Thursday, January 28, 2010

Headline of Disbelief

A headline today: Ford earns $2.7B in 2009 (EARNS--read it again!) If you read additional details it appears that this may not be sustainable but when was the last time you read something positive about the auto industry? (unless it was related to Cash for clunkers or the recent purchase of Saab by Spyker). I was pleased to see that headline. They did not sell out to the Government and they've been producing some great cars of late (finally we get the European Focus!) including the 41 mpg hybrid Fusion (Car of the Year winner). What's next for Ford? Hopefully the union won't destroy the company (ditto for the underfunded pension plan) and the new models continue to sell well--though the Mustang is currently losing the sales 'race' with the new Camaro. Time will tell; guess we need to re-examine the old ad tagline "Have you driven a Ford, lately?"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Panic of 2008 in a nutshell...

I received the following link in an email newsletter. I am amazed at how clearly this shows 'what happened' over the past few years. I have to agree at their summation that it is truly the government that failed us. Are you surprised to read that? Both parties have failed us. Again the time is NOW to boot them all out. We are at a critical point in the history of our country. It's time to clean house and it's time to enact term limits to get rid of the 'us and them' mindset that so clearly has infected Washington (not that our own Georgia legislature has the guts to enact ethics laws and limitations on lobbyists either, but I digress). You truly want change? Let's get some new blood and new ideas in Washington. It's time for a voter revolution! God Bless America...!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What does the President Read?

I received an email with a photo of PrezBO holding a book called "The Post-American World". The tone noted that it was written by a Muslim and was more or less anti-American (and you could allude to the fact that they were shaming Obama for reading it or it's proof of his Muslim and/or anti-American leanings). I clicked on the Snopes Link (and yes, I know that they have a liberal bias) but thought I would also go ahead and click to to read a review of the book.

I must say that based on the review (and the Q&A between the book author and fellow author Thomas Friedman) that I too would read this book! We need to be more competitive and I like Friedman's commentary that the USA needs to be on the cutting edge of energy technology (clean coal emissions, for example) so that we can sell that technology to rising nations like China. One 'takeaway' from that Q&A was a lightbulb comment--if we gave one standard 60 watt bulb to the next billion people that will be born we'd need 20 new 500 megawatt coal burning plants. WOW. SO, hopefully we have scientists and people much smarter than me working on clean technology solutions so we can continue compete on the global stage!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


This is going here as well as on my other BoKnows blog... My 2 cents on closings today! Cheers, Bo

I talked a bit about the new Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Settlement Statement for residential closings in my last newsletter. Yes, it's official and any new loan 'started' in 2010 will have the new GFE and new HUD. Expect a lot of questions and confusion on this but as with anything new, 'this too shall pass'. What I want to talk about today is somewhat self-serving but very important for the future. Why is choosing an attorney important? For that matter, why is closing a loan with an attorney important? First off, it's not all about fees. Yes, I know how self-serving that statement is. When you look at a new GFE or HUD-1 you'll see all of our fees combined are almost $700 (without lender's title). I know one firm that will do all that for just shy of $300. They may be a great firm, but we never set out to build a high-volume closing firm. I've been there--the lobby full of people waiting to close, delays, tempers and it seems that customer service is tossed out the window. When we chose to open this firm in late 2008 we knew that's not what we wanted.
So our fees are about the same as most closing attorneys out there and we all have to quote the same title insurance rates as dictated by our title companies. If the playing field (e.g. 'fees') is level, more or less, why choose us? We are all veterans here. We can handle your first-time homebuyer's questions with ease (and patience!). We can handle "issues" at the closing table (we've all been there before) with tact and finesse (yes, even me!). For that matter, we don't let files 'lay around' until the day before closing so there really shouldn't be surprises on closing day. Come see us again and I know you'll be pleased. And remember not to think of us as 'just' an in-town firm--we can close all over metro ATL!
Final topic--why close with an attorney at all? This is less relevant for purchases but there are a lot of options out there for consumers. Many large national lenders use 'closing services' to close transactions and issue title insurance. Yes, I've closed loans in homes (even a Starbucks or two). However, there is a huge difference between us and these companies. We believe (as do most Georgia real estate attorneys) that a closing should be handled by the firm from start to finish. We run (and clean!) the title, close the loan, issue the title insurance and fund it through our IOLTA (trust account). This should be the bare minimum that a licensed Georgia attorney should do but some lenders insert themselves into the transaction. A witness-only attorney is just there to watch you sign documents--where are they when you have questions or issues after closing? An out of state 'title company' or 'escrow provider' won't help you clear up a messy title with open loan deeds--if you can even get someone on the phone or in the correct department! The bottom line? Even if you don't choose Harris Wagner Law Group, do yourself a favor and choose a licensed, LOCAL Georgia attorney to handle your transaction. You could even say the same thing about lenders and agents as well. Choose wisely as your home is the largest investment you own!

Quick take on the economy

I have different items to work on today so here's my economics report for the current period: unemployment is still dragging down our country. In Georgia, it's really not going to be much better in 2010 as so many of our jobs were lost due to the housing implosion. SO housing is still going to drive this recovery--or not. If you have a mortgage in the mid-5's or 6% (or an adjustable that can 're-set' in the next year or so), you need to think about refinancing by Summer. Ditto for home purchases as there is not much time left on the homebuyer's tax credit. Housing starts are up in the South and competition for homes (new or 'used') will pick up again soon so act now before the crowds start bidding up prices. Act now before inflation kicks in and rates go back up (take a look at both the PPI and CPI if you need confirmation on that). Act now to get out from under the burden of rent!