – 2008 (Coastal-West)
Webmaster – 2009 (Long Beach)
Editor – 2009 (Long Beach)
Education Committee – 2009 (California State)

Orange County Association of REALTORS(R):
Education Vice Chair – 2009

What’s happening to America?

I arrived in this country almost 17 years ago from Africa. Images that one conjures up would be that of jungles, wild animals and mud huts, however, I was very much part of the corporate scene in a large city, much the same as Los Angeles. For years I had dreamed of one day living in the greatest country in the world – the land of opportunity…. the United States, and on the morning that I arrived, I kissed the ground in gratitude!

In order to be accepted by the US, I had to have substantial qualifications, a letter of tax clearance, AIDS clearance and Police clearance. Clearly, the US did not tolerate felons and in order to ‘fit’, I had to meet the high standard required by the greatest country in the world!

I noticed it immediately! The deterioration in the roads, the neighborhoods and it seemed as though many people were out of work – a huge contrast to my first visit, 10 years earlier, however the nation pulled itself out of that recession, so what makes this recession so different? One can lay blame at the feet of the mortgage industry and certainly I questioned it when a friend said ‘My son is a police officer by night and sells mortgage during the day’. This young man was not qualified in the mortgage industry, but I was assured that all he had to do was to sell the concept – someone else signed the client up!

What I was seeing was the start of greed. The land of opportunity had morphed into ‘the land of con artists’ and people who bent the rules to get what they wanted – money!!

With 2.9 million foreclosures in the last year, one has to ask oneself if all those foreclosures were necessary? Isn’t a roof over ones head, a necessity? As an active REALTOR(R), I tried to get inside the head of a foreclosed owner, to fathom the motivation – after all, I had worked hard and saved for years to afford our first home, and strived everyday to ensure that I kept it. Paying my bills was paramount in my life, to preserve the good name I had fought for, for over 50 years, so why were some people giving up? It just didn’t make sense, until…….

One of the reasons I am where I am today, is because I never stopped learning. To me education is vital, in order to remain competitive in my market. One of those training classes made me a Foreclosure Prevention Specialist and I was thrilled to be able to legally, consult with families, to help them keep their homes. Sadly, the more consultations I held, the clearer the picture became: since the last recession, America had become dependent on plastic – a society of people who could keep up with the Jones’s without having to afford it!

Wherever I looked, there were ads offering credit cards at zero interest, student loans and people soliciting credit availability from cars to clothing! Consumers found it easier to use plastic for their purchases, which were now so easy to come by. Gamblers purchased casino chips on-line… pornography became easy to obtain with a credit card and late night TV offered the latest in fashion and jewelry at the click of a button – all on credit card! We had entered an era where bad habits were easily hidden by the use of plastic!

Pretty soon, boats and cars entered the mix and one seminar I attended, encouraged the purchase of investment property, using credit card for the down payment! As a REALTOR(R) I can tell you that from the examination to the marketing, NOTHING happens without a credit card! Apparently, suppliers no longer use cash or check and plastic is ‘king’!

As I consulted with each family, I generated an income and expenditure account, to determine if they were eligible for a loan modification and more and more I noticed the trend – good living is what had led them to this point!

I asked one single lady what her car payment was: $950/month …. and she assured me that she couldn’t survive without her Mercedes or her entertainment budget of $500/month! That’s a mortgage payment right there, and yet when we were done, she said that she’d rather walk away from the property than change her lifestyle! I hated telling them that in order to get a loan modification, one has to prove hardship and having two luxury vehicles in the garage (both on lease) did not constitute hardship to the lender!

Another client had been on a ten year spending spree: a brand new Mustang convertible, a new career (and the training that he needed). With his HELOC (Home Equity Line Of Credit), he borrowed money to invest into a business, went on luxurious vacations and employed the services of a friend who constructed unpermitted modifications to enlarge his home! As a loving son, he set his mother up in a condo and maintained her – all on borrowed money and without a thought for either the future or of repaying the loan. When the HELOC was exhausted, he maxed his credit cards and when all else failed, he called me!

OH MY GOSH! What had happened to this great country, where status symbols and grandiose lifestyles had become more of a priority than a roof over their heads?

As a REALTOR(R), my business quickly slid from helping people to increase their investments, to helping them get out from under debt and day after day, I was dealing with those who had allowed debt and good living to place a stranglehold on them. These were desperate people who no longer answered the phone or paid their bills, allowing them to overflow from duffel bags in the corner of the room – unnoticed and ignored and when I (and REALTORS(R) like me) arrived, the demand was to ‘help’ them.

