HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!  2018, HERE WE COME!

Hope 2017 was prosperous for you and your family.  There should be a lot of new things brewing in 2018.  For one, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and FHA increased their limits from $424,100 to $453,100 on conforming loans and $636,150 to $679,650 on high balance conforming loans.  This will help many folks get a better rate than doing a Jumbo loan.

Also some more good news is that I've found a JUMBO lender that I can now compete with the big banks with.  Offering those low rates and interest only loans.

Another big piece of news is that the Fed has been talking about phasing out the LIBOR index and replacing it with something else.  So here is what I've found out:

Changing from LIBOR to SOFR according to the ARRC.

First some history. The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) recommended in its 2014 Annual Report and The Financial Stability Board (FSB) In response to the FSOC's recommendations and the objectives, the Federal Reserve convened the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) on November 17, 2014

The Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) has chosen the Secured Overnight Financing Rate or SOFR. According to their notes: “The ARRC hosted a roundtable at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on November 2, 2017. The event covered the work of the ARRC, including its recommendation of the Secured Overnight Financing Rate as a robust alternative rate to U.S. dollar LIBOR”

If you haven’t heard of it before you may begin to see it by mid-2018. ARRC believes the trading reference SOFR will begin by the end of 2018. Hopefully providing years of data before the retiring of the LIBOR. This does not mean that LIBOR goes away in 2021 and may continue for years. However, it will be used less and less as time goes on. “Of course, LIBOR may remain viable well past 2021, but we do not think that market participants can safely assume that it will.” Said Governor Jerome Powell (a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors) and probable replacement for Fed. Chair Janet Yellen when she steps down Feb 3rd.

Below is an article from one of my good friends, Jeff Hacker, Attorney about some new laws affecting employers in 2018, please take a moment to read this.

HACKER LAW GROUP Attorney and Counselor at Law

26650 The Old Road / Suite 201 / Valencia, CA 91381 / Phone: (661) 259-6800 / FAX: (661) 259-6836

               A Synopsis of Some of the New 2018 Laws

There are a lot of new laws affecting Employers effective January 01, 2018. These are:

An Employee’s minimum wage will be increased to $11 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees.  To be considered exempt from overtime, exempt employees must be paid an annual salary of at least $45,760 if there are 26 or more employees and $43,680 for employers who employ less than 26 employees.

Businesses with 20 or more employees must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave to bond with a new child within 1 year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care. The eligibility requirements are: being employed for more than 12 months; working no less than 1250 hours during that 12-month period; and working at a job site where 20 or more employees work within a 75-mile radius.

An employer who has 5 or more employees cannot ask an applicant about his or her criminal history on a job application. No inquiry of a prospective employee’s select criminal history can be made until a conditional offer of employment has been made to the applicant. Any preliminary decision by an employer not to hire the prospective employee because of a criminal history requires written notice to the prospective employee who must then be afforded the opportunity to respond. There are also specific timelines and procedures for the employer to follow. The employer must consider any information submitted by the applicant before making a final hiring decision.

An employer with more than 50 employees has to offer expanded sexual harassment training every 2 years that includes a discussion regarding gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Employers must also display a poster on transgender rights that is currently being developed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

An employer can no longer ask about an applicant’s salary history including compensation and benefits. An employer cannot rely on a job applicant’s salary history information in determining whether to hire the applicant. The law also bans an employer from using a third party, such as an employment agency, to find out salary information. However, an employer can consider any salary history volunteered by the applicant. If a reasonable request is made by the applicant, the employer has to furnish the applicant with pay-scale information.

The Labor Commissioner’s authority has been expanded. The Commissioner now has the expanded authority in investigating claims of retaliation in the work-place. The Commissioner can now investigate claims of retaliation even without a complaint from an employee. The Commissioner can obtain a court order prohibiting an employer from terminating or disciplining the employee even before completing its investigation or determining whether retaliation occurred. The Commissioner can penalize employers $100 per day up to a maximum of $20,000 for the willful refusal to comply with an order or reinstate or restore an employee or an order to post a notice to employees.

