Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Another Hit for Potential Boise Homeowners?

Considering buying a house in the Nampa and Boise areas? Here is another good reason to consider buying a home soon. If you have limited resources to buy a home the latest proposal would increase the amount required. Right now houses are the most affordable they have been in a very long time with the interest rates and prices.

This affects you local sellers as well, if Congress does increase the minimum amount of down payment required under FHA loans it makes it harder for first time home owners and anytime you remove potential buyers from the market it is going to slow our housing recovery.


WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are circulating legislation to raise the minimum down payment for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the main source of mortgage money for first- time homebuyers.

Currently, homeowners are able to take out FHA-backed loans with a minimum down payment of 3.5%. A draft bill being circulated by Rep. Judy Biggert (R., Ill.), would raise that minimum to 5% in an effort to stabilize the agency's finances.

Republicans aim to redesign government mortgage programs to strike "the right balance for taxpayers and homebuyers," Biggert said in a statement Monday.

A House subcommittee on Wednesday is scheduled to discuss a draft version of the bill, which would also make changes to several other government housing programs.

House Republicans have made scaling back the government's role in the housing market a key priority. However, they are encountering resistance from the housing industry, which believes such supports are essential to keep the moribund housing market from falling further.

Jaret Seiberg, a financial policy analyst at MF Global's Washington Research Group, said the bill could be good for private mortgage insurers such as PMI Group Inc. and MGIC Investment Corp., which compete with FHA.

However, he added that it could hurt the housing market in the short term.

"It would make it even harder for first-time buyers to enter the housing market regardless of their incomes or earnings potential," Seiberg wrote in a note to clients.

The FHA doesn't make loans but insures them against default. The agency's volume grew rapidly in the wake of the mortgage bust and had critics warning it would need government funding for the first time in its history. The Obama administration hiked fees and tightened lending standards, and an audit released last year showed the agency's finances stabilizing.

Loans backed by the FHA made up nearly 18% of new loans made in the first quarter, according to trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance.


Friday, May 27, 2011

April's PTC Index for the Boise, Nampa Metro Area

This is a great indicator of the vibrancy of our local real estate market for the combined Ada and Canyon Counties. It is calculated by Pioneer Title Company and can be a good reference point. It uses nine key real estate variables to come up with a single index number.

For perspective, during the most active point of our real estate boom in 2005 the index would have been 225, in January of 2010 it dropped to its lowest point of 28. It is showing a slight increase from last month's number of 94.

April 2011

Building Permits123
New Home Sales80
Existing Home Sales773
Average Sales Price129294
Financial-Bond Market(10-yr Treasury)3.46
Days on Market91
Distressed(Short Sales and REO)3919
Notices of Default493
PTC Index102

So we are making progress, slow but sure.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Boise,Nampa Listen Up! Even the Naysayers Are Saying To Buy Now!

Another great article from the folks at KCM Blog!

“Home ownership is touted as the “American Dream”. It is credited with enhancing wealth, increasing civic pride, improving self-esteem, crime prevention, child development, and better educational outcomes, among other benefits. This paper does not dispute any of these claims.”

What the professors were proposing is that homeownership is not a better investment strategy than renting. The first of the two major findings was:
“After setting the holding period to the average American’s tenure in a residence, renting (not buying) proves to be the superior investment strategy over most of the study period… Individuals, on average, were better off in economic terms to have rented for most of the years in the study period. This first result is strongly dependent upon fiscally disciplined individuals that, without fail, reinvest any residual savings from renting.”

Historically, people do not actually reinvest savings “without fail”.  Check here for the findings of a recent study from The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard.

The second major finding says it all. According to both professors Beracha and Johnson, NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY!
“(F)undamental drivers now appear to be in place that favor homeownership over renting in the near term future…

The second finding might seem unwise to many given the recent crash in the real estate markets around the country. However, rent-to-price ratios now seem to be in place along with other fundamental drivers that favor ownership over renting.”

They conclude their research paper with this sentence:
“Conditions (historically low mortgage rates and relatively low rent-to-price ratios) now seem in place to favor future purchases.”

Bottom Line

Two researchers set out to prove that homeownership is not a good financial decision. After completing that research, they have determined that now is the time to buy. What more needs to be said?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Save time and money with do-it-yourself home improvements

(ARA) - As warm weather rolls in, the for sale signs start going up. Homeowners are increasingly looking for ways to update their living spaces and maintain the value of their homes without completing extensive or expensive renovations.

Whether it's adding a fresh coat of paint to outdated bathroom walls or new hardware to kitchen cabinets, there are many ways homeowners can improve their spaces without spending a lot of time or money.

