Saturday, December 31, 2011

What does a Lockbox Matter?

A couple of weeks ago I spent literally all of one day and part of the next gathering up lockboxes off all my listings and then returning and installing the newest Supra iBox BT. I drove through Nampa, Caldwell, Wilder, Melba, Kuna, Meridian, Eagle and Boise. I made another trip yesterday exchanging a few more stragglers, the ones from Glenns Ferry and Kimberly as well the one hiding beneath my seat! I began to wonder if it was all worth it. Although I do like opening them using the bluetooth on my phone, instead of carrying another ekey for that function. Then I read this article on how the newer more sophisticated boxes impact marketing time and price. Imagine that.

Does the choice of a lockbox matter?  Do the older type lockbox systems influence the final transaction price or the marketing time of property?  These questions are often pondered by real estate professionals.  Older key and combination systems are low tech, easy to employ, and less costly to the broker.  Newer electronic lockboxes are often more complicated, provide additional information by way of technology, and are slightly more expensive than their low tech counterparts.  The trade-off is therefore between ease of use, information, and cost of operation.

If the different lockbox systems do not influence transaction outcomes (price and marketing time), then the choice of the lockbox system can be left up to the broker without costs to the sellers of property.  On the other hand, if one system produces either a pricing discount or extended marketing times, then brokers need to be aware of these differences in order to better serve their clients.


Recent research by Benefield and Morgan answer these questions.[1]  The researchers directly test for the impact of lockbox type (newer electronic versus older systems) on property price and property marketing time.  After controlling for other difference in listings such as location, age, size, seller motivation, and quality, Benefield and Morgan find that older lockbox systems, on average, do not influence the time it takes to market property.  Property pricing, however, is another matter.  Specifically, Benefield and Morgan find a negative impact on price from the use of the older lockbox system.  More to the point, older lockbox systems appear to not influence marketing time but result in lower selling prices.  The pricing discount was a staggering seven percent on average.[2]


There is now statistical evidence (not just professional speculation) that indicates the inferiority of the older lockbox systems.
Therefore, wherever financially practical, brokers should stop their use of older key and combination lockbox systems in favor of the newer electronic systems.  It now appears that these newer electronic lockboxes lead to a better sharing of information and feedback between listing and showing brokers resulting in better prices.


Friday, December 30, 2011

What's in Store for Boise Housing in 2012?


Looking Ahead in my Crystal Ball...

Wouldn't it be nice to have one! What are prices AND interest rates going to do? In the absence of the crystal ball I guess we turn to the experts, which sometimes are right on the mark and sometimes not so much. I have reprinted the article below, and although it is dealing with the national market and all real estate is local, there are still some valuable insights to be gained.

The article mentions how even with a single city more desirable neighborhoods will stabilize first, and we certainly are seeing that here in the Boise Housing Area. We are still seeing high levels of foreclosures and short sales, and again the concentrations varies greatly depending on location, whether in Nampa, Eagle, Kuna or Boise, and within micro units of those cities. I would be happy to discuss any particular area you are interested in buying or have a home to sell. Just send me an email Roger@lowesflatfee.com or call 208/602-0055.


The worst for the housing market may finally be over, according to housing experts in a recent article in Kiplinger. After median home price have dropped nearly 40 percent nationwide, a rebound is taking shape -- although, housing experts say, the market may stay flat for awhile before gradually ticking up.

According to housing experts in a recent Kiplinger article, here are some predictions for the real estate market in the coming year:

Home prices stabilize: Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, predicts that home prices nationwide may still drop another 3 to 5 percent in 2012, but the new year will most likely finally bring a leveling off of home prices before gains start to take shape in 2013. When markets do begin to stabilize in the new year, “price appreciation tends to spread unevenly, creating a lot of confusion about where the recovery is occurring and when,” David Stiff, chief economist at Fiserv Case-Shiller, told Kiplinger. “Even within a single city, more desirable neighborhoods will stabilize first, while prices in other neighborhoods may fall at a rapid pace.”

