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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 just closed a deal on 1430 Leadville in Boise, Idaho.  This deal was interesting for several reasons. The buyers daughter called me from an internet website.  She was looking for a home for her parents to buy as an … Continue reading

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.

Will Aishia get a deficency judgement?

Deficency judgement continued….


In October of 2011 I showed a house for a buyer.  The owner was home.  She is a lovely lady who developed breast cancer.  She was paying her mortgage until she couldn’t work because of the cancer.  Aisha is a single mother who now has a reasonable job.   She tried to get a loan modification but her bank wouldn’t talk to her.  They tried to tack on all sorts of fees and call it a loan modification. Aisha has two mortgages.

When her home either short sales or is foreclosed on she will get a deficiency judgment for the second mortgage.  So first you get sick. Then you lose your job. Then you lose your home. Then you get slapped with a deficiency judgment for the entire second mortgage.

Homeless girl win semifinalist in National Intel Science Competition

Here is a story that gives me hope.  When I was a teen I was tempted to compete but didn’t because I felt the project wasn’t my own.  My father had designed it.  I did win some science awards on my own though.

This is a story about a girl from Long Island, New York, whose family was made homeless by the economy.  This girl is one of 300 finalists for the prestigious National Intel Science Prize… For you old timers it use to be the Westinghouse Science prize (name might be wrong)..  This is the most prestigious prize a young budding high school scientist can achieve.    The family lost their home on New Year’s eve… At first they went to a hotel then a homeless shelter… Suffolk county has found a house for the family to live in!  They say it has nothing to do with the prize.

I want to congratulate Samantha Garvey for becoming a semi-finalist.  I hope this wonderful teenager does get to go to Yale or Brown and become a marine biologist.  She has already proven that she is driven.   She will get scholarships but there is always the bit more for books, transportation and other stuff.  This girl gives me hope.  She is able to focus despite her family’s hardships and poverty.  Samantha I expect to see your name in print from professional journals some day.  Best of luck to you and your family!

Here is another story about Samantha Garvey from Newsday.  Let us help all our children reach their potential! Let us try to reduce homelessness and enhance education.

Ever feel like you are on a treadmill?

One thing I like about the work of a real estate agent is that every day is different.  No 2 days are the same….. Yet sometimes I feel as if I am on a treadmill… Slowly winding my way this thing we call life…. I only rarely make things happen or create big changes…..  I wake up and drink my coffee… I check the web… I might blog… Read the paper.. I go do my business… I avoid the cleaning (my bad)… I feed the dogs and cats… I used to get the kids ready to go to school…

In fact there used to be a time that I had a very active social life between 7 and 8:30 AM… My dad would stop by and have breakfast before work.  My friend would drop off her kid at the junior high and drop by… We would all have a nice visit as I my kids got ready for school.. I would put my kids and the next door neighbor’s kids in the car and deliver everyone to school by 8:30 AM… This was before I put the kids in private school and before my dad retired and before I became a real estate agent… It was a bit invigorating…. But it was still a treadmill…  Mom got sick I had care of a elderly aunt (in assisted living) but the days seemed the same….

I tried to get off the treadmill and go to work as a scientist… My boss lost his grant and I lost my job….  Then I became a real estate agent…. Now maybe I am reading an inspection report with my coffee… I will show a home in 20 minutes… If I am lucky I will write an offer…  I go through life wanting to make a difference but mostly I do the things I need to do to complete the day, the week, the month, the year… Yes and perhaps the year… I fail sometimes to see what is most important to me… My husband, my sons, my family and friends…. I am so busy on my treadmill that I fail to stop for the things that most matter… It doesn’t seem very long that my first baby was put in my arms yet I have ridden the treadmill and am now 50… I shake my head and wonder where the time has gone… I have enjoyed most of my life but sometimes I feel that I am on a treadmill…. My goals now are to help my kids…. Go to China (where my eldest is)… And put money away for retirement…. Will I look up at 70 and say I don’t feel old?  Where did the life go?  We are retired…. We volunteer  or travel… Maybe my husband is still playing in second life… Maybe I help with the grand kids, not yet born… Maybe I have pets….. But will I be on the treadmill….

Yesterday I was at lunch with the ladies of my synagogue and I said grandchildren are my due for raising my kids…. Are they?  I hope so…  I have done some pretty exciting things… I have run for Congress… Twice I have lived on the economy in foreign countries…. I love my husband, my children and my family…. So why do I sometimes feel as if I am on a treadmill… Walking nowhere except to the final destination…. It is the journey and building a better world that is important… My journey isn’t bad and I stand for causes I believe in… I help where I can… I do my job… So how do I get off the treadmill mood and enjoy the beautiful cool sunshine….  Do you ever feel that you are on a treadmill?

Safer Short Sales

Short sales are notoriously hard to settle…. Nothing is certain until we have third party approval (the bank)….  Real estate ethics sometimes fly out the window as offer after offer is presented to the banks by some agents…  Reasonable time lines are a joke…. It makes an agent nervous to show a owner occupant…. Especially a first timer or someone who needs to be in the home quickly…..

So when do I show a short sale to an owner occupied buyer?  First I do not send them short sale listings unless they request it.  I look at the available short sales for the clues in the public or agent remarks.  The clues are:

1) Bank approved price

2) Bank approval buyer walked

3) IFHA short short sale (they are quick in Idaho)

4) Small local bank

5) Only need to negotiate the 2nd

6) Process started buyer walked

Even with these words I call the listing agent to get a feel.  If I feel very comfortable with the situation I will send the listing to my client. I always ask the listing agent what is their policy on offers that come in later. If I don’t like the answer I try not to show the home.  Thes represent safer short sales.

Regular sales and REO (bank owned property) sales usually settle more quickly than short sales.  I do not find much difference in the asking price of a short sale and a REO.

Often my buyer will do their own research and I get to investigate all sorts of short sales and contingent short sales…. I do like a buyer who like to do research… In the end I usually find the home first that they actually settle on.  Call me if you want to find your home in the Treasure Valley!  Good hunting!

  Debbie Holmes

Gold Key Real Estate     Company logo

(208)761-2551 Email:

To search Boise Homes visit my website

New Diet No energy

When the year changed I made all sorts of promises to myself…. Some were about my business and some were about my health…  I have concentrated on the new diet and exercise (not much 15 minutes a day) but it has me to wiped out to do anything else….  I have no energy to make the phone calls…  So I will put off the phone phone call until I am off stage one and feel better.   In the long run it will be worth it because it is the only diet that has worked for me so I will try to go the distance….  I find myself forgetting things… Like a legislative workshop run by my favorite politicians… Not having my broker sign a form about earnest money…. It is important to get closer to my correct weight… I guess I am posting here because people might be wondering what happened to me…  I certainly haven’t had the energy to post….I go on the diet because I am a type 2 diabetic who is overweight… Last year I lost 20 pounds but I gained 5 back…. I want to stop this trend now…

I will be back here… I will blog about real estate and other things but right now I am just going to watch Netflix until I fall asleep….