Category Archives: Personal

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!

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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.

Last day before Dad and Cheryll leave for Israel… And the research project.


OK I now have spent a week on Calcudos (Dad’s research project) and very little time on my business… Some of the work is finished but there is going to be a lot of work while dad is traveling.  They offered to take me but as a landlord I am loath to leave when the rent is due.   It is hard to leave in this business but if they need me I could go later.  My housemate and I have worked very hard with dad and the programmer.  Yesterday we tested the program and came up with user suggestions.  I also found an error on calculating age.  We are going to be asking the doctors to use the program voluntarily and it must be as user friendly as possible…. I can only make suggestions since I do not know how to program.  I am a spreadsheet whiz and a scientist but not a programmer.  I did succeed in getting a lot of redundant entry gone (or at least I hope I did).  I was asked why I didn’t do this 6 months ago and I said I hadn’t worked the program 6 months ago.   I have until 11 AM to call my own since I am the only one involved that gets up in the morning…. OK that is an exaggeration but they are set to meet at 11 AM and I will have been to my office and kept my coffee appointment by then.

I think my housemate has some really great ideas and could be very useful if we get to the stage that the program is making a profit.  She has already suggested grant writing.  We just have to make sure dad has control of the project.  The problem is that if something happens to dad the project will not ever move forward.  With the right resources this could help in medical practice and help hold down medical costs.   The work is worthy….

Well we will see what happens…. If I am going to get to my office today I sort of have to go NOW….

Felt like I was in grad school or back on the campaign again.


Yesterday was a strange day of playing with antibiotics and formularies…. Then I got to play with spreadsheets as my father, myself and my housemate worked hard during the sabbath…. Our programmer is very religious and we had until past sundown to get the work done…. It gave us a long patch of time and we accomplished the tasks that was set for us.  During this time I fielded a couple of real estate calls and even looked at a property for a client.  I never thought I would find real estate a welcome break…

All this work was done around my dining table.  We could spread our work out and use all the computers…. This seemed like a big research meeting or some of the campaign discussions we had during  my run for Congress… I made dad buy pizza since everyone who was likely to cook was busy in spreadsheets.. Finally the sun came down and eventually our programmer called us…  He was fresh from his day of rest while we were tired and testy…. At around 10:30 PM  I could not concentrate anymore…. The words went in one ear and out the other as if I had a hollow tube….  Finally I told him (remember Dad had a stroke 9 days ago) that we were all very tired and had been working since the morning…  Now it is time to test the program….  I want to make sure the results are consistent with standard medical practice.  I am hoping my dad the doctor will be with me so I do not have to look everything up in a drug guide…I have such guides but I am tired… ‘

It is very important that this program is ready for the start of the study.  It would be very embarrassing to my father to arrive in Israel and not have the program ready.  I have very little control of the actual timetable.  I can just push here to see that our tasks are complete.  My housemate will make a tutorial for the doctors in Israel.  Somehow it never occurred to anyone to this… Maybe she should be a project manager if we can ever get funding or sell this.   Meanwhile my husband played on his computer all day ignoring us…. He did go get the pizza though.

While I do this work I do not prospect and it will hurt business.  Someday I will prospect again…

I am working on my dad’s research project for a bit.


Well between the time lost by my dad’s stroke and the fact that he leaves for Israel to start a scientific study in Israel I decided to help him.  I at least understand the scientific and computer jargon that it is needed.  I think I might have  saved a lot of embaressment by mapping the actual labortory studies to the US Jargon…..  It is nice that this 50 year old brain still can do a bit of science…. So instead of contracts and listings my microbiology text and medical dictionary sits by my side….

I am embarressed to say that I have spent years avoiding being part of the work (this is a pet project with a chance for success but no money unless he suceeds and can sell it)…  Until I prospect things will be quiet.  I do not know if I would be usefull traveling with him.  The deadline for the start of the study is fast approaching and there seems a lot to do on the programming side…Dad and his wife leave on Tuesday… I am very worried that at the moment he is not up to this.  He is only 8 days from the stroke and he tires easily.  I had to argue with him about the bug mapping and it was only my persistance that won the day.  Usually when I argue with dad I lose. SOmeone without any medical or scientific training would have given way.

