Homeless Doesn’t = Heartless

Souls Instead of Bodies

Souls Instead of Bodies

“If home is where the heart is, does that mean that homeless people have no heart?” A mean tweet read by a homeless person on a segment of Huff Post Impact X. Homeless Read Mean Tweets <—–click link for video.

Meant to bring social awareness to the stigmatization of “homelessness” in our country. Heart crushing to see the looks on the faces of the homeless folks reading these mean tweets but even then, my heart goes out to those sick souls who feel the need to lash out at an already struggling demographic to assert that they are somehow better? My mind goes to, “wow, that person really must be struggling with something terrible internally to spit so much venom at someone who has no other recourse.”

I grew up, in an area that I commonly refer to as “The Bubble.” Discovery Bay/Brentwood California, back in the early 80’s. At that time it was small, like only 1 stoplight in Brentwood small. Definitely no real presence of homelessness.

Growing up in a highly conservative home in a very small town, homelessness was something that was only seen on television. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college in our “rebellious-piercing obsessed” trips to Berkeley was homelessness really experienced in real life. Then, it was somewhat of a novelty. There were “famous/notorious bums” strategically placed around the Telegraph area of Berkeley. There was the infamous “joke guy” who hung outside of Fat Slice. There was the guy who wore women’s clothing and ran after cars barking like a dog. In San Francisco, there was the bush man who hid behind branches and scared the living heck out of people.

I look back now ashamed that I even entertained this idea that these folks were here for the amusement of others. But then again, I hadn’t really been taught to see it any other way. I hadn’t been taught to look at homelessness from a place of understanding. That something monumental had to have happened to land these folks on the street. It wasn’t until my move to Honolulu in 2003 that I really became “aware” of the implications of homelessness.

Moving to Downtown Honolulu from “The Bubble” was both the most terrifying and amazing experience of my life. I learned so much about life that I feel I wouldn’t have otherwise learned. My first apartment was in Chinatown, on the corner of Smith and Nimitz Hwy. To walk to school, work, the gym I passed the same homeless people day after day, night after night. To be incredibly honest, I was scared shitless to walk home or to class by myself for the first few weeks. Especially when I realized that at night time Bishop Street, which I walked down each night after the gym was the place where most of the transsexual prostitutes would hang out waiting for a trick.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t really in harms way. The homeless usually just slept and the prostitutes were all about their business. It didn’t stop me from silently judging though. Usual thoughts of, “These people must have really screwed up their lives to be where they are in life” or rationalizing that they had to have been terrible people to end up living this sort of life. They had to be right?! Bad things just don’t happen to good people, right? Damn…was I naïve.

It wasn’t until a couple months later, that I was out scouring Chinatown, for Vietnamese coffee presses with my manager at my job (The rRed Elephant) that I got the wake up call of my life. I remember walking past these homeless folks, lying on the sidewalk. I watched my manager’s eyes dart at them lying about, and I was thinking to myself, “Good grief, get a job,” thinking that my manager had to be thinking the same thing when she said, “You just have to wonder where their families are and what could have happened so drastic that would put them in such a position.”

She may as well have slapped me. That’s how I felt when I heard her response. I was sure that she was thinking the same thing as I was. I have never been more glad that I didn’t open my mouth and say what I was thinking because instantaneously I was humbled and ashamed for my overall negative way of thinking on this topic. Why had I never stopped to consider that these people could be suffering in some way that created this situation for them? That they might be in poor mental health, have survived a financial crisis, lost a job, their family, their health. I never looked at a homeless person again with the same tenacity to jump to negative conclusions.

I get that a lot of people are homeless due to a drug addiction. That is the typical stereotype. According to an article written by Daphne Chen, a writer at the “Daily Californian” an independent Berkeley Student Publishing Company, http://homelessness.dailycal.org/causes/ about “40 percent of the homeless population suffers from chronic substance abuse, 41 percent are severely mentally ill and 20 percent are veterans.”

A large part of the homeless population in Honolulu were Veterans as well. That breaks my heart. These are the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country’s freedom and liberties. We are quick to celebrate them come Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day but apparently forget about them shortly thereafter. There was one man who came in to my work place every single day, paid for his cup of coffee and would hang out there all day. He was an amazingly sweet man. A veteran. Someone who had body tremors and was repetitive in his conversations and actions. To the average passerby’er he was just another weirdo on the street. To those who knew him, he was John, a veteran of the U.S. armed services who dealt with post traumatic stress and other physical ailments from serving our country. Who was lucky enough to have a roof over his head at a local shelter, and lived on a meager paycheck from the U.S. government. A pay check that would be gone shortly after its monthly issuance because John would buy all of his buddies, who didn’t receive a monthly payout, food. He wasn’t so concerned with himself. He would have given the shirt off of his back to help anyone else in need.

