Monday, November 30, 2009

My annual holiday "idiot driver" rant...

I didn't take time to look into my archives here at my blog but I'd guess that I have ranted about this exact situation previously; perhaps even exactly one year ago, but I digress...

So we drove 'home' to Kentucky for Thanksgiving. Traffic all the way through Chattanooga was a trainwreck. It was backed up from about 10 miles from the GA-TN border all the way into/through the city! Horror show! While that was annoying, I have to vent about what ticks me off for holiday drivers--I call them the "Over the river and through the woods" drivers. Kind of like the people who only go to church on Easter, Mother's Day and Christmas (you know the types!) these drivers only drive on the interstate for 'special' occasions (like Thanksgiving and Christmas) and don't really know how to handle themselves on the open road.

I have driven thousands of miles over my 44 years, and have driven from ATL to OWB (Owensboro, KY, my home town) many times from when I turned 16 to the present time. The directions are easy: From Owensboro, you go south. When you get to Nashville turn left. When you get to Chattanooga go right. That's pretty much it! Well, these "holiday" drivers may know how to get from point A to point B but they don't realize why there is a left lane. People, the left lane is for PASSING. It's like this--there are times when the road is 'full' (i.e. there is nowhere to go, pure volume). But there are also times when you're driving down the road and there's a lone idiot sitting in the left lane. No clue, no reason to be there, so you just blow on by in the right lane.

Other times? In a word, "clumps". Sure, you're moving with the pack, rolling by at or barely above the speed limit. But there will be a clump of 5 cars parked in the left lane at the same speed, and the right lane is wide open. SO, you risk a ticket and get in the right lane for an 80mph (or more) sprint (as they will inevitably speed up once they see that they can block you--usually the GA drivers, of course). Once you pass all five cars, odds are they will all remain in the left lane, but you remain in the proper (right) lane until you reach the next clump of lemmings.

Another fun left-lane bandit is the type that plays 'pace car' and holds up an entire lane of traffic by jumping in the left lane to slowwwwlly pass the truck or other obstruction in the right lane. Once they finally move back to the right the entire clump gets to resume 'normal' speeds (cross reference 'clumps' above).

A final favorite (again, esp. among GA drivers, usually the "educator" license plates) is the 'race car' driver. You've been sitting behind one idiot (solo) pace car (as noted) and they finally pull into the right lane. What's this? They've been driving 72 mph for the past several miles (where you couldn't pass them). Now that the lane is free, suddenly they are pacing you or going a bit faster than you (just enough that you can't pass them without speeding up)! Once again, hit the go-pedal and suddenly you're doing 82! Why? It's the only way to actually pass them! Once they are passed they (surprise!) go back to their previous speed (as noted by their minuscule presence in your rear-view mirror), never to be seen again unless you make a pit-stop.

SO: which driver are you? If you were on I-24 or I-75 during the holidays and got passed by a gold SUV w/GA "horse" (that's equestrian to you and me) tags, YOU might be referenced in this blog post! : ) I hate to say it, but I won't be apologizing to you--I'll look forward to YOUR apology for blocking the way home for all of us! Be safe out there and watch out for idiots!

DISCLAIMER: I do not recommend being an overly aggressive driver. I do not like people who weave in and out of traffic driving unsafely, this is not condoned as well. While what I reference above does admittedly talk about exceeding the speed limit at times, I do so with a well-maintained vehicle on fresh tires, an alert driver (no cell talking/texting, eating/sleeping) and (as my family is aboard) I don't take great risks in order to save a minute or two (especially as my 'barometer' (Susie :) is sitting next to me, ensuring that I don't get out of hand!). As for motorcyclists who like to weave in and out of traffic at high speeds--your nickname (stolen from doctor friends) of "organ donors" is applicable-think about it.... Have a great (and safe) drive home today!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home sales UP in October

We know why, right? The tax credit was set to expire next Monday but people rushed to get their home purchases handled before then. This month will be a good month but it does seem that October produced more closings. One reason is the delay in getting financing--even people with money and/or good credit are having trouble getting loans! Likewise it's very difficult to get a solid appraised value on homes right now as prices are still being skewed by foreclosures. Finally, we are NOT out of the woods as it relates to foreclosures--not until we get employment handled. But hey, at least people will have access to healthcare, right? (Yes, Virginia, that's sarcasm. We need to get the Economy back on track FIRST; get JOBS back FIRST; then worry about healthcare-and maybe take a stab at Social Security while you're at it!)

Here's a link to the story.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

RESPA changes to the GFE and HUD-1 begin January 1, 2010. Are you ready?

Are you ready for the $1,000.00 closing? Let me explain...

I have recently attended two seminars to learn about new RESPA rules taking affect January 1, 2010 as it relates to the new Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and the revised HUD-1 Settlement Statement. Be ready for some BIG changes! If this is news to you you may want to give me a call as you don't want to be caught off guard. The goal for the new GFE is to allow consumers to go shopping for the best deal on their loan. Likewise, they want consumers to be able to compare apples to apples (rates, lender fees, closing fees, state fees, etc.). Another goal is to ensure that the closing numbers (on the HUD-1) will match the GFE exactly. I have no issues with these goals; I have seen several 'surprises' at the table in my career and it is never fun for any of us--especially the borrower. Hopefully this will happen less often with these 'new and improved' (well, maybe?) disclosures.

