Archives for December 2006

HUMMERs and the Holidays

A very dear friend, who knows my passion for Hummingbirds, sent me this email today: Dsc_0092_1
"Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.  The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation."
I thought this would be a wonderful way to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.   I will be away from my blog until January 3, 2007 and I look forward to providing you with more information mortgage and financial planning soon.

My Christmas Present

Img_4681_1My husband completely surprised me this Christmas!   My gift from him was a new digital camera equipped with zoom lenses.   I have really been enjoying the Hummingbirds we have attracted to our yard and with my new camera, we can now capture some pretty amazing photos with it.  Photography has always been relaxing and fun for me and so I have added a Filed Under: Just for Fun

The 12 Gifts of Christmas

Tree My friend and colleague, Marian York, recently shared a gift with me that I would like to in turn, share with you.  Marian is the Author of "The Loving Dictionary" (her book is linked below), she is a renown speaker and is the founder of The WORDpower Institute NW.

The following is Marian’s December WORDpower Tip, although Christmas was yesterday, I think this is appropriate all year long:

The 12 Gifts of Christmas

Here are twelve special gifts you can share with the people in your life!  They don’t cost anything and come in every size, shape and color!

1) The Gift of Patience…Take a deep breath and count to 10 before responding.

2) The Gift of Understanding…What unfulfilled need for love, respect or kindness might lie beneath their behavior?

3) The Gift of Support…What’s one small thing I could do to make their life easier?

4) The Gift of Appreciation…How have they contributed to my life or to the lives of others?

5) The Gift of Communication…When was the last time I "told" them how much I appreciate them?

6) The Gift of Thoughtfulness…What makes them feel really happy, valued or safe?

7) The Gift of Forgiveness…Was their oversight or mistake really worth the loss of the relationship or friendship?

8) The Gift of Interest…How much do I know about this person? Or listen to them?

9) The Gift of Acceptance…Can I see their warts in perspective to all of their good points?

10) The Gift of Trust…Do I say what I mean and do what I say?

11) The Gift of Mastery…How can I use my skills and talents to enrich their lives?

12) The Gift of Humor…What could I say or do to put a smile on their heart today?

I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday and a peaceful, healthy and happy New Year.

A Christmas Present from Congress for Homebuyers

Xmas1969 If lawmakers get their way, Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) will become tax-deductible for home loans originated after January 1, 2007. PMI is a requirement for most home loans in which borrowers make a down payment of less than 20%.

The bill has already been passed by Congress and awaits the President’s signature before it becomes law.

While the new deduction is restricted to homebuyers whose annual household income does not exceed $100,000, the legislation could impact nearly 50% of all homebuyers, according to a SMR Research study of homes financed in 2005.

Up until now, many homebuyers have used "piggyback" loans in order to avoid paying PMI. A piggyback loan is where the homebuyer obtains two mortgages, a first mortgage for 80% of the purchase price, and a second mortgage for the remaining funds required, outside of the down payment.

Since many homebuyers have chosen a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) as their second mortgage, their required monthly payments have increased significantly as a result of the actions of the Federal Reserve. Today, many homebuyers with a HELOC are now paying more than they would have if they had chosen PMI with their original mortgage.

What does this legislation mean to you?

Under the law, homebuyers will have more financing options available that offer greater tax deductibility and lower monthly payments. This means a homebuyer could potentially afford a more desirable home! In addition, homebuyers could qualify for traditional mortgages rather than the more expensive options they were forced to pursue in the past.

The new law, should President Bush allow it, would apply to home purchases and restructuring of acquistion mortgages (no cash out refinances) only.   The bottom line is it is always great to have more options for home buyers.

UPDATE:  Sure enough…President Bush just signed this new law to be in effect from January 1, 2007 –  December 31, 2007.   I’ll post more information as I find it. 

On the 6th Day of Lights Out…

Late this afternoon, we were finally graced with our electricity!  As cliche as this sounds, it is true, you never know how wonderful something is until it’s gone.   I must say that there were benefits to not having power.  Something I really enjoyed, that we usually do not do, since I also love to cook, was eating out at restaurants.   I am so amazed at what outstanding establishments we have in our neighborhood of West Seattle.   I just want to send a little kudos to the following restaurants we had the pleasure of dining at these past 6 days and nights.   

Angelina’s Trattoria at 2311 California Avenue SW, Seattle.  We enjoyed a hot breakfast out of our cold house.  My favorite is the Alki Scramble which includes smoked salmon and caramelized onions.  Angelina’s is a favorite breakfast spot for our family.  They do have great lunch and dinners, too.

The Blackbird Bistro at 2329 California Avenue SW, Seattle.  Probably one of the best Reuben Sandwiches I’ve ever had.  My step son loved the mac and cheese!

The Mission  at 2325 California Avenue SW, Seattle.  Tasty Latin food.  We only had the Nachos…I’m sure we’ll be back for more.  Great atmosphere.

Cactus Restaurants at 2820 Alki Avenue SW, Seattle.   Excellent service and the food was great too.  My husband had beef tacos that were so fresh and I had the Chicken Fried Chicken with Chorizo Gravy (I’ll be doing extra sit ups for that dinner).

I guess with the power out and cooking being inconvenient, I really appreciate how fine our meals were at these establishments.   How lucky are we to have such high quality restaurants in such a small neighborhood…these are just a few we happened to visit from lack of power.


2 Out of 3 is Bad…2 Major Credit Bureaus are increasing their costs to consumers.

Effective January 2007, Equifax and Experian will increase the cost of obtaining consumer credit reports to lenders.  Currently, when you apply for a mortgage loan, the loan originator pulls a tri-merge credit report and, depending on the type of mortgage company the L.O. is employed by, may "shop" for lenders to find the best product and rate.   If a borrower has good to excellent credit, often times, looking for rates and products can be done verbally without having to provide a copy of the credit report until the loan is ready to be underwritten.   

For borrowers with challenging credit or situations that need mortgage help, loan originators will often times shop different sub-prime lenders for their clients.  This may involve running the loan scenario with that sub-prime lender and uploading the client’s credit report.   Currently, the original credit report that was pulled by the loan officer is "reissued" to the sub-prime lender for use in underwriting the loan at no additional expense to the consumer.  If the loan is especially tricky, it’s very possible to have to repeat this procedure with different sub-prime lenders to try to find a desirable loan approval.   Equifax and Experian are now going to charge a fee every time the credit report is submitted to a new lender (sub-prime or not).   

This will not only impact "sub-prime" borrowers.  I offer to re-lock my clients with another lender should interest rates improve significantly.  In this case, there will be additional fees, that do exist now, for reissuing of the credit reports.

Once again, the credit bureaus…well, at least two of them, are playing dirty pool.  There is no benefit to lenders or to consumers for the increase in the credit reporting fees.  It only generates significant additional revenue for Equifax and Experian and will hurt consumers who can afford the increased cost the least.

Any consumer can obtain a free copy of their credit report by visiting  This tool is for the consumers information only, it is not suitable for underwriting mortgage loans.

This is offered by the three major credit bureaus and you are allowed to obtain one report from each bureau per year.  I recommend that you pull one report from one bureau every four months until you have cycled through each credit bureau and then start over with the process.    There are many copy cat "free credit report" sites, this is the official one.    If you receive my Newsletter, which happens to be mailed 3 times per year, you could use the reminder I have featured in it.  If you would like to be added to my mailing list, including my Homes & Money Newsletter, please contact me with your mailing address.