Those who have little, have the most to give.

Those who have little, have the most to give.

We need more “John’s” in the world. In a world where being charitable/philanthropic/hospitable comes but one time a year (The Holidays) and where these acts are done to illicit “likes,” “shares,” and “affirmative commentary.” What are we teaching our younger generations? That kindness is universal…”universal” meaning only due to those who fit into your ideal mold of what is deserving of “kindness?” People just like you, right? Or people who are only nominally less well off than you?

I get that most people are only capable of so much. You are only capable of what you allow your mind to accept. It’s the “cool” thing to do these days to “appear” philanthropic. Teach our children to be kind to others. Just the others we deem “worthy” so that we have a heartwarming story to tell at our next social gathering, something to post on social media, something to keep us warm at night when we tell ourselves that we are making a difference in the world. As Les Brown said, “If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness.”

I thank god for the experiences, trials and tribulations I have had in my short life. They haven’t been overwhelmingly damning but they have been enough to stretch me out of my comfort zone and force me to expand my own consciousness. I can only wish that others have the courage to do the same. We might find the world we live in a much brighter place.


F*CK LUCK

What's Luck Got to Do with it?

What’s Luck Got to Do with it?

There is no such thing as luck. I honestly have the belief that Santa is going to come bounding down my chimney in 34 days (that I don’t actually have) before I ever believe that the concept of “Luck” is anything more than just a cop-out.

Profile of a person who fully believes in “luck” looks something like this: Does not feel that they have control of their lives. May have once had ambition but failed on the first try and then gave up. Implosive. Tries to appear happy-go-lucky on the outside but actually spew negativity in somewhat inconspicuous ways. Complaining on the daily that others are negative and ruining their day. Are powerless over their emotions. Being happy or positive is directly controlled by an exterior source, aka anything other than themselves. Play and believe in the lottery. Are either employed and forever complaining or gainfully unemployed claiming to be an “entrepreneur.” Believe that life happens to them and that ones own inaction/actions are not directly related to their own outcomes. They are most commonly seen as silent/backhanded people full of resentment.

There are more traits but you should get the idea by now.

People who believe in Luck look at those who are successful in life with resentment. They could be your best friend, by your side pretending to happy for your successes but then interject once in awhile with back handed negativity. They downplay your successes, claim they had a better/more efficient way of doing it, but the ultimate hater phrase is…”you’re so/just Lucky.”

When good things happen to you, it is a sum of efforts being put together to achieve your goal. For some it is blood, sweat, tears and a lot of failing forward. So when someone says…”Oh your so lucky, it truly minimizes the sum of your efforts and gives your achievement to a nameless, faceless bullshit concept. When someone who is successful chalks their success up to luck, they are just being coy. They know damn well it didn’t have anything to do with luck, but with a general audience of admirers some time it is just easier and more romantic to plainly say, “I was just lucky.”

When bad things happen, people who believe in luck chalk it up to, “I am just unlucky.” Well, this can be explained with two different phenomena. 1.) You caused you to be “unlucky” by your actions or lack thereof 2.) Shit happens…no seriously it does. There are just some things that are out of our control, like health issues, death, etc. That is life.

The concept of “luck” gives the weak minded person a crutch. If something bad happens it helps remove blame or accountability from a person who probably did not try their hardest, or plainly just failed. Who ever said that it was bad to fail? What is bad is not getting up 100 more times to try. But failing…not bad, not in my book. When you fail and say, “oh it’s just bad luck” you are giving yourself an excuse to say, “at least I can say I tried.” I call bullshit! If you want something that bad…you go get it! The concept of luck is a limiting belief masquerading as a limitless concept.

When you chalk something bad up to “luck” you are giving that situation power over you. You are giving yourself a pardon and excuse to sit around and feel bad for yourselves. No self respecting person likes a pity party. (Being sad/blindsided and taking time to come to terms with something is very different than a pity party.)

