American Pacific Mortgage

American Pacific Mortgage

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holidays, Safety and Wintertime Blues

This week we lost a dear friend of my son Drew. Drew was married last September, and he and his wife MaryGrace are expecting their first child any moment as I write this.

I am very excited to see my first grandchild...but very sad about the loss of his friend.

Mitch Romero was a childhood friend of Drew's from Tustin. The outpouring of grief from his friends has been overwhelming. The sheer variety of his friend is amazing. I am learning more about him and his life as I read FB postings about him, but I can tell you he was a loving husband and father, an amazing photographer and a spirited and spiritual human being. The picture below, from Drew's Wedding reception, shows Mitch on the left with Drew and two other close friends.

Why an I sharing this?

Mitch died alone in his cabin in Northern California. He'd created a green cabin powered by solar energy...but had just installed a new heater for the coming winter.

He failed to install a C0 sensor. Carbon Monoxide sensors are now required by California state law in every home, one on each floor, and outside all bedrooms. They may be purchased for around $20 at any home supply/home depot type store.

Mitch died in bed. He just went to sleep and never woke up, leaving his young wife, daughter and a child on the way--who luckily were home.

His friends have set up a memorial on at the Mitch Romero Memorial fund. here is the link:

If you feel the inclination to help support his young family during this holiday season, I know it would be greatly appreciated.

Finally, please be sure to install C0 sensors in your home if you haven't yet. Today all real estate appraisals require them, and I always advise clients to purchase them prior to property inspection.

Be safe during the holidays, I hope they bring you much cheer. Here is the last photograph Mitch sent to a friend from his cabin door, complete with a rainbow.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Mortgage News

Fall has finally arrived…after a long,hot summer which I thoroughly enjoyed!


We watched rates continue to drop throughout the year, and they hit bottom right around October 1st. Currently rates have moved just off their lows, but realistically are still extremely attractive whether you are buying or refinancing. As I write this the election is tomorrow, so we are unsure what effect the result may have on rates… only time will tell. They have to start marching up at some point though.

Loan approval is certainly attainable for most borrowers, as long as your credit is relatively good (no FICO scores in the 500’s please and over 680 is better, 740 is considered perfect) AND if you can document adequate income to qualify for a loan within standard debt-to-income ratios which are still running around 45%. There are some exceptions to this figure (HARP loans, or FHA loans will both go higher in the debt ratios) You just need to have the constitution to survive the process of handing over lots more paperwork than in the past, including divorce documents, trust documents, explanations for deposits to your accounts, etc….

I have handled more than a few transactions recently for clients who started out working with their bank or current lender, only to find out more than 60 days into the process that it was going to take another 30 to 60 days. I closed a purchase for a client who was told by the BofA that they could not close in less than 45 days. I had the loan approved in 14 days from the date of application. Whatever you do, don’t work with a big bank, use a mortgage banker or broker. The banks are too big to be efficient and are overwhelmed. My average refinance closes in 30 days depending on how responsive the client is to requests for documentation.

Boys & Girls Club of Tustin

As some of you may know, I was a member of the Board for the B&G Club in Tustin, and had the privilege of serving as President. I am deeply committed to these clubs that provide such a valuable service to children all over the US. I have heard more than one alum state that the club “saved my life.” Here in Tustin, our club provide free transportation to schools for homeless children among many other programs. Yes, they pick up children from shelters and hotels, and taxi them to school programs. I have made a commitment to donate $100 for every loan I close in the community served by our Tustin club and invite any refinance or purchase loans to that end. Plus, Catalyst is underwriting their newsletters!



In September I visited San Jose del Cabo for a quick trip with two girlfriends, for R&R. We stayed at the Hilton in a timeshare (2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms) which was a lovely top-notch property with fabulous service.

Highlights were:

A visit to Mango Deck on El Medano, buying “stuff” from the beach vendors;

Dinner at Agua, the fine dining restaurant at the One and Only Palmilla… I hadn’t been there since 1978! Service and food were both outrageously good;

Dinner at my new favorite farm-to-table restaurant in San Jose, Flora Farms. Check out their website or you can find them on Facebook.


