Thanksgiving Thoughts

As we move into Thanksgiving, many of us find ourselves contemplating the holiday in an entirely new way, reexamining our traditions in the light of COVID-19 restrictions and concerns. Numerous challenges over the past several months have helped highlight many things we took for granted in our day to day lives. The year’s trials and continuing struggles can make it difficult to feel gratitude in time for this day of Thanksgiving. With this in mind, we’ve selected some quotes to aid in contemplation of the meaning of the day. It is our hope that some of these quotes bring you more light and thoughtfulness, and maybe make this strange year feel a bit warmer and more hopeful. From our family to yours, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

“We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter what may be the burden of our wants, or the special subject of our petitions.” – Albert Barnes

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle

“When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.” – Sam Lefkowitz

“Drink and be thankful to the host! What seems insignificant when you have it, is important when you need it.” – Franz Grillparzer

“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” – Amy Collette

“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.” – Eileen Caddy

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou

“We must find the time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” – John F. Kennedy

“The more you practice the art of thankfulness, the more you have to be thankful for.” – Norman Vincent Peale

“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” – Randy Pausch

“Forever on Thanksgiving Day, the heart will find the pathway home.” – Wilbur D. Nesbit

“Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.” – Catherine Pulsifer

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Spotting a Scam

Scammers are constantly finding new and innovative ways to steal money or trick you out of sensitive information. They frequently utilize technology both to contact you and to hide their lies, making it even more difficult for those who aren’t as technologically savvy to spot the deception. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some red flags to help you spot possible scams and some general tips to avoid them.

You have to make a decision immediately. Scammers will try to use stress and emotion against you, insisting that the issue is time sensitive and you have to make a choice NOW. Common examples include claiming that a family member has been injured or arrested, or that you will be arrested, unless you pay them immediately.

They ask for sensitive information in electronic communications. Financial institutions will never ask for sensitive information, like your Social Security Number, via email or text message. If you receive an unsolicited communication asking for sensitive, personal information, be wary.

Insisting on non-secure payment methods. Scammers regularly insist on non-secure payment methods which are difficult to track. Probably the most famous is via wire transfer, like Western Union, but they also use more unusual methods such as gift cards. Some may also ask you to cash a check for a large sum of money and keep a cut for yourself, rather than them paying you directly.

The deal seems too good to be true. This is common for online shopping or job hunting, especially on less regulated sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. You see a listing for an item priced well under market value, or a job that pays extremely well for seemingly little effort. Likely when you contact the poster, you will be asked to provide money or personal information up front in order to move forward.

They use poor grammar and have spelling errors. Errors like this can be blatant, like a plain looking email that looks like the text was written using a bad translation service. They can also be more subtle, such as using graphics and logos that appear professional, but the company name is slightly misspelled. So, if you notice spelling issues or that the sentence structure just seems weird, it could be a scam.

The contact details don’t match up. Scammers often use emails and messaging that look legitimate, but might forget to fake their email address. If you get an official looking email from an email address that seems odd or out of place, it could be a scam. An example would be an email that appears to be from your bank, asking for you to verify your account information, but the sender’s email address is from a generic email service, like Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail.

They change the terms after you’ve expressed interest. This is a common method in classifieds, whether you’re shopping around on Craigslist or hunting for a new job. It might be that you’re looking at a used car marketed as being in your city for a great price, but when you reach out, they say the car is actually in another state and will have to be transported. Or you find a job listing for an office assistant, but upon contacting the employer, they say the position is no longer available, but they are looking for a personal assistant to pick-up and deliver mail and for cash payments. This scenario often goes hand in hand with the “too good to be true” deals and are a good indicator that the listing is fraudulent.

They use generic or stolen pictures. Because they don’t actually have the item they are trying to “sell”, scammers frequently use generic photos easily found online or stolen for other websites. Are they selling a used car, but posted a picture that looks straight out of a car commercial? Are they re-selling an item like clothing or collectibles, but only use the original product photos from the brand’s website and marketing? Those can be good indicators that the listing is a scam.

General Tips

Don’t rush. Even though scammers frequently use pressure and emotional manipulation to try and get you to make a decision, it is important to take time to think things through. Any deals or offers that are legitimate should still be valid the next day.

Research it. If anything feels suspicious or too good to be true, look into it. Use your own resources to verify information. Scammers may try to have you call a number or visit a website they have set up, so use a third-party option, like 411 or an online search, to confirm the validity of the claims.

Remember that it’s okay to say no. If you aren’t sure if you’ve gotten a legitimate request, you can always err on the side of caution and say no. You’re not obligated to share your personal information or follow the person’s instructions. Saying no allows you to take the time to think through the details of the situation and research it on your own to be sure it’s safe.

