Category Archives: first time homebuyer

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….

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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..

Not all bank owned properties are created equal….


During 2010 and 2011  most of my work was as a buyers agent for REO’s or bank owned properties…..  One would think they are all the same but they are not…..I know HUD does not like to be considered REO or bank owned by for the purposes of this comparison I will include them in the description.   Bank owned property is property that the bank foreclosed on or took in leiu of foreclosure.   The bank  owns the property and wants it off the books… They often sell at a discount.  More importantly not all bank owned properties are created equal…..

So what types of properties are there?  The are HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, OCWEN, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, IFHA,  Chase…… You get the picture….. Every different bank or entity has a different procedure…Perhaps different areas are different.  I work in the Treasure Valley of Idaho and I serve Ada, Canyon and Boise counties….

It used to be that bank owned properties were typically trashed.  No one would bother to go clean them up.  There would be trash, dog pee, weeds, etc.  This is rarer (except for HUD listings).  Many bank are willing to put money into the listing to sell them quickly and at a higher price.  This is nice for us because we have better homes to show are clients….

First we will start with the government and quasi- government foreclosures…. These include HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and some OCWEN (VA)…. It probably also included rural development but I haven’t worked with those so I wont discuss them.  The really cool thing about HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is they have a owner occupied period for bids.  That means that if you are looking for someone planning to live in the home they have the opportunity to bid and be considered before anyone else.   This is very important because investors often have cash and look better on paper.  It allows people to own the American dream for less… In my area most of these homes that are nice sell before the owner occupied period is up.  Not all bank owned properties are created equal

HUD is part of the federal government…. They make the rules for everyone else but they do not play by those rules… What you see is what you get.  HUD homes are never fixed (at least in my area)…. They wont even fix the property enough to test the systems… Not only that you are not allowed to fix anything either.   This can be very inconvenient.  The homes are listed on the multiple listing service and www.hudhomestore.com.  Your HUD qualified  agent (ME) enters bid.  You have no idea what the others have bid are.  There is no contract (until your bid is accepted).  That is the easy part.  If you are successful with your bid the fun starts.  Your agent writes the contract and has to get their broker and the lender to sign it.   Then the agent has to express mail it and beat the time deadlines.  Any mistakes and HUD threatens and sometimes do cancel the deal.   Most of these homes can have FHA loans because the government did the inspection and appraisal.  If you bid for more then the appraisal you have to pay the difference in cash.  It is usually possible to get 203K loans on these too. They are often a good value but do not  show very well since the government is not willing to make them nice.  It doesn’t matter what the lender requires.  The inspection is either a go or no go….You the buyer have to turn on all the utilities at your expense and then re-winterize the home… Not very fair..We real estate agent used to get an extra 2 % in the Treasure Valley but no more….  It sort of made it worth the hassle.  These homes sales are ulcer producing…. That said I have closed every HUD home that I put under contract.  If anything ever makes me into a Republican it will be dealing with HUD foreclosures… I have gone to my Republican Congressman twice on HUD problems….  This is the same Congressman I ran against in 2008. By the way I am not allowed to use the words distressed, bank owned, REO, foreclosed when describing a HUD property…. HUD thinks these words have a negative connotation.  Not all bank owned properties are created equal

Now we will take a detour and talk about the bidding process on most of the rest of the bank owned properties.  The real estate agent writes the offer on the normal real estate form… I find I can almost always get 3% closing costs but I cant always get price reductions on REO property.   You must have either proof of funds or pre-approval.  The earnest money often has to be a cashiers check (usually for at least $1000).  I often bid with a personal check that will get converted into a cashiers check when I know the title company.  The seller always chooses the title company and often the earnest money is held by the title company or the listing broker.  That is not typical in the Treasure Valley.  If there are multiple offers you asked to submit your highest and best… Your buyer also has to sign a form acknowledging that they are in a multiple offer situation.   If your bid is accepted the bank will send a huge addendum which basically negates the original purchase and sale agreement.  It is a form written in favor of the bank but if you don’t sign it you don’t get the home.  The bank will tell you they wont fix things but they will often do so if the lender requires the fix.   I have even gotten the banks to concede on price for cash deals if the inspection is bad.  You must have an agent that is very confident when dealing with the banks.  These deals require around 2 extra weeks because the the time it takes to get the seller signatures and a the time at the end for the REO bank to approve the HUD-1.  The other thing about these deals is that the buyer signs everything before the seller signs anything.  This means that you can’t have the home inspection until you have seller signatures on the addendum and the sales contract.  If there is a hang up and there are lender required repairs that will also slow down the sale since it has to go to a higher level of management for approval.  Mostly these sales will progress like a normal non-distressed sale.  Not all bank owned properties are created equal

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are quasi-government agencies.  They are backed by the federal government.  Lately Fannie and Freddie are willing to fix a house up in order to sell them.  They sometimes paint, carpet and fix things so the buyer will bid.  There is usually a 15 day first look program for the owner occupied buyers.  They are usually well priced and show better then their HUD counterparts.  Because of the owner occupied first look program they are ideal candidates for owner occupied buyers…. Fannie Mae has a Homepath financing avenue.  This is a 3% owner occupied and 10% investor down rate.  There are fees that are high but there is no private mortgage insurance.  There is also no need for appraisal… Make sure your agent does a market analysis and listen carefully to your inspector.   Freddie Mac’s gimmick is that they give a free 2 year home warranty for owner occupied dwellings.  These will proceed like a normal sale once it is started. My favorite REO’s might be Fannie and Freddie’s.   Not all bank owned properties are created equal.

