The View From The Golden Dome

Views on the week's events plus some of mine.

Les Berman Weekly 9-4 Grilling, US Open, FHFA nuts?, Laptop Batteries

Grilling, drinking and watching the telethon – historically, this made the weekend. Then you can have your siesta, watch the US Open and you’ll know that you had a great weekend. And for those of you who watch football, you will finally have something to talk about on Mondays with those other people who were comatose in front of the big screen !

Lots happened last week. I weathered the hurricane in Manhattan – and given a choice, I will take an earthquake over a hurricane any day. Too much prep time and worry with a hurricane, and they last too long. Earthquakes are simple – slam, shake, rattle, roll, and they are usually done in 30 seconds. Then you pick up the pieces. If we have to have natural disasters, I vote for the short ones.

Monday, the US Open started, on schedule in NYC. The subways, trains and transit system had been shut down in NY in anticipation of damage from the hurricane and was only working at partial capacity in the morning. However, the subway from Grand Central to the US Open was full. A little wind and rain did no harm to the grounds, and the crowds were there. So, a few observations on the Open.

The players were doing everything every instructor had ever told me to do. It was so cool to see people who listened to their coaches and instructors. I’ve seen pro tennis before at Indian Wells, but I never fully realized just how hard these kids hit the ball. The women hit, it seemed, as hard as the men. I also realized that the pros have incredible eye to brain communication – they would have to in order for them to hit a ball coming at them at 130 mph. I think that if I were given the opportunity to try to return a pro serve, either the racket would be knocked out of my hand, if I was able to hit it at all, or my arm would have detached itself from the rest of my body. Amazing stuff.

And then there were the ball kids – you know, the ones who chase down the balls, hand them to the players, and then accept the sweaty wet towels that the players use to wipe off the sweat etc. The ball kids were selected from over 500 applicants of every age. They were fast, had good throwing arms, and probably got to keep the cool Ralph Lauren outfits they were wearing.

And now we go to the ridiculous. The US government is set to sue about 18 of the largest banks because the banks sold toxic mortgages through Fannie and Freddie. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) filed the suit because there was a statute of limitations due date that was imminent. Here’s the rub – the FHFA supervises Fannie and Freddie. Excuse me – what were they doing when the 2 F’s were creating these stupid loan programs. So now, the supervising agency is saying ” We didn’t do our job before, so we want you big bad banks to pay for the crap that we ignored”. I guess the Feds can do anything they want.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the FHFA was successful with their case and won billions against the banks, and then the feds had to do Son of TARP to bail out the banks that have to give money to the other side. Part of the problem that the FHFA will have is that they will likely be using government attorneys. Isn’t that group losing most of their cases? And this will cost the taxpayers additional millions. And everybody is already suing all of the banks – the states, investors, and I’m sure there are homeowners who are suing because of questionable foreclosure proceedings.

The banks defense will be something like – who could foresee the real estate collapse? There were a few people who saw it coming, and made billions by shorting the stocks of the critical players in this mess. I remember talking to some friends in the mortgage business when B of A bought Countrywide (CW). We were all incredulous because we knew that CW had so many of these stupid loans on their books. We guessed that B of A wanted CW for their loan origination and servicing network. Oops … that has now disappeared too. Try to get a loan at BofA – it won’t happen.

This is a week of several mea culpas. Consumer confidence down, Case-Shiller down and Pending home sales at a 14 year low.  Even Bill Gross admitted he should have stayed long treasuries. Bill Gross is head honcho at PIMCO.

So how are we really doing. Check this out. Total debt is the sum of all IOUs ever issued by the Treasury and is now 98% of GDP. Total debt, broken out, is the sum of the Public Debt–which is held by individuals, foreign governments and financial institutions–and is about 61% of GDP, and the intra-governmental debt, which consists of government IOUs held by the government (the Social Security Trust Fund) and is about 38% of GDP. As recently as ’00 the total debt was just 57% of GDP, less than the public debt is today. Pretty disturbing numbers, don’t you think?

And now the California Dept of Justice and the State Bar of California have shut down a law firm that ostensibly led an extensive mortgage fraud ring. Not too much detail coming out about that.

Two hydrogen atoms meet.  One says, ‘I’ve lost my electron.’ The other says ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies, ‘Yes, I’m positive.’

Mortgage rates continue at near record lows. Even if you think you can’t do anything, how about investing 15 – 30 minutes with me to see if we can. It’s on the house (no pun intended) and I’m happy to give you the time. Simply call me now at 818.305.4695.

Most of you have laptops.. and the reason I know this is because I am not a techie, but I have this need to be connected too. And one thing I’m always concerned about is my battery. I saw this article recently about how to preserve your battery life – here are the basics:

Keep it cool. Heat is the primary killer of batteries.

Recondition your battery regularly. Most laptop manufacturers (except Apple) don’t generally tell you about this, but a simple process known as reconditioning (or occasionally, recalibrating) can breathe new life into your laptop battery and add capacity back.

Remove it when you’re not using it.

Start with a super-sized battery. When you purchase your next round of laptops, upgrade to the extended-life battery.

For the full article, check out Yahoo Finance .

Some of my readers have asked me to comment on politics. My answer is simple – unless I can slam those on both sides of the floor at the same time, I will not comment on the ineptitude of anyone running for, or attempting to buy, an election.

