Archive for February, 2012

Market Conditions

By Paula K. Stern

Real Estate projections are in, and optimism is running high in Boise. Let’s start with local stats. January sales were up 10.4% over January 2011. Although this is still below December 2011 sales, historically, January sales are the lowest of the year. Pending sales were a different story – up over 25% from December.

More good news is reflected in the decline in the glut of homes which has saturated the market over the last few years. January’s inventory dropped 3% from December and a whopping 29% from January 2011. Ada County’s overall inventory is at a 4.5 month supply – historically a strong sellers’ market. However, anyone looking for a home under $119,000 already knows they are being gobbled up very quickly, as the inventory remains at a mere 2.5 months in this price range.

The FISERV Case-Shiller Home Price Index reported that most of the 380 metro areas they analyzed will continue to see a drop in prices throughout 2012, including Las Vegas which is predicted to drop over 10% by the end of next quarter. Yet Boise has bucked this trend, as we are one of the few areas where they are projecting a 5.9% price increase by the end of next quarter!

Research results from have ranked Boise 6th out of 146 markets most likely to see a housing turnaround in 2012. Based on fourth quarter housing data of US Cities, Boise was the only city in the Rocky Mountain region to make the list. All Top 10 locations are areas that have been heavily affected by foreclosures, which have pushed home prices down lower than most metro markets across the nation. Distressed homes in Ada County still make up over 50% of sales and over 30% of listings, but this is down from the previous 2 years. Although there is still too much bad news about jobs and unemployment, it is nice to hear some good news in the real estate portion of our economy. Stay tuned to see how it all plays out


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New Lot Pricing – Lewis Crossing Subdivision

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ENERGY STAR® Homebuilders

ENERGY STAR homes are better built, more comfortable homes that save you money on your utility bills every month.

Every Northwest ENERGY STAR certified home is built to meet energy efficient guidelines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.

From energy efficient windows to advanced heating and cooling systems, ENERGY STAR homes guarantee greater savings, comfort and peace-of-mind.

Simply stated, ENERGY STAR homes are built better for you and the environment.

Better For Your Pocketbook

ENERGY STAR homes are at least 15 percent more efficient than code-built new homes, making them some of the most energy efficient homes on the market today. By using less energy, ENERGY STAR homes cost less to operate, which means more money in your wallet month after month. Combined with potential higher resale values, ENERGY STAR homes represent a smart investment.

Better Heating And Cooling

Enjoy a home with even temperatures throughout the year. Tightly-sealed ductwork, high-performance windows and properly installed insulation make your home more comfortable.

Better For The Environment

The energy used by American homes accounts for 20 percent of total U.S. carbon dioxide CO2emissions. ENERGY STAR certified homes perform better than standard code-built homes and require less energy for heating, cooling and hot water. This amounts to reduced air pollution and a healthier environment for everyone.

Better For You

ENERGY STAR Homes have healthier indoor air, as performance-tested ductwork keeps the air inside your home clean by reducing the possibility of drawing unwanted air from your home’s attic, basement, crawl spaces and garage.

Peace Of Mind

Relax knowing your ENERGY STAR qualified home was tested and certified by an independent third-party to meet ENERGY STAR standards. The ENERGY STAR label is your assurance you have purchased an energy efficient home.

Your builder is building for you if they are building ENERGY STAR Certified Homes.

Click here to view Idaho Power’s list of ENERGY STAR Homebuilders.

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Q & A: What you need to know about the mortgage settlement


Some $100 million of the settlement money will help Idaho homeowners who are under water on their mortgages — that is, they owe more than their homes are worth.

Many companies that process foreclosures failed to verify documents. Some employees signed papers they hadn’t read. Or they used fake signatures to speed foreclosures — a step called “robo-signing.” As a result, some homes were seized improperly.

“The settlement holds the participating banks accountable for their unacceptable mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices and provides relief to homeowners,” Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “Backed by a federal court order, the settlement will aid homeowners with enforceable changes to how their loans are serviced.”

Here are questions and answers:

Q. What is this settlement?

A: It’s the result of an 18-month multistate law enforcement investigation of the participating banks’ servicing practices. The investigation began in response to allegations that the banks were filing fraudulent documents with the courts in judicial foreclosure cases. A judicial foreclosure is one that is conducted under the supervision of a court. While Idaho allows for judicial foreclosures, it is not widely used here. In Idaho, foreclosure is most often done by “advertisement and sale.” In such foreclosures, the lender does not file documents in court. Instead, the lender or servicer notifies the borrower of the default and the lender’s decision to sell the property at a trustee’s sale.

