Home Buying Tips

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When you're hunting for Boise real estate deals, be sure to understand that price per square foot aloneis not a good estimator of value.  I find that many people too quickly jump to price per square foot without considering the factors that affect a homes value.  Price per square foot is only a reasonable measure to use when:

  • The total square footage is similar. All other things held equal, a 1500 square feet home is not a good comparison to 2500 square foot home.  Smaller homes have a higher price per square foot because the land value has more of an influence and larger homes have economies of scale.
  • Similar quality and finishes. A home with hardwood, granite, tile walk-in shower, etc. is going to have a higher price per square foot than a
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The first thing you should do when you begin thinking about purchasing a home is to get a loan pre-approval letter.  Do not wait, even if you're months away from purchasing.  Here's 3 reasons to get pre-approved immediately.

1) Resolve Issues. If you have any issues with your credit you'll find out and know what you need to fix.

2) You know what you can afford. There is no sense looking above or below the home you can afford.  When you talk to a lender, request a "good faith estimate (GFE)."  This will disclose the interest rate, payment, fees, and estimated closing costs.

3) Allows you to react quickly. Any offer should include a loan pre-approval letter (short sale and bank-owned real estate requires it).  You're going to want to have this in

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Are you ever amazed at the amount of information and tools available to you on the Internet?  I love finding websites that give me useful and free information.  I have dozens of my favorite sites bookmarked and I thought I would share with you what I consider the must have sites if you're searching for real estate in the Boise Idaho area.

Ada County Assessor Website- You can search for a parcel and find:

  • Current and past tax information like assessed value, annual taxes, and levies.
  • Residential and lot characteristics (square footage, lot size, zoning, etc).
  • Aerial photos.  This is my favorite and most used feature, if you select: "view interactive map," an aerial photo comes up highlighting the parcel boundaries.  You can even select the
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Have you wondered how much you can negotiate off Boise bank foreclosures (REO's)? Well, the truth is it depends.  The major factors are location, price range, day's on market, terms and conditions of the offer, and the bank.  As you will see, there's a range of how much the banks will negotiate and not all situtations are the same.  If you're looking at a specific REO and would like to know my opinion I would be happy to talk with you.

For this blog, I complied the Boise bank-foreclosure sales from October 1, 2008 through November 30, 2008.

The most negotiated off the asking price was 22% while several sold for over the asking price.   The average percentage was 4% and the median 3%.  Please keep in mind, that most of these sales also had the bank

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When it comes to buying foreclosures in the Boise Idaho area, there's really three main stages or opportunities to do so: pre-foreclosures, foreclosure auctions, or bank foreclosures (bank-owned).


1) Idaho Pre-Foreclosures. A home that's for sale before it actually goes to the foreclosure auction is known as a pre-foreclosure.  Most short sales are pre-foreclosures- they have usually missed payments and are trying to get it sold before the auction to mitigate the damage done to their credit.  Please understand, a home is a short sale when it is being offered for sale for less than what is owed and asking the lender to take the loss.  It's called a "short sale" because the sale price does not cover the loan amount, not because it's being purchased

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Please let me first clarify by saying that I specialize helping buyer's with short sale and bank-owned real estate.  However, I've found that if we can locate you the right bank-owned home, it's generally the best route to pursue.  Here's five reasons why:

1. You can buy it at the advertised price (unless bid up). Many people don't realize the asking price on short sales has not been approved by the lender and may or may not be realistic.  I've seen listing agents cutting prices well below what the lender's accept just to get an offer on the table so they can get the ball rolling with the loss mitigation department.   This results in frustrated buyer's when the lender comes back with an approved price over the asking price.  It still may be a good

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Real estate becomes bank-owned after no one bids on it at the foreclosure auction. This is usually because the starting bid is too near, or even above market value.

After the bank puts in their "credit bid," they become the owners of the real estate and the REO department gets it ready to sell. They hire a real estate broker to list the property and generally, little or no repairs are made. They determine the asking price based on appraisals and BPO's (broker price opinions).

There are many bank-owned homes in the Boise, Meridian, and Eagle ID area. You can request bank-owned real estate here. Bank-owned properties are generally priced to sell and can be a very good opportunity to get a deal.

Six things to know if you're thinking about buying

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Did you know references to homes square footage are actually just estimates? A homes square footage, one of the most basic principles of a homes value, can easily be miscalculated if not done by a professional. Even then, the measurement is still subject to human error. As a Realtor, I see it often and can tell you these discrepancies can significantly affect a homes value.

Why are there discrepancies on square footage measurements?

1) The question of what to include: While appraisers will use the ANSI standard (see below), others may include areas that should not be calculated. For example, a basement with low ceilings, an attic with sloping ceilings, pop out windows, etc. If you are purchasing a home, be sure to ask about the square footage

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You often hear the term "short sale" in today's market.
What is it?   A short sale is when a property is being sold or offered for sale for less than what is owed.  The lender always has to approve these sales because they are taking a loss on the loan.
When does it happen?   Most homes being offered as short sales are in the process of foreclosure but have yet to reach the auction.  Banks are increasingly looking at short sales rather than going all the way through the foreclosure process.  There are different reasons why homeowners could be in a short sale situation.  They could have bought too high and values soften, taken the "equity" out from an overinflated refinance appraisal, carried a construction loan too long, etc. …
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Absorption rates give you an idea of the supply and demand in a given market for a specific time period.  It is easily calculated for a given month by looking at the number of homes for sale and dividing how many actually sold that month.

For example: If there are 5000 homes for sale and 500 sold in one month.  The absorption rate would be 10months (5000 divided by 500).

A balanced market (or equilibrium area) is usually considered to be around a 5-7 month absorption rate.  Less than that, and it's moving towards a "seller's market" where there's upward pressure on home prices.  In other words, there's more demand than supply.  An absorption rate of more than 7 months is moving towards a "buyer's market", where there's downward pressure on home

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