Gas water heaters in manufactured homes and inspectors…

A couple of days ago I wrote about a problem I was having with an inspector.   It wasn’t the one I usually use.  The basic problem is that the inspector did not seem to understand about code for manufactured homes.  This created quite a problem and a lot of stress on the seller, the buyer and the real estate agents.  When I called him I told him it was a mobile home in a park and he indicated that would be fine.  Well it just wasn’t.

He carefully brought my buyer, her mom and grandparents and explained that there was no gap between the top of the water heater and the pipe.   He went on to explain that this wasn’t to code and was dangerous.  This was very upsetting to the seller who had her inspection report from 2004.  I found that confusing so I decided to investigate on Monday.  First thing I found the unit for sale in a couple of places.  I  emailed the inspector with the link and asked him if the code could be different.  He admitted that he didn’t do very many of these things so I should call a plumber.  Later he called a a guy from roto rooter and he basically stood his ground.  The AC guy came to fix the air conditioner and looked at the water heater and said it was just fine.  This is exactly the way it is supposed to be and it’s to code.  Because I am thorough (anal) I called Champion and they indicated this was as it should be.  I also called my plumber and he came up with the same thing and gave me a  lesson in water heaters for manufactured homes.  This water heater is to code.  To have a gas fired water heater in a manufactured home you need one that is approved for a manufactured home. If we did what the inspector wanted us to do we would have ruined the system and made the water heater dangerous.

Just in case you want to know the water heater takes the air from below and it is called a self contained system.  They cost around $800 new instead of $400 new.  You can convert to electric when it breaks and avoid the whole problem.


Now this puts me in a bad position because I recommended this inspector then basically had to get other opinions.  I have homes inspected to make sure they are safe and sound.  I am now in a position that I gave an opinion that I am not qualified to give after consulting and I have obtained written documentation from experts.  Our buyer was upset.. The sellers were upset.. My partner and I were upset..

The lesson I learned was when you have a different type of home it is important to ask if they do enough of these homes to inspect them.  My inspector created at least 10 extra hours for me.  I also suspect some other problems he pointed out might have something to do with it being a manufactured home.


Scary weather makes for a scary showing

I got the call on a beautiful warm day to show a home in the mountains.  When I read the listing it turned out the home had multiple offers on it and the bank was going to closing bidding tomorrow at noon.  So I scheduled to meat my client up at 5:30 PM and drive to Clearcreek, Idaho…. It might not be on the map but it sort of near Idaho City. 

The drive up is breathtakingly beautiful.  I felt very fortunate to have an excuse to leave the city and go to the mountains.  THe first problem is that the listing direction are just plain wrong and there are absolutely no signs…. That is just rude… If people are going to drive an hour each way where the cell phones don’t work you should at least put in accurate directions… My buyers are Search and Rescue Volunteers (which is important later)…  We drive about 5 miles out of Clearcreek  and we still don’t find the turn off… I backtrack back to the little cafe/bar I saw.  I go inside the friendly smokey bar armed with my cowboy hat, a smile and my listing.   The barmaid rolls her eyes and says “that house”.  She then draws me a map to get the home… Sad thing is that I do not own a 4 wheel drive so we are driving in my rear wheel Lincoln Town Car.  I know to take a 4 wheel drive to the mountains but I just don’t own one.  I take it slow and we get to the home…Here are some pictures of the views and the brewing storm.


View from porchView from porch


I take the pictures because it is beautiful…. Idaho at its best!  Then things change quickly.  I use the keys to enter the house and test the lights…. They work!  Yeah!  For 30 seconds until a big gust of wind comes up and the power goes away….We explore the house and the wind is starting to sound scary… It is really blowing hard and there are a lot of trees….After all we are at the top of a big  hill in the mountains….  I suggest that we stay inside and explore the outbuildings after the wind has passed.  Unfortunately for me my buyers are in a hurry… So I go armed with the keys and open the shed and the garage…. The garage roof is lifting up in the wind… And I hear an eerie crackling sound that I can’t identify….It sounds like thunder but somehow I know its not… I really want to get back into the 30 year old home where I feel we will be safe…. I try real hard not to show that I am scared…   Then I hear the earie  noise again and watch a 100 ft tall Ponderosa pine fall down… Now I know what a tree falling in the forest sounds like…. I hope not hear that sound again in this life…

