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Catastrophe in California

California is in the middle of the deadliest wildfires in the state's modern history. On Monday, officials at Butte County said they discovered remains of 13 more people in the town of Paradise in northern California, bringing the death toll to 42.

Homes constitute a major part of more than the 7,600 structures that have been destroyed. The fire, in fact, has destroyed 6,453 homes in Paradise alone and forced over 250,000 residents to flee from their homes.

According to an analysis by CoreLogic, 48,390 homes with a total reconstruction cost value of approximately $18 billion are at high or extreme risk of wildfire damage from the Camp and Woolsey fires in Northern and Southern California.

The analysis indicated that not all the ZIP codes were within the burn perimeters on account of the unpredictable nature of the wildfires. Not all structures within a fire perimeter will suffer damage or be destroyed by the fire, the analysis noted. Analyzing the wildfire risk and reconstruction values, CoreLogic found that the number of homes at high and extreme risk stood at 31,394 in Camp Fires and 16, 996 in Woolsey Fires.

As part of FEMA's federal aid program, assistance is being extended for affected individuals and households including:

  • Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters and may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements.

  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional
  • Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance.

In these times, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are reminding those impacted by the wildfires of the options available for mortgage assistance. Homeowners impacted by the wildfires are eligible to stop making mortgage payments for up to 12 months, during which time they will not incur late fees or have delinquencies reported to credit bureaus.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have authorized servicers to suspend or reduce homeowner's mortgage payments immediately for up to 90 days if they have been affected by a disaster. Payment forbearance of up to 12 months is available in many circumstances. Foreclosures and other legal proceedings are also to be suspended.

"Our thoughts are with the families and communities affected by these devastating California wildfires," said Carlos Perez, SVP and Chief Credit Officer at Fannie Mae. "Fannie Mae and our lending and servicing partners are focused on ensuring mortgage assistance is available during this challenging time. It is important for those in the area to focus on their safety, first and foremost, and we encourage homeowners impacted by the fires to contact their mortgage servicer for assistance as soon as possible."

"Once safely out of harm's way, we strongly encourage homeowners whose homes or places of employment have been impacted by these dangerous fires to call their mortgage servicer—the company to which borrowers send their monthly mortgage payments—to learn about available relief options. We stand ready to ensure that mortgage relief is made available," said Yvette Gilmore, Freddie Mac's VP of Single-Family Servicer Performance Management.

                                                                                                                           DS news 11-13-2018

Five Quick Staging Tips for a Faster Home Sale
Staging your home prepares your property for potential buyers so you can achieve a faster sale. Professional stagers and your real estate agent can help with this task. If you're under a time crunch, use these simple staging tips to quickly get your home ready for viewing.

Declutter everything: All that "stuff" gets in the way of buyers seeing what your home has to offer. If you don't have time for a full house purge, at least make sure all surfaces are clear and closets are neatly organized. Remember, you want your home to appear spacious, not crowded.

Spruce up the entry: Make a good first impression. Sweep the front porch. Clean outdoor furniture. Add a doormat and some potted plants. Keep the entry and walkway well-lit.

Rearrange furniture: You might be surprised at how easily you can transform your home with a little rearranging. Place furniture in symmetrical arrangements. Create inviting conversation areas. If you have a spare room that has become a catch-all, set it up as usable space. Arrange it as a guest room or office, so buyers see the room's potential.

Clean from top to bottom: Your home should sparkle. If you have a lot of square footage to cover, consider having your home professionally cleaned. It will be worth the investment when buyers fall in love with your pristine space.

Minimize odors: Before showings, run some orange rinds through the garbage disposal. Remove odors in furniture and carpets with a dash of baking soda; let it sit for 10 minutes, then vacuum. Heat a pot of water and a couple cinnamon sticks on the stove for an hour to add a pleasing aroma to your space.

Thank You Cards - Still In Style or Needless Paperwork?
Fewer people may be sending handwritten notes these days, but thank-you cards still haven't gone out of style. At least they shouldn't, according to etiquette experts.

While it can be confusing trying to figure out the "proper" way to communicate in various situations, there are some agreed-upon guidelines for how to send your thanks. For example, gifts received at parties generally warrant a handwritten thank-you note. Think birthday parties (for both children and adults), bridal or baby showers, and anniversaries. Another rule of thumb: if you received a gift in the mail or a gift that wasn't opened in front of the giver, your best bet is to send a written note. The same goes if you've received something that has been made specifically for you. Lastly, if you've been treated to a kindness or gift during a difficult time, like an illness, death, or hospitalization, then you should absolutely express your gratitude with a handwritten note.

For gifts given during the holidays or "just because," a verbal thank-you is perfectly fine, especially as you most likely opened the presents in front of the giver.

But is it ever okay to send just an email? Of course! Thank-you emails are perfectly acceptable in work situations and when you don't have a person's physical address. They're also more than enough if you want to thank someone for a small kindness, like a neighbor picking up your newspaper.

