Friday, November 20, 2009

Under the Sea

I went to watch this film, it was beatiful, interesting and fun!!! If you love your planet, and care about animals, this film will be the perfect one to see.
It is being shown at the California Science Center, next to USC in Los Angeles, California.

The critics LOVE Under the Sea 3D!

"A lovely excursion into another world, like a voyage to another planet; superbly filmed. Filmed for families of all ages.”

Jeffrey Lyons/NBC/Lyons & Bailes Reel Talk

“ Oceans of fun.”

New York Times

“A visual feast”

Bob Strauss/Los Angeles Daily News

Under The Sea 3D will transport moviegoers to some of the most exotic and isolated undersea locations on Earth, including Southern Australia, New Guinea and others in the Indo-Pacific region, allowing them to experience face-to-face encounters with some of the most mysterious and stunning creatures of the sea. It will offer a uniquely inspirational and entertaining way to explore the impact that global climate change has had on ocean wilderness.

FHA LOANS

With FHA Help, Easy Loans in Expensive Areas


by David Streitfeld

Friday, November 20, 2009

provided by THE NEW YORK TIMES

SAN FRANCISCO -- In January, Mike Rowland was so broke that he had to raid his retirement savings to move here from Boston.

A week ago, he and a couple of buddies bought a two-unit apartment building for nearly a million dollars. They had only a little cash to bring to the table but, with the federal government insuring the transaction, a large down payment was not necessary.

"It was kind of crazy we could get this big a loan," said Mr. Rowland, 27. "If a government official came out here, I would slap him a high-five."

In its efforts to prop up a shattered housing market, the government is greatly extending its traditional support of real estate, including guaranteeing the mortgages of middle-class and even upper-class buyers against default.

In 2007, the government did not insure a single mortgage in this city, one of the most expensive in the country. Buyers here, as well as in Manhattan, Santa Monica and every other wealthy area, were presumed to be able to handle the steep prices and correspondingly hefty down payments on their own.

Now the government is guaranteeing an average of six mortgages a week here. Real estate agents say the insurance is such a good deal that there will soon be many more.

Policy changes like the shift in insurance, while often introduced on a temporary basis, are becoming so popular that they could prove difficult to undo. With government finances already under great strain, the policy expansions are creating new risks for American taxpayers.

The Internal Revenue Service is giving tax rebates to first-time buyers, and soon to move-up buyers, in a program beset by accusations of fraud. And the government agency that issues mortgage insurance, the Federal Housing Administration, is underwriting loans at quadruple the rate of three years ago even as its reserves to cover defaults are dwindling. On Thursday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said more than one in six F.H.A. borrowers was behind on payments.

F.H.A. insurance was created for minority and low-income families who could not come up with the traditional down payment of 20 percent required by private lenders. Buyers receive loans from government-approved lenders and are required to document their income and assets. They must pay a substantial insurance premium of 1.75 percent of the loan. But in return, their down payment can be as low as 3.5 percent.

For decades, most F.H.A. loans were in low-cost states like Texas and Michigan. Under the agency's loan limits, houses along the coasts were usually too expensive to qualify. In 2007, fewer than 4,400 F.H.A. loans were made in California, according to the research firm MDA DataQuick, and none were in San Francisco.

The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 helped change that by temporarily doubling the maximum loan the F.H.A. insured, to $729,750. A two-unit property like the one bought by Mr. Rowland and his friends can be insured for up to $934,200.

"F.H.A. financing was a lost language in San Francisco, the real estate equivalent of Aramaic," said Michael Ackerman, the agent who represented Mr. Rowland and his friends. "Once the limits were raised, smart buyers started calling."

The F.H.A. has insured more than 107,000 loans so far this year in the state, according to DataQuick, about 270 of them in San Francisco.

Condominium buildings approved for F.H.A. financing -- a relative handful -- trumpet the news on their Web sites. The Soma Grand, a new 246-unit building downtown where one-bedrooms cost in excess of $500,000, received F.H.A. certification early in the summer. A half-dozen buyers since then used F.H.A. insurance.

At Guarantee Mortgage Corporation, which has 150 mortgage brokers in the Bay Area, Seattle and Portland, Ore., F.H.A. loans have grown to about 15 percent of its business, from less than 3 percent a few years ago.

"It sure has helped us put a lot of deals together," said Guarantee's chief sales officer, Bob Siefert. He predicts that a quarter of Guarantee's deals will soon be guaranteed by the F.H.A.

Some F.H.A. borrowers here say they have the cash for a full down payment but would rather invest it in the stock market or use it for remodeling. Others, like Mr. Rowland and his friends, simply do not have the money required by private lenders -- which would have been nearly $200,000, in their case.

"We were resigned to waiting another year," said a second partner, Michael Bedar, 31. "Then we read about the F.H.A. I had never heard of it before, and couldn't quite believe it. But it was the answer to our problems." They put down about $33,000, split among the three of them.

While the F.H.A. is certainly strengthening the high-end market in the Bay Area by prompting more sales, there are growing concerns that it might become a destabilizing force.

Kenneth Donohue, inspector general for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the parent agency of the F.H.A., said the higher loan limits were increasing the potential risk to the F.H.A. Last week, the agency said its cash reserves had fallen below their Congressionally mandated minimum because of the large volume of foreclosures.

"If one of these higher-limit loans fail, that's equivalent to two or three cheaper loans," Mr. Donohue said. "You have to ask yourself, was the F.H.A. ever intended to address these markets?"

He sees another risk: larger loans will be a greater draw for those who want to commit fraud. That would exacerbate a problem already besetting the agency.

Even some San Francisco agents who are doing F.H.A. deals worry about the long-term consequences. Real estate commissions are 6 percent. If the value of a property were to hold steady, a seller who put down the F.H.A. minimum would suffer a loss after fees. And while the Bay Area has traditionally been an excellent investment, the last few years have proved a big exception.

"Is this going to be the next wave of the housing downturn?" asked Eileen Bermingham, an agent with Pacific Union. "With such a minimal down payment, how do we make sure people don't get in over their heads?"

The F.H.A. commissioner, David H. Stevens, said recently that its loans were relatively safe because the buyer was required to live in the property. They "are for shelter. They aren't speculative-type investments," Mr. Stevens said.

But the idea of a house as an investment dies hard. Mr. Bedar, Mr. Rowland and the third partner in their property, Jordan Kurland, are all in the technology field, but their dreams of wealth do not feature stock options.

"We're banking on real estate," said Mr. Kurland, 24. "Everyone expects prices to keep going up."

Mr. Kurland and Mr. Bedar, who are employed full time, are the buyers of record. Mr. Rowland, a freelancer, will have his interests protected by a legal agreement.

Their building, for which they paid $963,000, is on a quiet street in the up-and-coming Hayes Valley neighborhood, close to fashionable restaurants they have already been trying out. The friends plan to live in the bottom unit and rent out the top. Thanks to rock-bottom interest rates, none of them will pay much more than a thousand dollars a month. "Everyone should have the chance to do this," Mr. Kurland said.

Everyone may get a chance.

A few weeks ago, Congress extended the higher lending limits for another year. Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview that he planned to introduce legislation next year raising the maximum F.H.A. loan by $100,000, to $839,750.

His bill would make the new limits permanent.

Louise Story contributed reporting.

FAQs on the New Home Buyer Tax Credits - Kiplinger.com

I guess some people still have questions re: the IRS tax credit for 1st home buyers, so I found a great site which has a lot of financial savy, intelligent, and knowledgeable individuals. I hope after reading this from Kiplinger website, there are no more questions left unanswered.
FAQs on the New Home Buyer Tax Credits - Kiplinger.com

Posted using ShareThis

Credits: Kiplinger website

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Health Care Plan

I just can't believe all the nonsense of politicians! I was reading a report from Yahoo today re: this health care plan, it would only cover 2% of the population with the public plan. Unbelievable!!! It would cost a lot and would only benefit a few. I just dont get this nonsense. The only thing we are doing is putting more debt in tax payer's shoulders, burning all of our good workers and consumers by adding more deficit to our already weak economy. Can somebody stopped printing some much money????? I guess there are people out there who want the US to be bankrupt. It gets me really upset to see how people are being deceit.