As for the $1,000 closing comment, this speaks to line 1101 from the new HUD called "title services and lenders' title insurance". Translation: ALL of our closing fees will be lumped together. Take all of our standard purchase fees: $450 attorney fee, $125 title search, $50 title binder, $55 "Special Handling"/courier fee--add that together and you already have $680. Lender's title insurance is published by the title company as being $2.00 per $1,000 in loan value, so take a $100,000 loan and that $680 ends up being $880.00 for "attorney fees" which may create 'sticker shock' for your clients. For that matter, Owner's title insurance will be a separate line as well.

Please make note of those fees and that bottom line and compare it with other firms. We are proud of the lack of junk fees that many other firms charge over and above what is listed (no $25 wire fee, $25 tax search fee, $150 'doc prep' fee, etc.). I acknowledge that we are NOT the cheapest but I know that you won't find the same level of customer service elsewhere!

I have much more to say about this topic but I want to leave you with one more thought--IF your buyers or borrowers truly start shopping, I just want to pass along something that we've seen (remember-the law firm is the last person in the chain). Some lenders can quote a great deal--my question is "can they deliver?" I am a fan of free enterprise and low costs, but I want to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone if I have a problem--it's no different with loans. You need to have someone you can reach as well as someone who can actually get us a package. CAVEAT: loans are no longer the 'Wild Wild West' but underwriting and/or appraisals can delay a closing--or kill it (thanks HVCC! Look for a posting on this and other reasons to contact your Congressman soon). Suffice it to say that it's not always your lender's fault; sometimes it's totally out of their control. With that being said, based on all the new disclosure requirements, choose wisely. Make sure you have a great team--lender, agent and (of course!) your closing attorney. Contact me anytime to chat about this or any other issues you may face. Thanks for your business, your interest and your friendship! See you soon!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What am I going to do on Friday now?

Unfortunately Sprayberry High School's football team lost their first round playoff game to Marist High School last Friday, thus ending our football season. It was a great game and a hard fight--a fitting end to a solid year of football. Now what? No more football, cheeseburgers and fries (or Chick Fil A), popcorn and hot chocolate. I guess we'll be back to gathering on the sofa for movie night (or we'll venture out to 'actual' movies--New Moon, anyone?). Who knows, maybe we can take in a Gwinnett Gladiators game soon or some other event? Regardless, it was great to be a part of 3 straight years of Sprayberry being in the playoffs and I look forward to our son Joey's 2010 Senior season! Go Sprayberry Yellowjackets!

Frank W. Wagner, Jr.

I thought I would add my Dad's Obituary here; I loved my Dad and I really think of him often and thank God for him and how much of a great Father he was to me. He did so much for the Owensboro community and there were so many people that were touched by him. I was amazed to see so many close friends at his funeral and the 'party' afterwards was exactly what he had asked and 'required'. It was sad, but a great way to celebrate such a unique individual!

Text follows:
Frank W Wagner, 78, of Owensboro, died Sunday, September 27, 2009, at the Owensboro Medical Health System. Frank was born on August 28, 1931, to the late Frank W Wagner, Sr., and Louise Wagner in Charleston, WV. Frank was a talented jazz pianist, a retired homebuilder and real estate developer, and an extraordinary husband, father and friend. He was a member of Settle Memorial United Methodist Church. He was a long time member, past president and Paul Harris Fellow recipient of the Owensboro Rotary Club with 36 years of perfect attendance. Frank was also past president of the Owensboro Board of Realtors and twice served as president of the Owensboro Home Builders Association. He was a past President of the Home Builders Association of Kentucky and was inducted into the Kentucky Housing Hall of Fame in 2004. More importantly, Frank Wagner enjoyed jazz music, playing the piano, spending quality time with family and friends, giving generously within the Owensboro community. Frank loved life and had an amazing ability to permanently influence those who knew him well. Frank would never want or expect anyone to mourn his death. Instead, he would challenge everyone to live life to the fullest.

Survivors include his wife and “soul mate” of 51 years, Helen S Wagner; a daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Wagner Bozeman and her husband, Dr. Gary Douglas Bozeman of Spartanburg, SC; a son, Frank W Wagner, III, “Bo” and his wife, Erie Susan Wagner of Marietta, GA; four grandchildren, Blake Bozeman, Christy McMillen, Joseph Tait, and Julia Tait; a sister, Barbara Ann Angelo and her husband Bill of Charleston, WV; and a nephew, Michael Angelo, and his wife Kelly and their daughter Sabrina of Smyrna, GA.

Services will be at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 1, 2009, in the Chapel of Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory. Friends are invited to attend a special gathering at the Campbell Club after the service to celebrate Frank’s remarkable life. Visitation will be held from 3 pm until 5 pm on Thursday at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to:

The Daviess County Public Library
2020 Frederica Street
Owensboro, KY 42301

Settle Memorial United Methodist Church
201 East Fourth Street
Owensboro, KY 42303

Owensboro Museum of Fine Art
901 Frederica Street
Owensboro, KY 42301

Owensboro Symphony Orchestra
211 East Second Street
Owensboro, KY 42303

Rotary International Polio Plus
c/o 1735 Frederica Street
Owensboro, KY 42301