It’s the morning after Christmas, and like most mornings, I’m sipping coffee and reading the paper. What makes this morning different than the other 364, is that lingering fragments of gift wrap are still visible and a number of half- eaten candy canes remain. The dog is having a field day locating and devouring partial snacks the grandkids left behind.
For me, the end of the year always brings reflection. I like to reflect on all the blessings of the year, the great times with friends and family, the obstacles that have been overcome and I always take time to reflect on the things I could have done better. It seems that life is a bit like the waltz, we take two steps forward and then one back, and if we aren’t careful, we only take one forward and two back.
Reflecting on 2014, I have a few observations:
1. The Affordable Care Act is poorly named. I understand that it has assisted many who couldn’t afford insurance to get government assisted plans. For our family, costs have doubled while coverage has been reduced. Medical practitioners don’t like it either, and businesses are scrambling to pass costs to employees and I’m concerned that the economic impact will affect us for years to come.
2. Nice homes in nice neighborhoods that are priced right sell really fast. The opposite is that over priced homes in lesser locations that aren’t very nice, sit on the market for a long time.
3. The quality of your realtor matters. I deal with realtors every day, and many are highly responsive, well spoken, understand the business and a pleasure to work with. Those transactions are smooth events regardless of complications that arise. Then there are the ‘other’ realtors who make life hard for everyone involved. That includes the clients, other realtors, inspectors, escrow officers and all involved. The second group should be avoided at all costs, EVEN if they are personal friends or offer discounts to do business with them. Check references, it’s the only way you will know who to work with.
4. Lending is complicated- REALLY complicated. If you are a salaried worker with a big down payment, good credit and minimal debt, loans are somewhat easy. If you have past credit issues, or are self-employed, lenders can be very tough to deal with. The huge volume of documents they demand do not make sense and at the very least, are a pain in the tail.
5. Mom was right: it’s hard to teach old dogs- new tricks. Most realtors have been using the same purchase agreement for the last decade. We can recite it in our sleep, know every paragraph intimately and now, they have changed the form. I fumbled through my first one a few weeks ago and although I agree with most of the changes….it’s hard to teach an old dog- new tricks.
6. It’s always easy to spend someone else’s money- During 2014, the City of Morgan Hill agreed to give the Honda and Ford Dealerships tax rebates to assist them in expanding operations. What perplexes me is that they are giving tax dollars, which are the people’s money, to private businesses to expand. This is the same town that is struggling to find funds to remedy flood issues, doesn’t have enough money to fix the roads, and yet gives away millions to help the car dealers. I have no ax to grind with the dealers, but why are tax dollars used to help them make more money for themselves? The Ford store is advertising that they are the largest volume Ford Store in Nor Cal, and need to expand to accommodate their increased business. That’s great and I support their ability to expand and do more business, I just don’t think that public tax dollars should be used to make the rich, richer.
7. It doesn’t matter how well you do your job- if you can’t get along with the boss. Case in point- Jim Harbaugh. All the guy did was resurrect a failing franchise and produce three NFC title games and one Super bowl in this first four years. Those are fabulous accomplishments for most, but by the time this column runs he may be out. All of this because he can’t get along with the boss.
8. Neighbors make the neighborhood a community- We’ve lived on the same circle for 18 years. We know most of our neighbors; have conversations at the mail box, while walking the dog, on the front lawn and share cookies at Christmas. With the ones next door, we accept deliveries, put away trash cans, feed pets and watch out for each other while one is away. It brings a sense of community into the neighborhood.
As for 2015, my focus will be to prioritize faith, family and friends. Everything else will fall into place on its own. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you all a healthy and fulfilled new year.

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