The US is the best country in the world, there is no other country were people live better. Look around and see how many people in 3rd world countries live?  I just can believe how many people would give away what they have for just fantasies that somebody else comes up with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Loteria de Visas 2011

Lotería de Visas 2011


Sorteo arranca el próximo 2 de octubre

Las solicitudes al sorteo se envían por internet. El gobierno estadounidense reiteró que el concurso es totalmente gratis.

El Departamento de Estado anunció el jueves la apertura del sorteo de la Lotería de Visas 2011. En un comunicado, la cancillería estadounidense detalló que la apertura de la ventana para la recepción de solicitudes vía internet inicia el mediodía del 2 de octubre y cierra el mediodía del 30 de noviembre.

Se estima que este año participarán entre 8 y 11 millones de concursantes que se disputarán las 55 mil residencias (green card o tarjetas verdes) que cada año se entregan por mandato del Congreso a extranjeros provenientes de países de baja admisión o bajo nivel de inmigración a Estados Unidos.

Fechas del sorteo

El gobierno estadounidense advirtió que para el sorteo 2011 regirán casi las mismas reglas que prevalecieron en el sorteo anterior.

Brasil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Perú, México, Perú y República Dominicana no podrán concursar porque integran la lista de alta adminisión, de acuerdo con datos de la Oficina de Ciudadanía y Servicios de Inmigraciòn (USCIS).
De las 55 mil residencias en juego, 5 mil son apartadas cada año para inmigrantes amparados bajo la Ley de Ayuda a Nicaragua y Centroamérica (NACARA), aprobada por el Congreso en noviembre de 1997.
Quiénes si, quiénes no
El programa, que se conoce formalmente como Lotería de Visas de Diversidad (Diversity Visa, DV), ofrece gratis residencias permanentes a ciudadanos de países que tradicionalmente tienen un "bajo nivel de inmigración a Estados Unidos", explicó el Departamento de Estado (DOS).
Como naciones de 'bajo nivel de inmigración' el gobierno de Washington considera a aquellos países que han recibido, en los cinco años previos al concurso, menos de 50 mil visas de inmigrante.
Por este motivo, en el sorteo 2011 Brasil, Canadá, China, Colombia, Corea del Sur, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haití, India, Jamaica, México, Pakistán Filipinas, Perú, Polonia, Republica Dominicana, Reino Unido (excepto Irlanda del Norte) y Vietman no pueden participar.
Todos los demás países fueron habilitados para participar en el sorteo.



Credits to: Univision Website (Spanish Broadcast)

Requesting Advance Parole before Traveling

USCIS Reminds Applicants for Adjustment of Status, Asylum, Legalization, and TPS Beneficiaries to Obtain Advance Parole Before Traveling Abroad


WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds individuals that they must obtain Advance Parole from USCIS before traveling abroad if they have:

• been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS);

• a pending application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident;

• a pending application for relief under section 203 of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA 203);

• a pending asylum application; or

• a pending application for legalization.

To obtain Advance Parole, individuals must file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, which is available in the Related Links section of this page.

Advance Parole is permission to reenter the United States after traveling abroad. Advance Parole is an extraordinary measure used sparingly to allow an otherwise inadmissible individual to enter the United States due to compelling circumstances. By law, certain individuals must apply for a travel document and have Advance Parole approved before leaving the United States. Attempts to reenter the United States without prior authorization may have severe consequences since individuals requiring advance parole may be unable to return to the United States and their pending applications may be denied or administratively closed.

Applicants planning travel abroad should plan ahead since applicants can anticipate processing times of about 90 days, depending on the USCIS office location. Instructions for filing Form I-131 provide details on where to mail travel document applications and should be followed carefully to avoid delay. For more information on Advance Parole see How Do I Get a Travel Document? (also in the Related Links) and instructions for Form I-131.

Note:

Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, aliens who depart the United States after being unlawfully present in the United States for certain periods can be barred from admission to lawful permanent resident status, even if they have obtained Advance Parole. Aliens who have been unlawfully present in the United States for more than 180 days, but less than one year, are inadmissible for three years; those who have been unlawfully present for one year or more are inadmissible for 10 years. Aliens who are unlawfully present, then depart the United States and subsequently reenter under a grant of parole, may still be ineligible to adjust their status.

Individuals who have been admitted as refugees or granted asylum, including those who are applying for adjustment of status, do not need to obtain Advance Parole. Instead, these individuals should apply for a Refugee Travel Document using Form I-131 and comply with applicable application requirements, such as biometric processing, prior to leaving the United States.

Lawful permanent residents who obtained such status as a result of being a refugee or asylee in the United States may also apply for a Refugee Travel Document. For more information on Refugee Travel Documents please see How Do I Get a Refugee Travel Document?

Asylum applicants, asylees and lawful permanent residents who obtained such status based on their asylum status are subject to special rules with regard to traveling outside the United States. Such individuals are encouraged to review USCIS’ Fact Sheet Traveling Outside the United States as an Asylum Applicant, an Asylee, or a Lawful Permanent Resident Who Obtained Such Status Based on Asylum Status.

Before making any plans to travel abroad, all individuals with pending applications for adjustment of status, relief under NACARA 203, or asylum are urged to consult an immigration attorney or immigration assistance organization accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals, or by calling USCIS’ Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
Taken from http://www.uscis.gov website

This is only posted for informational purposes, if you need help with your legal status, please seek the advice of an attorney.

U.S. Citizens and Surviving Spouses

USCIS Update: USCIS Issues Guidance for Surviving Spouses of U.S. Citizens
Deferred Action Authorized for Certain Spouses and Children

 
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today issued guidance on requesting deferred action for surviving spouses of U.S. citizens who died before the second anniversary of their marriage. Surviving spouses qualify for this temporary program if they were married to, but not legally separated from, their U.S. citizen spouse at the time of that spouse's death; did not remarry; and are currently residing in the United States.

Surviving spouses qualify for deferred action regardless of whether the U.S. citizen spouse filed a Form I-130 petition for them. Surviving spouses may ask to have their qualifying children included in their deferred action request. To be considered a "qualifying child" of a surviving spouse, the child must be younger than age 21 or otherwise qualify as a child when the deferred action request is submitted; currently reside in the United States; and be unmarried.

USCIS has revised the instructions to the Forms I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and I-131, Application for Travel Document, as they relate to this temporary new program.

Surviving spouses who apply for deferred action will need to file Form I-360 with supporting documentation and the $375 filing fee with the Vermont Service Center.

Work authorization will be available to surviving spouses and qualifying children who are granted deferred action and who can establish economic necessity. Form I-765 is used for this purpose (separate applications are required for each person seeking work authorization).

Travel authorization will also be available to surviving spouses and qualified children granted deferred action under this program.

USCIS has posted on the Web, an accompanying list of questions and answers and a fact sheet about this program. For additional information about this and other immigration services, please call the National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283, or visit our homepage.



For more information, please visit www.uscis.gov

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Home Buyers Tax Credit

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Questions and Answers: Homes Purchased in 2009
Q. Is the IRS currently accepting e-filed returns that claim the new $8,000 homebuyer credit in/for the 2008 tax year?

A. Yes. Taxpayers can file Form 5405, First Time Homebuyer Credit, electronically for home purchases in 2008 to claim the first-time homebuyer credit. IRS began processing these returns electronically on March 30, 2009.

Q. I plan to build a home and occupy it in 2009. Can I claim the first-time homebuyer credit now and use the funds toward the down payment or other ongoing construction costs?

A. No. To qualify for the first time home buyer credit, the residence must be purchased. By statute, a residence which is constructed by the taxpayer is treated as purchased on the date the taxpayer first occupies the residence. (05/06/09)

Q. I bought my home in 2009 (early) and filed my 2008 tax return claiming the $7,500 first-time homebuyer credit that has to be repaid. Now the expanded law provides for an $8,000 credit that doesn’t have to be repaid. What do I need to do to get the $8,000 credit that doesn’t have to be paid back?

A. You can file an amended return.

Q. If I purchase a home in June 2009, and have already filed my 2008 tax return, can I amend my 2008 return or will I have to claim it on my 2009 return?

