December 4th, 2013
Now that Thanksgiving is over and the Holiday Season is upon us, maybe we should rethink what gifts we purchase for others. A few years ago, my son gave his nieces and nephews “silly” socks– they were so thrilled; each year the socks were different. Last year he changed it up and decided to give them toys and games except they were a little disappointed because they looked forward to what kinds of socks they were going to get from their cousin/uncle Jeff. Maybe a telephone call or two (not a text or email) should be on your list of gifts to give this year. It would only take a few minutes and could mean a lot to those on the receiving end of your call.
This year the Small Business Administration (SBA) set a lending record in the Bay Area for loans, up 7% from the previous fiscal year in 2012. Of the 234 loans in the North Bay, Sonoma County SBA lenders funded 105 loans totaling over $46 Million. The SBA’s mission: To get capital into the hands of small businesses, has not changed. It’s good to see that small business’s have another option for financing.
This Thursday December 5th, from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM Windsor will have a Holiday Celebration on the Town Green with snow fall beginning at 5:30 PM — “You can catch a snowflake on your tongue.” For additional information call (707) 838-1252
November 19th, 2013
I recently read an article about the 23-year old who co-founded SnapChat which is a mobile application that posts pictures on the Internet. He was offered $ 3 billion (yes billions) by Facebook and $ 4 billion by Google, and he turned them both down for his company. I am curious as to why he wouldn’t accept either offer cash-out and go invent something else or possibly start a foundation to help fund & find cures for diseases? I obviously don’t know the details, but $ 3 billion is a lot of money.
It is great to hear that the percentage of foreclosure sales in Sonoma County are now in the single digits. In October just 9% of the homes sold in Sonoma County were foreclosures or short sales; a year ago it was 29%. We are still a ways away from normal (or the new normal) but the real estate market is slowly gaining its equilibrium.
Next week is Thanksgiving and there are a lot of local craft fairs in different locations to get a head start on your holiday shopping. For something different, the Santa Rosa Junior College Theatre Arts Department is reenacting Les Miserables this weekend on Friday & Saturday at 8 PM and on Sunday at 2 PM. For additional details call (707) 527-4280
November 5th, 2013
Last week I was on vacation catching up on yard work; however we still made the time to attend an early morning business conference featuring Dr. Chris Thornberg, Economist, as the keynote speaker. He feels we are dealing with an economy that is clearly moving forward as the “trends” are moving up, we might see double-digit growth next year. While housing construction lags, Sonoma County still has a small housing inventory, about a two-month supply of available homes for sale. California is still among the top states leading the nation in economic growth.
After all, we do live in paradise, don’t we? Just look outside and see the colors changing of the trees, etc.
Today just before 10 A.M., the Graton Casino in Rohnert Park opened to hundreds of folks waiting to get in. It will probably take a few weeks for the traffic to settle down and adjust. I’ll admit I am going to check it out myself, but I am going to wait a little while before venturing down that highway.
This coming Monday, November 11th is Veterans Day. Just take a moment during your day to give thanks to those who have served and to those who are currently serving to help keep our country safe.
October 23rd, 2013
I think it is great that the town of Windsor is the first locality in Sonoma County to have a Small Business Concierge Service. The service is designed to help local entrepreneurs to get off of the ground which is something that big businesses & major developers usually have consultants do for them. There is one person is Kevin Thompson, who will have to do a little more hand-holding for small business owners to help them navigate the government approval process, develop a business plan, assist with the permit process if needed and assist in locating a property location, etc. He can also produce a customized market analysis for a prospective business.
The mortgage conference we had just recently attended covered mostly regulatory issues for our industry. A lot of document; form changes and current information on legislative bills have either passed or are up for consideration. So in our spare time we are editing our documents, etc.
October 16th, 2013
As in any partnership whether it is between couples or politicians, there is going to be conflict. Nobody’s right all the time and there are winners and losers. The more complex the problem the more you need people to work together. Let’s hope that by next week the government will be completely open for business.
Perhaps our nation isn’t as divided as we think. Yes, there is a left faction, a right faction and a very real center faction. However, just because Washington is polarized doesn’t mean America is.
It is not unusual for Sonoma County home sales to slow down during the fall and winter. There are still more buyers than there are homes for sale. However, the median price is slowly going up, partially due to the increase in sales of more expensive homes.
Looking for a thrill? Dr. Evil’s House of Horrors is open every Friday and Saturday until Oct. 31st in Guerneville. This is a haunted house for kids age 12 & up, but there is also a free kid’s maze open to all ages with proceeds going to various charities. For additional information call (707) 869-3102
October 9th, 2013
Well the Federal Government shutdown is still in the news for a second week, both sides (Democrats & Republicans) say they didn’t want the shutdown but no formal talks are scheduled. The moderates on both sides are working behind the scenes to try to forge a compromise; they have until October 17th to prevent a default on our debt. If the debt ceiling is not raised our government will be unable to borrower more money to pay debts it already has accrued. Spending cuts will be implemented right way such as government spending for military, etc. (up to 33% each per month), mandatory spending for entitlement programs by 16%, and potentially taxes will rise by up to 12% every month. So is this stalemate more about our lawmakers’ self-interests & face-saving than doing their job? What a mess!
