Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas in the Village 2014

2014 Oktoberfest Thank You

Federal Reserve Says Lending is Getting Easier

By Toni Ryan, Princeton Capital

Yahoo News recently reported that buying a home is actually getting easier. According to Ellie Mae research, in July 2014, out of all mortgages that were applied for - 67% actually closed. This is a major increase from the last year when the rate of mortgages that closed was at 53%. According to the president of Ellie Mae, Jonathan Corr, this is due, in part, to lenders easing their qualifying standards.
Does this mean that if you were turned down for a home mortgage in the last few years that you should reapply? Corr says, “Yes - depending on your circumstances, your chances of approval may have increased.”
Yahoo attributes this increased flexibility in the lending industry to 3 key factors:

1. Lower Credit Score Requirements - Many lenders have lowered the required credit scores to qualify for a mortgage. In July 2014, the average score for qualification was 727 - which may still seem high however in the past few years, that number has hovered around 750. The study also found that 32% of closed loans had an average FICO score of less than 700 which is 25% more loans than previous years.

2. Higher Debt-to-Income Allowances - Lenders assess your risk by considering your debt and income ratio. For example, if your gross income was $5,000 and all of your debt payments came to $1,500 - your DTI would be 30%. According to the study, as of July 2014, the average DTI for closed mortgages stood at 37% - up from last year. This means lenders are more confident in the economic recovery and people’s ability to stay solvent to allow for little more debt. Corr adds that, like credit scores, this is an average and should not worry those with slightly higher DTIs. He believes that borrowers with a DTI of 40% or even 43% can qualify.

3. Fewer Investor Overlays - An investor overlay is essentially a stricter standard imposed by a lender or bank even though it’s not required by the government. For example, FHA mortgages are insured by the government and might have guidelines that require 3.5% down and a minimum credit  score of 580. However a lender offering an FHA loan might have an overlay that requires a minimum score of 620. This doesn’t contradict the FHA guidelines, but traditionally these overlays are added due to economic fears & defaulted loans. Thanks to the strengthening housing market, lenders are imposing less stricter overlays which allow more options for borrowers.
As you can see - 2015 is looking to be a great time to apply for a home mortgage. Keep in mind that everyone’s financial picture is different which is why it is essential to work closely with your mortgage professional to develop a strategy and identify all of your options.

9 Content Ideas to Change Up Your Social Posts

By Ashlei Jackson, Qlixite

If your business is on Facebook or Twitter or Google+ - it’s likely you find yourself wondering what to post. Fans and followers on these sites are interested in being connected with businesses because they offer value. If every message you post is focused on “Buy Now” or “Call Today” - odds are your fans are not very engaged. Try adding some of these posts to increase the value you deliver and get more people to see your posts.
• Quick Tips - These can be text-only posts that relay something that people don’t know or often forget about.
• Product Review - You know what works and people love to hear your opinion on what’s the best buy. Pick an item that relates to your industry, write a review and share!
• Testimonials & Reviews - Post a recent review from a client. Including a picture is a great bonus or link to your Yelp page.
• Link to 3rd Party Resources - Your fans know you don’t have all the answers but you still want to be the “go-to” person that keeps them in the know. Link to articles from the big names and brands to keep them informed.
• Timely Information - Let people know what’s happening with you, in the industry and in the news.
• Local Information - Let people know what’s happening in your area and share feedback on other businesses. This will also set you up well with local businesses who might share info about you on Facebook.
• Coupon or Discount - Fans like to feel special so show them you appreciate their connection with a “fan only” discount or coupon.
• Contests & Giveaways - Contests and giveaways can be a great way to get people involved and capture their email. Make sure your prizes are substantial to get people excited. Use a system like to collect email entries and pick a winner.
• Quote, Joke or Story - A quick inspirational quote, funny joke or a short story about your adventures is a great post that is fast to make and creates a feeling of connection for fans. These kinds of posts tend to get AWESOME engagement (likes & comments).
Whatever you do - do it consistently! Make sure your fans are hearing from you at least twice a week and don’t forget to interact with fan comments.

Brushing After Sweets...No?

By Dr. Scott Thompson, Winning With Smiles

Does brushing after eating sweets help prevent cavities? Surprisingly, the answer to that is no! To have a cavity one requires a tooth, some of the right kind of bacteria concentrated in an area where they can create and harbor acid on the tooth, sugar that the bacteria will eat and convert to acid, and some time for the acids to dissolve calcium out of the tooth enamel to make a hole.
So you see, if sometime during the day you cleaned all the bacteria off your teeth so they are not there to create any acid, then the sugar has no affect on the teeth. Also note: If bacteria have been successfully cleaned off the teeth, then it will take 24 hours for those bacteria to multiply and aggregate adequately to create and concentrate acid in a sheltered place on the tooth. In other words, your teeth are safe for 24 hours.
So THE TRICK here is to know how to effectively clean your teeth once each day to make them safe. Check our web site regarding disclosing solution as a tool to teach yourself effective tooth cleaning, and as a tool to monitor yourself periodically to verify you are still keeping your teeth safe.
Teach yourself to be a superb once a day effective tooth cleaner. And it makes absolutely no difference when during the day you do this cleaning.

