December Housing Scorecard Shows Continued Home Affordability

RISMEDIA, December 27, 2010—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the December edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard. The latest housing figures show continued home affordability in the housing market, with interest rates near record lows, but the market remains fragile, as prices are unsettled. Foreclosure starts and completions dropped significantly in November, as lenders review internal servicing procedures. The housing scorecard is a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market.

“The Obama Administration’s broad set of programs have helped promote stability for the housing market, neighborhoods, and the nation’s homeowners, but there is much more work to be done,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic. “Since taking office in 2009, the Administration’s efforts have helped millions of families stay in their homes and helped millions more refinance, but the data clearly show that the market remains extremely fragile. That’s why we’re continuing to focus on successfully implementing the programs we’ve put in place—such as additional refinancing assistance and emergency loans to help unemployed homeowners—and ensuring that help is available to homeowners as early as possible.”

“While much work remains to be done to help families that have been hurt by this crisis, the Administration’s programs have benefitted many homeowners directly while setting standards for the entire industry,” said acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad. “This is a major reason why there have been more than twice as many modifications and other foreclosure alternatives as foreclosure completions since April 2009.”

The December Housing Scorecard features key data on the health of the housing market including:

-Foreclosure starts and completions dropped significantly in November. As lenders review internal procedures related to foreclosure processing, many foreclosure actions have been delayed, leading to a 21% drop in foreclosure activity in November. While this is the biggest month over month decrease since 2005, the decline is likely to be temporary as lenders eventually revise and resubmit foreclosure paperwork in the coming months.

-As expected with the expiration of the Home Buyer Tax Credit, new and existing home sales have remained below levels seen in the first half of 2010. However, this month’s report also shows that home prices and home equity declined moderately, as prices remain unsettled at this fragile stage of the recovery.

-More than 3.9 million mortgage aid offers were initiated between April 2009 and the end of October 2010—more than double the number of foreclosure completions during that time. These actions included over 1.4 million Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) trial modification starts, more than 600,000 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions, and nearly 1.8 million proprietary modifications under HOPE Now. While some homeowners may have received help from more than one program, the number of agreements offered were more than double the number of foreclosure completions for the same period (1.7 million).

Data in the scorecard also show that the recovery in the housing market continues to remain fragile. While the recovery will take place over time, the Administration remains committed to its efforts to prevent avoidable foreclosures and stabilize the housing market.

Althea Garner
Preferred Realty Executives (Florida and California)
Your House Of Homes Online
DRE 01516817
772-626-1768

Search over 50,000 listings at my web site:
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

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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

Is your buyer on the Government’s ‘Blocked’ list?

There are many documents that form a contract in a property transaction and by the time the property is ready for recording, the pile measures about 4″ or 5″ in height!

One of those documents, recently added by the Federal government, is the AFFIDAVIT OF NONFOREIGN STATUS – a one page declaration of who the buyer/seller is and this document is sent to the lender for screening ~ to be measured up against the 480+ pages (3 columns per page) of persons who are not permitted to purchase property in the US!

According to the Federal Secrecy Act, certain individuals are barred from buying property in the US, because they are at risk of money-laundering, either for purposes of terrorism, drug trafficking or on-line fraud, and this forms part of the 911 Homeland Security process.
http://www.ffiec.gov/bsa_aml_infobase/default.htm

“Pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act and requirements specified by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), seller will not engage in any transaction with an individual and/or entity that either a) appears on the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons, Specially Designated Terrorists, Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers, or b) that Seller suspects to be involved in suspicious transaction or a transaction in violation of federal law………..”

Although this document applies to all who enter into a property transaction, there are certain ‘red flags’ that would escalate such an investigation, one of which is the reluctance on the part of the buyer or seller to provide identity information or who provides incomplete or incorrect information.
http://www.ffiec.gov/bsa_aml_infobase/pages_manual/OLM_106.htm

If you think about it, sellers who accept cash deals without an agent, are placing us all at risk, because this vital step would be by-passed, thereby possibly risking the lives of innocent Citizens. Do YOU know who bought the ‘For-Sale-By-Owner’ property on your street?

In addition, the Internet is fraught with offers from outside the US to buy property, usually offering to do so through their ‘attorney’, and these almost always turn out to be fraudulent deals!

One of the ways that these chancers get FSBO information is through advertising and as most FSBO listings are advertised on Craigslist, this is the most common point of contact.