Report it. Many law enforcement agencies take fraud and scam reports and have officers available to answer non-emergency questions over the phone or in person. Call your local law enforcement non-emergency phone number for more information about options available to you locally.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also has a dedicated website for learning about and reporting fraud and scams. They use information submitted in reports to help stop scammers and keep people informed of current scams making the rounds. To report a scam to the FTC, visit FTC.gov/complaint or call 1-877-382-4357. You can also sign up to receive alerts about new scams by visiting https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.

Practice your scam spotting skills. The Australian organization Scamwatch provides examples of scam texts, emails, and websites with explanations about why each example is suspicious and where to spot indicators of a scam. To test your knowledge, and maybe learn a few extra tips, visit their site here.

Raging Fires, Rising Concerns

With the return of deadly California wildfires, the devastating effects of fire have been on the forefront of many people’s minds. 2020 has already become the largest wildfire season in California’s recorded history, with over 4 million acres of land burned as of October 4th, and fires still raging. Given that fire is such a hot topic at the moment, let’s take some time to review some of the primary concerns specific to wildfires, broader fire concerns as they relate to living in a manufactured home, and some preparation and safety precautions you can take now and in the future.

Wildfire Concerns

Beyond the obvious safety issues of fires – physical danger, property damage, visibility concerns – fires also pose a public health risk. Particulate matter (tiny particles) in wildfire smoke can contain harmful substances, including those that cause cancer. Because the particles are so small, a fraction of the diameter of human hair, some can enter the lungs and even bloodstream. There is well-documented scientific evidence linking particulates to negative health effects for the heart and lung. Even brief periods of smoke exposure can put you at risk for future disease and aggravate existing conditions.

The amount of smoke and particulates near you can fluctuate on a daily basis, so it is good practice to monitor the Air Quality Index. You can get real time updates online from the U.S. Forest Service Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program or the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map. For a mobile friendly version, check out California’s BreatheWell site. You can also check with your local air district for more information; contact information for California air districts can be found in the list here.

Protecting Yourself from Smoke

– Check air quality
– Close doors and windows
– Run AC on recirculate
– Use a certified air filter
– Avoid vacuuming, frying food, or using gas appliances, which add to indoor pollution
– Wear a mask inside if needed

Fire and Manufactured Housing

An unfortunate fact about living in a manufactured home is that you may be at greater risk if you have a fire. In 1976, the Department of Housing and Urban Development established more restrictive standards for safety and construction. Homes manufactured before 1976 were not required to meet those guidelines and are more likely to have been built with more flammable materials and have fewer exits in the event of a fire. Thankfully, a 2007-2011 study by the National Fire Protection Association found that mobile homes built after 1976 had a rate of fire deaths 57% lower than those built before HUD’s standards.

A scary reality is that fire’s destructive power is incredibly fast. A small flame can morph into a raging fire in minutes, and the nature of manufactured homes may also put them at greater risk for structural damage faster than a site-built home. Fires have been known to fully engulf a mobile home in under 15 minutes. Knowing this, it is extremely important to be prepared in the event of a fire and practice fire safety in your day to day life.

Fire Safety and Preparation

Be Prepared to Evacuate

This is especially important with the current prevalence of wildfires, but knowing what to do before you have to evacuate due to fire can help save you time and help you keep calm. Understand that if you are advised to evacuate, you should do so immediately. Taking time after an evacuation order to pack up your most treasured belongings could cost you your life. Below are some steps you can take to prepare for the possibility of evacuation.

Regularly tune in to your local news and/or radio for the most up-to-date information about the fires near you.

Know your exits. Map out multiple escape routes before you need them. Check that you are able to easily open windows and remove screens. Practice your routes with your family.

Have a Go Kit ready. Prepare a disaster supply kit with necessities for you, other members of your household, and any pets. A helpful list of what to include in your kit can be found here.

Precautions to Take Now

Make sure you have fire insurance for your home. While it is an unpleasant thing to think about, there is always a possibility that you may lose your home and belongings to a fire. It is worth considering insuring your home against fire and for the full replacement value. Keep in mind that it will likely cost more than the original value of your home to replace it, plus the cost of new furniture, appliances, and other belongings.

Install smoke detectors. Have one on every level of your home. Test them monthly. Change the batteries yearly. Change the detectors every 10 years.

Purchase fire extinguishers. Get a fire extinguisher appropriate for your home, as there are different types for different kinds of fire. Learn how to use one properly from your local fire department.