I’ve had a couple of quick weekend trips to Dallas with Steve. I was luckily able to locate a Trojan Club there for game watching on Saturdays.

The new NYLO Dallas South Side hotel just opened less than a block from Steve’s loft. It offers a fun bar and dining scene on the building roof- top complete with swimming pool , great views of downtown (the same as from Steve’s balcony) and great music. My last visit they had a fabulous jazz trio playing in the lobby bar and we danced.

Favorite eats this trip: Trulucks for seafood, and The Cedars Social, for down home eclectic cooking and marvelous cocktails.

We attended opening events at the new Klyde Warren Park, which is built over a freeway, and bridges the Dallas Arts District to Uptown. The park is a true community gathering place offering a playground for children, a dog park, a reading area complete with periodicals and books, a game area, and a stage for productions and events. They have yoga classes, Zumba and more. Opening night had a free concert with great music including Trombone Shorty from New Orleans.

The weather was pretty strange, it went from 85 high to a 35 low over my four day visit. That’s Dallas!


Steve and I visited my daughter Katie in Ann Arbor in October. We were able to watch a football game – for Homecoming-- in The Big House. The weather was a bit on the cold side and it rained most of the day! We were pretty bundled up, so we kept warm but maybe a little wet.

Best eats: Vinology on Main Street, with great wine selections and Pacific Rim for the Asian influence.

Katie introduced me to her newest exercise class: Pure Barre, which was extremely difficult and left me hobbling around for a week or so afterwards. Yikes!

She is coaching water polo at a local high school and planning to begin a Master’s in Education program in the spring.

We also visited new friends we met in the Cayman Islands at their lovely home on a lake in West Bloomfield, and enjoyed a sunset cocktail cruise on their pontoon boat. It was a blast!


My grand niece Kentyn was born a few weeks ago in Fresno to my nephew John and his wife Paige. I can’t wait to see her at Thanksgiving. My son Drew and his wife MaryGrace are expecting to welcome baby Theodore, my very own grandson, on or about December 4th, and she is looking Very Ready! Finally, I got to hold my new 2nd cousin Benjamin at the shower for MaryGrace. He is beautiful, and it provided me a little early practice.


Kenny's greenhouse has been completed, which he'd begun building at Marlboro College before he left for Germany. He spent many months and a lot of hard work to obtain permits, funding, donations, pouring the foundation etc. before he left for Germany. The building is beautiful and the College held a grand opening ceremony in October. He was present from Berlin via Skype. Here is a photo of the completed Greenhouse. Beautiful!

The holidays are quickly going to be upon us. Early Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, August 17, 2012



Interest rates have moved off their record lows of the summer (and ever, for that matter) and are hovering slightly higher after news of stabilizing events in the EU as well as improved economic indicators here in the US.

Rates are subsequently up around .25% which brings them back to the levels of late June. I will not predict whether they will rise or fall in the near future since I, along with almost everyone else, thought we’d seen the bottom much earlier this year.

As I am fond of telling my clients, I threw away my crystal ball some time ago….there are just too many factors affecting rates today in our global economy.
Home values appear to be rising slightly in some markets, and there is no clear indication of the legendary “shadow inventory” of properties either owned by banks or not yet foreclosed…so your guess is as good as mine on the future of home prices!


In mid-June –Fathers’ Day weekend-- we went to our favorite camping spot on the bluff over the ocean in El Capitan where Steve painted some nice landscapes while I read. We kayaked in the ocean (alas no dolphin sightings except from shore) and took some bike rides.

One day we drove from our campsite, where it was at around 60 degrees, inland to the Los Padres National Forest (on the way to the San Ynez Valley) for a bike ride. When we arrived there, the temp was almost 100. No kidding! To cool off we went swimming in the river which was a hoot (yes we brought our swimsuits!)
Favorite eats were lunch at Brophy Brothers, dinner at Beachside Bar & Café in Goleta and Holdren’s Steakhouse.

