State and local governments adjust to money crunch

Reading the Times this morning, I was saddened to see that the state of Florida, in its own economic crisis, has stepped up efforts to collect fines . . . sometimes years old, and unbeknownst to the people they are going after.

Did you know there are conferences on collecting money, and state executives are attending them . . . and they are really interested in Florida’s success with their  “exceptionally aggressive” approach to collecting fines.

Real estate related fees are down everywhere, just another ripple in the trickle down from the mortgage money crises, and states and local governments are trying to hold on to their people and maintain their services, with a greatly reduced budget.

Thankfully, there are people with a voice who decry Judges as debt collectors, and realize that they are probably penalizing the people who are in the worst shape.  We’re not talking about Wall Street bonuses, we’re talking about people who were so broke they bounced a check for food and then paid ten times the amount of the check for fines to their banks and the court.

Municipalities aren’t going to maintain gracious standards of living by beating down poor people even more.

Eveyone isn’t out for blood, Rhode Island has gone so far as to pass a law allowing leniency of  fines for poor defendants in contrast to some Florida counties who are actually using collection agencies!

If debtor prisons are next, they need to figure out how they’ll ever pay for them.

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Lost Generation

Lost Generation



You're losing access to one of your credit scores after February 14th

Experian has fired Fair Issac, and Fair Issac will not sell Experian credit scores to consumers after February 14. Well, Happy Valentines to you, too.

Experian will sell FICO scores to lenders, but with Experian not selling to consumers, you’re now flying blind about that score if you’ve been working to keep up with your credit record and keep track of your scores. You will, after the 14th, only have access to TransUnion and Equifax.

Ironically, lenders are making credit standards higher and tougher, and qualifying for all kinds of credit is getting harder. The benchmark score of 680, which was the score necessary for any mortgage loan in recent years, has been replaced with a “good” score of 720, and interest rates on mortgages are driven specifically by credit score.

So, knowing your score is important unless you have scads of cash in your personal safe and don’t want to ever borrow again (Not a bad idea, but my own safe is lately out of the stacks of cash . . . )

Tom Quinn, vice president for scoring at Fair Isaac said, “We are surprised that Experian made such a decision, particularly given what’s going on in the national economy and with consumers being concerned about their credit standing. Their decision means that consumers will no longer be able to see or manage their scores based on the Experian data.”

Experian computes another score and they will provide it to consumers . . . but since it isn’t the one that goes to lenders, who really wants or needs it? I suppose people who don’t know it isn’t used in credit decisions will continue to buy it, and that may be the reason for Experian offering it . . . it is all about money, isn’t it?

You can read full details on The New York Times
Posted via web from Traci’s posterous

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Just What is Plan B?? A lesson from Mickey Rourke, and Hollywood

After struggling for the last two years as a Mortgage Banker, I experienced a true epiphany reading ESPN. (Are there less than true epiphanies? I’m sure I don’t know, but it seems more emphatic, doesn’t it?)

I’ve worked in Mortgage Banking for almost 21 years . . . the first few were part time, extra money from loans years and then I decided to make it my main focus. In just a few years I was making decent money. In the last five years, my income zoomed upwards and I felt that I’d finally reached the top of my profession in my location and looked forward to socking money away for the next five to seven years and retiring happily.

Banks began failing in 2007 and I got a little nervous . . . my programs were disappearing, my phone was not ringing, those applications weren’t showing up like magic in my in box . . . and like everyone else I hoped, blindly that it was a little dip in the market and we’d be back to normal soon.

When we didn’t get back to normal and things continued to worsen, and I started living off my savings looking for the end that wasn’t quite in sight, I started reading books about the economy. After the first four or five I realized that people much smarter than me, that were aware of the BIG picture not just their little computer screen and surrounding environs had been predicting this fall for years . . . And, I’d missed their predictions, or ignored them, or was just too busy keeping up with my life (single mom, seven kids) and my business (top producer, two assistants, big money) to notice.

Midway into 2007, I got a call from an international company whose business was mortgage leads. They have websites all over the internet to develop mortgage leads and sell them. They wanted to buy my website. They wanted a three year non-compete contract and full control of the site. When I told them I didn’t think they’d pay me enough to get out of the business for three years, they mentioned seven figures.

Retirement was in my sights again! I could bow out of this business easily, start something new with the bucks, invest half a mil, somewhere safe that would pay me a lot and I might even retire sooner . . .

During the month they reviewed my statistics and prepared my offer 147 more mortgage companies failed ( looked it up on The Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter). Instead of seeing the writing on the wall (I wanted that escape check) I steadfastly held on to the hope that they’d buy my site and I could get out of this business that wasn’t taking care of us anymore.

You know what’s coming. They called and said, sorry, no deal. . .

So I’m back where I was a month before, still hardly any business, and all those bills to pay. My savings is now a month’s worth of expenses lower.

I had several years ago learned how to do investor loans for people who wanted to own massive amounts of real estate for renters. I was introduced to investor loans in a sort of backwards way, and learned them well for several reasons.

I had quit a job as an IT Manager for a small, highly psychotic lender, and gone back to originating full time. My new company had done a lot to recruit me, touting lots of lenders and great training. My training consisted of being handed a list of lenders that was about 20 pages long (well, at least that much was true – they had a lot of lenders) and the instructions to hit the phone.

I called every lender on that list. Every stinking one. And, for the ones who would talk to me I had one question: “What is your best product?” Those who would deign to speak to a new loan officer were rewarded. Because when I learned what business they wanted, that went on my webpage and miraculously in just a week or ten days, my phone would be ringing for those loans.

