Monday, August 01, 2016

Coffee & Sardines

The morning is crisp and cool. The air is clear. My mind is clear. I open a tin of sardines. I feel pride swell as I think about how much has changed with what and how I eat. My sardines are delicious, a bit dry despite being packed in water. I drink water to wash a bite down.
"Smaller bites," I think as I chew.
I pour another measure of water into the coffee filter. My eyes glance around our simple kitchen. With its wood floors and concrete counter tops. Outside I see the tomato plants are responding to Erika's care and doing very well. I don't even know what kind of tomatoes they are. The best part - don't care. I think about how mushy, juicy and seedy they will be as I cut them. Slicing tomatoes is an elusive art.
I think about the day ahead. After my coffee, I'll help Takei in the field where he grows vegetables. He grows whatever he thinks Yutaka wants, or whatever Yutaka has said he likes. Potatoes, cucumbers green onions, and rice. Plenty of rice. We give lots of the harvest away.
Working with him in the field seems to be a comforting way to start the day. It's satisfying to grow even a small amount of the food we eat. We don't speak much. We don't need to. What needs to be done is simple enough.
My favorite time is the harvesting of the persimmons. We hang them by their stems on a clothes line. They dry. They become delicious. Seeing them hanging by the delicately cut "T" of their stems is peaceful and useful.
As I put on my boots I think about the rest of the day. I am researching visual psychology. It's very interesting what arrests people's behaviors visually.
"I should do a podcast with an expert and use the findings," I say to myself.
I'm outlining a course that I can put together and offer online. Something that would teach others in a simple and meaningful manner. More than an introduction. More of a moderate level.
I have an office away from home. Erika has her Little Happy Things which she prefers to run from home. She likes to switch back and forth between working on that and doing stuff at home. She asks me to go away during the day and I'm happy to oblige. I like to get out a bit.
Sometimes I will walk with Yutaka. His school isn't far. Usually he will take transit or ride his bicycle. Sometimes he will walk with me. Sometimes we will bike together.
As I arrive in my office on the 2nd Floor of a small building. I reflect upon what needs to be done. I have some calls to return. Some calls to make. I'm always on the lookout for great guest for my VR simul cast. We engage in an experience with others as well. There is also a discussion about the VR adaptation of my book. Immersive and thrilling. The team is all over the world so timing is our main concern when scheduling our meetings. This project is what has lead me to some very interesting work and an interest in visual psychology. Learning this platform has been tremendous.
The office is trading floor style. Open, movable and flexible. I leased extra space to use as an incubator. I pick a founder who is smart, passionate and understands his idea Several are there working and conversing. I provide guidance, space, feedback to those working here. Creating leaders is amazing.
I only work for a few hours a day. I like to go home around 2pm to spend some time with Erika before Yutaka gets home around 5:30 - 6pm. This is  our time. I've always preferred to have intimacy during the day. So much more delicious.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Stoicism is a key way to handle this business

I'd like to begin a series of studies on how to interpret the Stoic philosophers in the context of the mortgage business. The main way is to fully accept operations and documentation requests as being exactly how they are supposed to be.
If we can completely embody this viewpoint, and project our view confidently to our clients, we may have a better time managing their expectations with the process.

I'll do some homework and come up with a few applicable quotes. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

First Things First

I've had a little experience with the real estate broker world. My mother was one. I have a license in my state, have had one since around 2006. I have a broker's license in fact.

First off, I'm going to demise the entity of Metropolitan Real Estate Group, and merge the broker's license over to Jeffrey Loyd & Associates LLC another entity that I have. I have feedback from a trusted advisor that this is the route to go. Metropolitan is certainly not wowing me in the branding department, so why not?

Now that I've made that decision, I'm going to have to establish that as the real estate brokerage entity. Tomorrow I call the New York State Department of State to begin necessary arrangements.

Meanwhile, I'm say a little something about how I plan to operate.

First of all, I plan to do commercial real estate only. I do not want to get involved in residential real estate even in this market. I do not plan to do things in the traditional manner. I don't want to list properties for sale, nor do I want to drag customers around looking at buildings.

What I want to do is work the phones, day after day (Monday through Friday) and with careful scripting, a robust CRM, a targeted area of concentration (geographic), and try to get enough people interested in buying or selling that I can effect a match. Or a meeting of the minds as they say.

Do I have all of this mapped out yet? No I do not.

Do I think this will be easy? No I do not.

Do I think that I can earn $ in this manner. Yes I do. It well suited to my personality.

Mortgage Business is a Drag

I'm making money doing loans for a big bank and I just cannot see doing it for much longer. The mortgage business is broken, very broken. No one likes it, least of all the banking customers who have to put up with it.