One of the best resources for do-it-yourself tips is DIY blogs. Bloggers tackle various home projects and document their journey online to help readers overcome their own home improvement hang-ups. With their efficient project know-how, homeowners can find stress-free and cost effective ways to renovate any space.

Efficient Home Transformations

Money Saving Tips - Provided by Sarah of www.ThriftyDecorChick.com

Accent a Room with Borders

Give walls a new look with decorative stencils, wallpaper or papered borders. They are a quick and easy accent that updates any room instantly.

Add Energy Efficiencies to any Home

DIY'ers are discovering that energy efficient homes are not only less expensive to own and maintain, but are also friendlier to the environment. Ways to make the home more energy efficient include using energy-efficient light bulbs, installing ceiling fans and insulating and sealing ducts to maintain the air conditioner.

Clean and Maintain The Furnace

Cleaning and maintaining the furnace once a year can make any home more energy-efficient and lower utility bills. By using washable filters, homeowners can save even more money by simply washing and allowing them to air dry. This cuts down on costs and is better for the environment.

Affordable Projects


Adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the most inexpensive and impactful changes a homeowner can make. With great innovations in paint like, True Value Hardware's new EasyCare PLATINUM Paint and Primer in One, you can save time and money, making weekend paint jobs hassle-free. Check outwww.TrueValuePaint.com for a full color palette.

Changing Light Fixtures and Hardware

Kitchens and bathrooms can be the easiest rooms to update with a few small changes. Replacing old, outdated light fixtures and cabinet hardware can refresh the kitchen or bath without consuming a ton of money and time with a complete overhaul.

Renovate Old Furniture

Updating an old chair or table is an easy way to spruce up a room. If you're looking for new furniture additions, shop local garage sales and thrift stores for old pieces that can be revitalized with a little sanding, paint and new hardware.

Time Saving Tips - Provided by Brian and Paul of www.HandyGuysPodcast.com

Make a Plan

Set aside time to think through projects and organize your plan of attack prior to jumping in. Utilize great resources for DIY tips on www.StartRightStartHere.comand shop online at www.TrueValue.com for all project needs.

Build Utility Storage Shelves

Building a basic utility shelf is a small project homeowners can do themselves to get organized. Planned shelves will put an end to haphazardly stowing away and stacking things in the garage and basement - unable to be found again.

Quick Fix-it Project Ideas

Replace Old Faucets

Old faucets can make a kitchen or bathroom look dated and dingy. When choosing a new faucet, be sure that it will work with the existing faucet drillings, noting whether they're center set, widespread or single-hole.

Check Your Asphalt Driveway

Seasonal temperature changes can cause asphalt driveways to crack and dip due to water seepage. To sustain durability, be sure to routinely check the driveway and make repairs quickly to avoid further damage. In order to prevent future water seepage, consider sealing the driveway.

Repair Don't Replace

Tears in window screens can be a frequent and frustrating problem. Before deciding to purchase a new screen, assess the damage. If the tears are small, fix them with a screen patch.

Simple Room Solutions

Transform any room into a special haven with these simple fixes:


  • Beginner: Brighten the heart of the home by installing new light fixtures.

  • Experienced: Strip and repaint furniture to revitalize dated pieces and transform a room.


  • Beginner: Clean tile grout to instantly refresh bathroom surfaces.

  • Experienced: Update faucets and cabinet hardware.

Living Room

  • Beginner: Let more light in by washing windows to remove layers of debris and film.

  • Experienced: Install and paint window trim to tie the room together.


  • Beginner: Redefine the entire room by adding color, or simply a fresh coat of paint. Use a shade or two lighter than the color of the walls to make a low ceiling seem higher. For high ceilings, use a shade or two darker to make the room feel cozy.

  • Experienced: Create a custom stencil template and add a personal touch to your haven by adding a border.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Sreamin' Deal In Middleton

Saturday I was gong to mow my lawn and plant tomatoes along with a few other assorted vegetables. But instead I ended up showing a home in Middleton on 3 acres listed for, are you ready for this, $45,000! Yes, it is a manufactured home built in 1991, but it is on a permanent foundation with an attached 2 car garage. The ground does not have water rights but it is flat and very useable. In my opinion it is a screamin deal!  It is a HUD repo and initial bids are due this evening. So I will be writing up an offer for that buyer later today.  Before that though, I am off to write an offer for a cabin in Cascade, I working with an agent from that area since they are located in a different MLS area. It also is a bank repo, and appears to be a good value. It really is a great time to buy with the prices and interest rates both being so low!

