Archive for June, 2011

Budget, Loan Profiles & July 4th!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

It appears a deal has been reached on the California Budget.  It has no tax increases and will require only a majority of Democratic-led legislature to approve it.  A tax measure will be put on the ballot in November, 2012, through a voter initiative, bypassing the requirement for Republican consent.  It looks like the voters will decide on the extension of personal income and sales taxes.  The budget might be balanced but there are a lot of services that will be eliminated or seriously slashed; it comes down to this – if you want/need the services, you need to pay for them.            

Lynn Woolsey, our Democratic Rep. in Congress, announced she will not seek re-election at the end of her term, 2012; she is retiring.  So stay tuned to see who will be running for her seat she has held for 20 years.

As private money lenders, we are funding a new loan for $ 450,000 secured by improved property in Sonoma County.  This investment will net our lenders 9.0% on a Loan-to-Value of 35%.  We are seeing some very good loan requests so look at our website. To see loan profiles go to Private Money Investing, then Individual Opportunities, then finally click on Opportunity Profiles.

Coming up will be a long weekend so check out the different happenings: 7/2, Fireworks over Bodega Bay (707-347-9645); 7/3, BR Cohn Winery Charity Car Classic (800-330-4064); 7/4 Redwood, White & Boom, Santa Rosa (707-545-4200).  Enjoy and Be Safe.

Plan Now

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

I am in the process of updating my will and Family Trust; this hasn’t been done since 1994 and it is well overdue.  If you haven’t taken a look at yours in a while, you should seriously think about it.  I discovered that Congress passed the “Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010” that went into effect on 1/1/2011 for two years only.  So, on 1/1/2013 the law will expire and old estate tax laws will again take effect. 

Regardless of the size of your estate, plan now and be able to designate who gets what.  If you do not do it, someone else will decide for you.  You can avoid probate if you have your assets distributed through your Family Trust.  Probate can take a year or more and the cost to your estate is approximately 4% of the value of your estate, not counting extraordinary expenses.

Well, the California legislators thought they could pull a fast one—pass a budget by June 15th or lose their salary and per diem.  However, the law required that the budget be a “balanced spending plan”; silly little detail.  So, Governor Brown swiftly vetoed it, as it was “unbalanced”.  How can you pass a budget that spends $1.85 Billion more than it receives in income and call it “balanced”?  So, no salary until they do their job!  At least that is how it is done in the private sector. 

The NASCAR Spring Cup is at Infineon this weekend, 800-870-7223; Sun. 6/26 is Kunde Tunes on the Terrace (Kenwood) from noon to 5 pm, 707-282-1534; also, the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma from 6/22 to 6/26, 707-283-3247.  Then, it is 4th of July weekend, starting Fri. 7/1, with plenty of activities.

What’s Going to be Cut Next?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

With headlines lately of Congress-folks “sexting”, our former Governor having a love-child (who is now a teenager), the economic news takes a back seat. I have more concern over our local County Budget and what programs and maintenance needs are in jeopardy. There is over a $40 Million gap that needs to be bridged. It appears that at least 100 miles of County Roads will be targeted for “no maintenance”; workers would erect signs along affected roads, indicating the routes are not maintained and that the County is not liable for loss or harm from their use—but the road would still remain open. If there is a “minor land slide” or anything else that prohibits passage, money cannot be used to fix, clean-up or repair it. Is this crazy? How do these affected roads ever get back on the “maintenance” list? Or, do they just continue to deteriorate? Not a pretty picture!

The picture is not going to get better in the near future. With property tax declines and rising costs, the County could still face over a $14 Million deficit this time next year. What expenses are going to be cut further? I’m not sure I know the answer nor would I want to be one of the folks who makes these tough decisions.

On a happy note, get out and enjoy this fabulous weather. Check out the Hot Air Balloon Classic in Windsor, 707-837-1884 on Sat. & Sun. (6/18-19); Sun. 6/19 is the Father’s Day Annual Car Show at Julliard Park, Santa Rosa, 707-546-5500. Next weekend 6/24-26, is the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Infineon Raceway, 800-870-7223.

Commercial Real Estate

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Is the next crisis Commercial Real Estate?  With over a dozen banks failing in April, most of them were heavily exposed in commercial real estate.  While the real estate downturn was triggered by residential mortgages, commercial real estate has been the source of most of the losses for banks.

Commercial real estate prices have decreased in value over the past few years.  Some sellers are eager to sell their properties and unload carrying costs that are difficult to maintain, so they have chosen price reductions as the number one reaction to the flat demand for commercial properties.  Since lower prices mean less profit for sellers, this should be an opportunity for buyers, except for one, tiny little detail  There are very few  buyers; not because buyers are not interested in the deals available out there—but simply because traditional, institutional lending is difficult to obtain.

So, maybe there are opportunities for private money lenders (us) to offer financing.  As a private money lender, we screen our borrowers to determine whether the loan request (both borrower and collateral) represent an acceptable risk for our lenders/Investors.  We are able to create a balance between risk and return.  So, give us a call!

This weekend is Peggy Sue’s All-American Cruise, call 707-575-3267; on Sun. 6/12, check out the Freestone Vineyards-Oysters & Chardonnay, call 707-874-1010; next weekend, Saturday, 6/18, consider going to the Old Grove Festival, held at Armstrong Redwoods State Park, Guerneville, call 707-869-9177

How to Manage Stress

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

In the world we live in today, it is hard not to be stressed-out; about work (even in private money lending), weather (when will it stop raining), health issues (need to lose weight), family issues (Mom is going to be 93), you name it. Some stress can be useful; it gives you a burst of energy. I’m told that if I eat more fiber/bran for breakfast, it will make me more alert during the day (am I showing my age?); if I eat small meals every 3-4 hours, it will keep up my blood sugar, giving me more energy (fruits & veggies, here I come). Researchers also say that if I keep vibrant flowers or green plants in my office, it will help to generate more creative ideas. Guess I need to go to the plant store soon. A short 10-minute walk can help clear your head but wait for a non-rainy day.

Last of all, don’t forget to get enough sleep; most folks need 7 to 8 hours. If you can’t turn your mind off, get up and write stuff down; then, it is off your mind to enable you to sleep, even if it is waiting for you in the morning. Sometimes, if you eat a high-protein snack before bed, you won’t wake up hungry.

I bet you didn’t think I thought about all this stuff – I’ve either experienced them all or tried them all, except for the live plants in the office. It is important to stay alert and to manage whatever stress you are under, especially if you want to stay around for a while. Me, I want to stay around to see banks pay more than 5% (not the 1%, maybe, they are currently paying) on savings (like they used to).

Check out the Healdsburg Jazz Festival this weekend, call 707-433-4644; or the Russian River Rodeo/Parade, call 707-865-9854. Next weekend, don’t miss the Peggy Sue’s All-American Cruise (June 9-12), call 707-575-3267.