Struggling? Here Are 10 Steps To A New Home or Just a New Mortgage Payment promotes home ownershipMany of us were hurt by the fallout from failed banks, failed mortgage companies, and failed financial strategies.  First home prices fell, then salaries fell – and shortly thereafter we realized that we were :

  1. In the best real estate buyers market ever with no way to take advantage of it – OR-
  2. Carrying a mortgage payment that we could no longer afford

Before we go any further let me make one thing clear – millions of people across America didn’t just wake up one day and each make the same bad financial decision to get into a mortgage they could not afford. I know that this is what some of you believe (and very strongly at that)  because it’s what the media tells you, it’s what your favorite talk radio guy tells you – but that don’t make it true people.

The fact of the matter is that you can have a low interest rate mortgage with a low monthly payment – but if you do not have  the same income that you did 3 years ago (or you have no income at all) no one and I mean absolutely nobody is going to help you when you’ve fallen 3 months behind, five months behind or even 6 months behind. The mortgage companies’ idea of  “a workout” is  often laughable; to you an dI it would make sense for them to look at your current income/debt and give you a payment that you could actually afford so that you and your neighbors can stay in their homes. But, nooooo, instead tey will attach the six months sans interest to your existing monthly payment and give you a payment that is basically double the amount that you couldn’t pay in the first place!

In some parallel universe this strategy makes total sense, unfortunately we do not live there, we are ere in tis universe where we end up losing tat home to foreclosure and then the bank sells your $100,000 home for $20,000. That’s right twenty thousand dollars! Now why couldn’t they just give you an affordable payment instead? If one of  you, my dear  readers , understands why this is please tell me so that I can explain it to my cousin who lost her home in just this way.

To add insult to injury, we also have companies who will take what little you have left in your savings account to assist you in getting a “loan modification” . I like to call this something for nothing, they take your money and promise you salvation, and you end up with the same deal that I mentioned earlier – that wonderful “workout” thing.

Well thank God for “The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America” and founder Bruce Marks who believe that neighborhood stabilization means getting people into home ownership and keeping existing homeowners in their homes.  NACA is a non-profit group that advocates for homeowners and would be homeowners. Their Home Save program can help you to get into an affordable mortgage situation if:

  1. You live in your home
  2. You only have one property in your name

To get help from NACA you must :

  • Visit and find a Workshop near you
  • Fill out the forms on the NACA website and get an appointment with a counselor
  • I suggest filling out the forms after you have attended a workshop as the workshop will teach you how to fill the forms out correctly
  • Become a part of the solution. NACA is all about giving back, so don’t just take your new low mortgage payment and walk away. Volunteer to help out at workshops, help the advocacy effort by  advocating for economic justice to politicians at the  local , state, and national levels.

NACA is not a  government handout and no one gets something for nothing.  It is the kind of program this country desperately needs, so tell all of your friends and families – no one should lose their home when help is so close at hand.

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It’s Fall – Let’s Eat!

Bowl of chili with sour cream and cheese
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My oldest child is 30, and I don’t think there has been one moment in his lifetime whe I wasn’t on a weight loss diet or doing some fitness routine or both. I remember back in cave man days when we didn’t have VCRs and one had to exercise with Jack Lalanne or do exercises from a book; I would wake up at 4 am to get a workout in (yes seriously, from a book!) before heading to work.

I had my two oldest while I was in the Marine Corps and in each case I had 4 – 6 weeks to get back into that uniform and in good enough shape to pass a PFT (physical fitness test). After the birth of my first I waited one week or whatever it was and headed home to Mommy with baby in tow. She would promptly put me on a diet  and I would get up every morning and run around Holy Cross Cemetery  (Beverly to Schenectady, over to Snyder and down to Brooklyn Ave and back to Avenue D) at least once. I remember  that about a year after my second child was born I weighed 128lbs, I was of course disgusted and went on the very restrictive Hamptons Diet and wore one of those rubber things around my waist under my uniforms (well my cammies anyway).

As you can probably guess,  I have been alternating between avoiding  food altogether and bingeing  on the foods I love. That is just tiresome and now that it’s fall I am ready for some good eats – creamy soups, halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner, and all those Christmas cakes, cookies and candies. This year I am armed with a product called Cheat (read about it for yourself here) and a determination to not deny myself anything while I eat just enough to satisfy the craving.

Today I made one of my favorite desserts (it probably cost less than $3, that’s why I say “cheap”), you can fancy it up for family gatherings by adding sour cream to the cream cheese, and topping with fruit. I also considered putting caramel in the bottom before the filling, and maybe some on top after chilling:


1 ready made graham cracker crust
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 (8 oz.) Fat Free Whipped Topping

Blend cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Again, blend until smooth. Pour mixture into ready made crust. Chill at least 2 hours.