If you’re a loan officer or a real estate agent, you know that all those phone calls didn’t result in loans. They weren’t all qualified, and I wasn’t that good at qualifying them or selling the products. But, my rep from the now defunct Greenpoint Mortgage told me that Greenpoint was THE lender in the US for investor loans. He explained what they would do, the no seasoning refinances that no one else was doing; the first and second combo to get 95% LTV; and the stated loans . . . And, as he ended his spiel, he said, we’ll do 18 of those per borrower.

“Eighteen?” I thought. Why would anyone want eighteen rental properties?

That’s eighteen renters to deal with. Every month. I’d done one stint as a landlord years earlier and I knew I didn’t want any more renters to deal with. Too many trips to court to evict them. Having them come to court with a lawyer when they wouldn’t pay the rent; but, when I put it on the website, I did include that I could do 18 of these loans for a qualified borrower.

At some point after putting all Greenpoint’s programs on my website I started taking calls for investor loans. I took one, answered a lot of questions, and made an appointment to see the caller the next day in my office.

Just before he hung up, he said, “Hey, can you really do eighteen of these loans for me?”

“Yes, I can,” I replied, thinking again, why would anyone want eighteen renters??

Well, I closed that loan – and it was one of the hardest I’ve ever done. Two pages of conditions that I didn’t even understand, and called underwriting crying so they could tell me what to do to get the thing closed.

And my client, took the money, went to the next month’s auction and bought another house. We started that little tap dance again.

After about two months, maybe three, my client was buying two houses a month. Coupled with the other work I was doing, my income was getting pretty respectable, and I came to expect those loans from that first client. Eventually he was doing at least four loans a month, and he sent me other clients who wanted to do the same thing.

Now these guys weren’t buying houses with credit cards because they had no money. They had serious assets, HUGE credit scores, and serious plans about building wealth. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t thank God that they’d come into my life. College for four kids didn’t look nearly as impossible now. I might actually retire and not die at my desk.

Eventually it was the only business I did for anything under a million dollars. I still took those Mega jumbos . . . but first time homebuyers? Only as a favor to one of my investor clients who was selling a house and wanted to know the truth about the process. I didn’t work with Realtors – I didn’t need them, I had my own private supply of loans and it appeared to be a never ending source of business.

I didn’t know it then, but I’d shifted to a Plan B.

And I worked it, unceasingly, until it failed. That was mid-2007, when the universe tilted and the world of credit, and I mean the world . . . began to slip and slide away.

So there I was. 2009 was on the cusp – 2008 was a total bust. I’d made more money in other lifetimes as a cocktail waitress two nights a week. I’d thought of other things I could do, unfortunately, my last twenty years was spent KNOWING real estate, financing, legal solutions . . . and all of those occupations were pretty much in the same sad shape. There was really nothing to switch to that I knew and honestly, all the places I applied to for work that I didn’t have recent experience for didn’t even bother to say no. They ignored me.

I faced reality. I’m 57. No one needs what I do or what I know. A whole lot of people wish they needed me, but they don’t.


I was reading ESPN sports magazine at my daughter’s house. Mickey Rourke was on the cover. I’ve always been a fan of his . . . even when he quit acting for boxing and messed up that gorgeous face. (see notes at bottom)

Mickey Rourke, from AngelHeart

I just really like the guy. Surely you’ve heard about The Wrestler by now; Mickey Rourke has already won a dozen awards for it and has been nominated for an Oscar.

The review was amazingly good – something I didn’t expect from a sports magazine doing a review of a movie. Bill Simmons, the author, didn’t expect it to be good either, but I digress. As he wrote about how The Wrestler came to be, he remarked this little slam on Hollywood and filmmakers:


And the filmmakers know the danger of being trapped in the past, when you’ve executed Plan A, lived it, loved it, made some mistakes, ultimately screwed everything up and then can’t come up with a Plan B … so you keep trying to relive Plan A.

So you keep trying to re-live Plan A.

And therein was my problem.

I read that sentence. Stopped, re-read it and realized we were so smug, so content, so stinking busy keeping up with the work we had, WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WE WERE GOING TO NEED PLAN B.

I don’t know about you, but, Damn.

Mickey Rourke as the Wrestler - I still love him

Mickey Rourke as the Wrestler - I still love him


Years ago I realized that maybe I made a mistake, politically, when I turned a lot of that stuff down. I would go off to obscure places and make movies that six people went to see.”

I had a bonding problem when I went off and boxed for five years. I was over in Europe and Asia fighting because I wanted to do something different; I was tired of acting. But the thing is, when I was done doing that, I couldn`t get a job.”

What I`ve got to do now is let them judge me for who I am as an actor and not for my notoriety.”

Mickey Rourke Trivia

  • 1991: Became a professional boxer
  • Professional boxing debut on May 23, 1991 in Florida, winning a 4 round decision over Steve Powell
  • Had a knockout streak of 12 straight knockouts
  • Sparred with world champions James Toney and Carlos Monzón
  • On June 3, 1992 knocked-out Darrell Miller in one round in Japan
  • On Nov. 20, 1993 knocked-out Thomas McCoy in 3 rounds in Germany
  • On Dec. 12, 1993 knocked-out Terry Jesmer in Spain in 4 rounds
  • Visited former World Middleweight Boxing Champion Carlos Monzón while Monzón was in prison for murder in Argentina. The two reportedly boxed an exhibition
  • Retired from boxing undefeated after boxing to a draw with “Irish” Sean Gibbons in Davie, Florida in 1994

Read the entire article here: The Sports Guy, Mickey Rourke could’ve been a contender. The Wrestler has a shot at being one too , ESPN.Com, Bill Simmons


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