Housing affordability high: Housing affordability -- the ratio of median home prices to median family income -- will likely remain at record levels in 2012. Homes in many cities are “substantially undervalued,” the Kiplinger article notes. That may even lead to a mini bubble with double-digit spikes in prices, such as an increase of 10 to 15 percent in a given year in some markets, housing experts say.

Low mortgage rates: Helping to keep affordability high, low mortgage rates are expected to continue on in 2012 -- at least the first part of the year, economists predict. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the most popular among home buyers, has been hovering under a 4-percent average the past few weeks, staying in record low territory. Rates are expected to stay between 4 to 5 percent in 2012, predicts Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry publication.

Sales increases: The National Association of REALTORS® has already been showing a tick up in sales taking shape with increases in existing-home sales during the summer and early fall of 2011. High inventories of homes continue to flood the market but a drastic slowdown in new-home building the past three years is “gradually easing the surplus,” the Kiplinger article notes.

Foreclosures: Foreclosures remain the problem and still plague many markets. After a slowdown with lenders processing the paperwork, foreclosures have began to pick up once again. About 1.84 million home loans are 90 days or more delinquent and 2.17 million have finished the foreclosure process but aren’t up for sale yet, according to RealtyTrac data. Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics at Clear Capital, told Kiplinger that he predicts regardless of the downward price pressure caused from foreclosures, overall home prices won’t fall as long as lenders bring additional foreclosures to the housing market at a steady pace.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ada County Real Estate Sales Outpace 2010!

2011 November sales were 471 in Ada County, an increase of 7.3% over November 2010.

November sales YTD are 5,763; up 7.98% over 2010 YTD. In July of 2011, we exceeded YTD 2010 sales for the first time in 2011. In August we improved to +6.1%. In September our increase was 7.2%. In October it grew to 7.6%.

November sales decreased 10% from October 2011′s 520. Historically, November sales decrease from October.

Of our total sales in November… 47% were distressed….up 2% from October 2011. In January 2011, 57% of our sales were distressed.

For homes sold in November, the average number of “Days on Market” was 78. This is essentially unchanged from last month. Down from 90 days last year this time and down from 93 days in January 2011.

Pending sales at the end of November were 748; a decrease of 7% from the end of October. Looking back at pending sales from March 2011 to November 2011, we see an average between 800 and 900 at the end of each month. The percentage of pending sales in distress decreased 1% from October, totaling 48% overall. We are now at seven consecutive months below 50%.

At the end of November, we had 11% more sales pending than at the end of November 2010.

November median home price decreased 2% from October. Overall median price was $149,500; down 3.5% from November 2010.

New Homes median price for November 2011 was $207,900; an 17% increase from October 2011. Year-to-date new homes median is up 20% over 2010 to $215,000.

The number of houses available continues to decrease. At the end of November our total active inventory was 2,190 homes. This is down 4% from October and 13% less than last year at this time. We stand a very real chance of having our total active inventory going below 2,000 by year end.

At the same time, the percentage of distressed active inventory increased 3% from October to 36%. We have been hovering between 33% and 36% since May. We remain well below the 40% levels set last spring….when we were on the increase.

In Ada County we have 4.3 months of inventory on hand…historically this number defines a strong “seller’s market”. The price category in shortest supply is $100,000 to $119,000 with 2.5 months. This is closely followed by <$100,000 with 2.8 months available. In the range of $120,000 to $250,000 there is 4.5 months. $200,000 to $249,000 with 5 months. We continue to “benefit” from inventory levels much lower than national average.

Based on November sold data, our most desirable price point is $120,000 to $160,000 which made up 21% of total sales.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Save BIG bucks, Hire an Idaho Real Estate Professional!

Real estate commissions can take a huge chunk of your equity when selling a home, so many people decide to sell their homes on their own, which is a very understandable position.  But there is also compelling reasons to hire that real estate expert, to get your home sold for the best price AND get it closed. Lowes Flat Fee Realty offers you expert knowledgeable full service while saving you thousands in commissions.

Take a look at this recent article.

