Sunday, January 3, 2010

Are most Americans this intolerant towards Islam?

As some of you know, I blog on Active Rain (AR) a group primarily for realtors, mortgage brokers and others in the real estate arena. The site has a number of groups for non real estate discussion (religion, politics, humor, etc). Earlier today a member posted a blog that I am reposting here. Please read it through and comment:

[content to be reviewed deleted]

What are your thoughts on this?

I want open and free commenting, no worry about feelings getting hurt. I'm purposely reposting this here because AR has been cracking down on insults and displays of intolerance, including suspension of members. I respect AR and don't want to put any members in jeopardy.

The floor is open!

Note: this is not an all-access blog. I asked friends and colleagues for their opinions, not the whole world. If you were not on my distro, your comment will not be approved. Sorry.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Would you vote a white candidate for President?

For a number of months now the primaries have largely been devoid of race issues. Sure there's talk of Barack Obama being the 1st President of color, there's was the hiccup of Reverend Wright, but race has not been an overriding factor. I wondered how long it would take for race and/or racism to begin to rear its ugly head. It seems that the recent Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania was its debut, but surprisingly, race seems to have simmered down again. I'm not convinced that it will remain so subdued, inevitably it will reappear before the general election.

It goes without saying that a candidate should be judged by character, not color and that's how many of us would like the populace to vote. However it will not go down solely in that manner. There will be some racial bias....let's call it 'acceptable racial preference' (ARP for short) in which a person might feel a tad more comfortable with one like himself (or herself). Not that this is condoned, rather it is human nature. Look at any election and you'll see people voting for their own kind whether the linkage is race, religion, location, etc,etc. It's not due to a hatred of another as much as it is a comfort. Since this blog is about race, by literal definition, these people could be called racist. However I don't feel it is most appropriate using such a label hence we'll go with ARP.

Looking at the aftermath of the PA primary, the polls said that a number of whites said race was a factor in selecting between Barack and Hillary (this number varies depending on the poll). For the sake of consistency I will use one set of results from the New York Times. Of that 13% of whites who said race was a factor, 75% voted for Clinton. Of the 13% of blacks polled, 4% (I believe this to be 4% of the total, not of the 13%) said race was a factor while the other 9% said that it wasn't. Nevertheless, 91% of blacks voted for Obama - a charge quickly pointed out by those defending the whites who said race was a factor. I'm not here to judge either side because I understand ARP. And particularly so for blacks given that this is the first time that a viable black candidate is on the ballot. In being fair, I also understand white ARP as well. It's only natural. But this talk of race and voting pattern doesn't touch on what really matters and it's not race, it's racism.

It's not so important who one would vote for because of race, rather who that person would NOT vote for due to race. Of the 91% of blacks who are voting for Obama, how many would vote for a white candidate? I don't know the answer, but what I can tell you is that up to 100% of those who have voted in a presidential election in the past have voted for a white person. On the other side, there are many whites who voted for Clinton because because they like her (and possibly because she's white), yet they would vote for a non-white candidate they found viable. The problem (for Obama) is that portion that wouldn't. If Hillary Clinton were a black woman, those same voters would cast elsewhere. This isn't to say there isn't racism by blacks nor is it to exonerate such behavior. Rather it is to highlight that there is a bigger issue of race not being addressed. It is an ugly reality of the election process that's still being swept under the carpet.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The future of US Soccer

Yesterday I caught a portion of the United States game against Poland in the U-20 Championships being held in Montreal and if this is any indication of what is to come, the US is in great shape. Traditionally the US has not performed at the same level as the powerhouses of the world such as Brasil, Argentina or Holland (though the US has done a lot better than many give credit for). Poland, which is a strong soccer nation took the lead 0-1 early in the game with a beatiful feed up the left side which the forward blasted past the US keeper. My first thought was "oh oh". But what would happen next was a real treat for soccer fans.

The US tied it up with a long header off a feed from the right side. Not long afterwards, Freddie Adu delivered one of the nicest goals I've seen in a long time. He ran up the right side and with a defender to his left, ran past the ball, did a 180 turn, collected the ball and curved around the guy. Then he took a shot to the left goalpost past the reach of the goalie but bending right so it hit the inside of the post and into the net. Beckham would have been proud! He added another goal late in the half. Then the US added THREE more goals in the 2nd half to win 6-1. At some stretches I forgot these kids are under 20 years of age! We have another test on Friday against Brasil which will be an indicator as to whether this game was an aberration or the real deal. Let's hope it was the latter!

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Best Way To Improve Credit Scores

The Best Way To Improve Credit Scores

What I am about to share with you is what I believe to be the most valuable tool for credit-challenged people. It’s a website that will give you just about all you need to improve credit.

