Archive for September, 2010

Home Affordable Modification Program

September 22, 2010

Please retweetAs a realtor for EXIT Realty in Santa Clarita, Chris Gabledon not only provides traditional real estate services such as helping people buy or sell a home but, in the down economy, helps troubled homeowners by processing short sales and loan modifications, as well.  In troubled times, it is best that you turn to professionals like Mr. Gabledon, who can help go over your options with you and objectively figure out the best course of action for you to take, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

Chris Gabledon, realtor for EXIT Realty SCV of Santa Clarita, CA, can help you navigate through the unfamiliar territory of applying for a home loan modification if you fall behind on your mortgage payments.What is the Home Affordable Modification Program?  The U.S. government program “provides eligible homeowners the opportunity to modify their mortgages to make them more affordable” with the goal of lowering the monthly mortgage payment to less than 31 percent of the household’s total income.  In other words, homeowners that can no longer afford to make monthly loan payments may qualify for a loan modification.  Enacted in February 2009, the program has since been modified earlier this year with expanded flexibility:

for mortgage servicers and originators to assist more unemployed homeowners and to help more people who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth because their local markets saw large declines in home values.

In order to make the home loan modification permanent, struggling homeowners must take these steps:

  1. Find out if you qualify to participate in the free home loan modification program.  Complete this questionnaire on the Making Home Affordable website to determine whether you are eligible or not.
  2. Start the loan modification process by submitting an “Initial Package” to your lender, which includes the following:
    Request Form (Request for Modification and Affidavit)
    Tax Form (Form 4506T-EZ)
    Verification of income
  3. Follow up with your mortgage lender to make sure that they received the Initial Package and if additional paperwork is needed.
  4. Complete the trial period of the loan modification by following the payment requirements and providing any additional documentation in a timely manner.
  5. Once you successfully complete the trial period and all paperwork has been received on time, your home loan modification will become permanent.

During this down economy, millions of homeowners have suddenly found themselves behind on their mortgage payments and vulnerable to scam artists that make promises they cannot keep.  While the federal government did create the Home Affordable Modification Program to help these troubled homeowners, scam artists are doing their best to get to uninformed and desperate homeowners first.  The federal government has setup a toll-free number, the Homeowner’s HOPE™ Hotline, at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673), providing information about the Making Home Affordable Program.  They have created a video, “How You Can Avoid Foreclosure Scams“, providing a list of things to look out for so that you can avoid becoming prey to scam artists.

Tips to avoid scams

  1. Beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee in exchange for a counseling service or modification of a delinquent loan.
  2. Scam artists often target homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage commitment or anxious to sell their homes.  Recognize and avoid common scams.
  3. Beware of people who pressure you to sign papers immediately, or who try to convince you that they can “save” your home if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house.
  4. Do not sign over the deed to your property to any organization or individual unless you are working directly with your mortgage company to forgive your debt.
  5. Never make a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage company without their approval.

Remember, even though you maybe months behind on your mortgage and are at risk for foreclosure, you are not without answers.  However, applying for a home loan modification maybe a daunting and overwhelming task for you to take on by yourself.  Chris Gabledon of EXIT Realty can help ease the application process for you, making sure you only have to go through it once.

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Francis M. Unson

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Staying sharp: Welders battle for supremacy

September 17, 2010

Please retweetWelding companies such as Valencia Welding in Santa Clarita, CA, compete with other companies in Southern California that provide similar services.  Not only can company president, Rick Montoya, and his team provide welding services in aluminum and copper but, as his “resume” shows, in more exotic materials like titanium, as well.  What can up-and-coming welders of today do to build a skill set and impressive clientele list as detailed as Mr. Montoya’s?

A good head start would be to take part in FABTECH 2010, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, finishing and welding event, which takes place in Atlanta, GA, from November 2-4, 2010.  While around 22,000 attendees are expected to descend on Georgia World Congress Center and visit the 1,000 exhibiting companies during the three-day conference and trade show, the event that attendees should not miss is the American Welding Society-sponsored 2010 Weld-Off Competition.  Out of 24 student welders that competed in SkillsUSA Championships 2009 and 2010, six will face off in a series of contests and only three will advance to the WorldSkills Competition in 2011, in London.

Armed with contest drawings that conform with the latest editions of American Welding Society standards, student welders are tested on the following aspects of welding:

  • measuring weld replicas using weld measuring gauges
  • laying out a plate and using oxyacetylene equipment to cut several holes checked for accuracy and quality
  • gas metal arc welding on steel making welds in various positions using short circuiting transfers
  • flux cored arc welding using a shielding gas, making welds in various positions
  • using a combination machine capable of providing the correct welding current for shielded metal arc and gas tungsten arc welding.

Welding competitions and trade shows will make sure that North America remains competitive in the welding industry on a global scale, particularly by producing high-quality welders that can complement Valencia Welding.

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Francis M. Unson

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Cruises: Leave the booking to travel agents. Here’s why

September 3, 2010

Going on vacation is your chance to relax, have fun and, for a week or two, give you a vastly different schedule of activities that, unlike work, you actually look forward to.  Hanz and Hachelle Pena of the Cheap Travel Deals in Santa Clarita understand that and can help take care of planning your next cruise.  There are some parts of vacation planning that you would prefer leaving to travel agents.  Why, you ask?

Why should you leave booking your next cruise to travel agents? Because you have a list of things to bring and take care of before the trip, and a huge number of activities to choose from during the cruise.When you are planning a cruise, you are going to make a lot of choices:

  • The cruise line you’d like to go on and how long you’d like to be out to sea
  • The airline you are going to take to the departing city
  • Hotel accommodations or car rental at the departing city if you decide to make that city a tourist destination, as well

and so on.  You should leave much of this part of the planning to travel agents because you have your own list of pre-trip things to take care of, too.

You have even more decisions to make before you leave home for your cruise, such as:

  • How much clothes you are going to pack
  • How much spending money to set aside
  • How many memory sticks to bring for your digital camera
  • Calling a pet-sitter
  • Making a quick dash to the corner drugstore for motion sickness pills, just in case
  • Refilling prescription medication so you don’t run out during the trip
  • Making sure you have your plane tickets and passport on-hand

Sometime later when you have finally arrived at the cruise ship, you have an even longer list of things to choose from.  The list of on-board activities on a cruise ship is so vast that you will not get around to doing all of them on a single cruise.  Just ask any cruise director.  Sure, they could rattle off a list of activities (not exhaustive) that may include, but are not limited to:

  • Deck parties
  • Spas and salons
  • Fitness centers
  • Indoor and outdoor sports centers
  • Cartoon-themed, children, and adults-only swimming pools
  • Wave pools
  • Theaters for movie screenings and full-production plays or musicals
  • Interactive comedy shows
  • Ice skating rinks
  • Sports bars, pubs, and cocktail lounges
  • Cafés, buffets, fast food restaurants, and formal dining
  • Piano lounges
  • Pool bars
  • Shopping centers and promenades
  • Casinos

Remember, it’s not a practical goal to try to do everything that a cruise ship has to offer.  You will not make the most of your time if a good portion of your time is spent going from one activity to another.  Yes, time is a finite commodity on-board, so budget your time wisely, prioritize the activities that you want to do, and stick with those activities.  You will feel more accomplished devoting your energy to a handful of activities.  Furthermore, when you book your next cruise, you can begin where you left off with a new set of activities.  With all the activities to choose from during the cruise, you might as well leave booking the cruise to Hanz and Hachelle Pena of the Cheap Travel Deals so that you have one less set of things to worry about.

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Francis M. Unson