The Need for a True Real Estate Professional


The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explained in a recent Existing Sales Report that 18% of all contracts were cancelled in the previous. This compares to 16% the prior month and 9% in August of 2010.

The good news is homeowners have realized that attempting to sell their home on their own is an arduous process best left to an industry expert. According to NAR’s 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the percentage of sellers selling on their own, known as For Sale By Owners (FSBOs), has dropped almost in half over the last 20 years:

Bottom Line

If you are selling a home in today’s confusing real estate market, it is best to take on the services of a local real estate expert. He/she will guide you through each step of the transaction thereby increasing the likelihood that there will be fewer inconveniences for you and your family.

Hire Lowes Flat Fee Realty! You can pay more to sell your home but why would you want to?


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Idaho Mortgages After Foreclosure, Bankruptcy or Short Sale

Getting a mortgage after foreclosure (© Alex Stojanov/Alamy)

Buying a home is a challenging goal for most hopeful homeowners. But for those who have experienced a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale, the hurdles are even higher.

Still, it's not impossible to buy a home after financial difficulties, says Dan Keller, a mortgage banker with Hometown Lending in Everett, Wash. In fact, Keller says, people who have cleaned up their credit and are otherwise qualified to get a mortgage can buy a home as soon as they have outlasted a prescribed waiting period after the bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale.

Wait a while
The waiting period can last one to seven years, says Kirk Chivas, chief operating officer at First Commerce Financial in Wixom, Mich. The one-year requirement applies to buyers who complete a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, have a spotless subsequent credit history and want to get a new loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The seven-year requirement applies to buyers who experienced a foreclosure and want to get a new conventional loan that can be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

In between are a number of two-, three- and four-year timelines based on similar criteria and other factors such as whether the buyer's previous mortgage was current at the time of a short sale or the size of the buyer's new down payment as a percentage of the home's purchase price.

Generally speaking, the waiting periods after a bankruptcy tend to be more black and white while the waits after a foreclosure or short sale have more gray areas, Keller says. And in some cases, a waiting period can be waived or shortened if the buyer's bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale was due to extenuating circumstances or a hardship beyond his control.

Technically, it is possible for a buyer whose prior loan wasn't in default at the time of a short sale to get a new FHA-insured loan with no waiting period, Chivas says. But he adds that he's never encountered anyone in that situation.

Clean credit
Buyers must have very clean or perfect credit histories before they can buy homes after bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale. A slip-up as small as one late credit card payment could disqualify a post-bankruptcy buyer from some loan programs, even if the waiting period has been completed, Keller says.

"Bankruptcy is a serious word," he says. "If you do it, it's a get-out-jail-free card. But once you get out of bankruptcy, you need to be flawless in your credit. Don't even drop a gum wrapper."

Credit dings can be difficult to sort out for buyers who experienced a loan modification or short sale, in part because, as Chivas says, there's "no consistency" in how lenders report those events to the credit bureaus. Buyers should review their credit reports and correct any errors or clarify the circumstances of adverse items.

Stable employment can be a plus, too, Keller says, noting that some loan programs are more lenient than others. "If there was a gap," he says, "it needs to be explained."

Consult a loan pro
Given these complexities, buyers are advised to consult a loan officer or mortgage broker early on for advice that applies to their situation.

"They may think they're fine, but if they're not talking to a professional, their hopes can get dashed or crushed," Chivas says. "That's why you want to speak to someone as soon as you start dreaming it up in your head" that you want to buy a home after a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale.

If you would like a recommendation of a great local loan professional contact me. roger@lowesflatfee.com.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why don't you tell us something we don't already know!

Hey Boise-Nampa residents are you ready for a newsflash? Well sorry this isn't one. I always love it when I read how some major study, (taking lots of tax dollars,) now concludes what everyone already knew. Thus was the case yesterday in reading the Idaho Statesman about how real estate investors played a large roll in the real estate bust. If you paid attention to the Boise-Nampa real estate market during the price run up and subsequent bust the response is a great big, WELL DUH!  So we as taxpayers just paid how much to learn what we already knew?