Update: My folk's offer on the screamin deal was not accepted, so we know the successful bid was over $50,000. I will be interested to see when it closes how high it went.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Boise-Ada County, It's Getting Better All The Time!

April sales were 5,539 in Ada County, a decrease of 20% compared to April 2010.

However...April 2010 was the final push for the tax credit.  April 2010 sales were 59% ahead of 2009.

Year-to-date 2011 sales are within 3% of YTD 2010.

Historically, April sales increase by an average of just 5% over March.  This year is consistent with that as April sales are 3% higher than March 2011 sales.

Of our total sales in April… 56% were distressed….down 1% from March 2011. (Short sales 19% and REO’s 36%). Distressed sales continue to dominate the market...but do show some decrease in number.

Pending sales at the end of April were 975; and increase of 5% from the end of March. This is four consecutive monthly increases. The percentage of pending sales in distress decreased 4% from March 2011 totaling 48% overall.  This is our second consecutive month’s decrease. This is the first time we’ve been below 50% in 10 months. In 2010, with the expiration of the tax credit, pending sales fell by 350 from April 30 to May 31. A test of our recovery will be the pending sales at the end of this month.

The number of houses available for sale at the end of April was 2,625; unchanged from March  26% less than last year at this time. Currently available inventory compares to February 2006.

At the same time, the percentage of active inventory that is distressed dropped almost 2% from March to 37%.  This is the second consecutive monthly decline and keeps us below the 40% levels set last spring....when we were on the increase.

In Ada County we have 5 months of inventory on hand…historically this number defines a “seller’s market”.  The price category in shortest supply is <$100,000 with 2.5 months available. This is closely followed by the $100,000 to $120,000 with 3.5 months and $120,000 to $159,000 with 4.4 months. These are the lowest numbers in more than a year!

There is also positive news on some of the higher priced inventory; $500,000 to $699,999 inventory dropped by 10 months from the end of March to 13.6.

April median home price decreased held steady; down only $2,000 from March to $135,000, down 10% from April 2010.

New Homes median price for April 2011 was $1212,000, an increase of almost 18% from April 2010.

We continue to “benefit” from inventory levels much lower than national average.

Now we are starting to see a “clearing” of distressed properties, with fewer coming on-line.

From where I sit, we’ve done all that can be done to build sustainability into our local market.  I can even see us having a summer with sales exceeding last year.

The true test ahead of us now is how to prevent numerous federal policy shifts that will stall us in our tracks and erase the gains of the last year.

From the Ada County Association of Realtors, Marc Lebowitz


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Boise Homeowners,Turn Your House Into A Billboard and Get Mortgage Paid!

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone else would pay your mortgage for the year? And what would you do in return? Advertising agency Adzookie is looking for homes to turn into billboards and in exchange, they’ll pay a mortgage for each month the home is painted. At the end of the contract, Adzookie will pay to repaint the home, a process they say takes three to five days

Still interested? Adzookie only has a few ground rules. First off, you must own the home—it cannot be rented or leased. The entire exterior of the home is under contract except the roof, the windows and any awnings. The contract lasts a minimum of three months and can be extended up to a year. At any time the contract is ended, either by Adzookie or the homeowner, Adzookie will pay to repaint the home in its original and more normal colors.

To be considered for this ad gimmick, homeowners must fill out a submission form on the company’s website, explaining why their house should be selected. The company will then decide based on their internal criteria, whether the house is worth a billboard ad.

Adzookie CEO Romeo Mendoza told CNN that since the promotion’s launch, the company has received over 1,000 applications, including one from a church.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do you have HSF? (Home Sellers Fatigue)

I read this article online in Money Magazine, it was right on the nose so I thought you might like it.

Jaded? Stressed? Jumpy? It Might Be ‘Home Seller’s Fatigue’

After languishing one year and one week on the lousiest real estate market since Fred and Wilma bought their little stone cottage, I am selling my house.

“Congratulations!” people are saying. So why am I not doing cartwheels and popping champagne as I imagined I would? Could it be because, after months and months of showings and price reductions and raised and crushed hopes, I am selling my house for 33 percent less than I paid for it in 2005? Maybe that’s it!

Please forgive the ugly sarcasm. I can’t really help it; it’s just a pathetic aftereffect of what I have come to recognize as “home seller’s fatigue.” This is a condition in which prolonged exposure to spray cleaner and the continual threat of strangers appearing at the door make a person (to use the clinical term) a little wacko.

If you’ve had a home on the market for a while, HSF can sneak up on you. But I’m here to help you recognize the problem. Are you experiencing symptoms like these?

