At Home With Debbie

Debbie's Desserts


I recently made two desserts that I love to make during the holidays. I brought them into the Real Estate office this past week, and they were a huge hit! Everybody in the REMAX Classic office of Milford appreciated it and was more than happy to bring them. I love cooking and baking, one of my most favorite past times. Here are the recipes for these two fantastic desserts I made!

Princess Pie (Coconut Cream Pie)



Beat together sugar and cream cheese. Fold in whipped topping. Spread on cooled crust.

Layer three:

  • 1 small package coconut cream instant pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (any milk will do, but whole milk makes pudding so much tastier)
  • Mix until thickened. Spread over cream cheese mixture.
  • Top with remaining tub of whipped topping.
  • Toast 1 cup coconut. Sprinkle evenly on dessert. Refrigerate Ingredients
  • crust:
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans - optional
  • Mix and pat in an 8x8 inch pan, bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until just beginning to
  • turn golden. Do not over bake.
  • Layer two:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
For the Caramel:

Combine flour, cocoa and salt. In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolk, milk and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture, just until combined. Chill dough in the refrigerator for one hour.

Whisk egg whites in a bowl until frothy.  Place chopped pecans in another shallow bowl. Remove dough from fridge and roll into small balls (however many cookies you want–I made 20 small ones).
Roll each dough ball in the frothy egg whites, and then roll and press in the chopped pecans. Place on a greased baking sheet.  
Use the back of a small measuring spoon to make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.
Bake at 350 Degrees F for about 10-12 minutes, or until set.
As the cookies come out of the oven, gently re-press the indentations with a small spoon.
In a microwavable bowl mix the caramel bits and water. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until caramel is melted (1-2 minutes). Pour small spoonfuls of caramel into the indented cookies.  *Optional: Drizzle with melted chocolate (or sprinkle with sea salt)!

New Mortgage Disclosures

Real estate industry leaders largely pleased with new mortgage disclosure forms ...

 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a final rule requiring the use of new, simplified mortgage disclosure forms that are designed to make it ...easier for homebuyers to understand the terms of a mortgage, compare loan offers, and avoid “costly surprises” at closing.

The two ”Know Before You Owe” forms will replace four current disclosure forms that lenders, industry groups and consumer groups alike have complained contain overlapping information and are confusing to consumers.

“Taking out a mortgage is one of the biggest financial decisions a consumer will ever make,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement.

“Today’s rule is an important step toward the consumer having greater control over the mortgage loan process.”

Homebuyers currently get two disclosure forms whenever they apply for a mortgage, and two more at the closing table. Loan applicants get one loan disclosure form aimed at satisfying Truth in Lending Act requirements (the “TILA” form), detailing loan terms like annual percentage rate (APR).

Provided Courtesy of Inman News ...


FHA Trims Waiting Period for Borrowers Who Experienced Foreclosure


The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is allowing borrowers who went through a bankruptcy, foreclosure, deed-in-lieu, or short sale to reenter the market in as little as 12 months, according to a mortgage letter released Friday.

Borrowers who experienced a foreclosure must wait at least three years before getting a chance to get approved for an FHA loan, but with the new guideline, certain borrowers who lost their home as a result of an economic hardship may be considered even earlier. 

For borrowers who went through a recession-related financial event, FHA stated it realizes “their credit histories may not fully reflect their true ability or propensity to repay a mortgage.”

In order to be eligible for the more lenient approval process, provided documents must show “certain credit impairments” were from loss of employment or loss of income that was beyond the borrower’s control. The lender also needs to verify the income loss was at least 20 percent for a period lasting for at least six months.

Additionally, borrowers must demonstrate they have fully recovered from the event that caused the hardship and complete housing counseling.

According to the letter, recovery from an economic event involves reestablishing “satisfactory credit” for at least 12 months. Criteria for satisfactory credit include 12 months of good payment history on payments such as a mortgage, rent, or credit account.

The new guidance is for case numbers assigned on or after August 15, 2013, and is effective through September 30, 2016.