Wells Fargo and Bank of America both have the annoying feature that you must prequalify with their bank to submit a bid unless you are a cash buyer.  It adds a day to the process and they will offer some incentives for going with their bank but be forewarned these are big banks and they tend to delay closings….  The asset managers do not seem to talk to the mortgage department so being with the same bank doesn’t get the loan closed any quicker.  I also wonder about a conflict of interest.  I had a case where closing was delayed by more than a week because B of A mortgage department wouldn’t put out the closing docs with less then 3 days before closing and the assest manager didn’t want to extend the contract…. My buyer almost pulled out.  These banks are good to take your investor too.  There is no owner occupied period.   Not all bank owned properties are created equal

The other banks will have different quirks.  Small banks work faster at getting the deal done.  IFHA in Idaho is particularly good to work with.  These homes sell and they sell fairly easily.  The buyer usually gets a good price for their new property.

So I hope this helps with understanding some of the differences with different bank owned properties.   If you happen to be in the Treasure Valley of Idaho and want to buy a bank owned property contact Debbie Holmes.  I will get you the best possible deal and I have a lot of experience dealing with different banks.  Because you now know just like me …. Not all bank owned properties are created equal!

New LISTING 722, S Pearl St., Boise, ID 83705


New Listing 722 S. Pearl St. Boise, ID (edit/delete)

722 S. Pearl St., Boise, ID  83705 ,  MLS number 98475211

722 S. Pearl St., Boise, ID 83705

Come home to your beautiful home on the bench.  Gorgeous hardwood floors and tons of natural light.  Updated tiled bathrooms with a great shower in master bathroom.  Lots of storage and built-ins, Pella windows and newer AC.    Delightful family room to play, relax or watch TV.  Two bonus rooms downstairs.  Wonderful covered patio with park like setting with unique fence and two Stor-Mor storage sheds.  Walk to Boise State, downtown, shopping and restaurants!  Close to schools, public pool, freeway, parks and airport.  Normal sale! Make sure you find the Egyptian room in the basement.  NOT REO NOT SHORTSALE!!!  Easy close.  BTVA

This home has 1565 sq ft on the main level.  There are three bedrooms and 2 baths on the main level.  There is also 728  sq ft of basement space  This is a gem with North End charm in a charming area of the Bench.

Call Debbie to see this beautiful home at 761-2551,Email 208-761-2551

Search Boise Homes 

Should you take the leap into home ownership?


There are many people sitting on the fence wondering if and when they should try to buy a home.  The last 3 years has been pretty scary with the high unemployment rate and soft market.  We all know someone for whom the American Dream and become a nightmare.  So why would I want to buy a home in the Treasure Valley?

The first is that the prices are very low.  Most of my buyers are getting very good deals and paying less on their mortgages then they are in rent.   I am getting people into comfortable starter homes for about $600/month with mortgage, insurance and taxes.  The rental values of the homes are around $900/month.

The second would be that you are paying your mortgage not the landlords.  I am a landlord as well as a real estate agent.  My taxes are double what a homeowners would be since I do not get a property tax exemption.   I need to pass that to my tenant to break even.  Your landlord is probably not getting rich.  I bought when the market was higher and lose a little every month on my 5 units.

Third the house is yours and you don’t have to ask anyone if you can have pets, paint, etc….

my pet

Forth I still believe in the American Dream of home ownership.  We take great pride in owning our own home.

Fifth mortgage rates are very low.  You still can get mortgages with very little down.  Call me and I will send you to a good loan officer with many products.

Sixth I think the market has hit bottom.  I could be wrong but houses under $125,000 that are nice are getting multiple offers and the sold price is often higher then the asking price.  This is a sign of turning market.

Well there seem to be a lot of reasons to buy a house.  But the question would be is home ownership right for me?  Why shouldn’t I buy a home?

First if your job isn’t stable or you think you might have to move in the next couple of years (and you don’t want to be a landlord) home ownership might not be right for you.

Second you have lousy credit and cant even manage your cell phone bill…You have things in collection.  Your debt to income ration is very high.

Third  you want someone else to take care of the repairs.

Forth you never have any money left over at the end of the month.

What if I am not sure what I want to do?

The first step would be to contact a Realtor (like me) or a loan officer.  We can explore the market and whether you qualify for a loan.  Then you can weigh your options with more knowledge.

The second step would be to discuss it with your significant other and some friends.  This is an important decision and you need to weigh the options.

If you decide to proceed your Real estate agent and your loan officer (unless you have cash or can find an owner carry)  form the start of your team.  We are professionals.  Other real estate agents hate me for this but I do not recommend signing the buyers representation agreement until I am sure that this is the agent I want to work for.  I usually have my buyers sign one when we are ready to bid on a house.  Others might want it signed sooner.  If you are in the low end of the market (under   $100K) be prepared to bid fast and be competitive.  (the market has changed).

Buying a home is an exciting but somewhat stressful time.  Home ownership is not for everyone but it the right choice for many people My greatest pleasure as an agent is handing my buyers the key to their first home.