Idaho’s $114 million is part of a $25 billion state-federal settlement that resolves state and federal claims relating to mortgage origination, servicing, and foreclosure practices of Bank of America, Citi, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally, and Wells Fargo. Together, these companies service about half of the U.S. mortgage loan market.

Q: Who stands to benefit?

A: Most of the money would go to some homeowners who are underwater. Many are struggling to make their payments and are at risk of foreclosure. Yet because they have no home equity, they’ve been unable to refinance into a lower-rate loan. For about 1 million underwater homeowners, their loan principal will be reduced by an average of $20,000. But more than 90 percent of underwater homeowners won’t be helped. Some, however, might be eligible to refinance at a rate of 5.25 percent.

In Idaho, about $75 million is being set aside to help them with loan modifications and other direct relief. Another $15 million will help underwater homeowners refinance their loans. And $10 million will go to cash payments averaging $1,500 to $2,000 each for about 5,000 Idaho borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure from 2008 through 2011 because of substandard loan-servicing practices. A spokesman for Wasden said it isn’t known how many Idahoans will get help with loan modifications and refinancings.

Q: Could I be eligible for relief?

A: You may, if your loans are owned or guaranteed by private lenders. Roughly half the mortgages in the United States — about 30 million loans — are owned by private lenders. The other half are owned by government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Homeowners with these mortgages aren’t eligible.

Q: How might the settlement help people avoid foreclosures?

A: It requires that banks make foreclosure a last resort. And it bars lenders from foreclosing on a homeowner who is being considered for a loan modification. If this worked effectively, “it would help borrowers, lenders, the entire country,” said Ray Brescia, a visiting law professor at Yale University who has tracked the housing crisis. But he cautioned that it would help only if diligently enforced.

Q: Will homeowners still be able to take action against lenders on their own?

A: Homeowners who get checks will not lose their rights to sue lenders in court. And states will still be able to criminally charge lenders and servicers who engaged in deceptive or illegal foreclosure practices. Missouri, for example, charged a Georgia-based mortgage servicer and its founder last week on charges of falsifying 68 notarized deeds on behalf of mortgage lenders.

Q: Will I be told if I’m eligible for help?

A: Because of the complexity of the mortgage market and this agreement, which will span a three-year period, in some cases participating mortgage servicers will contact borrowers directly regarding loan modification options. However, Idahoans with loans serviced by the five participating banks should contact their banks directly to obtain more information about specific loan modification programs and requirements, Wasden said. The national settlement administrator may also contact borrowers regarding certain aspects of the settlement.

Q: How can I find out more?

A: Information about this settlement and other mortgage-related subjects will be available on the attorney general’s website at In addition, a website dedicated to this settlement has been created at

The Idaho Department of Finance said homeowners with loans serviced by one of the five settling mortgage servicers may contact the servicer directly: Ally/GMAC (800-766-4622), Bank of America (877-488-7814), Citi (866-272-4749), JPMorgan Chase (866-372-6901) and Wells Fargo (800-288-3212).

Q: Could the settlement help repair the troubled housing market?

A: Possibly, but only in the long run. U.S. banks will likely process foreclosures faster now that a deal has been finalized. Foreclosure filings have slowed because of backlogged courts, judges skeptical of foreclosure documents and lenders awaiting a final government-backed deal. “If it helps 1 million homeowners over the next few years, it should help housing prices stabilize and start rising again,” said Mark Zandi, economist at Moody’s Analytics. “And this should unclog the foreclosure process.”

Benefits for homeowners

The settlement provides for comprehensive new servicing and foreclosure protections for borrowers, including:

• An end to robo-signing.

• Timely and accurate application of borrowers’ payments.

• Proper oversight of third-parties (e.g., attorneys, trustee companies, etc.) that participate in servicing or foreclosure activities.

• Adequate staffing and systems to track loan modification documents.

• Notice of delinquency to the borrower 14 days before the loan is referred to foreclosure.

• Notice to the borrower of all loss mitigation options before the loan is referred to foreclosure.

• Restrictions on simultaneous loan modification reviews and foreclosure actions (i.e., dual-track).

• A single point of contact for each borrower who contacts the bank about a loan modification.

• A decision on loan modification applications within 30 days of receipt.

• Enhanced protections for individuals serving in the military.

• An independent internal review of all loan modification denials.

• Development of a short sale process that allows borrowers to obtain a short sale evaluation before putting the home on the market.

• Proper documentation of the banks’ authority to foreclose.

Source: Idaho Attorney General’s Office

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No Money Down Home Loan

The Good Credit Rewards Program through Idaho Housing offers a 2nd mortgage for your down payment.

Income limits apply since it’s through IHFA.