Shared Courtesy of DS News

Home Ownership Still a Good Decision Even as Mortgage Rates Change


While homeownership numbers may be down, Americans continue to believe that owning a home is still a good decision even as mortgage rates have changed. According to the National Association of Realtors 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey, eight in 10 people believe that purchasing a home is a good choice and 68% believe that now is a good time to make a purchase. Since the last survey in 2011, renters who are contemplating a home purchase rose from 25% to 36% while those who stated they prefer to rent fell from 31% to 25%. More than half of the renters surveyed stated that one of their highest priorities is owning a home, up to 51% from 42%.  

Realty Times is offering a free service to bring additional exposure and publicity to your listings with a full press release. CLICK HERE

According to the most recent survey of wholesale and direct lenders performed by,  current conforming 30 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 3.875% (APR 4.052%), 15 year fixed mortgage interest rates are as low as 2.750% (APR 3.168%) and 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are as low as 2.375% (APR 2.628%). Low rates are available to borrowers who have maintained a history of good credit. Borrowers must also meet the qualification guidelines that are required for approval. 

Mortgage purchase applications fell 3% for the week ending July 26th, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey. However, purchase volume is approximately 5% higher than the same time last year. Refinances have been hit hard by the recent news concerning rising rates. 

The report also showed that the Refinance Index dropped 4% for the week and has reached the lowest level in more than two years. Total mortgage refinance activity is unchanged at 63%. HARP loan business continues to be healthy and rose to 37% of all refinance applications. There are still many underwater homeowners who are eligible for a HARP refinances which will be available until the end of 2015. 

Current FHA 30 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 3.750% (APR 4.000%), FHA 15 year fixed rates are as low as 3.250% (APR 3.514%) and FHA 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are as low as 2.500% (APR 2.925%). First time home buyers continue to use FHA loans because of the many benefits, including the low down payment of 3.5% with a credit score as low as 620. Becoming very popular is the FHA 203k loan which is for homes that need repairs or rehabilitation. 

One of the drawbacks to FHA mortgages is the higher FHA closing costs (APR) which is due to the upfront mortgage insurance premium and other FHA fees. However, borrowers often use seller concessions up to 6% for this purpose. The FHA streamline refinance is offered as an quick and easy way to move to a better mortgage without the need of any documentation or an appraisal as long as there is no cash taken out. Some borrowers, those who have loans that were endorsed prior to June 1, 2009, can use the streamline to refinance and will receive reduced upfront and annual mortgage insurance fees. This offer is available until the end of 2013. 

Jumbo 30 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 4.000% (APR 4.209%), jumbo 15 year fixed rates are as low as 3.125% (APR 3.501%) and jumbo 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are as low as 2.750% (APR 2.908%). Borrowers must have excellent credit and strong qualifications in order to receive low jumbo rates. 

Qualifying includes proof of substantial assets that are needed for the larger down payment and months of reserves that are necessary for approval of the loan. Jumbo loans have been an incredible bargain for home buyers since jumbo rates have not be much higher than conventional loan rates. Lenders tend to be very competitive when it comes to jumbo rates and flexibility with guidelines.

MBS prices (mortgage backed securities) continue to be volatile which has caused a slight increase in mortgage rates over the past month. Mortgage rates move in the opposite direction of MBS prices. Last week, the GDP for the second quarter was reported at 1.7%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 162,000 jobs during the month of July. In addition, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.4%.

Shared Courtesy of Realty Times

The President Moves on Housing Reform




With the great housing reform debate underway, today the White House weighed in with President Obama’s plan for the future of housing finance in America. I, for one, was pleased that the President laid out a vision for housing finance, with key elements similar to those embraced by many stakeholders in the nation’s housing finance system. This is an issue that affects the well-being of every American, whether a homeowner or a renter, and we welcome the President’s attention and leadership.

Particularly important is the president’s insistence on transitioning the mortgage market toward a future state that will rely primarily on private capital, while at the same time ensuring sufficient liquidity and the availability of the affordable 30-year fixed rate mortgage, and mortgages that finance multifamily rental housing, in both good and bad times, through an appropriate use of a government guarantee.