At the end of the day, though, what matters most is that we all remain generous with our gratitude. Being thankful will never go out of style.

Not a Connoiseur? Learn to Love Art Anyway
While research indicates that visits to art galleries cause pleasure, many people find the idea of stepping into a gallery or art museum intimidating. Art can seem elitist and is often perceived as an activity one must be specially trained in before enjoying it.

Many museum staff and art experts dispute this notion, though. The goal is to appreciate art, not just revere it. The key to doing that is to make art personal.

First, this means understanding your limits. You cannot analyze every work of art in a gallery or a museum in one visit. Give yourself permission to walk past some pieces without looking back.

Second, pay attention to your emotional reactions. When you stop and look at a work, notice how it makes you feel.

Do you like the piece? Do you feel an urge to completely destroy it? Does it remind you of someone or someplace?

Recognize your feelings and then inspect the art to find clues for why it causes the reaction it does. This approach to art appreciation levels the playing field. Not everyone has an art degree, but everyone has feelings.

Third, make your time with art social. Travel to museums and galleries with others. Ask your companions how they're responding to the art. They'll likely notice things you missed. Create photo challenges and games that will help you explore and learn without intimidating you.

Then prepare to come again. You never look at anything the same way twice.

Wondering How Much Your Home Is Worth?
How has the price of your home or rental changed in today's market? How much are other homes in your neighborhood selling for?

If you're wondering what's happening to prices in your area, or you're thinking about selling your house or investment property, I'll be able to help.

Just give my office a call for a no-fuss, professional evaluation.

I won't try to push you into listing with me or waste your time.

I'll just give you the honest facts about your home and its value.

And maybe I'll also give you the "inside scoop" on what's happening in the housing market near where you live!

Just give my office a call or reply to this email to arrange an appointment. Alternatively, stop by at the office.

Downsizing Prep: Common Heirloom Errors
The kids have all moved out. As you approach retirement, you know downsizing is in your future. It's time to start considering what that will entail.

Realistically, you won't have room in your new home for everything that has accumulated over the past two or three decades.

Don't make the same mistakes many downsizers do by holding on to items that should be purged.

Before it's time to move, take stock of what is in your home. Have you kept anything for your kids that they really don't want? Have an open conversation with your children to determine whether what you consider a precious family heirloom would simply be clutter in your child's home.

Put the following items at the top of the list to discuss. These are three of the most common things parents keep that their kids would prefer never to inherit.

Books: Even if your children love to read, it's likely they don't want your old books (and they probably have their own growing collection they will have to purge some day). If you suspect any of your books are valuable, do a search online or contact a book antiquarian. Otherwise, consider donating the books to a library or used book store.

Fine dinnerware: Has your child ever used a cup and saucer for morning coffee? Would he or she use silver flatware? For that matter, have you used any of these dishes in the past year?

Children and grandchildren typically don't want to store multiple place settings of porcelain dishes. Go ahead and sell them to the consignment shop or to a company that offers replacement pieces for consumers seeking specific patterns.

Paper piles: Do you have shoeboxes of greeting cards, letters, and photos stashed under your bed? Piles of paper are overwhelming and nearly impossible for others to sort through.

Before downsizing, go through these papers and say goodbye. Read through cards once more; then recycle them. Scan photos to create digital files, or frame your favorites to pass along. Then get rid of the rest.
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Quick Quiz
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Just reply to this email for the answer.

The marble slab that eventually became Michelangelo's David was originally intended as a statue of what famous character?

Pumpkin Risotto
Perfect for your fall gathering. Serves 4
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine, optional
6 cups vegetable stock
3 cups of butternut squash or your favorite winter squash, cubed and roasted
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons goat cheese
4 tablespoons salted pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
Set half of the roasted squash aside. Puree the other half and set aside.

Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Next, add rice and stir to coat with oil.

Add white wine or one cup stock if not using wine. Continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Begin adding the stock, about 1 cup at a time, and keep cooking, stirring often, until each addition has been absorbed by the rice.

Once rice is creamy and cooked al dente, lower heat and stir in puree and cubed pumpkin. Stir in butter and spoon into serving bowls. Top with crumbled goat cheese and pepitas.

Ask the Agent: This Month's Question
How long does it take to buy a home?

Home buyers can expect their purchase to take between 30 and 45 days from the time their offer is accepted to the closing date. This is the average time span for normal market conditions.

Of course, there are exceptions. Some buyers are able to get a deal together in less time if they are well-prepared and encounter no issues.

At other times, in hot markets, the high sales activity may slow down the process. Lenders may be swamped with transactions they are trying to push through underwriting. Inspectors and appraisers may have longer lead times for appointments.

Each delay of a day or two can extend the entire process an extra week or more. Your real estate agent can inform you about the current market conditions in your area, so you can plan your home search and your move accordingly.
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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