Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Commerce Makes Me Cry...

I spend a lot of time on the road.  Actually, that really may be an understatement.  Given the nature of my career which demands quite a bit of road time--showing homes, picking up documents, listing appointments from the Triad to Triangle and having an active 11 year old--let's just say the 'ol Honda gets it's fair share of use.

I40/85 has become a new hang-out of mine, as our team recently expanded into the Triangle market after 12 successful years in the Triad.  Several days a week I make the relatively short jaunt back and forth from Winston-Salem to Raleigh, passing all kinds of people, in all makes and models of automobiles but most of all, I see lots of trucks!  Flat-beds loaded with machinery, military equipment and lumber; transfer trucks hauling livestock (always seems to be hogs), fast-food replenishment and other freight; and a variety of other multi-axle vehicles designed specifically to carry goods across our state, nation and continent.  Let's just say, sometimes it brings a tear to my eye...

I am sure by this point you are asking yourself what the heck I'm talking about and if I have finally gone over the edge...is the economy so poor that I am in tears about it's future?  Nope, just the opposite.  I am moved to get misty-eyed when I think that somewhere in our great nation and most likely in our great state, an entrepreneur has taken the wherewithal, to think up a product that can make his fellow man's life easier or more full-filled.  This same individual produces said product, markets it with a fervor and passion that creates a following (desirability) or a need and therefore the demand becomes so great that he must find a way to bring that product to the masses, thus employing the very vehicles mentioned above.

These multi-colored vessels of commerce are daily testaments to our mind and it's boundless energy.  We noticed, with a sad tug of something we might not have been able to identify, when truck-traffic temporarily thinned out after 9/11.  Something just wasn't right...we could feel it...

As I drive today across the roads and interstates of North Carolina, along one of the most productive and busiest commercial corridors in the nation, I am reminded of my own potential and the potential of my fellow commuters, as we all play an integral part in the strength of our economy, locally, nationally and globally.  It is not only inspiring, but it stirs a place in my soul that reminds me, that I'm unique, I can produce and therefore earn, I can influence our economy...and I will...because I'm an American.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

For ITIN Borrowers There Is Still Housing Opportunity...

Just an interesting bit of info I acquired in the past 24 hours.  There are still lenders out there who will loan to folks that have ITINs.  If you are asking yourself, what exactly an ITIN is, then you probably don't or won't need one.  ITIN, stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.  These are issued by the government to documented workers for purposes of collecting taxes. 

If you are a holder of an ITIN you can still purchase real estate in the United States, however, it has become more scrutinized as additional information and documentation is now required on the status of the holder's visa.  It can depend on the stability of your employment, debt to income ratio and other fairly standard rules of thumb for discerning qualified buyers.

The good news is that this product still does exist.  I had been under the impression that it was gone with the plethora of other boutique loans that disappeared. 

If you are a buyer looking to purchase a home and have an ITIN, feel free to call me or email me to be put in touch with our Allen Tate Mortgage representative who can assist you in the qualification process.


Monday, January 09, 2012

Those Pesky Pieces of Paper...

They're everywhere you turn...in a drawer, dog-eared in a book, stuffed in your wallet or crammed in a file--your subtle attempt at organization and accountability.  Yet, every year, it's the same thing, pulling all of those receipts together for tax time.  Yup!  It's that time of year again.  Just when you breath that sigh of relief that the last Christmas gift return is made and you are looking to the upcoming Super Bowl and Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, you remember that there's a stack of paper and Uncle Sam gently nudging you "to get it together".

Each January, Jake and I open our credenza and stare wide-eyed and the file of receipts from the previous year.  From donations to business expenses and everything in between we vow that next year, we will start with separate files for each group.  But like any resolution, life gets in the way and old habits die hard when you're in a hurry with day to day nuances, so the stuffing begins.  It's well-intended at first, so few in the file that you can organize them appropriately next week.  Then the file balloons a little during the first quarter and you vow that when you turn in your taxes to the accountant in March or April, you'll reorganize then.  Well, you're so exhausted by the rigor that the IRS puts you through, you feel as if you are owed a break--receipts be damned, you can do them over the summer but before half the year is up.  Fast forward to "back to school" and getting re-organized for the new school  year and the file is already starting to look like it ate a ticker-tape parade.  By that time, it's too far gone and you know that you'll just organize it over the Christmas break when you have "plenty" of time.  Yea right!

So here we are, receipts of all shapes and sizes.  Handwritten notes grace their margins and in reality it's a little like a trip down memory lane when you sort them at one time.  A timeline of sorts--your personal year-in-review.  Easy to tell if the year was good (fat file) or if it was lean.  It's a great time to set goals for business planning, technology upgrades and personal savings.  Those tiny, tangible tickets of your memories are there for you to study and assess in preparation for your future while appreciating the blessings of your recent past. 

Organizing them throughout the year just wouldn't be right...


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A History Lesson...

Over the holiday break, we decided to take a quick jaunt to Colonial Williamsburg/Yorktown and Jamestown, otherwise known as the Historic Triangle.  This is a trip we have been wanting to take Maddie on for quite sometime so we headed north the day after Christmas.

We stopped along the way at Shirley Plantation, one of, if not the oldest plantation in Virginia, still owned 12 generations later by the Carter family. We then arrived to a cold rain in Williamsburg and took in a few of the indoor sites late in the afternoon.  We spent the remainder of the evening enjoying some 21st century entertainment, watching NCSU win the Belk Bowl.  We also took some time to plan the next few days activities and events so that we could absorb as much as we could in the short period we were there.  One of the events we planned was a lecture with Patrick Henry which was to commence at 10 am at the Governor's Palace gardens.

We arrived early only to find out that Patrick Henry was under the weather and George Wythe would be speaking in his stead.  It all worked out as Mr. Wythe elaborated on the importance of a classical education being made available to the nation and the necessity to keep laws short in length.  His recommendation was to keep them down to one page or less to avoid "unnecessary mischief" being embedded subsequent pages.  The particular bill he was upset about was a whopping 41 pages filled with all kinds of irrelevant fluff, imagine what our founding fathers would have thought about some of the bills that are passed today, such as health care reform!

The education portion of his lecture was very interesting, for it did not go into detail over what should or should not be taught, however it focused on educating our nation in the skill of thinking for oneself in the classical manner, questioning, debating, basic reading, writing and arithmetic.  It struck me how wound-up today's educational system gets over content of text books, zoning and redistricting, when such a large majority of our students don't have the basics mastered.  The detriment, described Wythe is that a government that allows for ignorance is one that is doomed for uprisings and class warfare.  Our current educational system certainly provides the notion that all are or have the ability to be educated, but as we well know, this education is very "surface" and the lack of depth and true self-improvement has created a society that knows more about the latest video game or Hollywood gossip than the very system that allows or limits our basic rights.

I could ramble on about this at length, however, my point is that the trip opened our eyes up to the challenges the budding country had and the challenges that our current nation still faces.  It also further reinforced the notion that our government was established not to dole out rights like rewards or provide us with everything we need to survive on a daily basis, however it was established to make sure that no one or government could encroach on our basic rights.  This was configured so that nothing could stand in our way as citizens who were using their minds and bodies to create a better life for themselves.  It was not originally contrived as a crutch on which to lean out of lack of ingenuity and effort.

We could all use a little more "schooling" on our country's foundation and three days did nothing but "whet" my appetite to educate myself more on this subject. If you get the chance, jump on 85N, head over to Petersburg, check out the battlefield and Blandford Church, take Scenic Route 5 which winds with the James River and then head into the Historic Triangle for a step back in time.