Some other laws of interest include:

A general contractor will now be responsible for the unpaid wages, benefits, or contributions of a subcontractor’s employees or laborers. However, the general contractor is authorized to request payroll records from subcontractors to confirm that wages and other benefits or contributions are made

On a more general note, effective January 01, alcohol manufacturers and licensed sellers can offer free rides or discounted rider rates to transport consumers home after having a little too much to drink. The rides are to be from ride-sharing services, taxi’s, or other providers. However, the rides or any offers or rides cannot be used as an incentive by the alcohol manufacturers as an inducement for consumers to buy their product.

There are also new recreational laws going into effect regarding the use of marijuana. Proposition 64 was passed by the voters and goes into effect after the first of the year. The voter initiative allows for the recreational use of pot for people 21 or older. You will now be permitted to possess, transport, and share up to an ounce of pot and 8 grams of cannabis concentrate, as well as growing up to 6 plants at home. Thank you and I hope you find this information helpful. Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

 

Economy/Money:
image How to make money: 11 tips to learn how to invest your capital

Are you interested in doing more with your money than just adding a few dollars to your Savings here and there? Learn how to invest! Investing will give you a bigger return than the typical savings account and the money you make can be used for paying off loans, building an emergency fund, or even a dream vacation!

Click here to watch the video from ArticleBiz

Brian Tracy Inspirational Article of the Month:
image 5 Time Wasters At Work That Are Killing Your Productivity

Tired of feeling like you can't get any work done at work? You're not the only one. There are several time-wasting activities that we engage in which we don't even realize are distractions. Do you answer every email as it comes in? Try setting aside a chunk of time to dedicate to emails each day and focus the rest of your time on other tasks.

Click here to read the full article by Brian Tracy

Interesting Articles and Photos of the Month:
image 5 Benefits of Raising Pets With Children

Our pets become as much a part of the family as any other member and kids often grow the strongest bonds with our furry friends. There are many great reasons to raise pets alongside children including building their sense of responsibility, an increased activity level, and framing a sense of empathy. Did you have a pet growing up?

Click here to read the full article by Ezine Articles
image Food Substitutes That Will Make You Feel Less Guilty

It's officially 2018 which means New Year's Resolutions are in full swing! Eating more healthily is one of the most common resolutions because it means bettering yourself on the inside and out. Make eating healthy a bit easier on yourself by swapping out these foods for less guilt-inducing alternatives!

Click here to view the full infographic by Daily Infographic
image Take Preventive Steps to Avoid Frozen Pipes

Did you know that damage caused by frozen pipes is the second most common home insurance claim during the frigid winter months? Do your part to prevent this avoidable claim by implementing these practical tips!

Click here to read the full article by NewsUSA

Videos of the Month:
image Top 10 Foods That Originally Looked Totally Different

Would you be surprised to find out that the eggplant was originally small, round, and white? Makes sense now why it would be called an "egg plant"! In fact, dozens of foods look completely different now from their original wild ancestors. What did your favorite food used to look like hundreds of years ago?

Click here to watch the video by Be Amazed
image Why Can’t We Live On The Moon?

We've been thinking about inhabiting the moon for decades. Plenty of TV shows and movies have given us a fantastical glimpse of what the future may hold, but just how possible is living on the moon, really? As it stands right now: not so much. But who knows where technology will be in 3018!

Click here to watch the video by Life Noggin
image Deer Meets Snowman And Devours Him

This deer seemingly just wanted to make friends - that is until she got a taste of this poor snowman's nose! Up one minute and down the next, the snowman didn't stand a chance. Also, the deer was not about to share her scrumptious find with the second deer that came poking about. The snowman needed a haircut anyway...

Click here to watch the video by The Dodo

Delicious Recipe of the Month:
image Blackened Salmon Tacos with Chunky Mango Avocado Salsa

Trying to eat more healthily but are tired of eating twigs and berries? You don't need to sacrifice flavor to have a meal that's good for you! Salmon seasoned with seafood seasoning and chili powder serves as a delicious foundation to a low-carb, high-flavor meal. Topped off with a colorful mango salsa; you've got yourself a satisfying lunch or dinner for any time of year!

Click here for the full recipe from Allrecipes

Dumb Criminal of the Month:
image Man fleeing police drives off Astoria dock

The police pursuing Timofey Erofeeff figured he'd stop his truck when he realized he'd come to the end of the pier. Nope! Watch this dumb criminal drive right into the wintry water and then actually try to swim away. The lake was so cold he had to swim back, get rescued, and go to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia. Here's to hoping he learned his lesson!

Click here to watch the full video from KGW News