A. You can either file an amended return to claim it on your 2008 return or claim it on your 2009 return.

Q. I am in the process of buying a home. I expect to close the deal before December 1, 2009. Can I claim the first-time homebuyer credit now? That would allow me to use the refund for a down payment.

A. No. You may not claim the credit in anticipation of a purchase that has yet to happen. Until you have finalized the purchase of your home, which for most purchasers occurs at the time of the closing, you do not qualify for the credit. IRS news release 2009-27, First-Time Homebuyers Have Several Options to Maximize New Tax Credit, contains details for filing options if the home is purchased after April 15, 2009.

Q: When must I pay back the credit for the home I purchased in 2009?

A: Generally, there is no requirement to pay back the credit for a principal residence purchased in 2009. The obligation to repay the credit on a home purchased in 2009 arises only if the home ceases to be your principal residence within 36 months from the date of purchase. The full amount of the credit received becomes due on the return for the year the home ceased being your principal residence.

Q. Suppose a member of the military who purchased a home and qualified for the credit receives orders to deploy overseas for possibly 18 months. If they sell the home within 3 years from the date of purchase, do they have to pay back the credit?

A. Section 36 does not provide any recapture exceptions for military personnel who are deployed and sell their home within 36 months from the purchase date. If the taxpayer does not sell the residence, then the military deployment may be considered a "temporary absence" and the home may still be the taxpayer's principal residence if the taxpayer intends to return to the residence after the deployment.

Q. If I claim the first-time homebuyer credit for a purchase in 2009 and stop using the property as my principal residence before the 36 month period expires after I purchase, how is the credit repaid and how long would I have to repay it?

A. If, within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full amount of the credit is due at that time the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence is due. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year's tax return. Form 5405 and its instructions will be revised for tax year 2009 to include information about repayment of the credit.

Related Items:

• First-Time Homebuyer Credit Questions and Answers: Basic Information

• First-Time Homebuyer Credit Questions and Answers: Homes Purchased in 2008

• First-Time Homebuyer Credit: Scenarios

• First-Time Homebuyer Credit


Page Last Reviewed or Updated: September 10, 2009
Credits to: IRS Web site at www.irs.gov

Tax Preparer New Rules

Updated Rules for Tax Preparers (Updated 12/18/2008)

Taken from : IRS Website

New regulations under Internal Revenue Code Section 7216, Disclosure or Use of Tax Information by Preparers of Returns, become effective January 1, 2009. The new regulations update regulations that have been substantially unchanged since the 1970s, and give taxpayers greater control over their personal tax return information. The statute limits tax return preparers’ use and disclosure of information obtained during the return preparation process to activities directly related to the preparation of the return. The regulations describe how preparers, with the informed written consent of taxpayers, may use or disclose return information for other purposes. The regulations also describe specific and limited exceptions that allow a preparer to use or disclose return information without the consent of taxpayers.

Revenue Procedure 2008-35 supplements the regulations, in particular Treas. Reg. Section 301.7216-3, and provides specific form and content guidance to tax return preparers for obtaining consents to disclose and consents to use taxpayer data in both the paper and electronic environments. Generally, tax preparers must obtain the signed consent of the taxpayer on paper or electronically before they can disclose taxpayer return information to anyone or use it for any purpose other than in the context of preparing and filing the return. Separate consents are required for disclosure(s) and use(s). Consents must:

• Identify the intended purpose of the disclosure or use;

• Identify the recipient(s) and describe the particular authorized information to be disclosed or used;

• Include the name of the tax return preparer and the name of the taxpayer;

• Include the applicable mandatory language set forth in section 4.04(a)-(c) of Revenue Procedure 2008-35 that informs the taxpayer that he is not required to sign the consent and if he signs the consent, he can set a time period for the duration of that consent;

• Include the mandatory language set forth in section 4.04(d) of Revenue Procedure 2008-35 that refers the taxpayer to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration if he believes that his tax return information has been disclosed or used improperly.

• Where applicable, include the appropriate mandatory statement set forth in section 4.04(e) of Revenue Procedure 2008-35 that informs the taxpayer that his tax return information may be disclosed to a tax return preparer located outside the U.S;

• Be in 12-point type on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper. Electronic consents must be in the same type as the web site’s standard text; and

• Contain the taxpayer’s affirmative consent (as opposed to an “opt-out” clause); and

• Be signed and dated by the taxpayer.

The updated regulations apply to paid preparers, software developers, Electronic Return Originators, and other persons or entities engaged in tax return preparation services or services that are auxiliary to return preparation. They also apply to most volunteer tax preparers, for example Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) volunteers and employees and contractors employed by tax preparation companies in a support role.

Violations could result in imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, for each violation.
For more information visit: www.irs.gov

Building a better relationship with your Mother

Book Title: The Mom Factor
By: Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

 
Our relationship with our mother affects our ability to trust and to love and receive love. The way that we experience security, freedom, healthy self esteem, and connection with God is strongly influenced by the kind of mothering we received.

We need honest friends who will confront us when we are not seeing reality

Our Response to Mothering:

If you had difficulties mothering, you may have built up defenses such as withdrawal, angry control, and compliance to resist the mothering process n general. Then, when mothering is available, you fail to respond. If you are serious about responding to mothering available to you, following are the tasks you will need to accomplish.

1) The first task is to come out of the world of your own head and experience. You must make contact with the outside world. Here is how you do this:

a) A support group

b) A professional therapy group

c) Individual counseling

d) A regular meeting with a wise and understanding friend or two

e) A Bible study where you can process your feelings and experiences

f) An open, relational church that encourages personal growth

2) It is not enough to be there. You need to talk, to open up, to share, and to allow others into the immediate experience of your overwhelming emotional states.

3) As you open up, you also need to respond to the care you receive. Take in the soothing, empathy, validation, thinking, and the other available jewels. Stop resisting love and grace when they show up.

4) You might find it helpful to keep track of your involuntary negative thoughts during the week and then challenge them.

5) Specific plans and accomplishable goals help structure a personality.

6) Loving others and helping them with their overwhelming experiences helps us as well.

Forgiveness: Means to “cancel a debt.” This is what it means to forgive mother. We have to come to a place of making peace with her- a place where she no longer “owes” us. Hating someone for what he/she did or did not do in the past keeps the injury very much alive in the present. Let mother of the hook, even if she does “deserve it.” Let your mother off the hook so that you and she will be free for something better.

The essence of an adult relationship with a fragile mom is this: if she cannot contain feelings, then relate to her in a way that she can handle. Take your need to be soothed and validated somewhere else. Do not continue wanting what she can’t give. Relate to her in the ways that she can relate. Here are some suggestions:

a) Talk about the issue, for example, “I just want to let you know how I am doing from time to time.”

b) Set limits on your wishes to be understood by her. If she becomes critical, then just say, Would you like to talk about something else”

c) Appreciate her for who she is not for who you want her to be

d) Love her in your best way; she still has needs of her own. She yearns to be liked and valued. Find ways to love her. Do the kinds of things that show her you value her. In doing this, you will gain as much relationship as possible, you will ease her pain, and you will decrease the power that she holds over you.

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct

Background

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (the Code) is the result of a joint agreement made in March 2008 between Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and the New York State Attorney General to enhance the independence and accuracy of the appraisal process.

As part of this agreement, we held an open comment period from March 14 through April 30, 2008, to solicit comments on the Code from Sellers and other industry participants regarding operational challenges, clarification of terms, and unintended consequences of the Code. All feedback was provided to FHFA and the New York State Attorney General and was used to develop the revised Code.

The revised Code has been added to the Guide as Exhibit 31, Home Valuation Code of Conduct. The revised Code provides enhanced protections for homebuyers, mortgage investors, and the housing market.

Effective Dates

Effective May 1, 2009, Freddie Mac will no longer purchase mortgages from Sellers that do not adopt the Code with respect to single-family mortgages delivered to Freddie Mac.

Also, effective for single-family mortgages with loan application dates on or after May 1, 2009, Freddie Mac Seller/Servicers must represent and warrant that the appraisal reports are obtained in a manner consistent with the Code.
The sale of the following mortgages is exempt from the Code: FHA/VA, Section 184 Native American, and Section 502 Guaranteed Rural Housing.

Lender Requirements

The revised Code:

Prohibits lenders and third parties from influencing or attempting to influence the development, result, or review of an appraisal report.