Next up – In early July we drove to Napa Valley for some wine tasting and to visit close friends who live in Calistoga. We were accompanied by my daughter Katie and her boyfriend Paul, who had both flown out from Ann Arbor.

Favorite wineries were Rombauer, Frank Family, Clos Pegase and Cuvaison. We had a wonderful dinner out on our last night with our friends (including a local chef, and a winemaker) at the SolBar in the Solage resort.

Amazing food, accompanied by special bottles we brought in, plus a magnum of Zinfandel. I’ve become a Zin lover since I first tasted the Rombauer Zins. WOW! We partied on the 4th at our friends’ home… with an expansive view of the Valley from the hill above Calistoga, where we watched the fireworks at the State Fairgrounds below us. All in all a great time!

On the 6th we drove through San Francisco down to Carmel for a wedding. We had the great fortune to stay at the Mission Ranch in Carmel overlooking a vast meadow and Carmel Bay. The wedding party had booked about half the rooms at the Ranch where the rehearsal dinner was held, and I had the honor of creating the playlist and “dj-ing” the event. It was a blast and I’ve found my next calling for the future, after I become a professional dancer/Zumba instructor! HA!

The morning of the wedding Steve, Katie, Paul and I rode our bikes from our hotel through Carmel to 17 mile drive. It was beautiful and might I say somewhat strenuous (I’d forgotten how many hills there are). We returned just in time to grab a bite at the Rio Grill. I was super impressed with the menu and beer and wine list, and wished we’d had more time but we had to do a quick change to make it to the wedding, which was a full mass at the Mission Basilica. The artwork inside was impressive…and OLD! The wedding was awesome…afterwards we had a great party in Carmel Valley.

The next day, while in recovery, we rested and took a walk down to the beach below us. For dinner Steve and I browsed around Carmel Village and found ourselves at a restaurant named Grasings which was absolutely the best food we’d had in days (hmmm since the SolBar?) I highly recommend dining there next time you are in Carmel. The bartender entertained us with stories of deep sea fishing and free diving off the Santa Cruz, Monterey and Marin Coasts. Fun and fabulous food!

Katie and Paul flew home Sunday, we drove home the following day, and I found I’d gained five pounds which I have had to work very hard to take off. AHHHHH! The joys of aging!

FINALLY Steve and I took his boys to Mammoth for a family vacation in August for a week where we stayed in a condo at Snow Creek. It was very lovely, beautiful views, wonderful warm weather, great biking, hiking and fishing. We ate our own freshly caught trout (from June Lake) and were skunked at both Lake Mary and Lake George. The hike up above Lake George to Crystal Lake offered wonderful views of the valley down past Mammoth to the Owens River Gorge.

One day we rented a pontoon boat on June Lake and lazed around, swimming, fishing and just chatting. These pontoon boats have apparently become very popular in the mountain lakes as well as SUP’s (Stand Up Paddle boards for the uninitiated.)

Home at last….until the next trip. I hope your summer has been an enjoyable and eventful as mine! Please call me if I can help out with your home financing needs.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summertime Mortgage Update; Cayman Island Review and Fam News!

May arrived and departed with financial upset across Europe—which has returned rates to ever new record lows . Rates continue to hover in the high 2’s to the low 4’s depending, as always, on occupancy type, loan program, FICO score, property type, and amount of points and/or upfront costs either paid in cash or financed through escrow.

Even if you refinanced last year you may be eligible for a no point refinance that will provide a substantial annual savings. Purchase activity has picked up dramatically and we are seeing bidding wars erupt, with much lower inventory available than in the past few years. From March to May the inventories shrunk rather dramatically. Some report that there is still “hidden inventory” the banks are holding, and others report that except for the extremely depressed market areas, there is no hidden inventory at all and a return to normal market sales.