Add Some Tradition to Your Holidays

By Ashlei Jackson, Qlixite

The holidays are centered around tradition! Everyone has that time-honored activity or item that reminds them of childhood memories of Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza...or however you celebrate - these traditions make this ‘Wonderful Time of the Year” special and give meaning to the holidays.    Thinking of adding a new tradition this year? Here are some various traditions that can add to your festive season!
• The Christmas Pickle - The exact country of origin for putting a pickle ornament on your tree is fairly unknown but visit any ornament section of the store and you’re bound to find a pickle ornament! The Tradition: The ornament is hidden on the tree on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, all of the children in the house take turns looking for the pickle ornament and the child who finds the Christmas pickle receives an extra present for his or her good work.

• Caroling - Also called a noel, song or hymn - the act of groups of people singing outside in the wintertime goes back to the Middle Ages making them some of the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung. The Tradition: Whether you physically go sing in a choir or caroling group - include singing as a family (not just listening) to your regular holiday activities to add an uplifting note.

• Hang Holly - To the Irish Celtics, holly represented both life and rebirth; the evergreen leaves symbolized life during a time when all else was bare and the red berries represented the coming of Spring. The Tradition: Add Holly to your home to welcome in the New Year and remind you of hope.

• Light a Rememberance Candle on the Winter Solstice - The Winter Solstice is the day of the year when the position of the earth in respect to the sun results in the shortest period of daylight hours. It became very important for many cultures to ‘remind’ people that the light would ‘return.’ The Tradition: On the evening of the Winter Solstice, sit in a darkened area and each person take turns lighting a candle. Whether you choose to light candles to symbolize those people who may have passed away or choose to have the candles represent goals is up to you. Leave the candles lit until bedtime, then use a lid to extinguish the flames instead of blowing them out which would blow away the good ‘luck’ or ‘memories.’

• Stocking Buttons - Children often go through minor depression the day you take down all decorations. The Tradition: On the chosen day of clean up, at dinner, a small box is set next to the dinner plate of each person. Inside is a button that relates to the person/child. After dinner each person sews the button on their stocking which then gets packed away. This special activity makes cleaning up a positive event.
Whether you choose to adopt one of these traditions or all of them - remember not to add so much to your plate that you end up adding stress. This is a wonderful time of year - let’s keep it that way!

Make Your Home a HOT Commodity this Winter

By Christine Schlittenhart, Sierra Pacific Real Estate

Although the holiday season can be a hectic time to show and sell your house, there are distinct advantages to staging and showing your home at this time of year  you have a chance to show your home at its very best, adorned with warmth and cheer that's sure to charm. Nothing is more inviting than a home brimming with greenery, twinkling lights and holiday decorations.
First impressions are important. Do you have late fall leaves littering the ground? Rake them up. Also, make sure the walks and stairs are free of ice.
A few exterior holiday lights or decorations show pride in ownership and seasonal cheer, but they don't add anything during the day when potential homebuyers will be looking at your home, so don't overdo them. Another thing to consider: Would-be buyers may view it favorably if nearby homes are brimming with lights  it shows unity and neighborliness  so you'll want to find a tasteful balance.
As you set out to win over holiday homebuyers, here are a few other tips to keep in mind:

Trim outdoor trees so unexpected winds don't knock down branches that could damage your home or hurt someone.
Place a holiday welcome mat outside the front door.
Keep the door area clear of bicycles, toys or parcels left by the mail carrier.
Hang a festive wreath on your door.
Play holiday music in the background.
Keep the house cozy. Entering a cold house could chill potential buyers' enthusiasm.
Light a fire in the fireplace just before the agent shows your house. (But never leave a fire unattended.)
Choose a tree and decorate it to complement the room where it's displayed. You don't want the tree to appear to take over the entire living or family room. Remove furniture, if necessary.
Keep decorations on the conservative side. You want your house to be noticed, not your decorations.
Be certain your windows are sparkling clean.
Let there be light. Open blinds and curtains and turn on interior lights to reduce the pervasive dreariness of winter months.
Bake holiday cookies and treats to fill the home with enticing aromas before the prospective buyers arrive.

Ultimately, you want to convey the love, comfort and joy your family has shared in the house so that buyers will be eager to move in and create their own holiday memories.  As always, contact a local Meadow Vista Merchant Realtor today to get you started on preparing your home for sale during our Winter market.

Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Update

By Gerry Hinkle

Many thanks to Meadow Vista and surrounding communities for supporting our 7th Annual Christmas Basket Pancake Breakfast held on November 8th.  It not only brought our community together for breakfast, but also helped raise funds for the 2014 Christmas Food and Toy Basket Program.  A special thank you to the Meadow Vista Lions Club for their expert cooking skills.
We are very fortunate to live in a community that cares for their neighbors, as it shows through our Annual Christmas Food and Toy Basket Program.  Our 70-year old Club has always been there to help local families (Applegate, Christian Valley, Clipper Gap, Meadow Vista, Weimar) in their times of need.  Our goal is to have enough food to last for the two weeks of Christmas vacation from local schools, as some recipients' children are on the school lunch program.
In addition to canned goods being collected by Sierra Hills School, Weimar Hills School, local churches, and organizations, collection barrels and money collection containers are available in businesses throughout Meadow Vista and surrounding communities.
Christmas ornaments for toys are available at Wells Fargo Bank in Meadow Vista.  Please select an ornament, purchase your gift, and return your wrapped gift with an ornament attached to the package (please reconfirm the gender/age are legible so Santa's elves can ensure children receive the appropriate present.  Your generosity allows these children to have a wonderful Christmas after all.
On Friday, December 19th, at Sierra Hills School, starting at 5 p.m., with help of community members, we will begin assembling Christmas food boxes for the families in need.  The assembling process gives helpers the true Christmas spirit.
We are very grateful for your support, and should you have any questions, please call Etta Gross @ 530-637-5359, or Gerry Hinkle @ 530-878-6117.
The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Club is a non-profit 501-c3 organization, so your tax-deductible donations are greatly needed and very much appreciated.  Please remember to consult your Tax Advisor for current tax deduction laws.  Please mail your donations to TMVFNC, P.O. Box 764, Meadow Vista, CA 95722.
We wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy 2015 New Year.