Requires lenders to ensure that borrowers are provided a copy of the appraisal report no less than three business days prior to closing, unless the borrower waives the requirement. The lender may require the borrower to reimburse it for the cost of the appraisal, but the lender must provide a copy of the appraisal report to the borrower at no additional cost.

Requires any third party specifically authorized to perform certain actions on behalf of the Seller to be in compliance with the Code.

Requires lenders or third parties authorized by lenders to be responsible for selecting, retaining, and providing for payment of all compensation to appraisers. The Code does not allow any other third parties to perform these activities.

A lender, in connection with the loan being originated, may accept an appraisal report prepared by an appraiser for a different lender provided that the lender obtains written assurances from the other lender that it has adopted the Code and determines that such appraisal conforms to appraisal requirements and is otherwise acceptable.
Requires absolute independence within a lender’s organization between the appraisal function and loan production and limits communication with the appraiser.

A lender’s loan production staff is prohibited from being involved in the selection of the appraiser, or having any substantive communications with an appraiser or appraisal management company about valuation.

The loan production staff consists of those responsible for generating loan volume or approving loans, as well as their subordinates. This includes an employee whose compensation is based on loan volume or the closing of a loan transaction. Employees responsible for the credit administration function or credit risk management are not considered loan production staff.

• The lender’s use of an appraisal report prepared by an in-house appraiser or an affiliate in underwriting a loan must meet certain conditions including:

The appraiser, or the company for which the appraiser works, reports to a function of the lender independent of sales or loan production, and sales and loan production staff have no involvement in the operation of appraisal functions or selection of the appraiser.

Sales and loan production staff are not allowed to have substantive communications with in-house appraisers relating to or having an impact on valuation and do not provide the appraiser any estimated or target value of the property or loan amount (except a copy of the purchase contract may be provided.)

The appraiser’s compensation does not depend on the final estimate of value or the closing of the loan.

• The lender has written policies and procedures implementing the Code and has mechanisms to report and discipline any violators.

• The lender’s appraisal functions are either annually audited by an external auditor or are subject to federal or state regulatory examination, and the lender provides to Freddie Mac any adverse audit findings indicating Code non-compliance.
Allows lenders to also use in-house staff appraisers to: 1) order appraisals; 2) conduct appraisal reviews and other quality control functions; 3) develop, deploy, or use internal automated valuation models; and 4) prepare appraisals in connection with transactions other than mortgage origination transactions, such as workouts, if the lender complies with the terms of the Code.

Lenders may use appraisal reports prepared by other entities engaged by the lender to provide other settlement services for the same transaction, as long as certain conditions are met.

Requires lenders to quality control test a randomly selected 10 percent (or other bona fide statistically significant percentage) sample of appraisal reports or valuations used by the lender, and report any adverse findings, including non-compliance of the Code, to Freddie Mac with respect to loans sold to us.

Allows Sellers with an asset size of less than $250 million to be considered a small bank as defined in 12 U.S.C. Section 2908 and exempting them from the requirements in Section IV of the Code. Sellers that qualify for this exemption must represent and warrant that they have in place appropriate policies and procedures, as well as adequate controls to prevent undue appraiser influence.
Independent Valuation Protection Institute

We will work with the New York State Attorney General, FHFA, Fannie Mae and other mortgage market participants regarding the Independent Valuation Protection Institute (Institute). The Institute has not yet been established, and therefore, the provisions regarding the Institute are not effective.

Learn more about the Home Valuation Code of Conduct:

Call (800) FREDDIE

Visit www. FreddieMac.com/singlefamily/home_valuation.html



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Real Estate Investment 101

Written by: Broderick Perkins

It could be a good time to invest in real estate, given the abundance of foreclosures and other distressed properties with reduced prices.

It could also be a bad time to invest in real estate, if you don't know what you are doing.

There's the rub.

It's a good time to invest, but it is difficult. Now when you go out to invest you are competing with a dozen offers. The investors are back.

Just like buying a home to live in, taking the real estate investment plunge requires taking stock of your financial goals, planning and lifestyle before taking the plunge.

Pretty much like buying any property.

If you've got the time, the money and the lifestyle that lends itself to managing a real estate investment, you are just about half way there.

However, both halves are pretty big halves.

The National Real Estate Investors Association says you've still got a lot of work to do. Here's how much.


Buy your own home first.
The general rule of thumb is that buying your own home will not only put a roof over your head, but also background you in the full experience of buying and owning property -- financials, market conditions, maintenance and real estate professionals you'll need along the way.

What's more, your first home could later become your first investment property, a property in a market with which you are familiar.

"You could maintain your current residence as a rental and move up into a larger home or better location yourself. This keeps the basis on your original property intact, but gives you an opportunity to move should your life dictate," says Kim DiBenedetto, president of the Monterey County Association of Realtors in Monterey, CA.

There is one exception to the buy-your-own-home-first rule says Cryder.

"If you live with Mom or the cost of your rental housing is low, stay there and purchase investment properties first. If you can rent way below market value, I wouldn't disturb that," said Cryder, who has been an investor since 1968, when he purchased his first property.

However, in today's market, an existing stake in a home can have a down side.

"You will be required to put more money down, most likely a minimum of 25 percent and also have several months in reserves. If you are upgrading from your current residence, your lender will require a minimum of 20 percent equity in your current residence before they will loan to you for another property," said DiBenedetto, also an agent with Coldwell Banker Del Monte Realty in Carmel.


Go back to school.
Turn to the Internet, reputable books, successful investment groups, college and university level courses, even your state's real estate license program. You don't have to actually get a license, but you can become just as educated as a licensed agent. Individual real estate investors, salespeople and others who you've met on the way to investing are also valuable educational resources.


Get professional help.
The same way you find any competent, trustworthy and honest professional is the same way to look for a mentor, investment partner with prior knowledge or investment group. Seek referrals from friends, family, professionals with whom you already conduct business, co-workers and others you trust who've had a satisfactory, successful real estate investing experience.

"Now, more than ever, you need the experience of a competent REALTOR® and lender to guide you through the process," said DiBenedetto.


Learn your investment market.
One market's bubble could be one investor's boom and another investor's bust. A home in one market could give you vacation rental income in a half year sufficient to cover the cost of principal, interest, taxes, insurance, home owner association dues, upkeep and other costs, but still not appreciate. Another home in another market may not bring you sufficient rent in a year's time to cover the cost of owning the property, but might appreciate more than enough to make up for your carrying costs over the long term.

The variables are endless and you'll need to measure your capacity for risk against market conditions.


Exit strategy
Finally, while some experts say you'll also need to develop an exit strategy in terms of unloading properties when they are no longer viable investments, Cryder says if you buy right and stick it out over the loan haul you won't need an exist strategy.

"When you've got the goose that lays the golden egg, be satisfied with the golden egg," he says.

Credits to: Real Estate Update Newsletter

Major Campaign To Extend $8,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit Underway

By: Kenneth R. Harney

The House and Senate may have left Capitol Hill for their Summer break, but housing lobbyists are busy at work gearing up a major campaign to extend the $8,000 home buyer tax credit.

The credit for first-time purchasers is scheduled to expire November 30.

The National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors want to persuade Congress to nail down an extension of the credit, and maybe even broaden its coverage, as soon as possible.

The home builders are mounting an aggressive campaign during the congressional recess. The association is sending out local teams of members to meet with congressmen and senators in their home districts, urging not only a one year extension of the credit, but an expansion of the concept to cover all home buyers next year, not just first-timers.

Though the endorsement may, or may not, have been connected with the home builders' campaign, one of the most politically powerful Democrats has already signaled that he favors a one year extension.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, said he thinks “it's something we can get done.” According to a report in the Las Vegas Sun, Reid made the comment during a conference call with Nevada reporters.

Meanwhile, the influential chairman of the Senate banking committee, Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd, has teamed up with Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson to sponsor a bill that would extend the credit for another year and expand it to a $15,000 maximum.

In the House, two bills have been introduced to extend and expand the credit for either six months or 12 months. The National Association of Realtors is strongly supporting the extension efforts, and is sending its own delegations to lobby key members of the House Ways and Means committee and the Senate Finance committee.