I'm thinking very seriously about moving into commercial real estate. I'm going to use this blog to develop my business plan. To craft my scripting and generally keep my notes in one place.

One public place.

Perhaps I will help someone in a similar situation, most likely not.

Perhaps I will receive some constructive criticism, most likely not.

Let's get started.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

VIGODA - A Vignette for Film

Open on an office, a room full of cubicles, there are 5 young staffers (Courtney, Judd, Noble, Cindy and Ting) huddled around one young (Ryan) man at his desk. 
Ryan: I called it the VIGODA Courtney: After Abe? Ryan: Huh? Judd (to Courtney): He doesn't know Courtney nods and scowls at Ryan Ryan: Know what? Courtney: You have no pop culture. Abe Vigoda was a...ah it doesn't matter, why do you call VIGODA? Ryan: It stands for Velocity In Gain Or Decrease Algorithm. It attempts to measure the speed at which a candidate's polling will increase or decrease in left leaning or right leaning districts, but not solid left or solid right districts. I'm trying to get a handle on at what point, the candidate gains traction or should be considered a loss for that district. Telephone rings on Ryan's desk. He answers. Ryan: (checking watch). He's right on time. OK, I'll be right there. (Hangs up telephone). OK, Barnes is here, I gotta do this. Cindy: The beacon of New Hampshire. How did you pull the interview? Ryan: (grabbing suit jacket from the back of the chair) Just luck I guess. 
Conference Room (not large, speaker phone in the middle of the table. TV mounted on one wall, 6 chairs) Receptionist opens the door and shows an African American man wearing an American flag pin in his lapel into the room. Receptonist: Mr. Barnes, please have a seat anywhere you like. May I bring you anything? Roy Barnes: No, I'm fine, thanks. 
Roy Barnes is the African American Republican candidate for an New Hampshire district where he is polling high and seems to be the one to beat. He is well groomed, well spoken, and obviously works out regularly. He is often photographed running or swimming, with his body on full display. 
The door to conference room opens and Ryan, a young African American male hurriedly walks in. He is wearing a suit carelessly in contrast to Roy Barnes' meticulous stylish, yet conservative attire. Ryan approaches Roy with an outstretched hand. Ryan: Mr. Barnes, it's nice to meet you. I'm Ryan Hattern and I'll be conducting this interview on behalf of Thom Roy Barnes: You know (flexing arm) I work out a lot. Do you?
Barnes: Yeah, you look it. Where? I go to SportsClub so that I have access when I travel. Also they have an excellent steam room. You ever go there?
Ryan: Looking at his note to prepare for the interview Shakes head
Barnes: You should (leans back, and rubs his stomach) it feels great to take a nice long steam. I have some guest passes if you would like to check it out. Perhaps we could get a workout in too.

Ryan: Nods
Ryan: Ah, I'm pretty busy right now. So you are originally from Boston, is that correct?
Barnes: Yeah, I grew up in New Hampshire though. My family moved when I was 11. We own a farm up there. Majestic beauty, away from everything.
Ryan: And this is your first entry into politics?
Barnes: Yep, my first go.
Ryan: Can you tell me why you are running for office aside from the campaign rhetoric?
Barnes: What do you think about hitting the gym tonight?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Fewer Borrowers & fewer qualify

I'm probably the last to say it, but while rates are at an all time low, it seems that very few can qualify. The ones that can seemed to have had their head in the sand for the past year or so. For unknown reasons, they just didn't refinance at any previous time. Maybe they were waiting for rates to get lower, not much chance of that according to the smart folks who opine on such things as inflation and the economy. Maybe they were waiting for their home to increase in value? The good people at Case-Shiller say, "fat chance." Maybe they were hoping their income would rise? It seems that's not going to happen that much either as corporations have been given the green light to hold the profits and pay the executives more without increasing the pay of the minions working tirelessly.

I know this comes off as negative, but where's the upside?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

MI Companies are back to making money, so why aren't they doing more

The mortgage insurance companies' losses are getting less and less.

According to WSJ, there are 10 reasons to buy a home

A Wall Street Journal blog article outlines 10 reasons to buy a home now. Take a look. For the full article, click here.

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership.



Sure, maybe there's more pain to come in the housing market. But when Time magazine starts running covers that declare "Owning a home may no longer make economic sense," it's time to say: Enough is enough. This is what "capitulation" looks like. Everyone has given up.

After all, at the peak of the bubble five years ago, Time had a different take. "Home Sweet Home," declared its cover then, as it celebrated the boom and asked: "Will your house make you rich?"


But it's not enough just to be contrarian. So here are 10 reasons why it's good to buy a home.