So I need to contact my hot leads and see what they want… I have a 10 AM appointment (no sale there with a former client) and then Calcudos takes my time until Tuesday.  I think if I go, I want to leave after the first of the month.  I might be able to accomplish more remotely then I can with the rigors of travel.  So things will probalby be quiet on the blogging front.

Quiet time for me right now….


Quiet time for me right now…. (edit/delete)

Well the real estate market is a funny animal.   Sometimes you are so busy you don’t know where to turn.  You are running around and falling in to bed late.  Then it gets quiet for a bit… I am in one of my quiet bits… Perhaps the two are related… When you are running around you do not have as much time to prospect.  With prospecting brings clients… When  it calms down you prospect again.  Ideally you never stop prospecting so the pipeline never slows… The quiet time is a bit convenient (except for the lack of sales) since my dad is recovering from a stroke.  It isn’t that I haven’t been busy…. I had the busy start of the year… The buyers with cash in the suitcase.  I also had a pending fall on inspection… I have a buyer who wants what I cannot find… So it is quiet…. I hope to get busy but we will see… So now it is a quiet time for me right now…. Give me patience…. Maybe I should work on my 2011 taxes and prospect.

So if you want to buy a home in the Treasure Valley Call Debbie Holmes.  She is a great agent with some time on her hands….

Sometimes solo real estate is like a solo medical practice…..


Today as I try to get ready I wish I had a partner…. The only problem is I don’t take in enough for me so how can I take on another agent?   I have had a scary few weeks and my step mom is still in the hospital. Meanwhile I am preparing for my full nest to become empty.  My middle chick takes off on Thursday…. Another goes to China at the end of the month…The youngest goes to college… 

Meanwhile back at the ranch I still have a pending going slowly (buyers aren’t sure they the home.  I have a new listing and another one on the way.  I have a couple of buyers that I seem to be putting off…..  Pictures tomorrow…. Landscaping today….  My mother in law arrived last night…. I am not sure which way to turn…..


Some of my friends seem to have partners….I sort of wonder how well it works?  I have a team of lenders, title officers, inspectors and repair people.  I am wondering if I would feel less stressed if I had a team-mate who also sold houses….  Do you split the comissions 50-50?  How do people with partners work it out?


My dad used to be in a solo private practice and he almost always on duty…. Eventually he had a heart attack and became a VA doc (which he loved) because he was a flight surgeon.  The veterans liked him and he liked the veterans and he didn’t have to deal with the buisness aspect.

I wonder if two of us could follow up on leads better?  We could discuss our clients needs and listing and perhaps come up with better solutions….  These are random thoughts as I prepare for the day….

I suppose if nothing else happens my nest will be empty in 2 weeks and I will have too much time on my hands….


My weird pending….Who is at fault….


Here is a weird one….  I am the buyers agent on this one.  My only non-distressed sale since 2008 that I was only the buyers agent for.  I am now very distressed.

My buyer was looking for a very cheap home or an owner carry.  We had been looking for a while.  On May 5, 2011 a nice little owner carry popped up with good terms.    My client liked the home and offered.  There were 2 offers and it was an estate sale and the sellers weren’t prepared to do anything until some stuff with the estate was settled.  My buyer offered slightly better terms and hoped for the best.  We waited and waited extending the acceptance date over and over again.   Finally on May 26 we came to terms.  We had a signed contract.  A bit later we were told that 2 people would need to sign the closing docs to sell the house but we would catch up with everything at closing.

Fast forward to June 24, 2011.  We are finally ready to close.  My buyer comes to closing. The original signer comes to closing.  The other signer does nothing.  He doesn’t sign the docs, email, phone or anything.  Title tries again and again nothing.   Meanwhile my buyer sells his manufactured home on a rental lot and moves in (since we were just waiting on Fedex) with permission of the seller who signed.  My buyer fixes some plumbing and puts up a fence.