General Safety and Fire Risk Reduction

Avoid overloading outlets or extension cords. Limit the number of appliances and devices plugged into outlets and surge protectors.

Periodically check electrical wiring. Look for exposed or fraying wires. Dark marks on electrical outlets could be an indicator of electrical issues.

Use items like space heaters and candles under supervision and for short periods of time. Be sure to keep them away from flammable items.

Maintain and keep heat sources clean. Dust accumulated on heat strips could ignite when you turn on the heat for the first time in the season.

Save by Monitoring Your Money

For many of us, just the word “finances” can be daunting. But you can help de-stress the process by employing a more active approach to your money. Tracking your withdrawals and deposits is one of the simplest steps to move toward healthier finances. Even for those in good financial standing, tracking expenses can help you better manage your money, weed out frivolous spending, and even catch banking errors and discrepancies.

Before the convenience of digital banking, many manually documented their income and expenditures as a way of tracking the money available to them. With the increasing prevalence of debit and credit cards, a large number of people have found this method unnecessary, as financial institutions automatically log transactions. However, there is always the chance for delays or processing errors. It can be easy to forget about a scheduled payment that processes later in the month, causing new problems when money you thought you had suddenly disappears, especially if you’re one of many Americans living paycheck to paycheck. By manually tracking all your spending and income as you go, you can create more peace of mind knowing you have the most up-to-date information at hand. You’ll also have the added benefit of having your own documentation to check against things like monthly bank statements for errors.

Money management doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

If you typically use a card payment method, it is easy to forget about transactions or fail to notice how quickly small purchases can add up, depleting your balance. Manually tracking expenditures allows you to take a closer look at your spending and really pay attention to where your money goes. It can help you spot poor spending habits, like impulse buys or unnecessary expenditures you may not even remember.

To help you get started, there are a large number of tools available. If you prefer a good, old fashioned pen and paper method, WalletHub has a simple, printable worksheet to track deposits and spending, available here. If you like digital methods, there are many mobile apps and online options that may work for you. Seniors can find a helpful list of some options here, with pros and cons taking into consideration concerns specific to your age group. Many more options can be found using your preferred online search engine.

Finally, if the concept of balancing your checkbook and reconciling bank statements is still new, foreign, or just plain overwhelming, WalletHub also has a How To Guide with step by step instructions, pictures, and more tips, found here. Just take it step by step and perhaps you’ll find yourself breathing a little easier when thoughts turn to your wallet.

Governor Executive Orders Address COVID-19 Crisis

Who would have ever thought that our State and our Country would issue stay at home mandates for non-essential workers? These are unusual times. As we reach out to mobile home park residents we are hopeful that you and your families are safe and well.

Many people have been laid off of their jobs or have had a reduction in income due to the COVID-19 virus. If your household has been impacted, there are a variety of programs being offered to help. Following are helpful information and resources.

Rent Payments

The Governor and some local jurisdictions have addressed the payment of rent. If your family has experienced a reduction in income due to the pandemic and are having difficulty paying rent it is important for you to contact the owner/management of your Park immediately. You need to advise them that you are unable to pay rent or can only pay a portion of your rent. You will also need to provide proof that the reason is due to COVID-19. The Park will then work with you to arrange a rent deferment so that you can pay the amount due once the pandemic crisis has passed and you are back to work.

Unemployment Checks

The California Employment Department (EDD) is processing claims for job loss or reduction of income due to COVID-19. The benefits may be accessed on line and are being processed quickly. For detailed information on benefits visit www.edd.ca.gov

Federal Government Stimulus Checks Are Being Delivered

The good news is that $1,200 checks are being deposited into the bank accounts of adults who earned up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income and who have a valid social security number. In addition, parents will also receive $500 for each child 16 years and younger. Most qualified people will have to do nothing in order to receive the check. The check will be deposited via direct deposit into accounts provided on tax returns filed this year or last.

Social security recipients who do not file a tax return will receive the check. However, others who do not file a tax return will need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive the payment. Detailed information can be found on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website: https://www.irs.gov/ coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.

All payments will be made based on income, with lower-income individuals receiving payment first.

Important Updates on 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is turning the world as we know it upside down with Executive Orders and Health Department mandates from all levels of government published on what seems like a daily or hourly basis. Medical experts are telling us it will get worse before it gets better. It is very important to be informed and to follow the protocols established by our health agencies to slow the spread of the virus and to protect yourself, your family, and our communities.

All meetings and gatherings are required to be cancelled, which means the facilities and office in your mobile home park may be closed and all activities cancelled. Like many businesses, the park office may be closed to visitors. People 65 years of age and older and those with underlying health conditions need to stay home.