So with all this going on, is it a sure thing that the tax credit will be available in some form for home buyers next year? Should consumers who can't quite make the November 30 deadline breathe easier?

Absolutely not. There is no sure thing on Capitol Hill whenever legislation looks like it's got a clear path to passage. That's when opponents hijack the bill or filibuster it in the Senate.

Nonetheless, extension of the credit looks like it has growing bipartisan support. Mary Trupo, legislative spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors, told Realty Times that “we feel Congress is receptive” to the message that the housing tax credit helps create jobs, and stimulates the economy.

But nobody should assume it's a done deal, until it is.

Credits to: Michael Magaw / Peter Wollner from New Homes and Land Brokers in California.

Diversify Your Retirement by Adding Real Estate to Your IRA

By: Matthew R. Rasche

A lot of people are struggling with how to invest for their retirement. I have had clients come to me and say that their retirement fund has been set back 10 years. They don’t want to work an extra 5 years to re-fund their retirement and are looking for a better way of doing things. I often explain to them how they can use a portion of their retirement funds to invest directly into real estate and bypass Wall Street by using a self directed IRA.

The first concern my clients have is, "I checked with the company that services my IRA and they won’t let me buy real estate. I can only hold stocks, bonds and mutual funds." Most of your typical brokerages will not let you hold Real Estate. Real Estate is considered an "alternative asset" when it comes to retirement accounts. There is a special "Self Directed IRA" which is designed to hold alternative assets; primarily real estate. Not many brokerages offer these types of accounts because they can’t make commission off of anything which isn’t a typical Wall Street product. There are several very good brokerages which offer Self-Directed IRAs for real estate.

Keep in mind that opening a Self-Directed IRA does not mean you have to close your current IRA. You can transfer as much or as little as you want to your new account. For Example, if you have $500,000 in a traditional IRA at XYZ brokerage and you want to invest $150,000 in real estate, you can just leave the other $350,000 at XYZ brokerage and maintain your current assets. However, if you rolled your entire IRA over to a Self-Directed IRA you can still own all the traditional assets you’d like. A self directed IRA has all of the features of a traditional IRA with the added ability to hold alternative assets.

Everyone knows that the closer you get to retirement the less risk should be in your portfolio. Depending on your current needs, you may be looking for long term appreciation or immediate cash flow from a rental property. Working with a good Real Estate Broker and attorney you can clearly define your objective and find a property that meets your needs. Owning cash-flow property in an IRA offers a great stream of revenue which often times can create better cash flow than an annuity or stock dividends.

Just like a traditional IRA, all appreciation and cash flow are tax deferred. Always work closely with the company servicing your Self Directed IRA to ensure compliance during the transaction. If the transaction does not comply with the self Directed IRA requirements it is possible you will lose the tax deferral as well as incur an early tax liability. Due Diligence is the name of the game.

My clients also will say, "I’d love to invest in real estate through a Self Directed IRA but I don’t have enough money to buy an entire property." This is another common concern of many of my clients. A great way to take advantage of Real Estate in a self directed IRA is through Fractional Ownership.

Fractional ownership is a type of situation where multiple investors pool together their funds to make one larger purchase. For Example:

Joe and 4 of his friends each invest $50,000 from their self directed IRAs to buy a $250,000 4-flat rental property. Now Joe and his friends each own a 20% interest in a cash flow property. By pooling together funds and buying properties for cash there is no dilution of returns.

Real Estate is a logical addition to many retirement portfolios for 4 key reasons.

It is totally transparent - Real Estate is a tangible asset and is not subject to the same volatility or vagary many traditional Wall Street products are

It offers strong cash flow - Many income properties are generating between an 8% and 10% annual cash return

It can be acquired at bargain prices - With many landlords needing to liquidate properties, today’s market offers great opportunity to acquire real estate at below-market prices In today’s uncertain economic times, having a portion of your retirement invested in Real Estate will give you greater diversification and greater returns.

It acts as a hedge against inflation - With the fear of inflation looming over the economy, real estate has always acted as a hedge and performed well in times of high inflation

Author Resource:- Matthew R. Rasche is Broker/Principal of Portfolio Real Estate Brokerage, Inc. for more information or to ask any questions please comment below or visit http://www.MyPortfolioRealEstate.com

Credits to: Broker/Agent Social Website

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge's Ruling Could Change Foreclosure Laws Nationwide

Published on Friday, August 14, 2009, 3:08 PM Last Update: 3 day(s) ago by Kimbrough Gray

Category: All Articles » REO's and Foreclosures
Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) has been used by lenders nationwide to track mortgages via the system's database. Lenders who are members of the program are represented in the enforcement of a promissory note secured by a mortgage. A U.S. Bankruptcy Judge in Nevada ruled earlier this year that MERS could no longer represent lenders foreclosing on homeowners in bankruptcy unless the actual loan document could be produced.

Typically, a mortgage note goes through several iterations of sale to different mortgage lenders, which makes it difficult to produce original loan documentation. When lenders begin foreclosing on homeowners in bankruptcy, the original note is often not available.

MERS is a program that was initiated by several lenders over 20 years ago to simplify the complicated mortgage process. The system is designed to track mortgages and any associated sale of the note via a central database. Over 60 million mortgages are currently monitored by the program. Lenders who are members are represented by MERS throughout the foreclosure process.

Although the bankruptcy judge's ruling presents a roadblock for lenders in the foreclosure process, it is not the first time MERS was challenged in court. The same ruling was handed down in a Florida court; however, the company eventually won on appeal.

For homeowners who owe more than their home is worth, or are unable to pay their mortgage payments, the ruling may only delay proceedings for about a month or more. In attempts to further assist homeowners in default on their mortgage, a Nevada state representative introduced legislation to allow homeowners in financial hardship to ask for arbitration in their mortgage default process. This would overstep service providers like MERS, and require mortgage lenders to be involved, instead.

Even though it was handed down in Nevada, bankruptcy attorneys in other states have voiced appreciation in regards to the ruling. One noted Houston attorney stated that the new law could have a nationwide impact on the ability of lenders to enforce mortgage loans. In addition, it throws some negotiating leverage onto the playing field that was not available before for homeowners in foreclosure going through bankruptcy.

A deluge of complaints have been filed against service providers in regards to aggravating the excessive number of foreclosures initiated in the past two-and-a-half years. On the other hand, MERS argues that its services enable a broader range of home lending options for homebuyers.

The program maintains current mortgage information and ownership, and avoids the astronomical millions associated with recording fees, along with the associated paperwork. MERS officials noted verbiage from one Florida court decision that stated the program was "innovative."

Will the decision hold up? Regardless, as in the Florida case, MERS immediately appealed the judge's decision.

The bigger question, however, is whether the ruling will catch fire in other states. Also, it will be interesting to see if the Nevada statesman's proposed bill will be cause for pause for legislation in other states across the Union.

With all the twists and turns we're seeing in the courts of late, anything could happen.

Ki's company is located in Central Austin. He maintains a website allowing buyers to search for homes in the Austin MLS. He has worked with Austin real estate for almost 10 years. His site has information and graphs on historical interest rates.

For information purposes: Taken from: Broker/Agent Social Website.

Friday, September 4, 2009

How do you react to change?

Managing Your Mind
By: Gillian Butler, Ph. D and Tony Hope, M.D.

Recognizing that you can change

Different people respond to differently to pressures for change. I like this book because it gives so many examples on how to do things better, and become a better person for yourself, your family, and friends. The authors gave an example of five caricatures, which reflect specific patterns that people use when dealing with change, and/or conflict. They said, there are five caricatures which help us recognized certain elements about how we cope with change by developing a particular style of response. Each of these five styles has both advantages and disadvantages according to them. I am writing them down so you can analyze and see if you follow any of these patterns when reacting to change.

The five caricatures are:
1) The Sage - Is the person who seeks after knowledge and reads all about it.
2) The Traveler – They assumed that because we are constantly on the move, we must be going somewhere.
3) The Drifter – Retire from center stage, give up the struggle, and allow themselves to be carried wherever the current takes them “they go with the flow”.
4) The Ostrich – Has two characteristics: it hides its head in the sand and it has a powerful kick. Refusing to accept the inevitability of change can lead to both of these reactions
5) The Conductor of the Orchestra – They take control and set out to make things happen.