When we get back to the house I suggest that we stay there until the storm ends.  I do not want to drive in the wind with trees falling down…  OK I admit it I am a wimp with a capital W.  My female half of the buyers looks annoyed because she has a long drive starting at 4 AM.  So I get in the car… The male half of my buyers clears the debris out of the road 3 times before we are stopped by the big tree in the middle of the road that is to big to move without  a chain saw…  By now I am thinking about the weird hazards of being a real estate agent… Here are some pictures…

debree  in the roadmore debree in the road

big tree down

They try to move the tree but it is too big.. I suggest we get in the car and talk to the neighbors… They want to stay near the trees.  They assure me they know what they are doing but I am thinking that the trees were standing on the way in.  I go to find help.  At the second place a lady answers the door.  She says they have a chain saw but they are not going out until the storms over.  I agree with her.  She tells me there is another way around and I might be able to leave.  I ask if she has a phone and she does if the line is still working. She says she has never seen it like this in the 15 years she has lived in Clearcreek.  I go pick up my buyers (who seemed to have decided maybe I was right because they were standing further up the road (away from the trees).  I pick them up.  The road past the house is not made for a Town Car… It is definitely a 4 wheel drive truck or suv territory.  The guy tells me I have to take it fast.  I tell him I cant but he is welcome to drive since I do not know how to drive my car in these road conditions.  He does a great job.  On the way we see a mobile home with its shingles ripped off and a very sad looking man staring at his mobile home.  There are more trees down but they are not blocking the road.  I tell them we need to stop by the cafe to let them know about the tree down in the road.  I do not have to… I first see the barmaid and a collection of trucks go by…. One man is leaving the bar (which now is empty) with a chain saw in his hand.  Those who live in the mountains need to fend for themselves I bet they had that tree cleared within the half hour. 

The last scary bit happens.. shortly past the bar there are 2 power lines down.  I look at my buyers and say we need to wait.  They tell me I can get around it.  He shows me how to safely maneuver my car under the power lines but my thoughts are not nice.  I do not know if the power lines are live…. If the people weren’t rescuers I definitely would have stood my ground.  I was quite pleased when I hit highway 21.  On the way home we saw more downed trees (but not in the road) and an overturned porta potty.  

This has been my scariest house showing ever. 

You know you are about to take a trip when the phone starts ringing

You know you are about to take a trip when the phone starts ringing and you have more to do than time to do it in…. Wish me luck… May the phone start ringing so I can pay for my trip to China!

I am going to Beijing to see my son and GF! This is going to be so much fun and so interesting… I now have to make lists because as we all know business picks up when you are about to go away… So far I don’t have to refer any business out but I think I will be busy. I have people who can cover for me while I am away. The trip is from MAY 14-28… Right after hubby grades his last final at Boise State University. Yes Professors and their spouses get excited when the term ends too!

I am really mad at CBH homes

I am mentoring another agent.  Her client is trying to build a new home from CBH homes.  They walked into the office and worked out the contract with the CBH agent the terms of the contract.  The sellers agent wrote the contract up with $1500 in the design studio (for upgrades).  We never had a chance to set the terms of the offer since it was complete and our clients had agreed to those terms.  Our clients signed the offer and they countered taking away this money.   This seems to me to be bait and switch.  If we had asked for this it would have been fine for them to counter but they wrote the contract not us.  I am advising that we counter with that money in.  The kids are afraid of losing the contract but they really could use the money so they can have things a house SHOULD have standard… Like a non shallow sink…. A closet door…. A 6 lb carpet pad….

Selling a build job for the first time…

For the first time in my 6 .5 years as a real estate agent I helped a couple write an offer on a build job.  It was sort of interesting on many counts.

1) I am helping a brand new agent out (who I am partnering with) and so technically I just referred it to her…. Well actually she got the client but it is a way to pay me for my expertise…

2) I spent a lot of time researching CBH homes and reading a new type of contract….