What does this all mean? Prices have most likely bottomed out along with rates. Great time to buy if you have the stomach for it. Refinance if you can grab a no point no cost refinance and save enough to make the pain and suffering worth it, without substantially extending your loan term. Now for the fun part…

Cayman Islands

Steve and I had a fabulous ten day trip to the Caymans to scuba dive. We flew through Miami to Grand Cayman and hopped a puddle jumper to Little Cayman Island. The resort was perfect and we dove every day at the Bloody Bay Wall which is famous in diving journals as one of the best. Didn’t see many sharks (only nurse sharks) but saw lots of turtles, fish of all types and sizes, and had generally great diving on the trip. My only complaint was not enough dancing… but what can I say, I never get enough dancing. The food was varied and tasty, the sun was always out, weather hovered in the 80’s most of the time and fun was had by all. Little Cayman is essentially a desert island ten miles long and one mile wide and inhabited by many iguanas with right of way on the roads. Most of the guests and staff were from Europe, Iceland, Australia, Indo, S. America, and the Eastern US. No Californians. It is a REMOTE place. ‘Nough said.


We quickly returned to the real world by attending events in Dallas for the annual Art Fair, and the Dallas Museum of Art Gala Ball. These Dallas folks know how to party, AND love their art. The Art Fair was pretty amazing. My favorite exhibit was a Cernuda Arte out of Florida, specializing in Cuban artists that were bright and colorful. I also loved an exhibit of photographs made up of littler photos of celebs. Hard to explain but highly evocative. They were all pretty crazy. For instance, a photo of Michael Jackson made up of little photos of Elizabeth Taylor. You’d have to see it to believe it.

I’m loving Dallas and even have an office to work in when I visit Steve (Yes I work when I’m there.) but I was a little disturbed recently when I finished reading The Big Rich, about the rise and fall of Texas oil families. It was an eye-opener for me, and a very interesting period in the history of our country…

Family Wedding and other news!

My nephew was married over Memorial Weekend in Fresno . The whole family was there, minus only a few since my eldest had to work and HE AND MARY GRACE ARE EXPECTING! I will be a grandmother in December and can’t wait! Kenny spent a month here to visit for the wedding. It was the first time I’d seen him since Drew’s wedding last September, and we had a great visit. He is back in Berlin now to complete his Master’s program there and he should be finished in September.

In the meantime my nephew John married his Paige in a beautiful outdoor garden setting on May 27th. Great fun was had by all, and congrats to the happy couple! This photo is of my daughter Katie, her boyfriend Paul, my niece Page, and my son Kenny.

That’s all for now…more to come soon! Hoping for a warm summer at the beach, and off to Santa Barbara to camp, with kayak and bikes for the weekend-- at our favorite spot in the El Capitan campground.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Sea Change in Rates & Spring Updates

Interest Rate Update

We have seen the bottom of the rate cycle, and it appears to be past us. Improving economic indicators coupled with increased stock market activity have pushed bond and mortgage rates higher the past week. Rates are still very attractive, but not quite at the 50 year record low mark. My recommendation is don’t wait if you have considered a refinance or purchase this year.

For 30 year fixed rate loans we are seeing 4.125% to 4.25% depending on loan size, for primary residence purchase or refinance. Remember that rates are all subject to FICO score, loan-to-value, property type and occupancy.

FHA and VA rates are still lower than those shown above, but as of the end of March FHA mortgage insurance premiums are rising AGAIN so time is of the essence.


The last few months have been amazingly busy. I’ve been to Dallas with Steve to see his new pied-á-terre with a fabulous view of downtown. He stays there 3 to 4 days during the week, but continues to commute home for weekends. We had the opportunity to see the new musical version of Giant, based on the Edna Ferber novel about the transition in Texas from cattle ranching to the oil industry, with plenty of social commentary.

Business is booming at Museum Tower, his luxury condo development. The first models will be opening soon. I haven’t personally inspected the building since I don’t like open construction elevators…I’m holding out for the interior elevators to open up for my tour!

We ventured up to Napa Valley in late January for a surprise birthday event at Calistoga Ranch for a dear friend. We stayed “under cover” at their guest house—with sweeping views of the Valley—during the weekend, and feel like it is our special getaway! Of course we indulged in the best food and wines the valley has to offer, thanks to our hosts and friends.