So with all this “Luck” bashing finally comes to what someone who doesn’t believe in luck looks like: Takes control of their life, owns their circumstances and is not reduced by them, take accountability and responsibility for their dreams, ambitions and failures, know how to stand and take criticism and turn it into something positive, life affirming and REAL to others (don’t just feed them bullshit that they think the other person wants to hear), Employed and love what they do or if they don’t, find ways to make their career better or find something new that does make them happy, business owners constantly in looking to build and grow, emotionally intelligent, believe that life is what you make of it. (I could go on forever on this list)

Bottom line. The word, “Luck” to me is like the word “try.” There is no try, there is only do or do not. There is no LUCK. There is either is or is not, do or do not. Period.


The 13 hottest real estate markets in America

capesonfire:

7 of these Metro’s our Real Estate Team Bay 2 Pacific Living services.

Originally posted on Fortune:

The real estate bubble that burst in 2006 took six additional years to entirely deflate, with home prices hitting rock bottom in 2012. But by 2014, home prices, on average, have returned to their pre-bubble norms.

And with the economy growing only modestly, and average incomes growing slowly, there isn’t a lot of reason to expect that home price appreciation will do much more than keep up with inflation in coming years. But that’s on a national level, and local markets behave much differently. In fact, there are several markets in America where analysts argue that–when compared to historical trends, incomes, and rents–current prices look overvalued.

Real estate data firm Trulia compiles statistics on both the amount of home price appreciation in each U.S. metro area as well as estimates of how overvalued homes are in those areas compared with historical trends. According to Trulia, even if many of these…

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Standards…Obviously Not One Size Fits All

Standards = Guidelines for your life

Standards = Guidelines for your life

Anytime that I have felt a lull or a dormancy in my life, after some intense reflection, I can always pin-point the degradation to a slip-up or relaxation of my personal standards. Standards are not a one-size-fits-all concept. There is no set of standards that works universally for everyone and no matter how much you want them to, some people may just plain not have them. Period.

In a world of “everyone should get a trophy for merely having a pulse,” the concept of standards sometimes feel all but lost. I personally have standards for myself in all facets of my life. Whether it be my business, wife & motherly, or personal I have standards for myself. I am also my own worst critic, something I consistently struggle with is to give myself some slack, as I tend to be my own drill sergeant. While being focused and regimented is good, too much of a good thing can be bad, so therefore I struggle daily with not crossing the line into an unhealthy balance.

In the past, my self imposed standards have been so prevalent and strong that they have alienated people. It’s a foreign thing to me, being raised by a U.S. Marine that other folks may not have set the bar very high for themselves or have chosen to not set one at all. It’s not really failing when you have not set any standard right? One of the hardest things as an adult was learning that being an adult does not necessarily mean that all other adults had standards of their own to live up to regarding behavior, grooming, relationships, parenting, etc.

I view standards as not something to necessarily “hit” or “attain.” More so, I see them as, at minimum, the ground floor of what you expect to achieve, or even the way you allow others to treat you. That is a BIG standard most struggle with implementing, myself included. Although, once that bar was set, I have to admit it pissed a lot of people off. Through natural selection a whole bunch of them were wiped clear out of my life and I would do it again, probably sooner because those who were here for the right reasons all lived up to the standard. Those who did not, faded into the abyss.

At the end of the day, I have learned that setting your own personal standards to an level slightly over attainable, and eventually increasing/decreasing them with ebb-and-flow of life, is a formula that works for me. Others may choose to not share the same level of standards I set for myself, and that is all fine. My standards only help mold and refine who I wish to become as a person. Only someone who is immature or lacks confidence will take my own personal standards and apply them as a reason to feel inferior or take issue with them. I do not hold others to my standards, that would be unreasonable.

I do, however, have set standards for those I let in my immediate circle, each year those standards seem to get tighter and more refined. It is not that I take issue with those who do not fit within those guidelines. I want to be immediately surrounded by those who inspire, support and challenge me to be better than I thought I could ever be, thus embracing & supporting the fact that I have self imposed standards. True friends want to see you attain goals and will be there to support, however they can.

Too many folks are intimidated by that sort of relationship, and that is fine. I choose to take part in only the best. This does not mean the Prettiest, The Richest, The Infamous…it means those who are the best for my soul.


Mean Girls

Mean Girls

Mean Girls

I am in the age of the question, “When are you having more kids?” The looks of horror I get when I tell them that my husband and I are not having more kids are quite funny to me. Our daughter is our greatest blessing but if we would have had a boy as a first born I would probably be more apt to try for one more child. We have plenty of other reasons as to why our family is perfect the way that it is, but one of the reasons is that I do not deal with girl drama.