3) The biggest problem that buyers seems to run into is that they make the contract and that seems to be a base price.  Then you go to the design studio and pick your colors and upgrades… This can add to the price of the final home.  The couple had already picked some upgrades…We encouraged the couple to go the design studio in the next day or so before they were well underway…

4) Being me I started to worry that they might get a very basic home because they wouldn’t be able to afford the upgrades that they wanted… I am a bit reassured but when we went house hunting they seemed to love vaulted ceilings and that is an upgrade… I think that it might even be one worth paying for…

5)  I never have actually partnered with another agent officially.  This will hopefully be the first of many deals we do together…

6) The couple like the idea of picking everything… This is the obvious good part of buying a new home…

Hopefully everything will go smoothly.  I made sure the couple knew that we were looking out for their best interest.. The other agent works for the builder and represents the builder. Going totally with the builders agent is like letting your husbands divorce attorney write your paperwork….

These are Debbie”s thoughts for the day..


I just closed a deal on 1430 Leadville in Boise, Idaho.  This deal was interesting for several reasons.

1430 Leadville, Boise, ID 83706

The buyers daughter called me from an internet website.  She was looking for a home for her parents to buy as an investment/home for her during college.  It was very important to them that it in walking distance to the college.  She had 3 friends she wanted to live with.  Later I spoke to the mother.  We looked at other homes but this was the one the daughter wanted.  It had been on the market for 11 months.  I suggested they get a preapproval letter from USAA (not my usual loan company) and we bid on the house.  It turned out the sellers were military people who were living in Korea…  Because of the 16 hour time difference the negotiations took about a week.   The sellers seemed a bit difficult on the price.  It is hard because they had put $40K into it and basically wasn’t getting any back.

Frankly I was very worried about the appraisal.  I knew it was unique because of its proximaty to the campus but it was still a small older home.  My buyers were adament about not paying for the appraisal….So were the sellers…. Eventually we came to terms….. The wife wanted hubby to go out on closing day.  I  was hoping he would come out in the inspection period.  As closing approached USAA had a hiccup.  I am not sure why the hiccup didn’t show at the beginning.  If I had used my loan officers they would have had the problem solved before the loan letter was given.  On Friday at 5 PM we cleared underwriting….

Since we were using my favorite title person, Diana Stork, Title One I asked her to send out the docs that needed to be notarized ahead of time to the sellers in Korea.  This worked.  They signed on Monday (in Korea) and sent back the docs which arrived today (Wed.).   Without that forethought it would have taken several more days for the deal to close.

Meanwhile the buyers sign on Monday…. Dad arrived at noon… All the docs have to arrive in Boise today…. By some miricle everything worked….

I don’t believe in omens but I took the fact that I was rear ended this morning as a bad sign for the day.  Nobody was hurt but my car…My pretty 2001 Lincoln Town car that I put my clients in….

My fellow agent that I am mentoring showed up just in time for me to make the final phone calls to let the buyers know it closed…. I am definatly a happy agent with happy clients…

I must admit that I was a little nervous that dad might not like the home but he did!

Problems with section 8 tenant

I like to believe people will improve themselves.  Most of my section 8 people (and I have had 4 tenants on section 8)  do there best.   They have fallen on hard times.  It is difficult to acquire the section 8 voucher.  The waiting list is over 3 years here in Ada County and they are not accepting new applicants.  When one thinks about this it is very scary.  Someone needed help 3 years ago and they still need it. I would imagine that many people have solved their problems by the time they are off the wait list.

About 1.5 years ago I met a pleasant single mom of three kids who just got her voucher.  She was particularly excited because the hovel she was living in was in foreclosure.  I approached the landlady and it was indeed a hovel and it was in foreclosure.  The landlady didn’t want to short sale so I wished her well.  The single mom was a full time student with a small work study job on campus.  I liked her and wanted to give her chance.  I signed a lease with her.   After a while the work study job disappeared… Later I found out she had quit school….I could see that she and her kids were not the easiest tenants on the home but I figured it didn’t matter when she left the home would still need painting.  Then she kept getting jobs and losing them.  The voucher changed in January and it has been hell ever since.