Around July 1 I am getting pretty antsy.  I ask the title officer pointed questions about their contact with the other signer.  I am not convinced that he knows we are looking for him.  I do an internet search for him and pass the information I obtain to the listing agent and the title officer.  By now I have the permission from the listing agent to contact both sellers (signers).  I make my attempt and am ignored (my search yielded 2 other emails, a work address and a work phone number and a facebook account).

On July 6 he contacts the title officer with tax questions and basically tells us yes he knew we were looking for him.   More attempts to contact him by title and his sister that are ignored.  More addendum’s to extend closing are written and signed by sister. I have started cc everyone with pointed messages asking for a timeline and reminding them that this is a real estate contract and “time is of the essence” I ask the other agent to try to contact the brother and she claims since he didn’t sign the buyers rep that she feels uncomfortable  contacting him.  The listing agent is very busy with her out of town family.

On July 12 I am cc on a email from him to his lawyer talking about forming a legal entity.  I write him and the lawyer cc everyone on his original letter asking whether he intends to sign the contract and for a timetable if he does.  The sister and the other agent are very pleased with my questions.  I called the sister and she reports that her brother is not responding to her calls or emails.  Today I wrote the lawyer, called the other agent and her broker.  My buyer is frustrated and ready to seek legal council.  I told him not to do anything with the contract until he talks to the lawyer.

Just reached the estate attorney’s secretary.  I at least know that the silent seller is talking to his lawyer….

Question:  Who is legally at fault?  The brother, the sister, the listing agent, myself or my client.  What are the remedies if the brother fails to proceed to closing?  How as a buyers agent do I avoid this in the future?  Any advice?  I will keep you posted

Why I sell HUD HOMES…MORE OF AN ESSAY..


Over the years I have been the buyers agent for several homes in the Treasure Valley.  The first thing you want to do is make sure your broker has signed the agency up to sell HUD homes.  The first time I sold a HUD home I had to refer my client out and lose a significant portion of my commission check.   It also makes the deal stranger since you know all the in and outs of the deal and the other agent doesn’t.  Talk to your broker or the office manager and ask for the HUD number and check to make sure it is active.  It needs to be renewed every year.  Being the government your brokerage will not get any notice when it needs to be done….

HUD  homes are government owned homes that have been foreclosed on but the government has insured them when to original loan was taken out..  OH no !  Unfortunately I just broke some rules about selling or talking about HUD homes.  We are not allowed to use the words repossessed, REO, distressed, foreclosed when describing these homes because HUD feels that these words have negative connotations  .  We now have to use the words HUD owned.  This also means that the Intermountain multiple listing service had to add a separate category called HUD homes.  This is very annoying because it one more parameter you have to search for.

Now those of you who no me know that I am a rare breed.  I am a Democrat in Idaho who has run for Congress.  If anything ever turns me into a person who thinks the government is malevolent it will be selling HUD homes.  HUD makes the rules for everyone else but does not seem to feel the need to follow them.  Someday I will blog about this….. They will not fix things (even things to inspect the property).  They set their own timelines that are difficult for the loan officers.   They make you rush for brokers signatures and make you send docs in expensive Fedex packages.  When you make a mistake they threaten to cancel the contract.  The mistake can be forgetting to get an initial.  I must admit to being paranoid by now.  To my credit the contract that I have pending was perfect the first time.  You have to be on top of things and be your buyers advocate.

So obviously I do not like HUD or selling HUD homes….  Why do I do it?  Because it gives my buyers a chance to get into the housing market with FHA loans.  Also HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all have a home owner first look programs.  That means that my buyers are only competing against fellow owner occupants and not investors.  This is a huge advantage to first time home buyers. HUD homes are also often competitively priced with FHA financing (for insurable property). HUD bidding is easy and everything else will seem harder then it needs.  I work for my buyers and not my comfort.  It is important to me that my buyers get a home that  works for them and I am willing to work hard and make my loan officers to work hard to make this happen.

I truly believe that part of the American Dream is to own your own home.  It makes us as individuals, the community and our country stronger.   Part of helping my clients achieve this dream is to offer them as many homes available in my community.