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Feb. 13, 2020

Some 70,000 Valentines sent to 104-year-old in tribute to military veterans

Boxes containing thousands of Valentine’s Day cards sent to Major Bill White at his home in Stockton
By Nathan Frandino

STOCKTON, Calif. (Reuters) - William White, a 104-year-old U.S. Marine veteran who earned a Purple Heart in World War Two, is celebrating Valentine's Day this year like never before, surrounded by a mountain of 70,000 love letters and well-wishes sent from all over the world. 

The cards and notes to "Major Bill," a retired major who lives in an assisted living facility in Stockton, California, began pouring in after a fellow resident launched a social media campaign called "Operation Valentine," asking friends and strangers alike to send greetings to honor White. 

At the outset, the goal was a modest 100 cards - about one for every one of White's birthdays - but the response has outstripped all expectations. 

"It's just too fantastic," said White, surrounded by waist-high stacks of postal boxes filled with cards.

On a recent day, White's great-granddaughter Abigail Sawyer, 9, delivered a bundle of cards from her fourth grade class, many of them decorated with the American flag.

A week before Valentine's Day, which lands on Friday this year, at least 70,000 pieces of correspondence had arrived from people in every U.S. state and several foreign countries.

So much mail has been delivered that White's family has had to enlist volunteers to help open the cards and read the warm wishes to White, who retired after 35 years of active service, including time in the Pacific theater of WWII, when he was wounded at Iwo Jima. 

For those sending Valentines, White represents something bigger than himself. Many of them have conveyed a deep appreciation not only to White for his service, but to all veterans who died too soon to hear their gratitude. 

A woman identified only as Jane told White that her late grandfather also fought in World War Two as a U.S. Army paratrooper. Had he lived, she said, he would be turning 100 years old this year.

"I miss him so much," she wrote. "By sending you this card, I feel as though I am sending my grandfather a card."

It's all new to White, who said he never really celebrated Valentine's Day, even when his wife of 42 years was alive.

"It's something I've never heard of or seen," White said. "All of a sudden here, like a ton of bricks. I'm sort of speechless."


(Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Frank McGurty and Chizu Nomiyama)


Posted in Blog, Good News
Feb. 13, 2020

Home Price Hikes Widen Sellers’ Advantage

February 12, 2020

The majority of metro areas saw home prices rise in the final quarter of 2019 as housing inventories remained constrained and buyer demand stayed high, 
according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest quarterly report.

Median single-family home prices rose annually in 94% of the markets NAR tracked in the fourth quarter, or 170 of 180 metro areas. The national median existing single-family home price was $274,900, a 6.6% increase from the fourth quarter of 2018, NAR reported.

“It is challenging—especially for those potential buyers—where we have a good economy, low interest rates, and a soaring stock market, yet are finding very few homes available for sale,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “We saw prices increase during every quarter of 2019 above wage growth.”

Median home prices were highest in the Western region of the U.S., at $413,500. They were the least expensive in the Midwest, with a median of $210,200.

Eighteen metro areas posted double-digit price increases in the fourth quarter, led by Trenton, N.J. (18.2%); Boise City-Nampa, Idaho (13.7%); Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss. (11.8%); Kingston, N.Y. (11.2%); and Albuquerque, N.M. (11.1%).

“Rising home values typically create wealth gains for existing homeowners … however, areas that are deemed ‘too expensive’ will obviously have trouble attracting residents and companies looking to do business there,” Yun says. “We need a good balance that benefits both current and future homeowners, but right now, the balance is still in favor of home sellers.”

Still, buyers are finding falling mortgage rates are helping somewhat in easing housing affordability woes lately. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.76% in the fourth quarter, down from 4.95% a year ago. “Because of the lower mortgage payment, the income needed for a family to afford a mortgage decreased to $48,960 from $52,896 one year ago,” NAR noted in its study.

But housing shortages abound, which means buyers are having fewer choices of homes for sale. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, 1.4 million existing homes were available for sale. That is 8.5% less than a year prior, NAR reports.

Posted in Blog, Market Updates
July 31, 2017

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Posted in Market Updates