Next, my mother stayed with us for six weeks while her master bathroom was being remodeled…and it is amazing! She is now dubbing it her “taj mahal” and it is complete with marble counter top and bench in the walk-in shower, and mosaic designs in the floor and shower tiles. A real showcase, and she’s selling tickets for entry. Any takers?

¡Viva México! I took a quick trip to Baja with my wonderful sister. We stayed with friends who live outside San José near El Puerto Cabo in a private community. Their home is fabulous with panoramic ocean views and amazing art pieces, and I felt like I was living the life of the rich and famous! We had massages en suite one day, dinner "in" with a professional chef, and took dune buggies down to a deserted beach on the East Cape called Shipwreck. One day we took their boat (ahem yacht) out for some sport fishing (no luck) but had a blast nonetheless. I returned home rested and with a slight sun rash. I think my high point of the visit was dinner at “the Farm,” a farm-to-table restaurant featuring organic produce grown on-site. The food, wine and music were all outstanding, and I can’t wait to return. Read about it at or like them on Facebook. They also sell fresh produce, freshly baked items, and offer a interesting array of cocktails. It is a totally hip spot, located out of the way and hustle and bustle of Cabo San Lucas, and is frequented by many visitors as well as local ex-pats.

Next up: scuba diving on the Little Cayman Islands and then the Dallas Art Fair complete with Black Tie dinner event. Can’t wait!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Interest Rates below 4% - and Post-Holiday Updates

Interest rates are once again at record lows. Rates on most loan products are below 4% with NO POINTS and for shorter term loans (5-yr fixed) below 3%. For loans over $417,000 and up to $625,000 rates are slightly higher-- unless you are willing to use FHA financing.

FHA rates are even lower although they command a hefty monthly mortgage insurance premium. There are some exceptions to this rule though: for 15 year fixed loans below 80% loan-to value there is no MI – and loan amounts go up to $729,000. To give you an idea of interest rates a $700,000 loan amount at 80% LTV would command a rate of 3.25% with no monthly mortgage insurance and NO points, with a substantial credit to closing costs.

It's a great time to buy with prices so low!

Fall and Winter News

The last quarter of the year was amazingly busy for me with my eldest son’s wedding, coupled with near-record low rates and lots of business (good news), then Thanksgiving followed by two hospitalizations for my mother in December (bad news), and holiday activities.

First things first: the wedding was beautiful and wondrous. Photos can be viewed at /

This was the first time I was together with my three children and all the extended family at one time in years. Pictured below are Kenny, MaryGrace, Drew and Katie. A great time was had by all!

After Thanksgiving my mother was ill, but has recovered after two times in hospital, the second for an entire week which was pretty stressful. She was home before Christmas and spent the holiday with me. She is recovering and we expect to have her with us for many years to come. The upside was I was able to spend a lot of quality time with my beautiful loving sister Katie. Here is mom at her Birthday dinner:

Steve and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with close friends at a dinner dance at the Balboa Yacht Club and danced all night – practically! They do put on a fabulous party.

Steve is still actively biking and I’m practicing my dance moves in jazz class and Zumba. Steve continues to commute to Dallas for his position as VP of Marketing and Sales of Museum Tower, and has obtained an apartment there, so I’ll be visiting him more often. The Tower has topped out and sales activity is brisk – for those of you in need of a high-rise downtown condo in the $800 PSF range! The property is located next door to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture garden in the Arts District. The performing arts venues and the Symphony Hall are just down the block.

Steve and I still enjoy sunsets from our own balcony --and also from Sunset’s Bar and Grill on the Beach below us in Capo Beach. If you haven’t visited it yet, put it on your list. The owners have opened a new Sunset’s across from the pier in San Clemente, and word is out that they have taken over ownership of The Renaissance-Dana Point which is a big positive.

Next on our agenda is a week-end trip to Santa Barbara for Steve’s birthday, and then our big splurge, a diving trip to the Cayman Islands at the end of March. We can’t wait!