See on section 8 the government pays a portion of the rent and the tenant pays a portion of the rent.  She never seemed to have her portion.  This worked great when the government was paying all her rent but not so well when she had a portion to pay.  I have had to chase her down every month since January.  So far I get my rent but it is late and I am expending a lot of effort to get it done.  She is not keeping me informed.  Last March she lost another job again.  I think for cause.  She took weeks to follow through with the paperwork to get the full voucher back.  She seems to have a “brother” living with her.  Housing came back and will give her a full voucher for May but she still owes me $416 for April.  I now need to collect this money from her. I am going to suggest she ask her friends and “relatives” or her church.  I know I should just evict her but I do not really want to (or have time) to fix the floors (not her fault) and paint before I go to China.  I also worry about the 3 kids… I know they are not my problem.  If the city will pay I will wait until the next crisis on the theory I could lose 2 months rent to get the $416.  Of course I cannot give her a good reference…

Mostly I am VERY ANGRY with her.  These vouchers are hard to come by and she does not deserve this voucher.  All she had to do is go to housing and fill out some forms.  I am sad because I was rooting for her to succeed.  I know that not everyone will succeed but she seemed to be trying so hard when she moved in.  I am MAD that I have had to waste a lot of my time chasing her down.  My time is VALUABLE.  I do not know why she seems so flaky these days… I could guess but the answers are not pretty.  This woman has a chance to raise her kids in a nice 3 bedroom,2 bath single family home and doesn’t seem to care.  Or else she think because I am a liberal Democrat I will let her stay there forever without evicting her.  She is actually wrong.   I will if I have to and I will feel awful for the 3 kids in her care.   I am not sure a mother who wont fill out paperwork deserves the Voucher or the kids… Maybe it would be easier being cynical… I would have expected nothing less…


Signed me Debbie Homes, depressed and annoyed landlord.

The Market has turned in Boise, Idaho

The market has turned in Boise Idaho…

This spring has been tough for me… The market seems to be a sellers market… The prices at the low end of the market have gone up and there are multiple offers… I am having trouble locating property for my first time homebuyers. I am looking into special city programs… Last year when I pulled up homes under $120K there were 40 or 50 of them with the 3 bed. 1.5 bath… Today there are 4… Since I seem to specialize in that market it is hard but I am working hard to find creative solutions for my buyers… I have made several offers for different clients (some above asking price) and only have one succeed. I am educating my buyers ab out the change in the market.

On the listing side things seem to be good. I had to pull a listing for repairs and I kept it off for the 31 days so it showed as new. I had an offer on day 1. I ran an open house where 20 family units came through. I settled on Sunday and before I could put it pending I had 2 realtors call me wanting to put in offers. I had more activity in 4 days then I had in 3 months. I also settled for much higher then the other contract. This tells me the market is changing.

It will be an interesting time for me. I have never worked in an up market. I went into real estate just as the market started to flatten out. I am really good in a down market. I need to see if I can work a up market.

So if you want a great agent who works hard give Debbie Holmes a call.

I’m back to blogging again….

Hi!  I am mostly posting this because I seem to have taken a break from blogging…. I was blogging about everything and I sort of stopped for a few weeks… Maybe I needed the break…. I have been doing a bunch of stuff.

Some real estate, some politics and some spreadsheet work. I have had a tough start of the year with many random events hurting my business…. I had the suitcase full of cash, a buyer with heart surgery, a bad inspection,dad’s small stroke, dad’s research project …. Those type of things… Normally I do great but I guess after a while I didn’t want to talk about it… Or maybe its just the tail end of winter….

Well I am still selling houses in Boise, Idaho…. I have a couple of buyer leads….I thought about running for office again…. I sold the house after repairs quickly and for more than the last contract… So I guess what I want to say is that I am back in the game and trying to work up enthusiasm.


Tax Time…. TGF Turbotax

To busy doing taxes so here is stuff on the taxes from my facebook page:


I go in to the valley of darkness… I will work on my taxes…. I will put numbers into turbotax and it will spit out what I get back or pay…. I am pretty sure I get the money back….I am cross… The black cloud of taxes settle on me…I fear no evil because turbotax is with me…


‎12 hours later and still working on taxes…. 1 business, 4 rentals, salary and kids in college and it is very confusing…. I accidentally deleted one of my rental houses….I need the info from my broker (which he gave me and I cant find) plus one of the rentals tax forms….I am also suffering because my purse was stolen and my accounts were changed……
Woke up energetic…..Made some real progress…. Found some unexpected money in the form of checks….. I thought it was being reinvested…. I think I want all checks to be direct deposited… I also think I will again pay no federal taxes….Seems strange that when I crunch the numbers I pay no taxes……Still waiting for Charles Scwhab…. Annoying people wont get me my 1099 until Wed…. I walk through the valley of taxes I will fear no evil for I have Turbotax….