Schools are closed, some businesses and retail malls are closing, and medical services are establishing strict guidelines on doctor’s visits. Working at home is being initiated by some businesses and others are having to lay off employees. The President and Governors across the nation are working together to address the issue of families having reduced income. If you are having difficulties paying your rent, contact your park manager to discuss the situation.

Please Stay Informed!

California Department of Health www.cdph.ca.gov

Orange County Public Health Department 714) 834-8196 • (714) 834-8180 www.ochealthinfo.com/phs

Riverside County Department of Health (951) 358-5102 • (951) 385-5107 www.rivcoph.org

San Bernardino Health Department (909) 387-6377 • (800) 722-4794 www.sbcounty.gov/dph/

For more information visit: www.cdc.gov/nCoV

Resolving Issues In Your Community

There is a right way and a wrong way to approach dealing with issues within your mobile home park community. The wrong way is to not work with the park ownership and management. The right way is to make the on-site manager aware of the issue and to complete a written suggestion form provided to the manager advising them of the issue. It may also be a good idea to request a meeting with the manager and agree on an approach to resolve the issue and a reasonable amount of time to reach the resolution. Generally, this is all it takes and a problem or issue is “put to bed” to everyone’s satisfaction.

If a resolution is not reached in a timely manner, then it would be appropriate to reach out to the next level of management, which could be a management company supervisor or the park owner to share the details of the issue and to request a meeting.

Taking a positive, pro-active approach to resolving problems and issues is in everyone’s interest. The most important thing is to listen carefully and to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, be thoughtful and reasonable with an attitude that by working together the issue at hand can be resolved.

The last thing you want to do is go to “war” with the management or ownership, and they do not want that either! When things get out of hand, we have seen a resident post a sign in their window saying, “Don’t Move In Here!”, or they post negative comments on social media. Unfortunately that hurts everyone in the park. It has the potential of reducing the value of the homes and discourage perspective home buyers from considering moving into the park.

Mobile home community living is a lifestyle choice. Part of that choice is living with neighbors and working with the management and ownership of the park to preserve and maintain a positive environment and lifestyle.

Can You Get a Loan for a Mobile Home?

Mobile homes can provide the stability and comfort of a traditional home, but at a much lower price. The catch? If you want to buy a mobile home and finance the cost, it can be more difficult than taking out a regular mortgage loan. Here’s what you need to know if you want a mobile home loan.

Is It Hard to Get a Loan for a Mobile Home?

When shopping for a mobile home loan, you might also come across the term “manufactured home.” Mobile and manufactured home loans are essentially the same thing; “mobile homes” are factory-built before June 15, 1976, and “manufactured homes” are mobile homes built after this date.

Manufactured homes are subject to construction and safety standards put in place by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD’s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards regulate thermal protection, plumbing, electrical, fire safety and more.

So how difficult is it to get mobile loans? “Financing a mobile home is more difficult than financing a conventional home, but getting a loan for a mobile home is still feasible,” says Daniela Andreevska, content marketing director at Mashvisor, a real estate data analytics company.

The type of loan you ultimately borrow will depend on a few key factors.

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“When approaching the purchase of a mobile home, you first need to determine whether it’s on a permanent foundation,” says Matthew Yu, vice president of loans and investments at real estate lending and investment firm Socotra Capital. You’ll have more options, including conventional and federally backed mortgage loans, if the home is on a permanent foundation.

Mobile homes that meet certain requirements can qualify for a traditional home loan. In addition to sitting on a foundation, the home needs to have its wheels removed so that it’s stationary, and you should also own the land under it. In most cases, it must be at least 400 square feet in size — sometimes more. If these requirements are met, it qualifies as “real property” and can be financed with a mortgage.

“For manufactured homes financed as real property, the terms are pretty much the same as those for traditional ‘stick-built’ houses,” says Gina Pogol, staff writer for consumer mortgage information website HSH. For example, you can choose a 15-year or 30-year fixed-rate loan. Mortgage rates are about the same, too, although they may be slightly higher because there is less competition for that business, Pogol says.

On the other hand, if the home does not meet the requirements for a mortgage and is movable, you will need to apply for a chattel loan, a type of personal property loan, not a real estate loan, according to Andreevska.

Types of Mobile Home Loans If your manufactured home qualifies as real property, there are a number of mobile and manufactured home loan programs you can consider.

Conventional Mortgage Programs

Fannie Mae. You can borrow a manufactured home loan under the Fannie Mae MH Advantage program, as long as the title includes both the home and the land it’s on. It must also qualify as real property. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages are available, as well as 7/1 and 10/1 adjustable-rate loans. The down payment can be as low as 3%. Some homes are ineligible, including investment properties and single-wide homes.