Think about these caricatures to think about whether to enlarge your repertoire of styles for making changes.

On this journey, we can use all that we know to give ourselves more options and better chances of helping ourselves to change.

CONDITIONS for CHANGE:

1. Understand the Present. If there are aspects of the present you do not like, you can start to plan how to change, but if you pretend these aspects do not exist, you will NEVER change.
2. Do NOT be burdened by the Past. The past cannot longer be changed. The past is an information bank from which you can learn. But it is not a web in which you are caught.
3. Accept the Uncertainty of the Future. An attitude of openness and confidence is needed for the future as well as for the past. The future is outside our control, and the unexpected is a continual possibility.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Discovering Freedom: Blanca's Blog: Credit Card New Legislation

www.cnnmoney.com/creditcards

Discovering Freedom: Blanca's Blog: Credit Card New Legislation

Discovering Freedom: Blanca's Blog: Credit Card New Legislation

Credit Card New Legislation

I am posting this article for those people who like finance and those who are working in becoming debt free. Our Priority number one should be: staying informed and being awared of APR ratings in credit cards, or any kind of financing. It is important to know how we are going to be financially able to afford paying back, knowing when, and how to accomplish this in a time frame, I believe is important.

These Rights Don't Come for Free

I think Ben Stein is right on track. I believe that people have to use their brains, and start logically thinking if 1 plus to is 1, then 2 plus to 2 must be 4!

I love this Great Nation, there is no other one like AMERICA. Otherwise, people from all over the nations would be going somewhere else to live, to work, to obtain medical benefits, etc. If America is not good, then why so many people choose to come here instead of EU, Cuba, China, Nicaragua, or Venezuela.

Good Article Ben, I like the title, so I am not changing it.

credits to: Ben Stein and yahoo finance

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bailing Yourself Out

It is frustrating to know that so many people have so much hope in the Government bailing them out. It seems like this is a new concept where banks are bailed out, but wait... I want to see us, "tax payers" being bail out. Why not? Instead, we are enduring higher taxes, people are being laid off, retirement plans losing their face value, and the stock market seems to be collapsing.

I disagree with millions of dollars being spent in so much stuff we do not need to reinvent the wheel on. Then, I get more frustrated, when I see so many people depending on Government assistance for everything. The only thing I can think of is - the governement becoming the BIG Brother, what else do we need?

Finally here it is Ben Stein... Again, he is so right about this new bail out concept that so many people are becoming victims of. I agree with him, there is only one way to bail yourself out, YES, DO it YOURSELF!

Here is some good news and some bad news. I'll give you the bad news first.
I was on a panel of smart, pleasant men and women last week, discussing the economy and, in particular, how it is affecting people selling vehicles with tires and wheels. I told the audience that the Federal Reserve, which has unlimited power to print money, had a program called the Term Asset Backed Lending Facility (TALF) that would help dealers restock their showrooms. I said I knew it hadn't started yet but I thought it would start soon.
A gentleman on the panel -- an intelligent, articulate, honest young man -- said that, as a Fed employee himself, he knew the Fed was straining every nerve to get the TALF started. He said they are pulling people off their trucks who used to work on delivering cash to banks. That's how hard they are working.
Friends and Internet neighbors, I felt like weeping. As I said to this man, "I know this isn't your fault. But the Fed has an unlimited budget. They could hire some of the tens of thousands of young bankers recently laid off on Wall Street to get this program started. It needs to be started YESTERDAY! Why aren't they getting professional bankers instead of people who work in trucking to do this?"
It's Called 'Government' for a Reason
The man pleasantly said that legislators were always criticizing the Fed's budget and so they had to be careful where they spent their money. This is an entity that has genuinely unlimited money. And people selling cars, trucks, and trailers are bleeding without that TALF facility -- and some will die.
Anyhow, as I listened to that man, I thought, "Hey, why am I surprised? It's called ‘the government' for a reason. It has its own pace and its own ideas of what's right and wrong.'"
Now that's the bad news.
You have been -- you are now -- bombarded every day with TV shows, radio news, and newspapers telling you of this government support plan and that government support plan and how they are going to rescue you. To which I can only say, when you hear the word ‘government,' in your mind, substitute the words ‘Department of Motor Vehicles.' When was the last time they rescued you? When was the last time they bailed you out of anything at all?
Look, I worked for the government for many years. The men and women I worked with were some of the finest people on this earth. But there are only a few of them and a lot of us. They have their hands full. Yes, they can help you by mailing you a check. They can help you by cutting your taxes, and I hope they do. They can "bail out" specific industries for a while, such as we just saw with Detroit.
They definitely help you by fighting for your freedom.
But to expect that ‘government' is a fairy godmother who will rescue you from your problems over any long period is just fantasy. Here's the good news: This country will be rescued by each of us doing what we can do in our own individual sphere of action as government works in its sphere of action. There are roughly 142 million men and women in the labor force. Their ingenuity, flexibility, energy, and confidence will make more difference than anything government does on an individual basis -- which is not to take away a thing from the effects of good policy.
In the free society, we rescue ourselves. I think in particular of a young man who graduated from Williams College in 1935. It was hard times, with almost 20 percent unemployment, as we now know.
The young man had no money and few connections. But he didn't know what he didn't have, and he didn't know how deep the Depression was. So he just went out, got a teaching job in Iowa, used the money to work and study at The University of Chicago, found a wife, and started a career that took him to fame and prosperity. He didn't count on anyone else to do it for him. He was a Phi Beta Kappa from a great college, but he didn't hesitate to wash dishes for a meal and a quarter.
That man was my father.
I think of Herbert Hoover, who graduated from mining engineering school in the late 1880s. Just as he was entering the labor force in 1893, a huge Depression hit. But he didn't know about it because there were few statistics, so he headed out West, started a mining enterprise, and became a millionaire.
Put Down the Paper and Get to Work
If you spend the day reading about how bad things are, you will never get out of bed. If you put down the paper and get to work, and then work twice as hard and twice as smart as you used to, and maybe take less pay right up front, you will get ahead.
Here is a lesson from my father: In every economic era, there is always a shortage of talented, creative, well-educated workers. Be one of those workers.
I think of my pal Barron Thomas, a talented salesman of airplanes and related items and services. Since the recession hit in earnest in the fall, I hardly get to talk to him. Why? Because he works all the time. He makes the deals the other guys are too lazy or short-sighted to make. If you absolutely, positively want it to be sold, if you want to buy at the best price, you go to Barron Thomas. The flight world knows it, and he gets sales. Plus, he doesn't get depressed, because he's working too hard to get depressed. He gets that endorphin rush, that glorious feeling of self-esteem one gets from working hard and being exhausted at the end of a successful day.
My point isn't to plug Barron. He's got a huge reputation already. My point is to tell you that the hard-working people will still get work. They will have money to spend. They will spend it, and eventually it will pull us out of this darned recession.
Earn Your Success
I think of Henry Luce, who started ‘Fortune' magazine when the Great Depression was well under way, or Bill Benton, who started one of the most successful ad agencies of all time, Benton & Bowles, during the Depression. They didn't expect a bailout. They expected to earn their success -- and they did.
Imagination, hard work, and persistence can conquer any phase of the business cycle. Imitate Mr. Thomas, Mr.Bowles, and Mr. Luce. Let other people get depressed by the headlines. Let other people wait around for Mr. Obama to rescue them. You go out and go to work, using every resource of energy and imagination you have. The DMV is not going to bail you out. By and large, and with a few exceptions, you have to bail yourself out.
Get to work.

Article taken from: Yahoo. Finance.

Advice for Fresh Graduates During Tough Times

These are some good suggestions, being aware of your priorities is always the best way to go. I am just sharing some insight. Take care.