Here you can read the article yourself.

LAS VEGAS — A new federal report shows that speculative real estate investors played a larger role than originally thought in driving the housing bubble that led to record foreclosures and sent economies plummeting in Nevada, California, Arizona, Florida and other states. (IDAHO)

Researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that investors who used low-down-payment, subprime credit to purchase multiple residential properties helped inflate home prices and are largely to blame for the recession. The researchers said their findings focused on an "undocumented" dimension of the housing market crisis that had been previously overlooked as officials focused on how to contain the financial crisis, not what caused it.

More than a third of all U.S. home mortgages granted in 2006 went to people who already owned at least one house, according to the report. In Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada, where average home prices more than doubled from 2000 to 2006, investors made up nearly half of all mortgage-backed purchases during the housing bubble. Buyers owning three or more properties represented the fastest-growing segment of homeowners during that time.

"This may have allowed the bubble to inflate further, which caused millions of owner-occupants to pay more if they wanted to buy a home for their family," the researchers noted.

Investors defaulted in large numbers after home values began to drop in 2006. They accounted for more than 25 percent of seriously delinquent mortgage balances nationwide, and more than a third in Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada from 2007 to 2009.

As a result, millions of homeowners saw their home values decline so that they were worth less than the original purchase price. Foreclosures skyrocketed as people couldn't or refused to pay their underwater mortgages. Residential construction also languished, putting hundreds of construction workers in the hardest-hit states out of work.

The report concludes that lenders and regulators must limit speculative borrowing to avoid future housing busts. For example, in China, government officials are now requiring higher down-payments and mortgage rates on investment homes, according to the report.

In Nevada, which has the nation's highest foreclosure rate, the housing market remains weak, with home prices continuing to fall in the Las Vegas area, where most of the state lives.

Home prices were down 7.3 percent in November compared to a year before, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. That means the median price dropped from $134,900 to $125,000 in one year. More than half of all home sales were purchased with cash.

Paul Bell, president of the real estate association, said amateur investors were behind the soaring home values seen during the first half of the last decade, but noted those buyers were simply taking advantage of how easy it was to buy homes at the time because of questionable lending practices and government pressure on banks to promote home ownership.

"There was blame to go around for everybody," Bell said.

The market has now shifted so that cash investors are helping Las Vegas recover by buying multiple vacant homes, fixing them up and selling them, Bell said.

"If we did not have the serious investors in the market ... we would have many neighborhoods in a very run-down condition," he said.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Common Sense Isn't So Common!

While the statement, common sense isn't so common, seems to be true in a great many aspects today, there are few places where it is less applicable than in today's world of mortgage lending.  At times it can defy all logic. I have reprinted today's article from KCM Blog.

It used to be that there was logic applied in the world of mortgage lending. An appraiser determined the value of a home by the axiom, “what a reasonable buyer would pay a reasonable seller”. An underwriter weighed the plusses and minuses of a file (after analyzing the income, the assets, the credit profile and the appraisal) and made a judgment call based on their experience.

Loans with sizable down payments used to be more flexible with how income was documented or what quality of credit was required. Even the decision of what made up “good credit” has been reduced to a FICO score. Determining the risk of a loan affected its approval or denial. Further, loans deemed riskier were given less favorable terms (higher rates and/or costs or larger down payments).

But today, everyone has tried to quantify everything and put everything into a matrix. Credit scores are numerical, and the number determines eligibility and cost. Gone is the concept of explaining why you have defects in your credit. We don’t care why, we just look at your score. Appraisers now are being scored and their data being scrutinized to a level most would find mind-boggling. Amenities that make a home worth more for a particular buyer (like a pool or upgraded basement) are virtually ignored. Underwriters have primarily become fact-checkers and quality control as a computer software program underwrites the vast majority of mortgages today.

Gone is common sense. It has been replaced by numerical formulas and a cover-my-behind, justify-everything-with-data mentality. Basically, the pendulum has swung too far. It used to be that lending was too easy (see the subprime debacle), but now we have eliminated too much of the human element. We need common sense back.