It is only by being vigilant and using an agent who is aware of the many and frequent changes imposed by government, that YOU, the buyer or seller can safely close Escrow without putting others at risk! In the event of a ‘For-Sale-By-Owner’ property passing to a blocked person, the Federal government would hold both buyer and seller responsible, so while the owner might save money on the brokerage commission by not using a licensed agent, is jail time really worth it?

Don’t take a chance ~ ONLY do business with a qualified and licensed agent, one who is a member of the real estate Board (a REALTOR ®) and one who makes it their business to stay up to date with the law!


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

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

Murder ~ The New Plague On REALTORS(R)

More and more we read about real estate agents found murdered at vacant properties and with the rising number of foreclosed properties, agents have become easy targets for rapists and killers!

A California agent was found stabbed to death a couple of months ago … two weeks ago two agents were murdered in Ohio and we have to ask ourselves what we are doing to protect ourselves and our clients? How many agents carry mace or weapons?

One can argue that our GE keys can track our whereabouts, based on the last Supra I-box that was opened, however, most vacant foreclosed properties have combo boxes, which do not have radio frequency.

Ted Cernak, of Costa Mesa, California designed a GPS ‘fob’ device compact enough to attach to one’s key chain, which would silently summon law enforcement at the press of a button! This device can be used anywhere, at any time: in the parking lot late at night, on vacation in a foreign country or in the event of a fall, heart attack or car accident.

I would invite Mr Cernak to give readers more information on this life-preserving device, by posting his response at this blog.

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):
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

Dear Mr/Ms Seller

Dear Mr/Ms Seller,

Your property has been on the market for 498 days without a price change. Tell me something …. Have you HEARD from your listing agent in that time? Do you know if they are still alive? Did you ever see a marketing plan? Did your agent ever do Open House and if so, how many were held and with what result (did you ever ask, assuming that they didn’t contact you afterwards)?

Has your listing agent advertised your property (you would know this by Googling the listing address – I have!)? How many prospective buyers has your agent brought to your listing and what was the buyers reason for not signing a purchase offer?

Mr/Ms Seller….. if your property hasn’t sold in 498 days, might I suggest that you either change your list price or your agent – one of them is not working for you!

Signed:
A-good-agent-who-can’t-believe-how-slack-agents-get-good-business-and-do-nothing-with-it!

[aka:]
Althea Garner

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

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

Top Gear, With the Top Down!

My philosophy has always been ‘If it isn’t working, turn the page, close the book and move on’ and this week was no different, as I moved to a new brokerage.

In the three months that I have been in Port Saint Lucie, I have been wooed by many brokerages, however, in the final analysis, I felt that the one I chose, just wasn’t a good fit for me. Let me explain:

As a digital REALTOR(R) I do a lot of my work on the computer. Like today’s buyers, I use the computer to source suitable properties for them to preview, I look up tax records, square footage and property history using the computer and I stay in touch with the property market (both in my area and nationally) using my computer.

In order to sell the listings entrusted to me by my clients, I advertise on all the major property web sites and develop virtual tours, electronic magazines, unique ‘single property’ web sites and videos in order to attract buyers.

I am glued to my Blackberry in order to source property information while on the run and to keep in touch with my sellers via phone, e-mail and text message.

Because I am licensed in both Florida and California, I employ digital signatures for document signing, so being on the cutting edge of technology is vitally important for me to serve my clients ~ both buyers and sellers! Working with a team of people who still do business ‘the old fashioned’ way, is like being the only person in the world, with a phone – there’s no-one on the other side to talk to and this doesn’t help my clients!

From the moment I walked into Preferred Realty Executives on Port Saint Lucie Blvd, I felt as though I had arrived ‘home’! I could ‘smell’ technology and it was like a breath of fresh air after being under water for too long – it was like coming back from the dead! It’s as simple as this: you can have the fastest computer in the world, but if your office connection is as S-L-O-W as molasses, you will work as slowly as the slowest person in the office! If there are 6 people in the office and only 2 phone lines, how many clients can you contact? This is not what today’s buyer or seller expects of their agent, right?

I have achieved more in my first two days at PRE, than I have achieved in the last two weeks and it feels GOOD to be moving at my old pace ~ I only have one speed and that is ‘top gear’. Anything less is like pushing a new Corvette on the freeway!

So now that I have the keys in the ignition, hop in and let’s take that ride together – top gear, with the top down!

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

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

Last Week in the News

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index was unchanged in September at 13. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.