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The Benefits of Working with a Real Estate Mentor Before Investing

home_image_altWorking with a real estate mentor can benefit you in many ways. For starters, you will get a clear picture of where you are now in your real estate business, as well as where you want to go and why. You will also get a clear idea of what you need to do in order to make it happen. A mentor can help you understand the basics of real estate investing strategy and develop the approach to real estate investing that suits you best and will generate the most profit for you. The key to real estate investing is to understand what areas to invest in. For example, if you want to make money on rental properties, you need to know what features to look for. Many beginning real estate investors fail because they don’t understand the basics. Mentoring can solve that.

One of the things a real estate mentor can do is help you figure out exactly what you need to understand, what skills you need to acquire, and how to apply what you learn from your real estate mentor. All of this will help you develop self-confidence and self-trust and thereby enable you to do whatever is necessary in order for you to succeed. After working with a mentor, you will have more control over the speed and direction of your growth, your business will be stronger, and you will be stronger. It is a great way to take your business to the next level. .

A good real estate mentor not only gives you advice on what to do, they can give you advice on how to manage your time effectively in order to get it all done. If you manage your time properly, you can achieve more than you ever thought you could. Your mentor can also help you create a business plan, projecting anywhere from one to five or more years into the future, so that you can plan for success. .

A mentor can guide your business practice in subtle and not so subtle ways. If you have a good mentor, they will give you realistic suggestions to help you, not suggestions that are unfeasible given your situation. The suggestions must be within your means to actually carry out. The suggestions they give must also have an impact on your bottom line within a reasonable amount of time. These suggestions must also be within the range of your technical expertise to actually carry out. If these criteria are not met, perhaps your real estate mentor gives basically the same advice to everyone without considering their unique situation. .

Chances are, you could learn the ropes of real estate investment yourself, without a real estate mentor. However, a real estate mentor can help you avoid the kind of mistakes that will needlessly cost you both time and money on your way to success. It is far less painful to learn from other people’s mistakes, where possible, than to learn by making your own mistakes.

Peter Vekselman has been successfully investing in real estate since 1996. He has completed over 1000 real estate deals, owned a construction company, been a private lender, and owned a property management company. Peter currently works with clients all over the US .

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5 Ways to Invest in a Down Real Estate Market

Guest Post By Peter Vekselman Real Estate Investor, Trainer, and Personal Coach. Click here to learn more about investing in a down market through one-on-one coaching with Peter .

Image Courtesy of

Image Courtesy of

We’ve been talking about investing in the down real estate market for a while now, but there are so many people out there who are afraid to plunk down the kind of money it takes to get going in a down real estate market. Here are five things you should keep in mind when investing in a down real estate market:

1) First, do not ever pay full asking price. The majority of people will be asking for prices at or near the amount of their mortgage, as if they held all the cards. They don’t, especially now that we are all facing a down real estate market. Seriously appraise the property and decide if you want it. If you really do, and it seems like it has the potential to be a return on your investment, then you should make an offer. Some places can be had for as low as a 20 per cent discount on the asking price; that is the beauty of purchasing in a down real estate market. If they balk at your price, you can walk away knowing that they will eventually come down to earth and realize that in a down real estate market, there are very few buyers.

2) Second, think location, location, location. As the real estate market boomed the last couple of years, the locations for some housing developments started to become really whacky; out in the middle of nowhere, down one lane roads, and with the barest of infrastructures, housing tracts sprung up like mushrooms after a rain storm. You need to think strategically; the desirable houses will be more centrally located when people finally realize that the credit crunch and real estate market is making a come back.

3) Real estate in a down market is a long term investment. You will probably not be able to unload your investment any time soon, but you should keep in mind that eventually, people will want to purchase new homes again, and when the credit markets do open back up, you will be sitting pretty. Be patient and you will make a tidy bundle when you finally do sell.

4) You aren’t going to be able to flip a house in a down real estate market, so why bother. Don’t put more into a house than to make it habitable; some people may be lucky to flip in some areas, but flipping is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Maximize your dollars and invest in multiple properties while rehabilitating them only if necessary.

5) Become a land lord. Landlords are holding all the cards right now. Just because someone loses their house doesn’t mean they are going to become homeless. In fact, in many rental markets, there is a shortage of landlords who can rent to all the people needing houses. Being a landlord can be seen as an interest return on your investment since a 200,000 dollar house rented for 1,000 dollars a month returns 12,000 dollars, or 6% on the investment per year!