Meadow Vista Lions Club Update

Submitted by Etta Gross

Just a reminder Santa is Coming to Town at dusk on Saturday, December 13, 2014.  There will be free hot drinks and delicious special homemade cookies by our local Girl Scouts.  The bon fire will also start at dusk to keep everyone warm.
Christmas See’s Candies sold by the Lions will be available on the following Thursdays through Sundays.  The dates are: November 20-23, December 11-14, 18-21, 2014.  Along with being available at M.V. True Value Hardware.  The proceeds will be equally split between the Sierra Reach Ministries Food Closet and The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Club.  Please remember when you are buying your See’s Candies locally you are helping your community at the same time.
Please save the date for our 41st Annual Crab Feed held on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Gold Country Fair Grounds (Auburn) starting with no host cocktails at 6 p.m. with dinner around  7 p.m.  Cost is $45 each ticket.  This is our community fundraiser.  The proceeds is how we are able  to do all the community events such as Santa Comes to Town, Easter Egg Hunt, eye care costs for those residents in need and many more community projects.
  If you would like to visit one of our meetings, our scheduled times will resume in January 2015  to the 2nd and 4th Wednesday starting time is 7 p.m. at the Meadow Vista Grange.    Any questions please call Lion President Ron Carmichael at (530) 637-5805 or see any Meadow Vista Area Lions.  Our webpage is and our email address is

Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 OKTOBERFEST in Meadow Vista

2014 Calendar: Trick or Treat Trail

How Does a Home Appraisal Work?

By Toni Ryan, Princeton Capital

During most real estate transactions, it will be necessary to have a home appraisal completed. This formal process of evaluation is the most effective, un-biased way to determine the current value of a home for everyone involved in the transaction. While the concept might not seem confusing, there are several misconceptions that can make the process seem complicated. Understanding what the appraiser does and how their evaluation plays a role in your financing can make the transaction easier.

Home values fluctuate because of a variety of factors including supply, demand and regional influences. A home appraisal determines the current market value of a property on the date the inspection is completed. Since this value will be used by the lender to determine the loan amount, an approved, reputable appraiser must be hired to complete the evaluation. It is important to note that the formal appraisal report is filed with a national bureau when financing is being used from FHA, FNMA and Freddie Mac. The report and the property value is registered with the national database and kept on file for six months. This keeps buyers and sellers from “shopping around” for a different value.

The lender will order the appraisal from a separate third party appraisal vender. The appointment for the real estate appraiser to visit your property (or the property you're looking to buy) is set by the assigned appraiser with you or the real estate agent.

There are some key things to prepare for to insure you receive an accurate appraisal for your home:

  • Major repairs - water damage and broken structures need to be repaired. 
  • Health & Safety Issues - bare wiring, mold, damaged stairs will need to be restored to safety standards. Smoke and CO2 detectors must be present and in working order. 
  • In-progress Construction - all work should be completed. 
  • Excessive Clutter - the appraiser must get a clear view of the basic structure. 

It is suggested to be present while the appraiser is at the home. By law, your loan officer cannot be present and cannot speak to the appraiser.

There are several methods and formulas utilized to calculate the final home value. Prices of other similar homes that have recently sold in the area are assessed and adjustments are made for features that are not the same. A Cost to Re-build the home in today's market is also included.

If the appraised value is at or above the expected value - this is good news! If the value comes in below expectations, most sellers and homeowners experience concern.  Always talk to your realtor and loan officer to find out all of your options. A home appraisal is a vital piece of the process when buying or refinancing a home

*Always check with your mortgage professional for acceptable extenuating circumstances and any other changes that may have changed to the  programs listed since this printing.  

Own a Business? 3 Reasons to Put November 29th on Your Calendar

By Ashlei Jackson, Qlixite

Small Business Saturday 2014 is November 29th! If your a small business you might be teetering on the fence of whether you should participate in this annual "Shop Small" extravaganza. The time to leap off the fence is here and we've got 3 Reasons you should throw your hat in on Small Business Saturday!

1. Join a Nationwide Campaign

American Express sponsors Small Business Saturday which means (drumroll)....MONEY! This is a huge nationwide marketing campaign pushing consumers (ie: YOUR customers) to shop their local businesses on Saturday, November 29th (Why that Saturday? Black Friday is the day before and Cyber Monday is 2 days later). Think of how much it costs to run television ads, direct mail, run social media campaigns and spread the word - now imagine that ALL of that is being done for YOU.