Access to credit for many qualified borrowers is still not being attained. While reports show that there is more credit available for borrowers, the bottom line is that credit is still very limited and not always accessible to qualified low- to middle-class families, even those with strong payment histories. President Obama stressed the need to simplify overlapping regulations to help qualified families obtain a loan and touted the industry’s work with the Administration to do so.

The White House believes, as I do, that both legislative and non-legislative solutions are necessary in order to continue the housing recovery as comprehensive reforms move down the road. Going forward it will be critical that the White House and Congress work in a bi-partisan, cooperative manner to develop and implement long-term housing finance policies that support and protect all consumers, while at the same time promoting access to credit for all qualified borrowers.

This was a huge step in the right direction. While I’m pleased that many of the concepts laid out align with initiatives that I have been talking about in this space, I’m eager to see how the plan moves forward and work through the details.

And so, now the hard work begins. Policymakers, industry leaders and consumer groups must work through the details for a system that will protect consumers, stabilize and grow the housing market, and grow the economy. While working toward near-term solutions to maintain liquidity and prepare for historical change, we will work for comprehensive reform that encompasses every facet of the industry – residential, commercial and multifamily – to ensure a safe, sustainable, accessible and successful real estate finance system.

Shared Courtesy of LinkedIn

Your Health? What's the Truth to Old Wives' Tales?



      True or False? Health Myths, Facts and Half-Truths

When it comes to the facts about staying healthy, misinformation is rampant. We've all heard conventional wisdom on everyday issues -- like how to fight a common cold and how to get the best abs. Some doctors even perpetuate it! But is all of it really true?

If you're not sure what's fact, fiction or a little of both, this guide will help you sort it all out.

Reading in dim light is bad for your eyes

False. It won’t damage your eyes, it's just uncomfortable, says Marguerite McDonald, M.D., clinical professor of ophthalmology at NYU Langone Medical Center. If you read in low light, the extra effort your eye muscles make to pull your vision into sharper focus can cause a headache, she explains. “You can read more comfortably, faster and longer with good lighting.”

You'll get arthritis from cracking your knuckles

False. A lot people crack their knuckles to loosen up stiffness in the fingers, but it doesn't cause arthritis. If you already have it, though, cracking your knuckles can “place a minor stress on the joints,” says David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. Because that stress could potentially make osteoarthritis a bit worse, Dr. Katz advises that you think twice before cracking your knuckles.

If you drop food on the floor, you can eat it if grab it in 5 seconds (or less)

Maybe. It depends on the floor, says Katz. “In general, our gastrointestinal tracts can tolerate many of the germs in the environment and kill them,” he says. “But if your floor is contaminated with Salmonella, it would be a bad idea!” Researchers at Clemson University did a series of experiments in which they dropped traces of Salmonella on wood, tile and carpeted floors. They found that the bacteria can survive in high enough concentrations for up to four weeks and be easily transferred onto food that was dropped on the floor. So the five-second rule should probably be broken -- a few seconds is enough time to attract some nasty bacteria to your food. Really, it’s enough to make you sick.

Sugar isn't any better for you than high-fructose corn syrup

True. Your body basically can’t tell the difference so it processes both sweeteners the same way, says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and author of Walk Your Butt Off. The problem is that high fructose corn syrup is so ubiquitous that you may be eating and drinking it all the time without even noticing. "It’s used in a lot of foods because it is cheap and blends well,” Bonci says, so it’s easy to ingest vast quantities of it from sodas, fruit drinks, candies and other processed foods. Your best bet is to read the package label: If you see high fructose corn syrup high up on the ingredients list, put the item back on the shelf.

Taking vitamin C can prevent a cold

False. There’s no evidence that vitamin C can prevent colds, says Katz. But research from Basel, Switzerland, suggests that taking a combination of 1,000 mg of vitamin C and 10 mg of zinc while you have a cold can reduce congestion by up to 27 percent. This vitamin combo can also shorten the length of your cold, which usually lasts for about a week.