You have a constant unsettled feeling reinforced daily by the sight of the sign in your front yard, swinging in the wind and, you would swear some days, laughing.

You have developed paranoia because during various open houses people swiped your prescription drugs and went through your drawers. Not only do you no longer have open houses, but you jump whenever your husband touches you.

You avoid your neighbors because you are embarrassed that you can’t sell your house. Plus, for all you know, they came to your open houses and went through your drawers.

You make the place all pretty, and the prospects come and go, and do they call again? No. And yet despite this rejection you want them to come back, and this makes you feel bad about yourself. That’s right, it’s exactly like dating.

Your agent gets an email from some guy who says he’s in Japan but he saw the house listing online and wants to buy it sight unseen at your full asking price. And you actually think about it. (This really happened.)

You grow to hate every prospective buyer, and you hate them even more after they make an offer, because your house deserves more. You turn around and hate your house for not growing another bedroom. You hate your agent for not waving a wand and making more offers appear. You hate yourself for buying when the market was at its peak, even though you got top dollar for your old house. You pretty much hate everybody and everything.

Impaired judgment, paranoia, anti-social disorder, burying statues of saints in the yard — can’t something be done?

Joan Gale Frank has some ideas. Frank is a survivor of that crucible of modern real estate, Arizona, where she and her husband spent about a year selling their house. She wrote a book about the mental strain, “Home Seller’s Blues and How to Beat Them.”

Frank’s overall message is to find the silver lining. She reminds us that while we’re constantly cleaning, we can enjoy living in our house at its best. We get a head start on packing when we get rid of the clutter. We are more mentally prepared to move. We are forced to live in the moment. We have an excuse to eat out so we can keep the kitchen clean.

I view these as useful treatments for early, minor cases of HSF. But those of us who have endured the real estate equivalent of the siege of Stalingrad might need more. Like a voodoo doll or an extra large bottle of Scotch.

Obviously, one of my coping skills is a sense of humor. But I don’t want anyone to think that I am belittling the devastating impact that losing a home has on a family. My husband and I actually are selling two houses, having married recently (well, not so recently now!), and trying to buy a third one. We are fortunate that we are not under water or at risk of foreclosure. My heart goes out to those families who are. But if we were, I would be trying mighty hard to find something to laugh about.

Keeping a journal is another of Frank’s suggestions, and if you’re the type, it’s good catharsis. Certainly, if I’d had any inkling it would take a year to sell my house, I would have started a blog and maybe had a book deal by now.

If writing isn’t your thing, I suggest some other kind of healthy catharsis. Talk to a good friend, a therapist or, if you’re lucky like me, your understanding partner in this nightmare, your spouse. Exercise regularly; you might try bowling. Pretend each pin is one of those prospects who said your kitchen was too small: “That’s reflected (release, roll) in the (crash!) asking price!”

Frank says, and I agree, that it also helps to remember the big picture: why you’re selling in the first place. I tried to envision us actually living as a family in a home we found together. Other times I chucked the optimism and reminded myself: This is a rotten time in your life. This is not supposed to feel good. So embrace the misery once in a while. And get back to cleaning; you’ve got a showing in an hour.

There are many treatments for HSF, but only one cure: selling the house. Trouble is, now that our family has unloaded my place, we’ve fallen prey to a new ailment: insufferably demanding homebuyer’s syndrome.


Great Boise Home! Just one little problem.

I have been showing homes to a nice young couple from Utah, after looking at homes in Nampa, along with a few in Meridian , Kuna and south Boise, we found a great looking home close enough for him to bike to work at the airport. It is a short sale, pre-approved, and looked good enough that I questioned why it was still on the market. There must be something amiss. Sure enough, water in the crawl space! A FHA 203K program to purchase may be an option if the price is right, but we may need to keep looking.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What Buyers Want.

If your house is on the market, you might be at the point of tearing your hair out. As a result of today’s depressed economy, some sellers have had their homes on the market for years. It can be maddening! The competition is only getting more intense, prices continue to fall and more foreclosure homes are flooding the marketplace. The present real estate situation is incredibly competitive.

So what, exactly, are buyers looking for this spring? In short, they're looking to find homes that offer an economic advantage. When you think about it, it just makes sense. Thanks to an uncertain economy, people are less likely to splurge on a McMansion. When home buyers purchase in the current surroundings, saving money is their primary focus. Today’s consumer has to pinch every penny just to survive.

Even if you're not planning to sell a home in the near term, it's still helpful to know what existing buyers want. Why? If you're going to make improvements in your existing residence, knowing what potential buyers desire can help you invest your money wisely.