People who have saved 30% for a down payment know what they can afford monthly. Don’t they?

People who had a medical challenge two years ago that is not likely to reappear should not have a twenty year credit history destroyed. Should they?

People aren’t likely to overpay for a home with so much inventory and all the media exposure about falling prices. Are they?

Bring back some common sense when we need it most!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Real Estate, A Hedge Against Inflation.

We haven’t heard a lot about inflation recently. However, prices have started to creep upward over the last year. As examples, here are a few categories that increased from November 2010 to November 2011:

  • Food at home – up 6.2%

  • Housing fuels and utilities – up 3.5%

  • Transportation – up 9.2%

Today, we want to address the issue of inflation and the advantages of owning real estate. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) took an historic look at the impact of inflation. Here are some inflation numbers over the past 30 years:

We can see that real estate has fared very well. The most important number is the $0 increase in mortgage amount. The study assumed that the homeowner took a 30 year fixed rate mortgage thereby locking in the housing expense for the thirty years.

NAR then looked at inflation moving forward over the next thirty years. Obviously, if it remained the same as the last thirty years the percentage increase would be the same. They looked at a low inflation scenario and a high inflation scenario. The graph below shows the findings:

Bottom Line

We can lock in the housing costs of our primary residences and vacation homes at all time lows if we purchase today. Either would be a great hedge against future inflation.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tips for Boise WInter Sellers.

Traditionally the winter months are the slowest times for selling homes in Idaho. Although in the past few years other forces have played a greater impact than season. Events such as the tax credit, falling prices, rock bottom interest rates and overall state of the economy have altered the normal ebb and flow to which we have become accustomed. The winter selling season still provides it's own set of selling challenges.

I have excerpted a few tips from an article produced by rismedia.

[1]If your home will be for sale this winter, it is important to master certain seasonal issues that are less significant or even non-existent at other times of the year. Here are bits of sage advice that can help put a “Sold” sticker on that yard sign.

Let Those Lights Shine: The best way to combat winter’s short and frequently cloudy days is to turn on your house lights. For a showing, every single light in the house must be on, even in the closets and utility/mechanical rooms, according to Marlene Granacki of RE/MAX Exclusive Properties, Chicago.

“Make sure all the bulbs are working, and stock up on all the right bulbs for lamps and fixtures so burned out bulbs can be replaced immediately,” she advises. “Also, it’s a great idea to keep the lights on in the front of the house even if no showings are scheduled. People are always driving past the house, and keeping it lighted makes it look happy and welcoming.”

She also advises opening the drapes and blinds during the day to let in light and let visitors enjoy the view.

Provide Convenient Parking: It’s vital that buyers have a convenient place to park. They won’t want to walk very far in cold weather or be forced to climb over a snow bank to exit their vehicle.

Keep Odors Under Control: Any home tends to be stuffy in winter when windows are opened rarely. That can allow odors to build up, which can be a turn-off to buyers.

“Pet odors can be especially worrisome in winter,” says Mike Mondello of RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, Ill. “Use a room fragrance if needed, but nothing too strong, and I recommend that in winter sellers clean more often.” For example, change the cat litter daily, rather than every third or fourth day, or even consider using an air purifier.

If pets are in the house, consider setting the thermostat control so that the furnace fan runs constantly during the day to keep air moving through the house and dissipate odors. Also try to avoid strong cooking odors, especially if a showing is scheduled that day.

Cultivate a Festive Look: Appropriate decorations for Christmas and even St. Valentine’s Day help give a home a cheerful look during the winter months.

“I really believe that holiday decorations can help homes sell, but don’t go to excess,” suggests Starr Zook of RE/MAX On Track in Aledo, Ill.

Don’t Ignore the Outdoors: Make a good first impression on buyers with a neatly maintained yard. Walks and steps should be kept clear, especially of snow and ice.

Don’t Roast Buyers: We all tend to prefer a specific temperature for our homes during the winter, but don’t blast buyers with hot air. Keep the temperature at a comfortable 65 degrees for all showings. Remember, buyers are likely to be wearing their coats even as they walk through the house.