1. You can get a good deal. Especially if you play hardball. This is a buyer's market. Most of the other buyers have now vanished, as the tax credits on purchases have just expired. We're four to five years into the biggest housing bust in modern history. And prices have come down a long way– about 30% from their peak, according to Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Index, which tracks home prices in 20 big cities. Yes, it's mixed. New York is only down 20%. Arizona has halved. Will prices fall further? Sure, they could. You'll never catch the bottom. It doesn't really matter so much in the long haul.


Where is fair value? Fund manager Jeremy Grantham at GMO, who predicted the bust with remarkable accuracy, said two years ago that home prices needed to fall another 17% to reach fair value in relation to household incomes. Case-Shiller since then: Down 18%.
Brett Arends discusses why he thinks now is a particularly good time to buy a home.


2. Mortgages are cheap. You can get a 30-year loan for around 4.3%. What's not to like? These are the lowest rates on record. As recently as two years ago they were about 6.3%. That drop slashes your monthly repayment by a fifth. If inflation picks up, you won't see these mortgage rates again in your lifetime. And if we get deflation, and rates fall further, you can refi.


3. You'll save on taxes. You can deduct the mortgage interest from your income taxes. You can deduct your real estate taxes. And you'll get a tax break on capital gains–if any–when you sell. Sure, you'll need to do your math. You'll only get the income tax break if you itemize your deductions, and many people may be better off taking the standard deduction instead. The breaks are more valuable the more you earn, and the bigger your mortgage. But many people will find that these tax breaks mean owning costs them less, often a lot less, than renting.

4. It'll be yours. You can have the kitchen and bathrooms you want. You can move the walls, build an extension–zoning permitted–or paint everything bright orange. Few landlords are so indulgent; for renters, these types of changes are often impossible. You'll feel better about your own place if you own it than if you rent. Many years ago, when I was working for a political campaign in England, I toured a working-class northern town. Mrs. Thatcher had just begun selling off public housing to the tenants. "You can tell the ones that have been bought," said my local guide. "They've painted the front door. It's the first thing people do when they buy." It was a small sign that said something big.


5. You'll get a better home. In many parts of the country it can be really hard to find a good rental. All the best places are sold as condos. Money talks. Once again, this is a case by case issue: In Miami right now there are so many vacant luxury condos that owners will rent them out for a fraction of the cost of owning. But few places are so favored. Generally speaking, if you want the best home in the best neighborhood, you're better off buying.


6. It offers some inflation protection. No, it's not perfect. But studies by Professor Karl "Chip" Case (of Case-Shiller), and others, suggest that over the long-term housing has tended to beat inflation by a couple of percentage points a year. That's valuable inflation insurance, especially if you're young and raising a family and thinking about the next 30 or 40 years. In the recent past, inflation-protected government bonds, or TIPS, offered an easier form of inflation insurance. But yields there have plummeted of late. That also makes homeownership look a little better by contrast.

7. It's risk capital. No, your home isn't the stock market and you shouldn't view it as the way to get rich. But if the economy does surprise us all and start booming, sooner or later real estate prices will head up again, too. One lesson from the last few years is that stocks are incredibly hard for most normal people to own in large quantities–for practical as well as psychological reasons. Equity in a home is another way of linking part of your portfolio to the long-term growth of the economy–if it happens–and still managing to sleep at night.


8. It's forced savings. If you can rent an apartment for $2,000 month instead of buying one for $2,400 a month, renting may make sense. But will you save that $400 for your future? A lot of people won't. Most, I dare say. Once again, you have to do your math, but the part of your mortgage payment that goes to principal repayment isn't a cost. You're just paying yourself by building equity. As a forced monthly saving, it's a good discipline.


9. There is a lot to choose from. There is a glut of homes in most of the country. The National Association of Realtors puts the current inventory at around 4 million homes. That's below last year's peak, but well above typical levels, and enough for about a year's worth of sales. More keeping coming onto the market, too, as the banks slowly unload their inventory of unsold properties. That means great choice, as well as great prices.
 10. Sooner or later, the market will clear. Demand and supply will meet. The population is forecast to grow by more than 100 million people over the next 40 years. That means maybe 40 million new households looking for homes. Meanwhile, this housing glut will work itself out. Many of the homes will be bought. But many more will simply be destroyed–either deliberately, or by inaction. This is already happening. Even two years ago, when I toured the housing slump in western Florida, I saw bankrupt condo developments that were fast becoming derelict. And, finally, a lot of the "glut" simply won't matter: It's concentrated in a few areas, like Florida and Nevada. Unless you live there, the glut won't have any long-term impact on housing supply in your town.

Write to Brett Arends at the Wall Street Journal for more information about this article.

Friday, May 21, 2010