The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in August rose 10.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 598,000 units. The increase was largely due to a boost in the construction of multi-family homes. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 1.8% to an annual rate of 569,000 units.

Existing home sales rose 7.6% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million units from an upwardly revised 3.84 million units in July. The inventory of unsold homes on the market declined 0.6% to 3.98 million, an 11.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 12.5-month supply in July.

The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose 0.3% in August after a 0.1% increase in July.

Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — fell 1.3% in August after increasing a revised 0.7% in July. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, orders posted a monthly increase of 2%.

New home sales were unchanged in August at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 288,000 units, matching July, which was revised up from 276,000. Economists had expected a pace of 290,000 units.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 12,000 to 465,000 for the week ending September 18. Continuing claims for the week ending September 11 fell by 48,000 to 4.49 million.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the housing price index on September 28 and construction spending on October 1.

Althea Garner
REALTOR(R)
For all your property needs in Florida and California!

http://www.houseofhomesonline.com
http://isellpslhomes.com
http://www.355socean805.com

Will work for food!

There’s just nothing like standing on the center median of a busy intersection, holding a sign that says “WILL WORK FOR FOOD!”, but I did! It didn’t feel good, but this really IS what our economy has brought us to and there’s no escaping the fact that some folks can’t afford to feed their families.

Last week, a Huntington Beach, CA teen (18) went to school on his birthday and returned home to find that his parents had moved – without him! To be sure, it’s not just pets that are being abandoned in these troubled times.

Two months ago, 12 real estate agents at Exit Realty All Professional, Port Saint Lucie, got together to organize a food drive in conjunction with the Treasure Coast Food Bank – We called it ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors’. Two weeks ago, there were only 5 of us left. At set up this morning, there were only four us involved and by 10am, three of us remained, not counting the management.

Having handed out over 2,000 flyers in the community, advertised on radio, social networks and in the newspaper, the ONLY people who turned up to this free bar-b-q event, were two vendors who arrived heavily laden with food for the needy. This is so sad! A dollar…. that’s all it would have cost to support needy neighbors!

I will say this: Standing on the corner of Port Saint Lucie Blvd and Airoso, twirling my hand scrawled “Will work for food” sign, brought some quizzical looks! Most of those who stopped and handed me a one dollar bill, did not make eye contact, but I was grateful, all the same. For those readers who live outside of Florida, let me tell you that it was H-O-T out there and extremely humid and I now have far greater respect for the homeless people on various corners who do this daily!

Yes, we have to walk a mile in their shoes, to understand just how hard it really is, so next time you see someone begging for food, offer a cheery smile and cough up a dollar – they might not be the dead-beat you thought they were and who knows ~ God forbid that next week, next month or next year we could be collecting food for you!

My very sincere thanks to Beckie and Robert Fordin of ABOVE & BEYOND CLEANING SERVICES (772) 237-2267 and Danielle and Howard Schweitzer of Kleen-Rite Restoration Inc.. (561) 997-2212, for their tremendous support and very generous donations!

Althea Garner
REALTOR(R)
(772) 626-1768
http://www.isellpslhomes.com

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

Lipitor and Insomnia

Since being mugged and severely beaten in my driveway in 1983, I have not been a particularly good sleeper. I never had difficulty getting to sleep, but tended to wake anywhere between 1am and 3am and then it seemed impossible to get back to sleep until around 5am. This would continue for about 4 days and then I would collapse into a 12 – 14 hour sleep and be OK again. Over the years, getting by on less sleep, just became a way of life, until recently…….

The lead-up to our move to Port Saint Lucie, Florida, recently was naturally hectic – filled with late nights and early mornings, while I packed, organized and continued to work full real estate days. Prior to leaving California, I had my annual check-up and ensured that all my meds were revised and re-upped.

When we arrived in Florida, life became a lot simpler and I couldn’t get enough sleep. I would sleep for 9 hours at night and then for another 6 hours in the afternoon! Despite having driven from coast-to-coast, I put this down to ‘jet lag’ or time zone changes. I also experienced morning nausea, which prompted me to start eating breakfast – something I haven’t done with any regularity since high school!

About 2 weeks ago, I turned out the light at about 11pm and tossed and turned ALL NIGHT, finally falling asleep at 5am! This was naturally followed by an afternoon nap and another sleepless night – and then another and another. I stopped the afternoon naps, trying to ‘push through’ till midnight in an attempt to force sleep, but still felt like a rotisserie chicken, turning, turning, TURNING, all night!