2. FREE Marketing Resources

The people who coordinate Small Business Saturday couldn't make it any easier to participate. They even provide free professionally designed marketing materials, tools and resources. All of these great items can be found at

3. Get Exposure by Participating

As we get closer to Small Business Saturday, a really cool feature will be added to the ShopSmall website - a map showing people where to shop. This means when a local consumer looks for businesses to shop with on the site - you're there! Can you say more free advertisement????

Bonus -  One Hundred Million. 

That's how many people shopped small businesses last year on Small Business Saturday. Don't you want a piece of the action? Start thinking about an exclusive special that you can offer just for the people who buy from you on that day. Once you get people in the door, they are more likely to buy more and buy later!

Understanding Covered California for 2015

By Richard L. Peatman, Pharm.D., Meadow Vista Pharmacy

It's that time of year again.  For those of you who have to purchase your own health insurance, you can look up your 2015 rates on Covered California now.  Go to  The good news is that the average price increase for the entire state is 4.2%.  Some areas, such as Region 3 (Sacramento, Placer Counties) had only a 1.8% increase.  The really big change this year is the addition of dental coverage.  Adult coverage will cost between $13 and $59 per month.  Children will be $9 to $34 per month.  Kaiser has partnered with Delta Dental for children's coverage.  Western Health Advantage has selected Premier Access and Anthem and Blue Shield have their own dental plans.  

Here are some things to keep in mind…

  • Sign up starts November 15, 2014 and ends February 15, 2105.  If you have a qualifying life event, you may receive Special Enrollment and become covered under a plan immediately.  Examples of these events are change in marital status, adoption of a child, moving to a new region in California, release from jail or prison or loss of Medi-Cal or health coverage from your job.  It is import to remember that you can also change or enroll in coverage if you have a change in income.
  • You can use a certified enrollment counselor to sign up or do it yourself on line or by phone at 1-800-300-1506.  Covered California's phone hours are Monday  Friday 8am to 6pm and Saturdays 8am to 5pm.
  • The price is the same whether you decide to sign up through Covered California or directly with an insurance company that offers an exchange plan.  
  • Your insurance agent may help you find Off Exchange Plans.  These are plans that are offered in California but not on the exchange.
  • Make sure to use your correct income when signing up.  Your premium assistance from the government is primarily based on income and if that has changed you want to make sure that you give the correct information when signing up for 2015.  The assistance can be significant.  A household with two adults and two children under 18 and a combined income of $70,000, would receive $600 a month on the lowest level plan.
  • Make sure to submit any required documentation promptly.  You can be denied or dropped from coverage if you fail to supply required information.
  • DOUBLE CHECK TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS ACCEPT THE PLAN YOU SELECT FOR 2015.  Hospitals and doctors are free to change the plans they accept.   Remember, that in most cases, you can keep your 2014 plan for 2015, just keep paying for it.    Consider whether you want to add dental coverage.  And finally, check your Covered California account to confirm your coverage.  Don't assume it's right.

Potato Chips for Dessert?

By Dr. Scott Thompson, DDS, Winning With Smiles

My curiosity couldn't resist and I bought the package of Cappuccino Potato Chips. What are we doing with coffee flavored potato chips? So when I got home, I discovered the cappuccino was more about the cinnamon and sugar than it was the coffee. They have taken that sugary cappuccino powder drink mix and used it to "season" the chips.

Sugar is being added to everything, it is true. As a dentist I clearly see the ravages it takes on teeth. My medical colleagues see it in the melange of diabetes, obesity, cardiac disease, liver damage that results. My friends in the insurance industry point out to me the necessity of increasing life insurance premiums because this new generation of youth is going to live a shorter life span than us and will therefore be paying into the system few years. Alas. When will you take charge of your eating habits?

So back to potato chips. We all know that a good southern barbeque sauce has sugar in it, so sugar in potato chip ingredients is not a new thing. But this is the first time a potato chip tasted sweet enough to qualify for dessert. Please read labels and be aware how much sugar is being added to your diet and be aware of the multitude of long term debilitating illnesses it is responsible for in our culture. It is not just about teeth.

Meadow Vista Community Center Update

The 5 Biggest Turn-Offs for Homebuyers

Written by Blanche Evans - Provided by Fred Eichenhofer, Sierra Pacific Real Estate

“Your agent can't get you the price you want unless your home is in pristine move-in condition.  That means no sticking drawers in the kitchen.  No leaning fences.  No rust-stained plumbing fixtures.  We could go on, but maybe we need to make it clear.  If you have even one of the following “turn-offs,” your home won't sell”.  (Fred's comment; every home will sell, but it may not be at the highest price possible because of the condition of the home, and the location.) Buyer's can get instantly turned off.  Here are their five biggest turn-offs:

1 - Over pricing your home

Overpricing your home is like trying to crash the country club without a membership.  You'll be found out and escorted out.
If you ignored your agent's advice and listed at a higher price than recommended, you're going to get some negative feedback, of course, is silence.  That could include no showings and no offers.
The problem with overpricing your home is that the buyers who are qualified to buy your home won't see it because they're shopping in a lower price range.  The buyers who do it will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.