Our credit scores determine so much for us that one slip up and scores drop. But it’s not as simple as that – the fact is that the three major credit-reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Trans Union are not reliable. For the most part they are merely databases collecting information that creditors provide. So what if the creditors report incorrectly? Well, tough luck! The bureaus go by what they get from creditors and collection agencies.

But we can report errors, right?

Let me tell you what I found out the hard way. In layman’s terms, this is how the conversation goes:

Tchaka: Hey Bureau, Company X is wrong, I was never late on that account.

Bureau: Ok, we will investigate your claim.


Bureau: Company X, was Tchaka ever late on his account?

Company X: Yes, he was 30-days late in November.

Bureau: Thank you.


Bureau: Tchaka, we verified the account and you were 30-days late in November.

Ok, so it doesn’t transpire as a conversation, rather it’s a dispute, electronic transmissions and so forth. But the point I’m making is that the so-called dispute resolution is worthless. The vast majority of the time you get nowhere. One day I might blog about my grandfather’s Amex that showed up on my credit which I disputed. Equifax responded with a letter that says they verified the account and it is mine. Even though the credit report listed my DOB, the month and year the Amex was opened (4 years before I was born) and the fact that my grandfather was no longer alive – it even said account holder deceased on the report. But Equifax deemed it to be my account. Any more questions?

So what’s my secret? Go to and sign up. It’s that simple.

CreditBoards is a bulletin board that has sections including Credit, Mortgage, Automobile Buying/Leasing, Business Credit, Student Loans and so forth. Members share information on how to successfully deal with the bureaus, collection agencies, etc. The days of paying a company $400 to dispute your blemishes are over. The bureaus look out for frivolous disputes so save your money, get on CreditBoards and start reading. I cannot stress this enough. I have sent a number of clients there and will continue to do so. Other loan officers should do the same. Realtors, if you have a credit-challenged buyer, instead of dropping him, refer him to CreditBoards and revisit in 6-months. Chances are you'll be pleasantly surprised.

- Tchaka Owen

PS - Right after posting this, I noticed Julia Segovia (ActiveRain member) also posted on improving scores. Her post is

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Buy or Rent?

With the slowdown in most markets, a common question that potential buyers have is whether to make the plunge and buy or if they should continue to rent. In many cases buying is the right thing to do, but there are situations when continuing to rent is the right choice. This article from the NY Times is a good primer in helping decide which option is he best:

NY Times: Is It Better to Buy or Rent?

I am not suggesting it because I'm featured in it, rather it's an unbiased article by David Leonhardt that aims to help with making the decision. You'll see that although I am a proponent of buying, I nevertheless was featured as a renter - and my reason is explained.

In our business we want to get buyers, however I believe it's best to look out for a client's best interest. And in my opinion, the best is to help them decide for themselves which is best. And I often prescribe this article as a good read.


- Tchaka Owen

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is Closing Your Card The Right Thing?

How many times have you spoken with a person who has climbed out of a financial hole and closed a credit card (or two) in order to increase his/her credit score? I cringe every time I hear that! In most cases it does NOT help your credit score to close off your cards.

The exact formula for determining FICO scores are kept secret but we do know that cards affect those scores and one of the criteria is utilization. In other words, if you have a credit card with a $5000 limit and you’ve charged $4500 on it, it will affect you negatively in comparison to if you’ve only charged $1000 on it. So let’s go back to the when the person is in a financial hole – it’s likely that cards were maxed out. Once the cards are paid off, the utilization is excellent as far as the FICO is concerned. But if you close off the card(s) you now no longer have an underutilized card to help raise your scores. Yet so many potential borrowers are unaware of this.

I even spoke to someone recently who had been advised by one of those ‘credit assistance’ type companies to close off a card she had just paid off. How can such a company be allowed to operate? This woman’s scores would have likely been 20-30 point higher. Please advise your potential clients who find themselves in a similar situation to merely cut their cards but not to close them. Otherwise they’re doing themselves a disservice.

- Tchaka Owen

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I understand the need to create a buzz when writing an article, however I feel some publishers mislead with their headlines. I wrote to Money once over a headline that did not in any way convey the message in the article. The author responded and informed me that the editors did that (I noticed a few hours it was changed). Just this morning I ran into another such scenario:

Look at that headline: Foreclosure rates up big in December

Menacing, isn't it? My first reaction was one of concern - as a loan officer, licensed real estate agent and investor, I prefer to hear positive news. Upon reading the article, I noticed that the second sentence read "The number of homeowners entering into some stage of the foreclosure process in December was 109,652, down 9 percent from November but up 35 percent from December 2005, according to RealtyTrac"

Sure the numbers are much higher than last December, but isn't it more important to look at the trend? The trend is that foreclosures are DOWN 9% from the month before. No wonder the public is on edge and rather scared to buy!!

- Tchaka Owen