Having a sweet, brilliant little girl has been amazing. It has been like dressing a real live doll. We bond over clothes shopping, nail appointments, girlie movies, and dance class. She is about to turn 5 and head into Kindergarten this fall and I already am dreading the drama. Girls in general are incredibly emotional, irrational, self-involved, insecure, jealous beings but couple that with the hands off, lazy, finger-pointing parenting these days and this generation has disaster written all over it.

Recently, my 4 year old has been getting acclimated to being with older kids at her new school, as when she goes into Kindergarten she will be grouped with the school age kids. She has been rather worried about being around the “big kids” and I work on reassuring her daily that they are no different, no smarter, no better than she is, that she can keep up with them, and truth be told she actually can. She has a better perception, emotional intelligence and self awareness than most kids much older than her. It is both a gift and downfall I had as a child as well.

Yesterday, finding out that one of the older girls called my 4 year old “Stupid,” after my mom had picked her up automatically increased my body temperature. We rarely use the word “stupid” in our house, and it is never used to describe a child. Adult behavior? Why yes, that is the best terminology I can use to describe some adults without using profanity. Anyways, I soon found out that I was more affected by it than my daughter. She merely brought it up as something that happened in her day, she was not affected by it or even felt that this “big girls” opinion had any bearing on her being.

All the while my mind was racing on what I would have told my daughter was affected by this little simpleton’s remark such as, “Oh she’s probably upset because she’s being raised by pigs/animals.” Yeah…that is the mean spirited mean girl of my own who comes flying out when someone messes with my child and while it is the first line that usually comes to my head out of anger, it is never conveyed to my child. These thoughts are just for me because I know nasty language is not the way to win a battle of wit.

Well Adjusted?

Well Adjusted?

In all actuality, my daughter “Won” this battle by merely looking at this child, smiling and walking away to play with other friends. She rendered me useless. She needed no words of wisdom from me, and believe me, I had them…nice ones too I promise. That act in itself reinforced that what my husband and I are teaching her is far greater than any snappy comebacks or as I have frequently used in my less enlightened days…verbal kill shots.

I have been known to mentally dismantle people, never for fun, but because I felt that anyone who wanted to start something better knew that they weren’t going to finish it, I was. When I did every ounce of dynamite I had in my being would be put towards demolishing this person. While I succeeded, despite the fact that they started it and I should feel vindicated, I never did. I felt like they still won because I let them get the best of me. I wasn’t secure enough to just laugh it off and let it go, because in true reality who were they and what did they matter anyways?

There are always going to be “mean girls.” For the sheer fact that all of those vices I listed before are ingrained in us and amplified by bad examples set by parents. Parents teach their kids to bully either directly or indirectly. That is not going to be my example.

I believe my husband and my examples truly align between what we tell our daughter and how our actions towards her, each other and outsiders are. Otherwise, we would have a rude, materialistic, entitled little brat on our hands. She is nothing of the sort. She is everything you would want a little girl to be and more. Not a mean girl, not a victim…just a sweet, happy, adjusted, smart little girl, and I am pretty proud of that.


Stop the FB Hater-spree & Learn to Live Better Yourself

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State of the Real Estate Market (Far East San Francisco Bay Area, CA)

Bay 2 Pacific Living (Sold Listing)

Bay 2 Pacific Living (Sold Listing)

Sure Real Estate is about relationships. It is actually about a lot of things, but one principle that I have built my business on, and believe is highly important is knowledge.

While I have always held the belief that real estate is a “local” business, our “local business” can be altered and affected by national as well as international affairs. Which is why I believe that general knowledge of world/national affairs is critical, as is being able to break that down to a micro-level (our local business) is beneficial to the success of anyone looking to partake in the real estate market. It is my job to best advise my clients to the best of my knowledge, right?

Last week at The Asian Real Estate Association of America’s (AREAA) United States/China Summit I had the opportunity to immerse myself in information about both U.S. and Chinese economics, policies, urban development, technology and international capital investment and the value was impactful.

Particularly, since it seems as though the consensus from a lot of my local colleagues is that this market has just turned, “Weird.”

The number of buyers out there have diminished, and deals are much harder to put together as challenges with lending guidelines and true buyer eligibility thwart potential sales. Supply seems low, despite the lack of credit worthy buyers in the marketplace. So what gives? Historically this is the “busy” time of year in the Real Estate nationally and locally.

According to Ben Graboske, Vice President of Corelogic (who specializes in financial, property and consumer information, analytics and business intelligence)(wiki) there are several contributing factors.