2 - Smells

Smells can come from a number of sources-pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage, and much more.  You may not even notice it, but your real estate agent may have hinted to you that something needs to be done.
There's not a buyer in the world that will buy a home that smells unless they're investors looking for a bargain.  Even so, they'll get a forensic inspection to find out the source of the smells.  If they find anything like undisclosed water damage, or pet urine under the “new” carpet, then they will either severely discount their offer or walk away.

3 - Clutter

If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail, and drinking glasses, buyers' attention is going to more focused on running the gauntlet of your living room without breaking any Hummel's than in considering your home for purchase.
Too much furniture confuses the eye-it makes it real difficult for buyers to see the proportions of rooms.  If they can't see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

4 - Deferred Maintenance

Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart.  Just like people age due to the effects of the sun wind and gravity, so do structures like your home.  Things wear out, break and weather, and it's your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired.
Your buyers really want a home that's been well-maintained. They don't want to wonder what needs to be fixed next or how much it will cost.

5 - Dated Décor

The reason people are looking at your home instead of buying brand new is because of cost and location.  They want your neighborhood, but that doesn't mean they want a dated-looking home.  Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it's from a different era.
Harvest gold and avocado green from the seventies; soft blues and mauves from the eighties, jewel tones from the nineties, and onyx and pewter from the oughts are all colorways that can date your home.  Textures like popcorn ceilings, shag or berber carpet, and flocked wallpaper can also date your home. When you're behind the times, buyers don't want to join you.  They want to be perceived as a savvy and cool.

In conclusion, the market is a brutal mirror.  If you're guilty of not putting money into your home because you believe it's an investment that others should pay you to profit, you're in for a rude awakening.  You'll be stuck with an asset that isn't selling. (Fred's comment; all homes will sell, the sales price will be dependent on the condition of the home, and location.  The less the buyer has to do to update the home and a good location, a seller should receive a higher sale price everything else being equal.)

Meadow Vista Lions Club: 2014 Santa Comes to Town

Submitted by Etta Gross, Club Secretary

The Meadow Vista Lions are looking forward to a busy fall season and preparing for the holidays. Lions club members will be in front of Holiday Market selling Sees' Christmas Candies on November 20-23, December 11th-14th & 18th-21st.

Santa Claus has made his annual contact with us.  He will be visiting our community on Saturday, December 13, 2014 at dusk in the vacant field next to the Post Office.

Residents are always welcome to come bring ideas and see the planning for our events by visiting a meeting on the second and fourth Wednesday, starting at 7pm. at the Grange Hall in Meadow Vista. If you are interested in information contact us at  

Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors: 2014 Christmas Baskets

Submitted by Etta Gross

Do you want to help those in our community that are having difficulties at Christmas this year?  The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Club is in need of donation of canned foods and toys along with monetary donations for the Community Christmas Baskets.  This is our 70th year at assisting those in need in the community and in the surrounding areas (Applegate, Clipper Gap, Christian Valley and Weimar) at Christmas.  Last year, the community helped 135 families, and supplied toys to 78 families for our residents in need. Help us help even more families this year!

Please make checks payable to The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Club or TMVFN, and mail them to P.O. Box 764, Meadow Vista CA  95722.

The club will also need physical help on Friday, December 19 for assembling the food baskets at Sierra Hills School, 16505 Placer Hills Road starting at 5 p.m.  For more information regarding the Christmas Basket Program, please contact Etta at (530) 637-5359 or Gerry at (530) 878-6117.

Our annual Christmas Basket Breakfast will be on Saturday, November 8, 2014, starting at 8 a.m.  The location will be Placer Hills Cafeteria.

How to Spot a Scam IRS Phone Call

By J.C. Harrison, Simplified Business & Tax Service

The IRS continues to warn the public to be alert for telephone scams and offers five tell-tale warning signs to tip you off if you get such a call. These callers claim to be with the IRS. The scammers often demand money to pay taxes. Some may try to con you by saying that you're due a refund. The refund is a fake lure so you'll give them your banking or other private financial information.

These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may even know a lot about you. They may alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. If you don't answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

The IRS respects taxpayer rights when working out payment of your taxes. So, it's pretty easy to tell when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a sign of a scam.

The IRS will never:

  1. Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  3. Require you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here's what to do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to talk about payment options. Continued on page 11 You also may be able to set up a payment plan online at
  • If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484 or at
  • If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission at Use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report the scam. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Remember, the IRS currently does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issues. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to and type “scam” in the search box.

Recipe: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Friday, August 29, 2014

Life After Bankruptcy, Foreclosure & Shortsale

By Toni Ryan, Princeton Capital

A common questions many home buyers have today is, “How long do I have to wait before obtaining financing after a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale?”

Below is an overview based on credit issue:


• Ch. 7 or 11: 2 years with extenuating circumstance*, 4 year without and re-established credit
• CH 13 – 2 years from discharge date or 4 years from dismissal date

• Ch. 7: 2 years from discharge date with re-established credit – no delinquencies for 2 years
• Ch. 13: 1 year of the payout date must elapse and satisfactory payment performance with permission from the court to enter into a mortgage

•  Ch. 7: 2 years from discharge date with re-established credit – no delinquencies for 2 years
• Ch. 13: 1 year of the payout date must elapse and satisfactory payment performance with permission from the court to enter into a mortgage


Conventional: 7 years from completion date
FHA:  3 years from completion date
VA: 2-3 years from completion date with good explanation of circumstances – must have sufficient entitlement.