Keep Seasonal Clothing under Control: “One major challenge of selling a home during the winter months is the overabundance of cold weather gear that must be stored,” says Mike Mondello. “A buyer doesn’t want to find the mudroom filled with boots or the hall closet overflowing with heavy coats. Shift some winter coats to another closet and put anything not needed in the closet into storage.”

Encourage Day Time Showings: A home shows to its best advantage during daylight hours, which are relatively scarce in winter.

“Encourage your agent to show your home before 3 p.m. and have it ready to show by 9 a.m. if you want the best results,” Granacki recommends.

Despite the special challenges of marketing a home during winter, there also are benefits, notes Laura Ortoleva, a spokesperson for the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network.

“Buyers out looking at homes in December or January are, as a group, quite serious about buying. Therefore, sellers tend to benefit because each showing is more productive, and fewer showings are needed to sell the property,” she said.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A bit of Christmas Goodwill.

Fannie Mae, banks halt foreclosures for the holidays

By Les Christie @CNNMoney December 1, 2011: 4:11 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Happy holidays struggling homeowners! Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and several large mortgage lenders have pledged not to foreclose on delinquent borrowers during the Christmas season.

For homeowners with loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac , the moratorium will run from Dec. 19 to Jan. 2. During this time, legal and administrative proceedings for evictions may continue, but families will be allowed to stay in their homes, Fannie said in a statement.

"No family should have to give up their home during this holiday season," said Terry Edwards, an executive vice president for Fannie Mae.

Among some of the major banks that offer mortgage loans, Chase Mortgage said it will not evict anyone between Dec. 22 and Jan. 2. Wells Fargo will also suspend evictions during that period, but will not shut down its eviction machinery entirely.

The bank said it will observe the moratorium on foreclosed properties in its own portfolio but for loans it services for other lenders "foreclosure-related actions may still occur."

Bank of America said that it would "avoid foreclosure sales or displacement of homeowners or tenants around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays."

However, that policy only applies to loans the bank itself owns. Like Wells Fargo, it will also honor the wishes of the owners of the loans it services, which could mean moving forward with certain foreclosures.

A holiday halt on foreclosures by the major mortgage lenders could affect tens of thousands of homeowners. An average of 89,000 foreclosure auctions a month have been scheduled this year, according to RealtyTrac. Once a home has gone through that process, eviction is the next step.

There could be a small handful of borrowers who might benefit permanently from the suspension, according to Daren Blomquist, a spokesman for RealtyTrac.

Sometimes, albeit very rarely, a Christmas miracle will occur where a borrower finds the cash to get current on their mortgage again and keep their home.

For the overwhelming majority of borrowers in default, however, "[i]t's a temporary reprieve, a symbolic gesture to help people out during the holidays," said Blomquist.

Then, come the New Year, everyone gets back to business, including mortgage lenders.  To top of page


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fire Safety Tips for Idaho Homeowners!

Fire safety tips to protect your family

(ARA) - House fires happen more frequently during the winter months each year due to holiday decorations, malfunctioning furnaces and increased use of cooking appliances and fireplaces, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

As winter approaches, now is a good time for homeowners to make fire escape plans and take steps to prevent house. Every member of your family, from your youngest child to the oldest senior, can help to protect your home from fire and learn how to assist others in getting out in case a fire does occur.

Here are some actions you can take this fall to protect your house and family.

  • Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Go through your entire house and make sure you put new Duracell CopperTop batteries in every detector. You should have a smoke detector on every floor in the house, as well as just outside of every bedroom.

    "Installing a smoke detector is one of the strongest defenses for a family to prevent devastating fires and ensure loved ones are alerted and escape a potentially dangerous situation," says Philip Stittleburg, chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council. "A good habit to develop is to replace your batteries in your smoke detector every fall to ensure the detectors will work in the event there is a fire in your home."

  • Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected. Residue from previous fires can build up in the chimney, and if the conditions are right, catch on fire. Schedule a chimney cleaning every year if you plan to use your fireplace.