My son gave me a bottle of Melatonin but when one tablet didn’t work, I tried two. When this didn’t help, I tried Tylenol PM – first a half a tablet and the following night a whole tablet! After two weeks of being sleep deprived, I was exhausted by 11pm, but wide awake for several hours every night after turning out the light!

At 1am this morning, when sleep eluded me – AGAIN, I had the realization that a whole Tylenol PM, had in the past knocked me out for 24 hours – why wasn’t it working, now? I wasn’t even remotely drowsy! I cast my mind back over the preceding two weeks and it occurred to me that this was about the time that my Simvastatin (medication to combat high cholesterol) ran out and I started taking the new prescription, Lipitor! During my ‘medical’ my ‘bad’ cholesterol had peaked at 250 – the highest it had ever been, despite the Simvastatin, and my doctor put me on the stronger product, Lipitor. I wasn’t concerned as my husband has been taking Lipitor for several years since his heart issues began.

During our ‘trans-US’ trip, my routine had been a little off and I had been taking my meds in the morning instead of last thing at night. Before starting the Lipitor, I had read the instructions that said that it should be taken prior to sleep – I immediately made the change.

So, now wide awake at 1am, I moseyed on through to my computer and started some research on the side effects of Lipitor – and there it was! Insomnia, nausea, joint pain, irritability, depression… all symptoms that I had had since starting this medication! At 58, one doesn’t question joint pain! I put the irritability down to lack of sleep and the depression to the relocation.

As with most medications, Lipitor comes with the warning that if any side effects are experienced, one should ‘consult their doctor’, but most cases result in the doctor simply adding another prescription to deal with the latest complaint and before you know it, you are a walking pharmacy!

As I read on, I noticed that there were some conflicts: Tiredness and insomnia …. weight gain and loss of weight …. depression and anxiety, depending on the dosage and the way that the individual processes the drug – basically the interaction of the drug (a chemical) with the individuals natural body chemicals which would naturally vary from person to person, depending on age, weight, diet and dosage.

My mind went back to celebrities who have overdosed on drugs – many of them prescription drugs. These are folks who have become dependent on drug usage, just to function, but there it was… in black and white: some patients who suffer insomnia and who take sleeping pills, find that they cannot function with day-to-day activities (their work) and start to take ‘uppers’, just to get through the day!

OMG! I was shocked! I could TOTALLY understand why Michael Jackson took pain pills after his fire accident and ended up self administering anesthetic, just to be able to sleep. Believe me…. I was pretty close, myself!

What I don’t understand, is how some doctors simply prescribe another medication to counter the effects of the last prescription – each with its own set of side effects. Then there’s the problem of the medical insurance rejecting some medications, forcing patients to take those that don’t agree with them! Finally, we dip into depression and irritability that affects our families and friends as they react to our moods without understanding, our jobs and finally, we find ourselves confused, lost and alone! (Unfortunately, family and friends seldom relate changes in behavioral patterns with medication and one is just regarded as ‘cranky’ or difficult to live with – some simply regard the person as ‘just not nice’!)

My motto has always been ‘physician, heal thyself’, before resorting to drugs of any kind, so when I was told that my blood pressure was extremely high, I opted to drink more water, get more exercise and lower my sodium intake. While this worked for my blood pressure which is now normal, I was stuck with the cholesterol meds because my high count is hereditary rather than dietary.

My family’s reaction is for me to stop the medication because I have apparently not been very easy to live with lately, but this puts me back to starting a new prescription and who knows what the side effects of THAT could be?

My research showed that cholesterol medication is prescribed to be taken last thing at night because apparently more cholesterol is manufactured by the body during sleep (yeah, right… what sleep?) My first step will be to take my meds at 5pm, since I have been falling asleep about 6 hours after taking Lipitor. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try taking it in the morning and just dealing with the nausea.

The human body is a delicate chemical machine, that when another chemical is added, runs the risk of imbalance. Add another chemical to the mix and one runs the risk of swinging in the opposite direction or, worse still, plummeting deeper into further imbalance.

My quest now, is to attempt to restore that delicate balance, despite Lipitor.

Althea Garner
REALTOR (R) MBA, MCI, e-Pro
Exit Beach Cities Realty
Exit Realty All Professional
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Editor – 2009 (Long Beach)
Education Committee – 2009 (California State)

Orange County Association of REALTORS(R):
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