Taken from: Yahoo! Finance
By: Ben Stein

One of the great pleasures of my life is speaking to college and university students. My speeches are rarely political and mostly just the sharing of my experience, strength, and hope, to borrow a famous phrase. Lately I have been speaking a great deal about the economy, about which I know a bit, since I am an economist in real life as well as in movies and on TV. In my youth I also worked on economic policy matters in a small way at the White House.
As you might guess, the main issue today's students have in mind is what they can do in the currently difficult -- very difficult -- job market. What do I recommend to them to trump the problems so many young people are having getting started in the labor market?
Herewith, I offer a few suggestions. These are taken not just from my experience but from what my parents and their friends told me about graduating from college in the middle of the Great Depression, when unemployment was incomparably higher and times incomparably tougher than they are right now.
Learn a Genuinely Useful Skill
First, learn a genuinely useful skill. Abstract art and conceptual sculpture are great if your parents are wealthy. But if times are lean, as they are for most of us, learn to do what people need done: medical care of all kinds (the shortage of nurses gets more acute every week, and wages are skyrocketing), accounting, engineering that is used in defense, and any kind of work connected to the criminal justice system (crime is an ever-growing menace).
Second, and closely tied to the above, learn who is hiring. Right now, the main eager employers are in health care, education in urban and extremely rural schools, and above all, government. During the Depression, the main employer was government. Under the Obama administration, there will be immense new hires in most areas of federal government, but especially in the areas Mr. Obama has picked as his favorites: "green" power, education, and environmentalism.
Tailor your education and your skills to where the hiring is. You can always change your skill set and move to another area if you do not find government work or some other form of work appealing.
Never Enough of the Best People
Third, be the best at what you do. This is vital. My father often told me that, even in 1935, there was a shortage of top flight people in almost every field. "There are never enough of the best people," he used to say. If you are at the top of your class, you will have a vastly greater job vista than people in the middle or at the bottom.
I know some smart aleck will now say, "Well, Ben, we cannot all be at the top of our class." True enough. But you don't have to worry about the others. Just worry about yourself right now -- and have the best record you can have.
Learn great work skills. Learn to show up on time, to look neat and well-groomed, and to do whatever is asked of you with a willing attitude. Be up to date on all relevant computer skills and happy to learn new ones. Have a super positive attitude. Now is not the time for troublemakers and whiners. Your job is to produce some value for your employers greater than the cost of employing you. Make sure you do just that and do not create "negative utility," which means you destroy more value for your employers than you create -- by complaining, distracting workers, not getting your work done, and requiring a lot of supervision.
The Value of Thrift
Be thrifty. You will be far ahead of the game if you can live on much less than what you earn. Then you can have savings and build them up for the time when you move to a new city or a new job and require "starting-out money." It is just a great feeling to not be desperate.
Make every good connection you can. Almost all good jobs are gotten by who you know at least as much as by what you know. When people are hiring in both government and the private sector, a recommendation from a friend or colleague means more than test scores. Make and expand your web of friends and colleagues from the earliest possible moment, including high school. Your colleagues are a form of capital as real as money, even if not as liquid.
Imagine you are an employer looking at your whole college class. Would you hire you? If not, make yourself better. You can be a rebel later. For now, do what you need to do to get a job.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A guide for New Immigrants in the United States

I was searching for some information from the Departmen of Homeland Security. Yeah, The Immigration Department in the U.S. You know, my legal side is always working... so, I was reading the new immigrant guide that they have put together in Spanish. This guide helps new immigrants to access local, state and federal services, and shows immigrants about how they can participate in the politics of this great country. It is grammatical correct, which is a difficult thing to do for non-spanish speakers, so I should say they did a marvelous job.

Guia para Nuevos Imigrantes en Los Estados Unidos de America , Version en Espanol http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/M-618_sp.pdf

Immigrant Guide, English Version http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/M-618.pdf

Please enjoy!

Discussion of Intellectual Property

My friend Anthony sent me this article. I thought It might benefit some people, especially if you are the author of intellectual property, and you might benefit from getting royalties for your work.

Be sure to read it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/04/books/04google.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2&emc=eta1

Monday, February 23, 2009

Get Your Passport

This was taken from an article from AAA

I am just posting for your information.

Full implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) will begin on June 1. On taht date, U.S. Citizens MUST have a passport or other WHTI-compliant document to enter the U.S. by land or sea.

Children under age 16 may continue to use birth certificates.

I hope this helps you to ensure you have everything you need before you pack your bags. Stay Informed.

If you need more information please check this website: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738_2.html

Love Always,

Blanca

" A Raising in the Sun"

Oh, I forgot to mention that I have finished reading a play called "A Raising in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry. Also a theatrical performance.

This is a play that portraits a Black family life in the inner city, and their struggles in an age of racial and social injustice. I love the end, because Walter, who is one of the characters, finds a way to Manhood - standing for his family, for his father's honor, and for himself as a man. Redeeming himself and his family honor for generations to come.

It is a short play, you will laugh, and will definitely have a great time, while you learn from our past and rich history.

Discovering Freedom: Blanca's Blog: Today's Broadcast with Steve Green

http://www.haventoday.org/

Today's Broadcast with Steve Green

Sorry, I have been a little bit too busy studying for my classes, writing, and trying to stay current with my finance class - present value, future value, blah, blah, blah.... I know, I promise that when I am done, I will write more often.

In the mean time, you can listen to my favorite radio program. Of course, you can podcast the program, if you decide to go running, do not forget to bring along your ipod so you can listen while exercising. Oh, and Please do me a favor, while you are listening to the program, browse through any subject that catches your eyes, or your interest.

God Bless!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bread Givers

This weekend...

I been reading this book: Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska. I had just finished it tonight. It reminded me of the struggles, and the willingness to become something in life. This is the story of an immigrant family as they deal with adversity in life, from starting all over again in a new land to becoming part of their new found home, either by will or driven by the need to survive.

This is my own story in some way. I am also an immigrant. I am trying to find a home in this new land, just as she was trying to find independece. As a woman, I am trying to change this world. I long to see women being recognized for their accomplishments not only for their looks.

Looking back, I can see how far I have walked, but I can also see how far I still need to go. Again, I am once more caught on my own thoughts... Keep looking ahead, never letting your spirit die not matter how strong you have to keep fighting. Keep yourself alive with those Dreams for your future is greater than your past.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Walking on Water

My newest movie is :"Walking on Water". This is the experience of two young surfers as they travel through different countries finding faith on a journey of a lifetime.

Very emotional, inspirational, and will definitely remind you of strengthening your faith and how to be more thankful. Knowing that God is our source of power.

Love it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"HOPE" and looking ahead

This is a Historic Moment.

President Barack H. Obama has become the first Black American President ever in our history. He promised Americans to bring "change and hope." This is done with best of intentions from our President, but

Hope and Change CAN ONLY OCCUR WHEN: We respect the WILL of The People.

The American people should never forget that: It is the right of its citizens to take the necessary steps to approve or disapprove laws and regulations. It is the duty of each American citizen to protect the Nation, the future of our children, and future generations. These are the American ideals and of our Founding Fathers.

Friday, January 16, 2009

President George W. Bush Farewell Address to the Nation

East Room, The White HouseWashington, DCJanuary 15, 20098:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:

Fellow citizens: For eight years, it has been my honor to serve as your President. The first decade of this new century has been a period of consequence -- a time set apart. Tonight, with a thankful heart, I have asked for a final opportunity to share some thoughts on the journey that we have traveled together, and the future of our nation.
Five days from now, the world will witness the vitality of American democracy. In a tradition dating back to our founding, the presidency will pass to a successor chosen by you, the American people. Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose history reflects the enduring promise of our land. This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole nation. And I join all Americans in offering best wishes to President-Elect Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two beautiful girls.
Tonight I am filled with gratitude -- to Vice President Cheney and members of my administration; to Laura, who brought joy to this house and love to my life; to our wonderful daughters, Barbara and Jenna; to my parents, whose examples have provided strength for a lifetime. And above all, I thank the American people for the trust you have given me. I thank you for the prayers that have lifted my spirits. And I thank you for the countless acts of courage, generosity, and grace that I have witnessed these past eight years.
This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house -- September the 11th, 2001. That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor. I remember standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center three days later, surrounded by rescuers who had been working around the clock. I remember talking to brave souls who charged through smoke-filled corridors at the Pentagon, and to husbands and wives whose loved ones became heroes aboard Flight 93. I remember Arlene Howard, who gave me her fallen son’s police shield as a reminder of all that was lost. And I still carry his badge.
As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11. But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our nation. I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe.
Over the past seven years, a new Department of Homeland Security has been created. The military, the intelligence community, and the FBI have been transformed. Our nation is equipped with new tools to monitor the terrorists’ movements, freeze their finances, and break up their plots. And with strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them. Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taliban harbored al Qaeda and stoned women in the streets to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school. Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States.
There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions. But there can be little debate about the results. America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil. This is a tribute to those who toil night and day to keep us safe -- law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts, homeland security and diplomatic personnel, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
Our nation is blessed to have citizens who volunteer to defend us in this time of danger. I have cherished meeting these selfless patriots and their families. And America owes you a debt of gratitude. And to all our men and women in uniform listening tonight: There has been no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.
The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God, and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.
This is the belief that gave birth to our nation. And in the long run, advancing this belief is the only practical way to protect our citizens. When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror. When people have hope in the future, they will not cede their lives to violence and extremism. So around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity. We’re standing with dissidents and young democracies, providing AIDS medicine to dying patients –- to bring dying patients back to life, and sparing mothers and babies from malaria. And this great republic born alone in liberty is leading the world toward a new age when freedom belongs to all nations.
For eight years, we‘ve also strived to expand opportunity and hope here at home. Across our country, students are rising to meet higher standards in public schools. A new Medicare prescription drug benefit is bringing peace of mind to seniors and the disabled. Every taxpayer pays lower income taxes. The addicted and suffering are finding new hope through faith-based programs. Vulnerable human life is better protected. Funding for our veterans has nearly doubled. America’s air and water and lands are measurably cleaner. And the federal bench includes wise new members like Justice Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.
When challenges to our prosperity emerged, we rose to meet them. Facing the prospect of a financial collapse, we took decisive measures to safeguard our economy. These are very tough times for hardworking families, but the toll would be far worse if we had not acted. All Americans are in this together. And together, with determination and hard work, we will restore our economy to the path of growth. We will show the world once again the resilience of America’s free enterprise system.
Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I’ve always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.
The decades ahead will bring more hard choices for our country, and there are some guiding principles that should shape our course.
While our nation is safer than it was seven years ago, the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack. Our enemies are patient, and determined to strike again. America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.
At the same time, we must continue to engage the world with confidence and clear purpose. In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.
As we address these challenges -- and others we cannot foresee tonight -- America must maintain our moral clarity. I’ve often spoken to you about good and evil, and this has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense -- and to advance the cause of peace.
President Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” As I leave the house he occupied two centuries ago, I share that optimism. America is a young country, full of vitality, constantly growing and renewing itself. And even in the toughest times, we lift our eyes to the broad horizon ahead.
I have confidence in the promise of America because I know the character of our people. This is a nation that inspires immigrants to risk everything for the dream of freedom. This is a nation where citizens show calm in times of danger, and compassion in the face of suffering. We see examples of America’s character all around us. And Laura and I have invited some of them to join us in the White House this evening.
We see America’s character in Dr. Tony Recasner, a principal who opened a new charter school from the ruins of Hurricane Katrina. We see it in Julio Medina, a former inmate who leads a faith-based program to help prisoners returning to society. We’ve seen it in Staff Sergeant Aubrey McDade, who charged into an ambush in Iraq and rescued three of his fellow Marines.
We see America’s character in Bill Krissoff -- a surgeon from California. His son, Nathan -- a Marine -- gave his life in Iraq. When I met Dr. Krissoff and his family, he delivered some surprising news: He told me he wanted to join the Navy Medical Corps in honor of his son. This good man was 60 years old -- 18 years above the age limit. But his petition for a waiver was granted, and for the past year he has trained in battlefield medicine. Lieutenant Commander Krissoff could not be here tonight, because he will soon deploy to Iraq, where he will help save America’s wounded warriors -- and uphold the legacy of his fallen son.
In citizens like these, we see the best of our country – resilient and hopeful, caring and strong. These virtues give me an unshakable faith in America. We have faced danger and trial, and there’s more ahead. But with the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great nation will never tire, never falter, and never fail.
It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your President. There have been good days and tough days. But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of our country, and uplifted by the goodness of our people. I have been blessed to represent this nation we love. And I will always be honored to carry a title that means more to me than any other – citizen of the United States of America.
And so, my fellow Americans, for the final time: Good night. May God bless this house and our next President. And may God bless you and our wonderful country. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 8:14 P.M. EST

Credits: Taken from from The Whitehouse archives

Finance Web Sites

I am posting some common websites, that you might be interested in checking out :)

I hope you find this blog informative, interesting, fun, and meaninful in some way. The purpose is to share ideas, and help each other as we walk together in this Journey that we call LIFE.

Visit the following links:

www.Bloomberg.com

http://www.federalreserve.gov

http://www.nasdaq.com

http://www.investors.com

Reading...

I am currently reading three psychology books. I love reading them. These books give me so much insight about myself, friends, colleagues, and people in general. The most important factor is that I am exposed to search and look for specific issues in my personal life. I need to change and be transformed, so I can become the person that I want to be - a better human being.

A little about my readings...

Two of these books relate to our interactions to each other and our personal relationships. It is so true, your future is always tied to your past. Our earlier relationships are the foundations upon which we will build all of our future relationships. It is in this phase we learned to internalize positive or negative feelings as well as feelings of dissappoinment or validation. We try to identify ourselves with people, places or events that were part of us in the past. Perhaps, it is because we feel comfortable, but remember not to dwell on unhealthy ones or painful memories for too long. This will only bring dispair and a heavy spirity. Treasure the good memories, and store them for life.
"OUR PAST SHOULD NOT BE OUR PRESENT neither OUR FUTURE." - bf

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

This is a book that I would recommend anybody to read. It will change your way of thinking, especially in regards to money. It is a great book. You can lend it from your nearest Public Library, buy it from Amazon or buy it from the Richdad.com website as well.

Either way, you will find this book to be your wake up call in your journey for financial freedom. I will recommend for you to also read the CashFlow book or in spanish El cuadrante del flujo del Dinero.

Me gustaria que leyeran los siguientes dos libros. Estos libros ayudaran a expander su vision acerca de las finanzas y como hacer mejores decisiones para invertir, ahorrar, o empezar una empresa. Pueden conseguir estos libros Rich Dad/ Poor Dad en su libreria favorita, o en el website de Richdad.com

De cualquier forma, usted encontrara que estos libros seran como su llamada de madrugada para su libertad financiera. Lea tambien el Libro de CashFlow, o conocido en Espanol como "El Cuadrante de Flujo del Dinero."

Escribanme y digame si les gusto leer estos libros, pero sobre todo si les ayudo en su busqueda a la libertad Financiera.

El link es www.Richdad.com

New Year's Resolution / Resolucion para Ano Nuevo

Es un Ano Nuevo, y muchos de nosotros tenemos resoluciones, ideales, nuevas esperanzas, nuevos planes, y muchos deseos de salir adelante. Este Blog, es para compartir a cerca de nuestra jornada para alcanzar una vida mejor. Mi deseo es que aprendamos hacer mejores decisiones en todas las areas de nuestra vida. Compartir con ustedes algunos articulos que sean interesantes y que expandan nuestra vision para un futuro mejor.


This New year, we have new resolutions, new ideas or ideals, new hope, new plans, and the best wishes to prosper. This blog intends to share ideas that can transform our journey on this planet for a better life. I wish we can learn to make better decisions in every aspect of our lives. Sharing some interesting articles, which helps us to broaden our vision.

Please read my link about New Year's Resolution from Dave Ramsey http://www.daveramsey.com I hope this might help to keep us on track this New Year.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Discovering Freedom: Blanca's Blog: Sandy Bell Cartoon

www.youtube.com Discovering Freedom: Blanca's Blog: Sandy Bell Cartoon

Sandy Bell Cartoon

I was excited because I finally found my favorite cartoon on-line. Yes, you guess it right. My favorite was Sandybell and the Robinson Family.

My friend Carmela was right, going back in time is the most wonderful treasure of life. I watched the episodes until the Grand Finale. Now, I remember why it was my favorite? Yes, caring for others, and being less self oriented is the name of the game. Reminding us of protecting our friends, being loyal, and keeping our word. Things that seem so distant sometimes in our world today can bring so so much change in this world. I love the message, and I plan to put my two cents this New Year, I hope you too.

Do not forget to check it out...