1.) Declining Distressed Sales: With the foreclosure tsunami wave finally losing momentum there are less distressed assets entering the market place from REO’s and Short Sales. Being that the far East Bay Area was hit rather hard with distressed sales it rationalizes an average decline in the number of total property sales between Pittsburg (-18%), Antioch (-17%), Oakley (-11%), Brentwood, (-11%), Discovery Bay (-15%) for an average between all 5 cities of (-15%) from June 2013 until present. Diminished distress sales gives way to #2.

2.) Declining presence of Institutional Investors & Cash Buyers: Corelogic reported that California in recent years has a cash sales share of about 32% annually. As an agent who has held over an average of 14% of the market share for the last three consecutive years and holding an average of over 20% of the listing inventory I can personally vouch that these numbers have been dead on as it pertains to my specific market and business in the far East Bay Area of San Francisco. As of late, specifically within the last year this percentage has diminished exponentially. Only solidifying the reasoning behind some of the buyer fall out, what gives for the rest of the buyer fall out?

3.) Tight Credit & Buyer Eligibility: Anyone who has bought a home in recent years can testify. Along with a stellar credit score and at minimum 3.5% down payment, lenders seemingly want a quart of blood and option to the rights to your first born child before you can qualify for a loan. Ok, so maybe the last two are somewhat of an exaggeration…somewhat.

In general you have to have at least a 640 credit score. Many buyers looking to enter the marketplace are dealing with the lingering effects of foreclosure or short sale, thus seemingly inhibiting their potential to buy. Our area in particular was hit hard with the foreclosure wave, so this makes complete sense. Then comes the issue of down payment.

4.) Lower/Recovering Income(s): Corelogic asserts that incomes, in general, are at 1996 levels making it harder for your average person to keep up with rising costs of inflation as well as harder to qualify for a mortgage on your income. The cost to live in California is astronomical, much less the Bay Area.

Out here in the far east bay reside folks who have been priced out of home ownership and even the rental markets the closer you get to San Francisco. Which means, we tend to be a commuter community. Areas such as Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood & Discovery Bay are not as commercially developed than more metro areas in the East Bay such as Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, Dublin, Oakland and does not necessarily provide the same sort of incomes as businesses closer to and in San Francisco. Therefore, there are one of two solutions, commute or make less money. Obviously income aids in the ability to qualify for a loan, but it also aids in saving up and affording your down payment.

5.) Lack of Funds for Down Payment: Here we already spoke about the far east Bay Area getting hit pretty hard with the foreclosure tsunami so it is safe to assert that a lot of buyers looking to enter the market again have already faced financial devastation and are working on recouping their funds to purchase another home. Even if they get their credit cleaned up, here lies struggle number two.

6.) Lack of Substantial Equity for Move-Up Buyers: While there may be quite a few folks who have lived in their homes for a while and were not directly impacted by the foreclosure wave, here still lies an issue. While they may not have lost their homes, they did potentially lose equity as this distressed market hit bottom.

We have seen substantial market growth in recent years. An average of 27% increase in the median sales price for Pittsburg (43%), Antioch (30%), Oakley (28%), Brentwood (20%), Discovery Bay (21%) year-over-year from just June 2013 and June 2014. Still, some move-up buyers find it difficult to sell their home and net 20% or more for the down payment on their next purchase. This also hurts the market in that these folks are not able to generate additional momentum in the marketplace by listing their home and adding to the overall number of available inventory.

7.) Highly Comfortable Rock Bottom Home Owners: Those who have purchased a home in the Far East Bay Area in the past few years really may have no incentive to enter the market right now. If you bought your house at the bottom of the market and couple that with historically low interest rates locked in for 30 years and who would really consider selling right now?

Interest rates are still rather low but prices have been driven up again year over year. Unless homeowners who have purchased recently are selling due to relocation or the need for more space, I think it is a safe bet that a lot of recent home owners are going to stay put for a bit.

There you have it. National economics and policies broken down to the micro level, as it pertains to our eminent market. What does this all mean? Well, that is another blog post “coming soon,” but in short it means that our market has already started to shift. Shift towards a “normal market” you may ask? But who really can define what a “normal” is anymore. Only time will tell. One thing is certain, if you are looking to buy or sell real estate make sure you hire someone who not only knows but understands these trends and what they mean to you as a buyer or seller.

Discovery Bay Delta

Discovery Bay Delta

(If you are interested in more information or need Real Estate help please fill out the contact form below)

*East Bay Median Sales Price & Unit(s) Sold Statistics Gathered from EBRD, MLS.

**Photography by Technica Designs: http://www.technicadesigns.com


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