So let’s mention some good news– our very own Santa Rosa police canines Taz and Hoss won top honors at a weekend competition for law enforcement agencies in California & Nevada. These dogs are trained for narcotics detection as well as patrol service.
Next week I am headed to the CMA Quarterly Conference. Topics will include a Legal/Regulatory Review, Loan Servicing Agreements, Elder Abuse & Insurance. I’ll let you know of pertinent issues that are covered.
From now until November 1st the Petaluma pumpkin patch & corn maze is open. Call (707) 781-3132 for additional information or go to 450 Stony Point Road in Petaluma and have fun.
October 1st, 2013
The headline in the news today is about a Federal Government shutdown. Our government officials know that Oct. 1st is the beginning of a new fiscal year and they are also aware that it comes at the same time each year. This is the first shutdown in 17 years. So, why the devil can’t Congress seem to do their job? When this happens, the people in the private sector who don’t perform their jobs are generally put on probation or are fired. Even if the shutdown lasts for a week that is still a quarter of employee’s pay— and that is a lot of money for many people. We still have to pay our taxes however, our military will stay on duty but have their paychecks delayed. There is definitely something wrong with this picture. Are some Congressional folks playing “chicken” and demanding ransom just for doing their job? Once again they are playing politics with our wallets and our economy.
Since baseball playoffs are on the calendar were you aware that beer is good for your health? The protein & B-vitamin content of beer is higher than wine. How can this be? We live in wine country, don’t we? OK – so beer is a good source of Vitamin B but unfortunately the alcohol in it mostly cancels out the benefit, which is probably the same for wine. Do you think light in order equals light in calories? Not always. Light refers to the percent of alcohol and calories. So whatever your choice of beverage, drink smart and don’t drive.
Come experience and enjoy the Sonoma County Harvest Fair which starts this weekend on October 4th through the 6th at the Sonoma County Fair Grounds in Santa Rosa, located at 1350 Bennett Valley Road. For additional information call (707) 545-4200
September 26th, 2013
Last week I had some time off, and I was able to partake in some local events (i.e.: Safari-West & wine tasting at some smaller local wineries). There are just so many vacation spots to choose from, especially since we live in one of the most beautiful places around.
Fall weather is definitely here with cool evenings and warm days; the leaves on the trees are turning their colors. Grapes are being picked, growers are happy and almost all the grapes harvest have found a home this year. Tanks are full & prices are down for excess fruit. I believe you will see vintners being more quality conscious and that next year they will be asking their growers to move back to culling for the best fruit. However, let us not forget about the growth in craft brews especially when we have one of the world’s best breweries right here in Santa Rosa – The Russian River Brewery.
The Rohnert Park casino has its official opening date on Tuesday November 5th. It is anticipated that 6,000 people will there on opening day checking out the 3,000 slot machines, 144 table games and more than a dozen restaurants. I will definitely go check it out but not until a few weeks thereafter.
The Wine Country Film Festival started yesterday September 25th and is going on for five days. It is held at Deerfield Ranch Winery, in Kenwood. For additional information or questions call (707) 935-3456
September 11th, 2013
The last mortgage seminar I attended, I flew out from the Oakland Airport. Upon my return, I used my credit card for the $48 parking fee. A few days later when I went to use my credit card it was declined. When I had spoke to a representative at the issuing bank, I had discovered that there were several charges which were not mine. Six of them was at the Walgreen’s in Oakland and one to the Bart Station, all on the same day. The credit card company cancelled my old card and reissued me a new one and is reversing the charges to my account. So, please review (don’t just glance) at your statements carefully before you pay them. If you have any questions, call your credit card issuer.
Recognizing that this is the 12th Anniversary of 9/11 where over 3,000 lives were lost– perhaps we need to be kinder to ourselves and less critical, become your own friend. I am lucky to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray. However, while I am still here I will not waste time lamenting what could have been or worry about what will be. I will also eat dessert every single day, if I feel like it.
This Saturday, September 14th there is an Old Grove Festival at Armstrong Redwoods in Guerneville from 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM. For additional information call (707) 869-9177
September 9th, 2013
A digital wrist watch by Samsung was recently unveiled. It measures approximately 1.63 inches diagonally and you can make calls secret agent-style without getting out your phone. The Android-powered device will start shipping in most countries on September 25th starting at around $299. Google’s working on a device called Google Glass which is designed to work like a smart phone but is worn like a pair of glasses. Sometimes all this amazing technology definitely has me wishing I was a little younger.
Each year at around Labor Day competition for the consumer dollars to either purchase or lease new automobiles is very strong. With lower interest rates and very attractive lease specials, consumers are able to buy more expensive vehicles while keeping their payments affordable. The average transaction price hit a record $ 31,252 last month. My first house didn’t cost that much! I guess I am getting old.
Football season has officially begun, so I am a happy guy. The SF Giants aren’t doing that great this year, but I still enjoy watching them play.