So what is it home buyers want?

1. Homes in Good Condition

Buyers aren't interested in fixer-uppers right now. They don't have a lot of cash, and they don't want to spend money on home repairs immediately after they move in. They're looking for homes that are in great condition and that are absolutely move-in ready. They don't want to repaint, clean carpets, or cover up cracks in the ceiling. And they especially don't want to spend money on major repairs. To increase your chances of a sale this spring and summer, make sure you do everything possible to get your home in tip-top shape. Utilize a house spring cleaning checklist and make your home spotless before showing it.
2. Homes with Green Features

Saving money and living green are trends that aren't likely to disappear anytime soon. Buyers are now looking for features which are going to reduce on a home's operating costs, as well as lessen its impact on the environment. Tankless water heaters, high-efficiency furnaces, energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient windows, adequate insulation, and solar panels are just a few that are making it on to buyers' wish lists.

Any "green" upgrade that's going to save money on utility bills will be highly appealing to people looking for a new home. You probably don't want to splurge on solar panels, a geothermal furnace, or other expensive green energy technologies, but there are some small changes you can make that will help potential buyers save money. For instance, you can add insulation, upgrade old appliances to Energy Star rated models, and plant trees to help with shading during the summer months.

3. Outdoor Living Spaces

In an uncertain economy, people travel less. This means their homes are truly becoming their castles; no matter how small they are! Outdoor living spaces have always been popular, but they're especially appealing now since so many people are taking “staycations”; choosing to relax at home instead of going out at night and on weekends. If your backyard leaves a lot to be desired, do whatever you can to turn it into an oasis. Build a deck, plant flowers, add a fountain, and turn it into an escape for potential buyers.

Final Thoughts

If your home is currently on the market, it's important to do everything you can to remove concerns buyers might have about your home’s condition. It is understood that sellers don't want to continue spending money on their homes, but small changes such as planting flowers, repainting, and cleaning can go a long way towards producing a purchase offer. Remember, you don't want to give people any reason to not buy your home!

From Househunt.com


Friday, May 13, 2011

Boise, do you think Congress can see the forest for the trees?

Great article from the KCM Blog on the proposed bill in congress!

"Do you know what the leading cause of foreclosure is?

Survey says:  Poor underwriting.

When a lender makes an unwise decision and gives a loan to a borrower with a poor credit history, that’s what leads to foreclosure.  This is what happened with “toxic” subprime loans that required little, and even worse, no verification.

I make this point because a rule in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill is stipulating that borrowers must make a 20-percent or more down payment in order to be deemed a“qualified residential mortgage” (QRM).  If a mortgage isn’t labeled a QRM, then the lender must retain five percent of the loan risk.

If you’ve just taken a hard swallow, I’m with you.  This rule, if implemented, will have widespread effects on the housing industry, especially during a fragile market recovery.  And what’s worse, I think it’s missing the forest for the trees.

The data doesn’t show a link between down payment size and whether the loan performs well.  FHA and VA loans boast low default rates.  They also are the programs with the lowest minimum down payment requirements.

The QRM rule has good intentions.  It wants to incentivize lenders to stay away from risky loans.  I’m all for that.  No one wants to see the housing market and our nation’s economy hit the crisis levels we saw back in 2008.

But a 20-percent down payment stipulation will have one result—even tighter credit than we’re seeing today.  Borrowers will have an incredibly hard time getting a loan, and all for what?  To save America from more foreclosures?  Probably not.  Because the data shows lenders should make decisions based on the whole picture of a borrower, not just how much money they can lay on the table.

And how many of us have that kind of cash lying around?

Home ownership has built our nation and made it strong.  We can still protect consumers and our national economy if we move forward with wise laws that take into account the whole forest, not just individual trees."


The "HUD is anyone home" is closing today!

Well I am off to closing in a few minutes. It has been a long hard haul on this one, my buyers are purchasing a HUD repo and let's just say the companies that HUD is using to manage the sales of these homes have been less than helpful. After moving up to supervisors at both companies I was finally able to get some action. But it is about done! Yea!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Boise Here Are 5 Reasons To Sell Now

If you plan on moving anytime in 2011, you should strongly consider selling your house now rather than waiting. Here are five reasons why:

1.) This is when your house will get the most exposure

The spring, and particularly the month of May, is when most buyers enter the real estate market. This surge of buyers dramatically increases the exposure for your house . The best chance of getting quality offers (perhaps even multiple offers) is RIGHT NOW!