Freddie Mac. To qualify for a manufactured home loan through Freddie Mac’s program, the home must be considered real property. Fixed-rate mortgages are available, as well as 7/1 and 10/1 ARMs. Both primary residences and second homes qualify, but investment properties don’t. You can put down as little as 5%.

Agency-Backed Mortgage Programs

Federal Housing Administration. FHA Title I and Title II loans are available for manufactured homes. These loans come with terms of up to 30 years and allow for down payments as low as 3.5%.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Some VA lenders allow mobile home financing. VA loans can be used to purchase or refinance a mobile home, plus the lot if you wish; to purchase and improve a lot for your existing mobile home; to refinance a mobile home in order to buy a lot; or to refinance an existing VA mobile home loan. The home must be considered real property with a permanent foundation. It’s possible to finance with no money down and no mortgage insurance, as long as you meet the lender’s credit and income requirements. Loan terms range from 15 to 25 years, depending on the type.

Chattel Mortgage Loan

Another financing option is a chattel loan, which actually is not a type of mortgage but a personal property loan. Chattel loans are designed specifically for movable property, which is what the term “chattel” means. “Chattel loans are usually used when the mobile home will be located in a park or a manufactured home community, and they are home-only loans, excluding the land,” Andreevska says. Because these loans do not include real estate, the closing process is typically faster and less demanding, and the loan processing costs are lower than with a conventional mortgage loan.

However, the amount you can borrow is usually much smaller than with a traditional mortgage. Repayment periods are also usually limited to 15 to 20 years. “Moreover, the interest rate is higher because of the shorter loan period,” Andreevska says. “This means that overall, the monthly payment amounts often actually exceed the payments on a conventional home.”

Installment Agreement

If you’re buying a mobile home from a private owner, it’s also possible to work out a financing deal with them. In this case, you’ll want to be sure that the home’s title is clear, meaning there are no liens or judgments against it, and that the seller owns it outright. You’ll also need to put a promissory note and bill of sale in writing and have both parties sign.

Source: Casey Bond, U.S.News & World Report

Happy New Year! It is 2020!

The holidays enjoyed and are now behind us! It it is time to look forward to another new year and all the promise it will bring. California is enjoying an all-time low unemployment rate and an increase in minimum wage effective January 1, 2020. Southern California Cities and Counties are providing outstanding and extensive services to their residents of all ages.

As an example, most cities have senior centers along with a variety of affordable recreational services including all kinds of classes for pre-school children through seniors. The County of Orange has an extensive Community Investment Division that provides information for job seekers including young adults, seniors, and veterans.

Visit their site at http://www. occommunityservices.org. You can also access all Orange County cities from this site: http://www.ocgov.com/about/infooc/links/oc/occities. Other counties provide similar services.

The County of San Bernardino Department of Aging and Adult services has an extensive list of services that can be accessed at http://hss.sbcounty.gov/daas/. The County of Riverside’s website focuses on Senior, Family and Children services of all kinds. This information may be accessed at: http://dpss.co.riverside.ca.us/.

Another resource is the Rainbow Resource Directories that is a printed directory containing free and low-cost social services for several areas in Southern California. Additionally, the Rainbow Directory offers a California state-wide CD-Rom with more than 20,000 individual listings. To place an order, visit http://www.resourcedirectory.com or call (800) 440-4780.

It is beyond amazing the amount of government and private services are available! We are truly blessed to live in a region with so many resources and jobs!

Mobile Home Owners Are Smart They Enjoy Very Affordable Housing

The vast majority of manufactured home owners living in mobile home park communities in the Southern California region own their homes free and clear. They have either lived in the home long enough to have paid it off or they paid cash when they purchased the home. The only housing costs they have are the utilities, home maintenance, and the rent payment for the land and services provided by the mobile home park where they live.

A typical manufactured home has three bedrooms, two baths, small yard, and covered parking for two cars within a few steps of their home’s door. The mobile home park community where they reside provides amenities such as a clubhouse, pool, spa, and on-site management. Some parks have storage areas for recreational vehicles and other storage.

Living in a mobile home park is a very affordable single family detached dwelling lifestyle choice when compared to the average cost of renting a similar size of apartment with limited parking and privacy. However, it is important to remember that, like other rental housing living, mobile home owners as renters will also receive annual rent increases. Unique to mobile home park communities are long tern leases that spell out annual rent increases for many years to come, which provides mobile home owners the ability to plan for future expenses. n