  • Unplug holiday decorations when you're away from the house or have gone to bed.

  • If using space heaters in your home or garage, keep them at least three feet away from any objects, and don't leave them running and unattended.

  • With all the holiday cooking you're bound to do, be sure to practice safe cooking methods. For instance, keep anything flammable away from the stove and oven, always roll up your sleeves when working around a hot range and never leave the kitchen unattended when cooking.

  • Store lighters and matches out of reach of children and pets, and never leave a burning candle unattended.

  • Establish escape routes for second story and higher rooms. You may need to purchase escape ladders that can be stored under the bed in case a family member would need to leave the house through the window.

  • Organize a family escape plan. Put the plan down on paper, and then run through it several times so everyone - including your youngest children - knows exactly how they're getting out of the house, and where they're supposed to meet outside. Review this plan yearly.

All members of your family can work together to prevent fires. With a fire safety plan in mind, you'll be able to enjoy the fall and winter months without worrying about your family's safety.

Courtesy of ARAcontent


Monday, December 5, 2011

Idaho Homes Are Affordable!

The silver lining for home buyers in this dark cloud for sellers is that homes are much more affordable. I included a report summarizing a national report.

Housing Affordability Hovers Near Record Levels

Ultra-low interest rates mixed with stabilizing home prices continued to push housing affordability in the third quarter near its highest levels in more than two decades, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.


For the third quarter, 72.9 percent of all homes sold were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,200, according to the index. This marks the 11th consecutive quarter that the affordability measure was above 70 percent; prior to this it rarely was above 60 percent.

"With interest rates at historically low levels and markets across the country beginning to improve, home ownership is within reach of more households than it has been for nearly two decades," Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. "However, tough economic conditions - particularly in markets that experienced major changes in house prices and production - as well as extremely tight credit conditions confronting home buyers and builders continue to remain significant obstacles to many potential home sales."


The most affordable major housing market nationwide? Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla., in which 92.5 percent of all homes sold were found to be affordable to households earning the median family income of $53,800 for the area. Other affordable major markets included Toledo, Ohio; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; and Ogden-Clearfield, Utah. For smaller housing markets, Fairbanks, Alaska, ranked the highest, in which 97.8 percent of homes sold during the third quarter were found to be affordable to families earning the median income of $91,700.


Meanwhile, the least affordable major housing market continues to be New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., in which 23.3 percent of all homes sold were affordable to those earning the area's median income of $67,400.

Source: National Association of Home Builders
Daily Real Estate News


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why You Need an Expert in Idaho.

I am proud to offer you a lower cost alternative to selling your home while still providing both the exposure and market knowledge you need. I am experienced and knowledgeable, both in representing buyers and sellers. I can help you avoid many pitfalls and assist in accomplishing what is best for you.

The following article from KCM Blog elaborates on the benefits of professional help.


Yesterday, we explained that having someone who truly knows the market was crucial if you were planning to buy or sell a home today. This expert should know what is happening in real estate, understand why it is happening and be able to simply and effectively explain each point to you and your family.  Today, we want to discuss the consequences if you don’t have a true industry professional on your side.

When families enter into a contract to buy or sell a house, two things are true:

  1. The buyer wants to own the home.

  2. The seller wants to sell the home.

In order for both these things to take place, the transaction must be completed. That is not an easy task in the current market.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Homes Sales Report yesterday. In the report, NAR announced that one out of every three contracts to purchase a home in October never made it to a closing table.  How does that ratio stack up against previous numbers? Here is a graph showing previous rates of cancellations:

Cancellations have more than quadrupled in the last 14 months! According to NAR, cancellations are caused by:
“… declined mortgage applications, failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price, or other problems including home inspections and employment losses.”

Bottom Line

No one can guarantee you won’t face challenges. However, the best agents and mortgage professionals know how to manage the expectations of all the parties involved thus dramatically increasing the chances your deal will close and you and your family will be able to move on with your lives. Hire that true professional!!

To hire me as your true professional,call 208-602-0055 or email me at Roger@LowesFlatFee.com