Ringing in your ears means you're losing you hearing

True. “The lion’s share of people who have tinnitus [ringing in the ears] have some hearing loss,” according to Dwight Jones, M.D., professor and chairman of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  The hair cells in in the inner ear amplify low-level sound, so if they die off, it usually results in hearing loss and tinnitus, explains Dr. Jones.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an effective way to treat tinnitus although you can use a fan or white-noise machine to mask the ringing in your ears while you’re sleeping or trying to concentrate.  Ringing in the ears can also be a sign that wax is impacted in the outer ear canal, but that's a much less common cause.

Green mucus indicates a sinus infection

False. “Ear, nose, and throat doctors don’t put a lot of stock in the color of the mucus because it doesn’t always mean anything,” says Jones. You can get green nasal discharge from mucus that’s been sitting in the nasal cavities or from adenoids in the back of your nose. Better indications of a sinus infection are facial pain and pressure, a fever, headache or streaks of blood in the mucus.

Brushing your teeth after drinking coffee or red wine prevents stains on your teeth

Maybe…but at a price. Both drinks are fairly acidic, which means that brushing your teeth right after drinking one of them can scratch the enamel of your teeth, explains Gigi Meinecke, D.M.D., a dentist in Potomac, Maryland, and a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. “Abrading the protective enamel of the tooth can make it thin out and become more susceptible to decay. The abrasions may also make your teeth more sensitive to temperature and sometimes sweets.” A better approach: Rinse your mouth with water after drinking one of these beverages and wait at least 30 minutes before you brush.

You should use hydrogen peroxide to clean cuts and wounds

True. “Hydrogen peroxide helps remove dead tissue from a wound so the body’s immune system can heal what’s left," says Michael Carius, M.D., chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Norwalk Hospital in Conn. (But it doesn't make the wound heal any faster). To treat a cut or scrape, wash the wound with soap and water, dab it with a cotton swab dipped in hydrogen peroxide, then apply an antibacterial ointment, followed by a bandage, to help the wound stay clean as it heals. Repeat once or twice a day.

Zillow Home Value Index Rises to Near 7-Year High


Annual home value appreciation hit the 6 percent mark for the first time in nearly seven years in July, according to Zillow’s Real Estate Market Reports for the month.

The Zillow Home Valu...e Index reached $161,600 in July, up 0.4 percent from June and an even 6.0 percent from July 2012. July marked the 14th straight month of annual home value gains.

“After three straight months of annual home value appreciation above 5 percent, the U.S. housing market recovery has proven it is on very sound footing,” said Zillow chief economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “We have entered a new phase in the recovery when we can begin to turn away from ugly recent history and turn toward what the housing market of the future will look like and how it will act.”

Despite these strides, however, Humphries noted that this is no time for policymakers and industry professionals to rest on their laurels.

“It may be tempting to look at how the market is currently performing and think that tackling GSE reform and other large issues is no longer necessary. But while we can afford to turn away from the recent past, we cannot afford to forget it, and simply ignoring these problems only dooms us to repeat them,” he said. “How we handle these all-important policy debates will be critical in keeping the housing market on sound footing for years to come.”

Of the 393 metros tracked in July, 289 (73.5 percent) reported month-over-month price appreciation, and 303 (77.1 percent) showed annual appreciation. All 30 of the largest metro areas registered both monthly and yearly appreciation, and all “have hit their bottom and are expected to show appreciation in the next 12 months,” Zillow said.
Metros with the largest annual increases in July included Sacramento (33.1 percent), Las Vegas (30.8 percent), and San Francisco (27.8 percent).

For the 12-month period ending July 2014, national home values are forecast to rise another 4.8 percent to approximately $169,308, according to the Zillow Home Value Forecast. Of the largest metro areas, Sacramento, Riverside, and San Francisco are expected to show the most appreciation over the next year.

Shared Courtesy of DS News

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