It never ceases to amaze me how we are not part of the problem, but we have to be part of the solution and the demand is almost always the same: “It’s YOUR JOB to get us FULL FORGIVENESS of debt!” and yet many of these home owners resent the commission that we earn whilst doing just that! Understand that a desperate person is very often a hostile person, so our job is never easy, and yet, we try to remain non-judgmental, positive and pleasant. (Interestingly enough, this same client did receive FULL forgiveness of his debt and still demanded $1,500 from us (REALTORS(R) towards his moving expenses!)

I was dealing with people who had stopped paying their mortgage, yet were still eating in restaurants, buying new clothing and going on vacation! What was I missing? Then the penny dropped! When the HELOC ran out, they lived on their credit cards and when those were maxed, the unpaid mortgage payments became their lifeline! These were people who CHOSE to not pay their mortgage!

Now, I hasten to add that MANY people suffered true hardship, loss of jobs, divorce, illness – those things that genuinely prevented them from making mortgage payments, however, not all 2.9 million foreclosures were due to hardship! Many were due to greed, convenience and the government stimulus programs that made it easy for them to walk away with full forgiveness, affording them a fresh start and a clean slate! These were people who made a broken system WORK for them! There are families who have lived in their homes for 18 months, without a mortgage payment and without eviction, exacerbating the problem suffered by most of the lending companies – the lack of staff to process the ever-growing piles of foreclosures, which is taking longer and longer to process due to the increasing number of defaults!

And what is so amazing is that they don’t feel the least bit guilty! Their argument is that their loans are insured, they paid interest and that the bank gets the house at the end of the day. True, true and true! Not only is the home-owners system broken – the mortgage industry’s system is also broken!

Watch this video: (not for the feint-hearted!)


Unfortunately, this blasé attitude doesn’t stop there!

In 2008, a friend and colleague of mine sat in her office, crying. When I asked, she said that her husband had spent their rent money on car repairs – it was just before Christmas and her kids would have no gifts. I took her to my bank, had her open her own bank account and she signed a promissory note for the $2,000 that I deposited for her from my account. Three months later, because she had helped me sell my home (probably 6 or 8 hours work), I reduced her loan to me by $1,000! When the promised six months passed and her loan (now only $1,000) became due, she avoided me and did not return my calls. After another year of dutifully sending her monthly invoices, I received an e-mail stating that she had no intention of EVER repaying the loan – ‘You can garnish my wages, if you like’ was her response!

In June of last year a fellow REALTOR(R) who had fallen on hard times, joined our brokerage, but she didn’t have the $295 for the franchise dues. I offered to help her by lending her the money. She left after two months to join another brokerage and now, a year later, has told me that I will have to wait until she closes a ‘deal’ before repaying me!

Another REALTOR(R) asked me to build a website for her – the cost quoted was $790 (considerably less than most web developers), to be paid in two payments, the second payment a month after the first. The deposit was paid and the site went up. Three months later, she, too has told me that I have to wait for her next ‘close’, before she can settle her debt.

Am I the only one who fails to understand the new rules of engagement? What has happened to our great country and why has honor fallen by the wayside? Why do people not care about their reputations, any longer and more importantly, what can we do to fix it?

Althea Garner
REALTOR (R) MBA, MCI, e-Pro
Exit Beach Cities Realty
Exit Realty All Professional
Your House Of Homes Online
DRE 01516817
772-905-9133

Search over 50,000 listings at my web site:
http://www.HouseOfHomesOnline.com

Women’s Council of REALTORS(R):
VP Membership – 2010 (South Orange County)
Treasurer – 2008 (Coastal-West)
Webmaster – 2009 (Long Beach)
Editor – 2009 (Long Beach)
Education Committee – 2009 (California State)

Orange County Association of REALTORS(R):
Education Vice Chair – 2009

So you think that REALTORS(R) can’t understand?

Many perceive REALTORS (R) as high income earners who are far removed from the effects of the recession.  There are those who believe that REALTORS(R) work only 3 hours a day and spend several weeks on some tropical island, every year. Some believe that to be a REALTOR(R), one has to drive a Mercedes or a Lexus in order to be successful.

Let me put the record straight!

Firstly,  I drive a black Ford truck.  Yup,  I am a truck kind of gal and I bought local!  Made in the good ole US of A!  And you know what?  It’s not always as clean as I’d like because I live close to the ocean and the birds like to (shall we say ) ‘drop’ on my car?

Still,  even though I don’t drive a luxury vehicle,  it’s paid for!  IN FULL and I am extremely proud of that, considering that I settled the balance of almost $5000 in one check!

So,  that said, you’re probably thinking that REALTORS(R) are ‘flush’ with their cash flow and especially since I paid my truck off, I must be ‘in the money’?

WRONG!

I have not escaped the recession and for me,  the big black cloud looms just as truly for me as for you!  I wrote three Offers last week and none of them saw an Escrow opened, because the buyers either changed their minds (because they were just plain scared) or they had no intention of buying, anyway (we see a lot of that).