2.) Foreclosures and short sales will increase in about 90 days

The good news is that the number of people paying their mortgage on time is increasing. This will lead to less distressed property sales later this year and throughout 2012. The not-so-good news is that there is still a large inventory of existing foreclosures and short sales that will still be coming to market.

As an example, LPS reported in their latest Mortgage Monitor that:

  • There are still twice as many loans going 90+ days delinquent as are starting foreclosure

  • There are almost three times the number of foreclosure starts as there are foreclosure sales

  • Distressed property inventory levels are almost 45 times the rate of monthly foreclosure sales

This means that there is a backlog of properties which will start coming to the market in about 90 days as banks clear up their paperwork challenges. These properties sell at dramatic discounts. They will be your competition. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have recently discussed the magnitude of this challenge.

3.) Interest rates have risen over the last six months

Interest rates have stabilized recently. However, in the last six months, interest rates have climbed over 1/2%. Every time the rates increase 1/4%, approximately 250,000 buyers are eliminated from qualifying for a mortgage. In an environment of volatile rates, waiting could mean that there will be fewer buyers eligible to purchase your house. It also could mean that you will pay a higher rate on the next home you buy.

4.) Qualifying for a mortgage is about to get even more difficult

Besides increasing rates, there are other factors that will hinder a buyer’s ability to qualify for a mortgage as we move forward. Lending standards have been getting tighter over the last year. And as the government debates the new proposed guidelines (QRM), banks are gearing up for even more stringent standards.

Morgan Stanley recently stated:
“Recent developments in issues such as GSE reform, Dodd-Frank securitization rules, and foreclosure settlement issues suggest a tighter and more expensive environment for mortgage credit.”

This may impact any potential purchaser for your property and may also impact your next purchase.

5.) It’s time to get on with your life

Probably the most important reason to sell is so you can get on with your life. You placed your home on the market for a reason. Do not allow a less-than-stellar housing market prevent you from reaching your goals as an individual or as a family. Think about the reasons you decided to move in the first place. Are these reasons still important to you? If you have to take less than you were originally hoping to get for your house, your family has a question to ask each other: Is the dollar difference in sales price worth putting off our plans? Only you and your family know the answer to that question.

Bottom Line

If you plan to sell this year, the reasons above prove that selling now makes more sense than waiting to later in the year. Sit with a real estate professional in your area today to fully understand your best option

Courtesy of KCMBlog

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Boise's Hidden Gem!

I just got back from showing houses this morning, more accurately townhouses. These were all in a neighborhood called Warm Springs Hollow, which is a quiet secluded neighborhood close to downtown off Warm Springs avenue. These townhouses all have geothermal heat, and the neighborhood has a community year-around pool, spa and tennis courts. With its amenities and location it has been a popular though often hidden gem for people.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Walking Away From A Home

While doing a comparative market analysis for a home owner the other day in southwest Boise, I noticed a house for sale that was the next door neighbor to where I used to live. It is now for sale by a lending institution, so it has been foreclosed on. Even though it saddened me, it did not really surprise me as the owner and I had a conversation about 9 months ago. In that conversation he indicated to me that he was planning to stop paying his mortgage because the value of his house was so far below what he owed. He was a gentleman likely in his sixties, and stated that he would be dead before the house regained the value back to what he owed. (He may have been close to accurate as he had taken out a 2nd mortgage and was deeply underwater, possibly one of the highest negative equity, as far as percentage, that I’ve heard.) So although he and his wife had been home owners for nearly 40 years, they would now give up their home and join the ranks of renters.

I believe that he was on a fixed income and he likely could have continued to pay his mortgage, but choose not to. What do you think? Was he justified in the decision that he made or do you believe he was wrong?

Regardless, he is certainly not alone in his situation or his chosen course of action, and I know for him it was not an easy decision to make.

Sa-wad-dee, Meridian's Thai Restaurant

Sa-wad-dee in Meridian was a favorite stop of ours a few years ago. Then we sort have got out the habit of going there and moved on to other venues. We returned last week to experience it again. A few things have changed, they now offer a full menu of Sushi along with a bar.

We have always been impresed with their food presentation, the dishes are garnished with decorative vegatable flourishes or edible flowers. In addition the flat ware and table ware is often unique to each dish and together adds to the dining experience.

We began our meal with tempura vegetables, we recalled from the past it was one of our favorites, on this visit the oil perhaps was not yet up to temperature, as we had arrived just as they had reopened for dinner, the the tempura coating was soft when it arrived at out table and had absorbed more oil than is ideal. Another appetizer we always enjoyed is their fresh rolls, with basil, we are basil lovers and these hit the spot. (We normally requested extra basil.)