Short Sale:

Conventional: 2 years – (Changing to 4 years on 8/15/14) with extenuating circumstances*- 4 years without extenuating circumstances
FHA: 1 year if qualified for “Back to Work Program” – 2 years with extenuating circumstances* or all debts were current until the short sale date - 3 years if short sale was not due to extenuating circumstances or debts were not paid on time before short sale.
VA: 2-3 years from completion date with good explanation or circumstances. Must have sufficient entitlement for new loan

NOTE: Currently, Conventional financing backed by FNMA has offered a wait period for short sales as low as 2 years with extenuating circumstances but it is important to note that for those loan applications received after August 15th, the wait period increases to 4 years. If you fit into the above category and are considering financing, you should act now or you will be limited to FHA financing and possibly VA, if entitled to VA programs and have sufficient entitlement for a new loan. Time is of the essence to experience the joy of homeownership.
*Always check with your mortgage professional for acceptable extenuating circumstances and any other changes that may have changed to the  programs listed since this printing.

Sierra Pacific Real Estate's Listings

Translating Corporate Sales Techniques to Small Business

By Ashlei Jackson, Qlixite

Many small business owners are operating on a shoestring, some luck and an unwavering desire to be successful. Notice that a killer sales team was not included. So let’s say you’re in the business of pizza or plumbing or painting - odds are you’re really passionate about your industry. It’s this passion for excellence in your field that gets you into business. But sales is what keeps you in business. And tons of sales is what turns your little business into a dream job.

Getting Started: You can go out and try a bunch of sales tactics and see how they work or you can learn from the big brands. Every major company uses the following 5 tried and true, simple sales mechanisms...and you can too!

Step #1- Initiate Contact: This is all about getting out and getting seen. Find ways to get you and your company in front of people and then say “Hi” to everyone you meet. Just because it’s late and you’re picking up stuff at the store doesn’t mean you can meet one new person and find a way to tell them what you do.

Step #2 - Discovery Interest: When people do ask for more information, most business owners want to jump into what THEY want to say instead of finding out what the person WANTS to hear about. Spend some time developing 2-3 quick questions that will help you qualify a potential customer. You don’t want to sell pepperoni pizza to a vegetarian right?
Step #3 - 30 Seconds or Less: Cornering someone at the gas station and giving them a full demonstration on tankless water heaters is not feesible and might even scare some folks away. Instead you need to be able to describe your product or service in 30 seconds flat. It should be rehearsed and yet conversational. Here’s where you should demonstrate your passion but remember that you’re number one goal is for the customer to walk away knowing EXACTLY what you do and why they should use you.

Step #4 - Open your mouth & ASK: Too often people assume that asking for the sale can come across as pushy. Yeah. It can. But not asking for the sale when the customer is ready can also kill your business. If someone walked up and said that they liked your painting and you never offer them the option to buy...who lost? BOTH of you! Don’t be afraid of getting a “No.” If you keep it conversation and simple - you’ll be fine.

Step #5 - Referrals & Reviews: Whether someone is a client or not - they should have your business card. This can make it easy for them to contact you when they’re ready to buy OR it makes it really easy for them to pass it along to a friend. It’s all about letting other people sell for you, right? And don’t forget to have clients write reviews and testimonials on sites like Yelp, Yahoo, Google+ and Facebook. External validation can amplify your sales tenfold.

Step # 6 - Repeat Steps 1 through 5: Good Luck!

Recipes: Gnocci & Black Bean Corn Salad

Riding for a Cause: Meadow Vista Trails Association

Information provided by the Meadow Vista Trails Association

A group called Country BabyGirls has formed to create a pledge ride to raise donations for Muscular Sclerosis.  In that group of riders are two Meadow Vista Trail Association members, Rich Walker & Claudia Booth.

Rich will be riding the 10 Mile challenge and Claudia will be riding the 20 Mile challenge.  Both are hoping that MVTA members and those of the community will be charitable and donate some money towards their ride!  The ride will not happen until October 4, 2014, but they are already on the trails to rack up training miles!

The donations are needed before the day of the ride and can be placed right now!  This is being done officially through the MS Society based in Sacramento.  You can log onto the Country BabyGirls website, and click on Donate Now and it will take you directly to the MS Society website where the Country BabyGirls donation collection is being done by MS Society.  Once there, you will see each riders name, click on the rider you want your donation to support!  You can pledge any amount!  The goal is $5,000.00 and currently we are a little over $2,000.

Sour Power & Teeth

By Dr. Scott Thompson, DDS, Winning With Smiles

In the late 1980's the candy industry discovered how much young people enjoy the kick of a sour taste.  They began creating their standard candies in a sour version. Over the years it has transformed the candy industry. The financial success of "sour" candies was even reported in the Wall Street Journal.

To give you a hint at what happened, consider "Warheads." The challenge to the young folks was to pop the Warhead in their mouth and time how many seconds they could keep it there before they had to spit it out because it was too sour! If they made 18 seconds, they mastered it. Candy had become sport!