It’s understandable to be scared in this ecomony – I mean, none of us really knows what tomorrow will bring! Yet, that said, we have to understand what got us here in the first place:

When the economy shows signs of stress, people get nervous and they stop spending.  When consumers stop buying, retailers stop stocking and when retailers stop stocking, manufacturers stop producing.  With a dowturn in manufacturing, there are layoffs,  which create unemployment, which further curbs spending and the cycle begins again.

Thus is the nature of our recession.

REALTORS(R), while they are perceived as high income earners, are the target of recessionary thinking – “If I have to take a drop in sale price on my house, then you must take a drop in percentage”.  OK……  If the seller sold for a million dollars in good times, a regular brokerage fee (it doesn’t all go to the REALTOR, BTW), would be 3%, making the brokerage fee $30,000.  In the present market, that same house would probably sell for about $650,000 – a brokerage fee of 3% would be $19,500 – quite a difference, yes?  Yet STILL, we are being told that WE must tak a hit on our commission? WHY?

I say that with the lowered selling  price, we already are!

Still,  there are cut-prce REALTORS(R) out there, quite prepared to put a sign in the ground for 2.5% of a reduced list price and then do nothing!  Such is the way of the world, I guess.

But please don’t think that we don’t understand what is going on around us.  Please don’t think that because we see lowered prices, short sales and foreclosures everyday, means that we don’t care.  Some of us are living through what you are experiencing, too!

We completely understand that you have mouths to feed and one of you has been laid off.  That the kids need medical treatment and you can’t make your car payment and/or your mortgage payment and are facing foreclosure.  And you wonder why no-one understands?

I DO!

You see,  I am a REALTOR(R) and I earn only only when I sell something.  My husband was laid off yesterday – yes,  his company made redundant everyone in his position … throughout the nation,  those top managers are now out of work.  After 12 years of loyal service, my husband was laid off – hey…  give me a couple of weeks to get my head around that, OK?  Still,  I don’t have a couple of weeks – my husband is a heart patient (3 heart attacks in two weeks, four years ago and another 2 just recently) and if he goes into another heart attack his surgery costs about $100,000!  We NEED medical insurance,  which pretty soon (like 2 weeks) we won’t have!  Right now,  I am working just to keep my husband alive!

No,  we don’t have children living at home, but we have one son who goes to college next year and 3 other dependants (as a result of a death in the family) who we have to support and one wonders, with buyers scared and sellers cutting commission, how we will manage.

Is this any different to the way that YOU are thinking?  Are my problems any different to yours?

I don’t have time to think of the ‘how’.  I am too busy trying to combat the fear in buyers and sellers and try as I might, I can’t seem to make people understand that I really DO care – I really CAN help them, because I understand what they are going through and I have the tools, skills and experience to assist them.

So,  if you believe that REALTORS(R) don’t understand what you are going through, think again!  I am not alone…..we’re right there with you, facing the same trials and tribulations – the same life’s challenges, health issues and financial burdens as you and we are also concerned as to how we will make ends meet.

I’m not going to pull the wool over your eyes – the economy is in a mess, but I’ll say this: it has to start somewhere and there really isn’t a better time to buy property than now when the interest rates are low and the property prices are pretty much bottomed out (see my next blog post from the CAR/NAR).  If you look at every other recession we have ever had,  the movement of cash started with the housing market, so the sooner we can get property moving,  the sooner we will get to freeing up some cash flow and people can get jobs again.

Unless we spend, this country will grind to a halt and if that happens,  the world economy will implode.  Is that what we want?  I agree that charity starts at home,  but to see the world starve because we are afraid to spend, is just plain short-sighted.

The December holiday spending was down on last year – January spending was up on the last 10 years!  Is this because consumers were buying on the sales?  Who cares!  Look at your budget and spend accordingly and if this means that you buy from the 99c Store,  that’s fine – just keep the money flowing!

Remember the stories of families eating beans 6 nights a week and as a treat, the seventh night was Spam, because that was the only meat they could afford?  Let’s get back to basics and do what is necessary to afford to pay our overheads and still keep the roof over our families heads. Keeping up with the Joneses is for those who want to go into foreclosure – let’s brainstorm as to how we can cut costs but still keep the economy flowing.

Any ideas?  I am looking forward to your input.

 


Althea Garner
REALTOR (R) MBA, MCI, e-Pro
Executive Real Estate
House Of Homes Online
(714) 264-3458

Search over 50,000 listings at my web site:
http://www.HouseOfHomesOnline.com

Women’s Council of REALTORS(R):
Treasurer – 2008 (Coastal-West)
Webmaster – 2009 (Long Beach)
Editor – 2009 (Long Beach)
Education Committee – 2009 (California State)

Orange County Association of REALTORS(R):
Education Chair – 2009