I asked a female friend the following question: Why does your OB-GYN leave the room when you get undressed if they are going to look anyway? She blushed.

And I have to add this observation. On the plane returning from NYC, a woman was waiting in line for the restroom – with a book in hand. And no, I did not time her sojourn. What a great comedy sketch thatat would be !

Have a great week ! I am in the mortgage business and I invite your calls and referrals. In case you didn’t notice it before, my number is 818.305.4695.



Berman’s Factoids of the Week:

Only about 3% of mammals practice monogamy.

How many times was the city of Winchester, Virginia captured during the Civil War? The answer is … 84 !


First California Mortgage
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Les Berman CMC
Les Berman CMC
Senior Mortgage Advisor
NMLS ID # 227675
First California Mortgage
Office: 310-271-1588
Cell: 818-305-4695
Fax: 877-707-8823
Les Berman CMC

The Les Berman Weekly View… sym_arrow.gif

Tips to Help You File an Insurance Claim
Getting organized will help the process go smoothly.
By Cameron Huddleston,

Getting your financial life in order may seem like a daunting task. But in the May 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance we’ve broken it down into quick and easy fixesyou can accomplish in 15 minutes or fewer.With storm and flood season upon us, one of our “recipes” for financial success should be tackled sooner rather than later: Snap digital photos of your household belongings. The images will help back up an insurance claim if your possessions are destroyed or stolen. Taking pictures is just a starting point for a complete household inventory, in which you itemize all your belongings and record details such as purchase price. You can use the Insurance Information Institute‘s free Know Your Stuff online home inventory software .

The Insurance Information Institute also offers these four tips for when you have to file an insurance claim:

1. Call your insurance company as soon as possible if your home has been damaged and let your agent know where you can be reached.

2. Make a list of your damaged property and take photographs to substantiate your losses. Having digital photos of your belongings before they were damaged and a home inventory will help with this step.

3. Keep receipts for hotel rooms and restaurant meals if you are unable to live in your home. Most companies will reimburse you for these expenses (up to 20% of the total insurance you have on the structure of your house).

4. Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage — and keep the receipts.

Economic Calendar for the Week of September 05 – September 09

Economic Report
Tue. September 06
ISM Services Index
Wed. September 07
Beige Book
Thu. September 08
Jobless Claims (Initial)
Thu. September 08
Balance of Trade


Tick Tock: It’s Time for a Home Loan Check Up
sep11_02.jpgThey say that home is where the heart is. Yet do you know that a mortgage is the heart of every good financial plan?

Making sure you have the right one can save you a ton, along with creating wealth and financial health for your family. And with home loan rates near historic lows, now is the perfect time for a home loan check up.

When it comes to determining if your mortgage is still the right one for you, some important factors to consider include the type of loan (or loans) you currently have, your current loan balance, your current interest rate, and any recent or upcoming changes to your financial situation (i.e. job change, marriage, divorce, kids going to college, etc).

One of the most important documents is called the Note, which you will clearly see labeled on the top of the form. It is several pages long, and you probably have several copies of it. This document will tell you the amount of your original loan, as well as the interest rate you closed at, and most importantly, the terms of the loan itself.

Often times, there is an addendum to the Note, which may or may not be directly attached to it, which can explain more details about an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM). If you have an ARM, your Note will say how often your interest rate will adjust (for example, annually, semi-annually, or monthly). In addition, the Note will explain if your ARM carries a Prepayment Penalty. These are key factors in determining whether your current ARM remains the best loan for your situation. Just as it is important to gather the information on your first mortgage, you should also gather the information for your second mortgage, if you have one.

While analyzing your home loan can seem like a daunting task, have no fear. I’ll be happy to help you look at your options to make sure your mortgage still fits your short- and long-term financial goals. After all, no one wants to look back and realize that a great opportunity to improve their financial situation has passed them by. Call me at 818.305.4695 today and let’s get started.


Q&A: Home Prices?
QUESTION: Where are home prices headed?

ANSWER: Home prices are being watched closely these days. Homeowners keep an eye on the price of their own investment while potential new homeowners look for the best prices to purchase a home. And market experts monitor the housing market to see if the economic recovery is taking hold.

Just the other day, the latest numbers for the Case-Shiller Index were released showing that the average home price climbed for the third straight month. Some of the gains may be seasonal, but the news is good for now – especially since 19 of the 20 cities in the Index showed increases. The map below shows you which cities showed the biggest gains and allows you to see where home prices are headed in different regions.If you have any questions about the trend in home prices and what it means to the housing and mortgage industries, simply call me at 818.305.4695 or email today. I’ll be happy to sit down with you and discuss the factors that impact home affordability and your unique situation.




Equal Housing Lender
The material contained in this newsletter has been prepared by an independent third-party provider. The material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment, financial, real estate and/or mortgage advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, there is no guarantee it is without errors.

As your Trusted Advisor, I always want to make sure you are clear on all details of the home financing process. If you or someone you know are interested in purchasing or refinancing a home, give me a call today at 818.305.4695!



September 5, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Enjoyed reading of your experience in NYC and your observations being at the US Open. Len and I have 3 TVs on throughout the house during the entire time.

    Comment by Marsha Cohen | September 7, 2011 | Reply

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