We then had Num Tok, (Spicy grilled beef salad.). With a mixture of leafy greens topped with lime juice, rice powder, chili powder,touch of cilantro and mint this was quite an enjoyable dish. Unfortunately it did not reach it's potential as the beef was not as thin sliced as it should have been nor was it noticeably grilled which would have topped the flavor off.

Our main course consisted of pad thai and panang curry. The pad thai is one of the reasons we moved on to other Thai restaurants, when these owners took over they originally offered two variations of pad thai. One is quite sweet and the other more of the smokiness imparted from a hot wok without the sweetness, they since combined into one offering resulting in a sweeter version. While I can enjoy both versions, my wife really dislikes the sweetness in pad thai.

The panang curry mixed with coconut milk with choice of meat  along with a mixture of vegetables was delicious both at the restaurant and the next day. This a combination that I really enjoy.

We were too stuffed to get one one our favorite desserts, sticky rice with mango. It is a combo of special rice, sweet coconut flavored sauce with sesame seeds  served with mango on the side. It is a masterpiece of dessert eating.

Sa-wad-dee's menu is extensive and service was very attentive. So if you are looking for Thai cuisine in Meridian you should give them a try.

*See food disclaimer

Saturday, May 7, 2011

10 Tips for Living Green at Home

10 Tips for Living Green at Home

Besides recycling and water conservation, there are many other ways to live a little greener at home. We’ve put together 10 easy tips to help you get started today.

1) Use reusable bags everywhere you shop. Most retailers even sell their own reusable bags at checkout, but you can always bring in your own. It’s a good idea to keep a few in your car for those spur-of-the-moment shopping trips. Think about how many plastic bags we’ll keep out of our landfills!

2) Have you ever considered buying in bulk? It can help you save on fuel with fewer trips to the grocery store each week. You’ll also consume less packaging material and spend less money in the long run.

3) Keep heating and air conditioning contained to the spaces you use daily. If you have rooms you only use for guests or storage, close off the vents and doors to help reduce costs and increase efficiency.

4) A programmable thermostat can make a big difference in your energy/gas bill. They’re inexpensive and easy to install.

5) Does your computer or TV run 24/7? That’s unnecessary energy consumption for items that aren’t in use. Set your computer to sleep mode when you’re finished with the task at hand. If you need the comfort of the TV to fall asleep, you can set the sleep timer to automatically shut off.

6) The morning shower… it’s a necessity to get the ball rolling, but to help conserve water and energy, you could install a low-flow showerhead or solar water heater. They’re both highly efficient and low cost.

7) For less than $150, you can install ceiling fans in your living room and bedroom. You can reduce the thermostat temperature and the room will still feel cool with the fan on.

8) Painting a room is an easy way to redecorate, but when you do repaint, try to find low Volatile Organic Compounds  (VOC) or no VOC paint. Avoid most latex and oil-based paints to eliminate toxins being released into the air.

9) Anytime you remodel or redecorate, try to find green furniture manufactured from recycled or reclaimed furniture. The local thrift stores, antique shops and flea markets have great options allowing you to recycle and save money at the same time.

10) At any given time there are at least 10 items in your home that require batteries, so why not switch to rechargeable? You’ll help keep all the remotes and gadgets going while keeping dead batteries out of our landfills.

List courtesy of American Home Shield


Friday, May 6, 2011

Meridian and Boise Houses Tie for the April Take My Breathe Away Contest!

As I drive around in various neighborhoods showing houses to prospective buyers, or visiting with sellers or preparing reports for banks, sometimes a color of house grabs my undivided attention. These "take my breath away" houses reach out and slap me upside the head and say look at me! So I thought I would feature one or two a month. Now remember I do not choose these houses, they choose me.

For April, I could not decide between these two houses, both are vivid eye catchers, so I declare it a tie! The blue one is located on the Boise bench, not far from the famous washer woman on Vista. (I will have to figure a feature for her sometime.) The orange sherbet colored home is close to Tully park in Meridian.

So I look forward to May's contest, I already snapped a very strong contender's picture today.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

No Meaningful Change in Idaho Housing Values?

A question I receive often when visiting with people about the real estate market in the Boise-Nampa area is; what are property values going to do? And I often state that I wish I had my crystal ball up and running! So I found it interesting when I listened to a recorded presentation from the National Association of Realtors last week.

Lawrence Yun, the senior economist of the National Association of Realtors, forecasts that there will be no "meaningful change" in housing values over the next two years. The MacroMarkets Home Price Expectations Survey, which is a result of 100 economists polled quarterly, expect prices to go down about 1% this year, and up 1% next year. This panel also expects cumulative appreciation to be about 10% over the next 5 years. (Mr Yun agrees.) Will Idaho follow suit? Crystal ball anyone?