Now consider your chemistry lessons. Sour taste means acid; remember? Acid dissolves things, especially mineral things (like tooth enamel). The candy industry has added three acids (citric, ascorbic and malic) to create this sour sensation. Those acids are dissolving the enamel of the teeth. Kid's complain of their teeth hurting when they bite into foods.  Enamel is wearing away exposing sensitive areas of tooth, and of course cavities are more prevalent.
When your child considers a treat, discuss with him or her the effects and steer them to a healthier choice with less acid.  Education is a key to winning!

How to Buy a Home in a Competitive Real Estate Market

By Christine Schlittenhart, Sierra Pacific Real Estate

Demand for real estate is growing in many markets across the country, but especially in our special area of the Foothills. That’s great, but it creates competition in the form of all-cash offers, offers for thousands of dollars over list price, and a growing gap between affordability and prices in a given area.

If you are a buyer who needs to have their purchase financed – pay attention to these 5 tips that may help you secure the home of your dreams. Don’t forget that price is certainly a factor – if not the most important factor to a Seller – but these tips can give you an advantage when you’re trying to secure an initial commitment from the seller.

1. Get the Right Lender - Your loan officer’s reputation in the community is critical, especially among the agents who are controlling the deals. If your loan officer has a trusted name, recognition and a favorable presence in the local market, this can be communicated via the listing agent, who has a direct influence on what offer the seller takes.

2. Get the Right Buyer’s Agent - You’ll need a real estate agent to represent you if you’re going to be making offers on properties listed on the open market. Ideally, the person you’re going to want representing you is someone who has a reputation for delivering in the local market. This is especially important as many real estate agents network with each other and work with each other on a regular basis. If your buyer’s agent has a favorable reputation not only in the local community, but with the listing agent in a previous transaction, for example, this is a very good sign that person can influence the seller because they know the offer is strong and they trust the other side.

3. Get an Introduction to the Listing Agent - Upon your buyer’s agent (who’s representing you) offer submission, your loan officer calls the listing agent to introduce themselves and explain how well-qualified you are to purchase that property. Many listing agents inevitably call the lenders of the buyers whose offers are strong on paper in an attempt to feel them out about the buyer’s qualifications. Preemptively, taking this step is a favorable approach that makes it easier for the listing agent to influence the seller to accept your offer.

4. Understand How You Appear on Paper - It doesn’t matter if you have $500,000 in income; if you’re buying a home and putting less than 20% down, even if another offer is higher than yours, the offer with 20% down still looks stronger on paper to agents. Another approach to take to increase your odds of getting the seller to accept: Don’t request a credit for closing costs in your initial purchase offer. When you ask for a credit for closing costs based on whatever purchase price amount you are looking for, that gives the seller less net proceeds at closing — that is, unless you offer a higher purchase price and ask for a credit that way. But be aware, doing the latter means the house must appraise for a higher value to support your higher offered amount with your requested credits for cash to close.

5. Offer a Short Closing - Upon making an offer to buy a property, making an offer to close in less than 30 days is an aggressive approach, communicating to the seller that your financing is lined up and it’s time to play ball. Know that lenders are up against federal mandatory disclosure time frames and, as such, have certain thresholds they have to meet in order to be federally compliant with recent regulatory changes.

By making sure you’re covering all these bases when you’re making offers and getting acclimated to the local housing market, your odds of getting your offer accepted could dramatically increase. Don’t forget to seek out one of your local Meadow Vista Merchant Agents, who are willing and waiting to help you!

Meadow Vista Community Center Update

"Neighbors Helping Neighbors"

By Gerry Hinkle, Club Secretary

The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbor Club would like to thank all those who helped celebrate their 70th Anniversary during a luncheon held at the Auburn Valley Country Club on June 25, 2014.

In addition to many members and their guests, we were thrilled to have some long-time club and community members in attendance, which shared many wonderful stories of the past. We were even treated to a happy song sung by our local celebrity, Ms. Joni Roth.

Mr. George Lay, local historian, was Master of Ceremonies, and he took us down memory lane with lots of funny stories.  He acknowledged some past recipients of “The Friendly Neighbor of The Year Awards” and “Community Service Awards,” as well as past and present Club Presidents.

The MVFN Club is now on summer break, but will resume meetings at the Meadow Vista Grange Hall on the 4the Wednesday of each month, beginning September 24th, 11:30 a.m. (Social), 12 Noon (Lunch), followed by an informative speaker and general meeting.  We would love to have you join us!
Please call Gerry Hinkle, 878-6117, or Cathy Williams, 878-6843, for any questions.

Fawn Rescue in Placer County: Kindred Spirits

Information provided by Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue

Most people think of spring as the time for new life but you might have noticed some “spots” still running around this summer. These adorable young deer are spunky and fun to watch but an unfortunate side effect of living in our beautiful area is that sometimes we find these young fawns are injured or have been orphaned. Do you know what to do?

Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue is in its 4th season as an independent rescue facility based out of Loomis. It is the ONLY active fawn rescue program serving Sacramento, Placer and Yolo Counties. Licensed by the Department of Fish & Wildlife, this non-profit community supported organization staffs qualified and trained personnel to rehabilitate fawns with the goal of returning healthy animals back into the wild.

Founder Diane Nicholas worked for several years with Gold Country Wildlife Rescue and now fields the more than 800 calls per season Kindred Spirits receives.

