Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ethics & the National Association of Mortgage Brokers

Currently serving as president and owner of Viking Real Estate Group in Lafayette, California, Tom Velken has more than 20 years of experience in the acquisition and development of residential and commercial real estate. In order to remain abreast of changes to the local and national real estate markets, Tom Velken engages with professional organizations such, including the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB).

NAMB maintains a code of ethics all members are required to follow. Under the standards set forth by this ethical code, all NAMB members are expected to conduct their professional activities in a respectable and fully transparent manner so that clients never feel misinformed or misled in a business transaction. Furthermore, agents are expected to appreciate the code of ethics relevant to other industries and professions, and should not attempt to interfere with a peer or service provider attempting to uphold these ethics in order to expedite or enhance a serve rendered. 

Honest advertising is another key element of NAMB’s code of ethics. NAMB members should seek to represent their professional experience and the services they provide as accurately as possible in all marketing campaigns. Similarly, clients should always be made fully aware of a member’s relationship to a property, including any pertinent financial claims. Lastly, individuals are expected to follow local and federal law at all times. To review the complete code of ethics, visit NAMB online at www.namb.org.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Positive Mental Effects of Skiing

Monday, November 6, 2017

Historic Bassano del Grappa in the Veneto Region

Based in Lafayette, California, Tom Velken leverages over two decades experience in real estate finance, development, and acquisition to lead Viking Real Estate Group, which he founded in 1995. Having traveled extensively in Italy, Tom Velken’s favorite destinations include Lake Como and Rome, as well as lesser-known sights such as Bassano del Grappa.

Situated near Venice, Bassano marks the spot where Veneto’s fertile agricultural plains rise into the Alps. With archeological finds showing a settlement pattern extending to prehistoric times, the city was known as Bossianus by the Romans and was developed into a fortress in the 10th century AD that ultimately grew into a castle. A covered bridge was constructed around 1200 and reflected growth in commerce in the area.

With a location at a cultural crossroads, Bassano was fiercely contested through the 15th century and taken over by a number of rulers in succession, including the Vicenza, the Scaligeri, and the Milanese Visconti. Its primary products during the prosperous period of Venetian rule were wool, silk, and ceramics.

Today, Bassano is known for its quality grappa, which has been produced in the region since the late 18th century. The hard alcohol is created from parts of the grape left over from the winemaking process. A highlight for many visitors is strolling across the covered pedestrian bridge, which adheres to Andrea Palladio’s 16th-century design.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Striped Bass Fishing in California

Tom Velken, owner and principal at Viking Real Estate in Lafayette, California since 1995, is an experienced real estate professional. A full-service organization, Viking provides real estate investment and finance services. When not working, Tom Velken enjoys fishing and especially for Striped Bass.
California offers arguably the best striped bass opportunities anywhere in the country.  Stripers can be readily caught by recreational anglers during the spring and summer months in the San Francisco Bay and California Delta as well as the Central Valley rivers.  They are widely known as one of the strongest fighting fish found anywhere.
There were originally no striped bass in California. They were introduced from the East Coast, where they are found from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Alabama. The initial introduction took place in 1879, when 132 small bass were brought successfully to California by rail from the Navesink River in New Jersey and released near Martinez. Fish from this lot were caught within a year near Sausalito, Alameda, and Monterey, and others were caught occasionally at scattered places for several years afterwards. There was much concern by the Fish and Game Commission that such a small number of bass might fail to establish the species, so a second introduction of about 300 stripers was made in lower Suisun Bay in 1882.

In a few years, striped bass were being caught in California in large numbers. By 1889, a decade after the first lot of eastern fish had been released, bass were being sold in San Francisco markets. In another 10 years, the commercial net catch alone was averaging well over a million pounds a year. In 1935, however, all commercial fishing for striped bass was stopped in the belief that this would enhance the sport fishery.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Visiting Bellagio on the Shores of Lake Como

Tom Velken is the founder of Viking Real Estate Group, a full-service real estate investment company based in Lafayette, California. In his capacity as a company principal, he works directly with clients and engages in management tasks. During his leisure time, Tom Velken enjoys traveling with his family. He has visited the Lake Como region of Italy. 

The Rhaetian Alps frame Lake Como, which is one of Italy's beautiful attractions. Villages dot the shores of the Y-shaped lake, and one of them, Bellagio, has notable features that include steep cobblestone staircases, colorful dwellings, and bright gardens. 

Another attraction in this picture-perfect village is i Giardini di Villa Melzi, a tranquil park that offers unforgettable views of Lake Como. Moreover, the Basilica di San Giacomo gives visitors a taste of Italy's rich religious history, and a day of kayaking on the lake should appeal to adventurous travelers. 

Bellagio has a wide selection of restaurants, hotels, and other tourist amenities. Travelers are encouraged to visit in the middle of the week since Bellagio tends to be crowded over weekends.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Three Benefits to Becoming a NAMB Member

A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Tom Velken founded Viking Real Estate Group in 1995. Since then, he has completed hundreds of investment deals totaling over $200 million. Beyond growing his own company, Tom Velken actively supports the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB), of which he is a member. 

NAMB membership includes a variety of benefits for real estate professionals; three of which are listed below.

1. Education: The NAMB Education Committee provides numerous courses through national and state association events throughout the country. Respected industry leaders head introductory and theme-specific classes.

2. Certification: In addition to continuing education courses, NAMB offers three different levels of certification for mortgage professionals to advance their career. The organization's highest level of certification is the Certified Mortgage Consultant, which designates professionals as industry leaders.

3. Conferences: Yearly NAMB conferences offer networking opportunities, professional development courses, and insight into the industry’s latest technology.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sherpa-Improved Trail Steps in Norway

Based in Lafayette, California, Tom Velken serves as president and owner of Viking Real Estate Group, a real estate agency assisting individuals and companies in the acquisition and financing of their individually held real estate investments. When he's not working, Tom Velken spends time traveling. In June 2016 he ventured to Norway, where he hiked in the mountains above the Sorfjorden village of Reidsete. The trail head which leads up to the Folgafonna glacier has been partially fortified with stone steps recently reconstructed by Sherpas. On the other side of the Sorfjorden, near the city of Odda, the Sherpas have also worked on the more famous Trolltunga trail.

According to an article on the website, The Norwegian American, Sherpas first began working in Norway in 2000 and have built paths and stairways in over 100 different Norwegian locations. Much of their work has been filmed by a documentary team from national broadcaster NRK, who interviewed a number of the Nepalese mountaineers.

“The film sets out to show the trails seen by the Sherpas in Norway,” filmmaker Jannicke Farstad told NRK. “I’m not sure people realize how much they’ve contributed to the country. “We also wanted to find out what it means for Nepal that the Sherpas come here to work.”

According to the article, Farstad told NRK that she had personally witnessed the effects of the Sherpas’ Norwegian wages in Nepal, particularly after the April 2015 earthquake in which over 8,000 lives were lost.

But it is not just the potential for earning a wage several times larger than would be earned at home, according to the Sherpas themselves, who spend between seven months and a year working on the Norwegian paths.

“Money comes and goes. The things we have learnt in Norway will be with us for the rest of our lives. I feel like we are creating history. One day, my grandchildren will be able to come to Norway and see what we have built,” Nima Sherpa told NRK.