Fixed 30 year loan program – NO balloon payment, ARM, rate adjustment, etc.

Borrowers must contribute $500 towards the transaction of their own funds (can be gift funds from a family member)

Borrowers can’t have more than 3 month payments in liquid assets at the time of closing as this loan is based on need.

Borrower must take IHA’s First Time homebuyer class (this can be done online for $50 per person).

If you are interested in this type of loan and want to be prequalified, please let me know. I will be happy to refer you to a qualified and reputable lender that can help.

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Brittania Heights available Floor Plan


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Open Lots in Lewis Crossing!

Lewis Crossing is located in South Nampa less than five minutes from Shopping and hospitals.  Lots range from 1-4 acres and horses are welcome.  Each lot has natural gas, pressurized irrigation.  Home owners will need to have their own individual well and septic system.  Bring all your toys out to Lewis Crossing and see what South Nampa has to offer.

Lots starting at $69,900.

Location: ¼ mile east of the intersection of South Powerline Rd. and Lewis Ln. on the north side of  Lewis Lane


Elementary – Sunnyridge Elementary

Middle – South Middle

High – Skyview

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Cedar Edge

Cedar Edge is a smaller diverse community with three distinctive building teams offering first class architecture and style. Ranging from patio homes to larger two story homes and RV bays Cedar Edge has something for everybody.


Location: South on Maple Grove, West on Lake Hazel, North on Snowdrift Ave into community


School District Boise School District #1

Grade School Lake Hazel Elementary

Jr High School Lake Hazel Middle School

Sr High School Mountain View High School


Cedar Edge CC&R



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Vista Ridge

Lots for sale starting at $19,900!


• Lot sizes from 6,000 to 14,000+ sq. ft.
• Daylight Basement Lots & Basement Lots
• Beautiful View Lots and Waterfall Entry
• 2+ Acre Park w/gazebo, playground & more
• Three Phases – 150+ Total Lots – 47 Lots in Phase 1
• Subdivision models will be open 7 days a week.

Vista Ridge CC&R

Located in Nampa, Idaho off of 12th Avenue near D & B Supply.

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Thawing Frozen Pipes

You may think your entire plumbing system is in perfect working order and there is little or no chance of a pipe bursting and flooding your house. There is one situation, however, you may not have considered. Water that freezes during the winter in an unprotected pipe expands, and that expansion can rupture an otherwise sound pipe.

A frozen pipe is always an inconvenience, but it can actually result in a much more serious situation than just a temporary loss of water. By taking the proper preventive steps, you may never need to worry about thawing frozen pipes, or worse, repairing a pipe that bursts when the water in it freezes solid.

Here’s what to do if you wake up some frigid winter morning to find a water pipe frozen solid:

Step 1: Open faucet so steam produced by your thawing activities will be able to escape.

Step 2: Start thawing pipe (see pipe-thawing options below) at faucet, and work back toward other end of frozen section. As you melt ice, water and steam will come out open faucet. If you started in the middle, steam produced by melting ice could get trapped and build up enough pressure to burst the pipe.

Pipe-thawing options: There are several things you can do to thaw your home’s pipes. Here’s a list:

  • Probably the most popular and safest pipe-thawing option is to use hot water. Wrap and secure heavy towel or burlap bag around pipe to concentrate and hold heat against it. Place bucket under pipe to catch runoff water, then pour hot or boiling water over towel.
  • A less messy but far more dangerous heat source for thawing frozen pipes is a propane torch equipped with a flame-spreader nozzle. With this heat source, you must be extremely careful to prevent torch flame from damaging or igniting wall behind pipe. A scrap of fireproof material between pipe and wall is a good precautionary measure, but the way you use the torch is the main element in safe pipe thawing. Keep flame moving back and forth. Never leave it in one spot very long. Be especially careful if you’re near any soldered pipe joints. Pass over them very quickly or else they may melt and cause leaks, and you’ll find that you have a much more serious plumbing problem on your hands than a frozen pipe. Caution: Never use torch or other direct high heat on plastic pipe.
  • If you want to avoid the messiness of thawing with hot water and the danger of melting soldered joints with propane torch, try heat lamp or hair dryer as heat source. These work less quickly but are much safer.

To thaw a frozen drainpipe, remove trap, and insert length of garden hose into pipe. When you can’t push hose any farther, it has probably reached the ice. Raise your end of the hose and feed hot water in through a funnel. This way, the hot water is sure to get to the problem area. You must be careful when using this technique.

Until the ice melts and drains down the pipe, the hot water you pour in will back up toward you. Have a bucket ready to catch the overflow, and be careful not to scald yourself.



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