“It’s up to us to be stewards.” says Nicholas who visits classrooms and attends community meetings to explain how people can coexist with deer, which typically means preventing deer from feeling comfortable around humans and their pets. “Once a deer is no longer afraid of people or dogs, they have much less chance of surviving in the wild.” According to Nicholas, a wide variety of illness and injuries bring the baby deer to her facility.

“What do I do if I see a fawn that appears to be sick, injured or orphaned?”

It is NOT unusual for a fawn to be left for several hours. Mother’s will often leave their fawns while grazing for food. If you are concerned the fawn has been orphaned please observe it from a distance for at least 4 HOURS before contacting Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue.

If the fawn is clearly INJURED or SICK please CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY! Our service is available at NO CHARGE 24 HOURS a day, 7 DAYS a week. (530) 889-5822

• Keep It Warm and Safe. Should you find this animal on the side of the road or a trail, the most important thing you can do for the fawn is secure it in a safe, dark environment.
A dog crate or a large box will work as a temporary home. Make sure the fawn is kept warm with a hot water bottle or sock filled with rice which has been micro waved for 3 minutes then wrapped in a towel. Cover the fawn with a towel or blanket then place the hot water bottle/rice sock next to the fawn. Make sure the fawn is away from human noise and domestic pets.

• DO NOT give any food, water or medicine to the fawn. The wrong food or medicine can do more harm than good.

•  DO NOT care for a sick, injured, or orphaned fawn yourself?
Rehabilitating fawns is illegal for members of the public. Kindred Spirits is licensed to care for fawns through the California Department of Fish & Game.

Remember that no matter how adorable and cute a fawn is, they are still a wild animal - and deserve to remain so.

“There is nothing more rewarding than releasing them back into the wild and watching them trot off to live their lives,” Nicholas said.

Learn more about Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue. : 24 Hour Hotline:

Is your computer vulnerable to Malware?

By Greg Luther, Computer Shoppe

Malware is malicious software that can infect and cause havoc with your computer, possible making it unusable. Oftentimes, your computer can get infected by visiting certain websites or opening emails with infected attachments. Many malware programs don't show obvious signs of an infection because they may not want you to know they are on your computer.  Some are designed to keep track of what you type on your computer while others will show obvious signs of an infection like redirecting  your browser to a different location than what you typed into the browser.

Although antivirus software does provide some protection; it is not a complete solution to preventing malware. Adding programs like Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware is a good start, but you also need to protect your browser because many infections can start by visiting a site infected with malware.

So, adding additional protection to your browser can help protect against websites that try to infect your computer.  Depending on the browser you use (the top browsers are Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer), you can search for add-ons for your browser to help prevent problems before they start.

Meadow Vista Lions Club Update

By Ron Carmichael, Club President

The Meadow Vista Lions have been busy the last few months.   The Car Show in at Meadow Vista Park brought over eighty classics along with several interested local folks. The Lions cooked breakfast and lunch for this event. At Pioneer Day  Lions served breakfasts for all those attending. The Meadow Vista Lions wishes to thank everyone who supported us and these events.

If you are interested in information about our Lion's Club please contact us at or on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. come visit our meetings a the Grange hall. Thank you from the Meadow Vista Lions' Club!

Dessert & a Movie...a Success!!!

Special Thanks to our Participating Merchants

The Fabulous 5 Cholesterol-Lowering Foods

By Richard L. Peatman, Pharm.D., Meadow Vista Pharmacy

You've been told to lower your cholesterol, a form of fat made by the liver and present in some foods. But did you know that adding certain foods to your diet may do as much to improve your cholesterol as medication? These foods are so effective that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says they can carry the health claim for managing cholesterol. There are five foods that can help cholesterol.

1. Soluble fiber. Sometimes called roughage, soluble fiber reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – the "bad" cholesterol by reducing its adsorption in the digestive tract. It is most effective if at least 10gm is used a day. Examples of soluble fiber include oatmeal, fruit, kidney beans, psyllium and barley.

2. Nuts. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, many kinds of nuts reduce cholesterol and help keep blood vessels healthy and elastic. Aim for a handful each day or about 1.5 ounces. Remember that nuts are high in calories, so more isn't better. To keep fats to a minimum, make substitutions. For example, add nuts to salads instead of cheese or meat. Examples of nuts to include in your diet are walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and hazelnuts.

3. Fish. Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. Try for two servings of fish each week. You can also take an omega-3 or fish oil supplement or eat ground flaxseed or canola oil.

Examples of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are mackerel, trout, salmon, tuna, sardines and herring.

4. Olive oil. Although many people think all oil is bad, some oils are actually good for you. Olive oil lowers "bad" cholesterol, but doesn't touch the "good" kind, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. A goal is 2 tablespoons of olive oil each day. You can use olive oil to sauté foods or as a salad dressing when mixed with vinegar.

5. Fortified foods. Some foods are now fortified with plant sterols or stanols. These are substances that block the absorption of cholesterol. Aim for 2 grams a day of plant sterols. Examples of the kinds of foods fortified with these substances are margarines, low-fat spreads, orange juice and yogurt drinks.

Of course, it's also important to eat less of saturated fats, including meats and some oils, and try to eliminate trans fats. Trans fats still show up in some baked goods like cakes, cookies, and crackers. They raise LDL and lower HDL. Also remember that exercise and weight control are important.