It was also interesting for me to note that individually there was wide, significant dispersion of the panelist's individual home forecasts. So even though they are "experts," their crystal balls show different things and only time will have the final say.

In an additional note, distressed sales, in Mr Yun's opinion, will remain a noticeable portion of the market, at least one-third of sales for the rest of the year. Distressed sales currently are resulting in 40% of house sales nationally. Locally our numbers are similar. He also reported seeing an increase in investor activity nationally and we are locally as well.

What do you think? What will property values do in our valley?


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What Do Homeowners Say About Home Ownership?

There is no shortage of experts that want to let us know how Americans feel about owning a home after the collapse of the residential market in the last five years. They MUST be devastated. They MUST feel trapped like prisoners in their own homes. They MUST be sorry they ever bought the house. These assumptions seem logical at times and can occasionally be supported by anecdotal evidence.

However, we want to go to the only people who truly understand how homeowners feel - the homeowners themselves. There have been three major surveys done this year that can shed light on the issue:

The National Housing Survey

This survey conducted by Fannie Mae showed:

  • 96% of all homeowners said homeownership has been a positive experience.

  • 64% consider buying a home as a safe investment. Buying a home was considered safer than buying stocks by over three times the number of people (64% vs 17%).

The top four reasons to buy:

  1. It means having a good place to raise children and provide a good education

  2. You have a physical structure where you and your family feel safe

  3. It allows you to have more space for your family

  4. It gives you control over what you do with your living space (renovations & updates)

American Attitudes About Home Ownership

According to this survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the National Association of Realtors, home owners believe that home ownership benefits individuals and families and strengthens our communities.
The vast majority of home owners say that owning a home is a smart decision over the long term. Even in today’s challenging economy, 95% of owners believe that over a period of several years, it makes more sense to own a home.

Home owners are much more likely to be satisfied with the quality of their family and community life than renters. While more than half of owners (56%) are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with the overall quality of their family life, only about one-third (36%) of renters report the same levels of satisfaction. Also, 43% of home owners are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with their community life, compared with 30% of renters.

An overwhelming majority of home owners are happy with their decision to own a home. A full 93% of owners surveyed would buy again.

Pew Research Center Survey

This recent survey titled “Home Sweet Home. Still” delves into homeowners’ current belief in homeownership as a long term investment:
Homeowners whose home value has fallen only a little are equally enthusiastic about housing as a long-term investment: 85% say buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make. Among those who say their home has maintained it value or increased in value, 88% agree…

Even those who have seen their home values plummet are still committed to the idea that buying a home is a solid, long-term investment. Among those who say their home has lost a lot of its value, 80% agree that buying a home is the best long-term investment (36% strongly agree, 44% agree somewhat).

Bottom Line

There have been families that have been devastated by the current economy. However, through it all, homeowners have not wavered  in their belief in homeownership as the best long-term investment.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"And If I Had A Flag I'd Hang Me Flag Out"

As I drove past this Nampa house and saw all these flags a flying, the above old song lyric popped in my head. It is from a song titled "Thank You Very Much," from the musical Scrooge. I do not recall ever seeing the musical but I have had a little bit of that song in my memory banks for a long time. The following verse is from where I remembered a portion. (The part I remembered in bold.)

Thank you very much!
Thank you very much!
That's the nicest thing that anyone's ever done for me
I may sound Double-Dutch
But my delight is such
I feel as if a losing war's been won for me
And if I had a flag I'd hang me flag out
To add a sort of final victory touch
But since I left me flag at home
I'll simply have to say
Thank you very, very, very much!

Anyway, I do not know if these assorted flags, other than our U.S. flag, have any specific meaning or represent something. Perhaps they were just to gather attention, if that is the case then they have succeeded!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Buying Spree Ends, Are Mortgage Rates Going Up?

It was announced by the Federal Reserve at the conclusion of their 2 day meeting on Wed March 27 that they will end it's bond buying by June of this year. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says although the central bank’s second targeted initiative for pumping money into the economy will cease in June, its end is “unlikely to have a significant effect” on mortgage rates – or the broader economic recovery as a whole.

There has been concern that once it stops that a steep jump in mortgage rates could result.  However, when the first buying spree ended last March the mortgage rate increase forecast never materialized. Fed Chairman Bernanke says the market can expect the same non-event.

As the low mortgage rates are a great benefit in the stressed housing market let us all hope that Chairman Bernanke is hitting this nail on the head.