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Home “Buyer’s” Beware Part III

It’s A Racket!

If you remember the housing bubble, then you should remember when it burst.  Well get ready for the Housing Bubble Burst Part II

The Property

This is not for the property investor/flipper.  It is intended for the first time home buyer.  The buyer that is intending to make a commitment, an investment and intends to live in their home for the rest of their lives. 

This is an investment for a life time, covering up to 30 years.   You want to take your time, this is a commitment second only to marriage.   You want to look, get the feel of and imagine the potential.    You want a good location, well built and strategically appointed rooms, bathrooms and windows.    Don’t allow your agent to down play the flaws.  Here are just a few things to look for.   broken or cracked windows, lose hinges on doors and cabinets,  lumps in carpet, uneven floors (bring a basketball or soccer ball),  counter tops out of level,  check above the corners of windows, if the house has settled to much there will be a crease on either or both sides.  The entry doors will also reveal this defect. 

Check the driveway, if it is cracked, it’s only going to get worse.   check for discoloration in the ceiling, this will sometimes reveal a leaky roof.   Use a circuit tester to test the wiring. If it has a three prong outlet it should be grounded.   Insure that the wiring is done correctly on each outlet in every room.   Be vigilant on renovations.  Most garages will have gas furnaces and water heaters.    If a garage has been made into a bedroom or family room, insure that any gas lines has been totally removed.   some renovators will only cap off the gas lines which could result in future problem leaks.  If a home has been switch from gas to electric, insure that the gas has been capped outside at the meter. 

Flipped houses

These houses are bought at auction for as little as $10,000 and sold a few months later for upwards of $200,000 with little more than carpet,  paint, appliances and maybe some carpentry work.    These houses are listed with the highlighted attribute “New Carpet, cabinets, appliances, paint inside and out.”   As with anything, you are going to have the can-do’s  and also the can’t even if they tried.    Be careful with these properties.  They are  more of a cover up than a fix up.     Mildew is sometime covered up with paint only to be revealed in a few months.   squeaking floors are repaired by drilling in screws to quiet the squeak.   Most of the time it will make the floor even.  wear soft bottom shoes to get the feel of the floor.  

foreclosed home

For what ever reason the home owner no longer was able or wanted to continue living or paying for the house.   In many cases they were over extended from the beginning by over paying for the home.    You want to be able to make the payments, maintain and make improvements over time.  If all you can do is make the payments, the property would soon result into blight.   Usually sold as-is.

Short Sale

This home has more owed on it than it is worth.   This type of sale will require a third party approval and sometimes more.  Often times it will also have a second or even a third mortgage.  It will usually take longer to close on a   sale of this nature.  It is not worth the hassle.  Usually sold as-is and not worth the asking price and will have to be approved by all parties involved and it only takes one disapproval to squash the deal.   This hassle is not worth it….Run!!!

The bait Homes

These homes are put on the market solely to stimulate the market and flush out any potential buyers.  These homes are usually under priced and in immaculate well kept condition.   The old saying “If it seems to good to be true” should be well observed.    I don’t think that there is a law anywhere that say “If you put your home on the market, you must sell it”.   Open houses are mostly stages that are put together to gather info on potential buyers.    It’s not to far fetched to imagine a home owner receiving  compensation to stage such an event.   Whether it is really for sale or not, these bait homes are out there, be mindful of them and just walk away.     Because, if you manage to  get an offer in, it will be countered with a stipulation that even a 1st year law student would advise against.

These homes are sometimes advertised as “Bank Approved”.  You should know that if you are getting a conventional loan, your bank will have to approve it. As every bank has their own approval standards.   Your bank  will not give any credibility to the approval of another bank.


In ‘flopping,’ a home is purchased by insiders at a steep discount, then immediately sold for a big profit.

After the Deal is closed.

While looking at you perspective home, you imagined the improvements you will be making.  Well, not so fast.  While you creativity may get the best of you, there are those who are chomping at the bit to take advantage of you.   The covert actions of those will no be apparent until it is to late.

While choosing the home you want  the payments and taxes you are able to afford, you will need a lot of wiggle room.   Those predators don’t really care if you are a in a home or homeless.   They just want your money, and by hook or crook, they intend to get it.

There is a thing called market value.  This is the value that real estate companies will put on a house.   There is  True value of the house, the value that it would take to replace the house.    THEN….there is the taxable value of the house.   This is the value that the county auditor will arbitrarily place on your house/land.   This value is the amount that the county will use in the (X tax rate) equation to calculate your yearly taxes.   Not only do the tax rate increase but also the taxable value can increase.  The taxable value can be lower  (not likely) or can be substantially higher than the actual market value of the house.   There is a case where a house was listed at 169,500 and sold for 154,000 and within 3 years, a popular online real estate listing had that same home for over $250,000.  During that same time, the county auditor had increase the taxable value $50,000 higher than it was at closing.   This was without any improvements made to the property other that mowing the yard and trimming the trees.    Needless to say that the hopeful would-be owners would not be able to afford to pay taxes on a taxable value of 250,000.  This tactic is used to keep homes in rotation.  Especially in areas where home building is low and cities and towns are blocked in and can’t expand.   When this happens,  Houses are torn down and condos are put up to increase the tax base at the same time abolishing affordable housing.

When your home value goes up, your insurance goes up, your taxes goes up and your payments goes up.   So that budget you were working on before you bought the home, just went out the window.

This is a system designed for you (the working class) to fail.  It’s a RACKET!…..

To Be Continued……….But you should be getting the point by now.

Home “Buyers” Beware Part II

It’s A Racket!

If you remember the housing bubble, then you should remember when it burst.  Well get ready for the Housing Bubble Burst Part II

Location, Location and don’t forget, did I mention Location  Your agent wants to close the deal.  It really don’t matter to them if it’s near a nuclear plant or a waste dump.   That being said, check out the surroundings of the property.


Take into consideration that stop lights are a health hazard in that exhaust fumes from cars stopping idling from 15 seconds to 3 minutes and starting up in four different directions.   A round-a-bout is not as bad as a stop sign.   A 4-way-stop intersection is the worst.  By law every vehicle has to slow down, stop, idle then accelerate. This will be going on in all four directions.    So you may want to rethink the highly promoted corner lot and take these into consideration.


Another health hazard is properties near power sub-stations.   Electrical companies deny cancer clusters ever exist but why take the chance.  They are all about the money and don’t want  law suits.   There are warning signs posted all over.  Why would you want to live near it.


Yet another controversial location is near a cell tower.  A cell tower is a relay system for cell phones.   You cell phone is a high frequency low power transceiver and it’s signal is picked up by these towers and amplified and retransmitted.    Some towers are set up to retransmit  signals from other cell towers.   Why subject your family to highly amplified high frequencies?  It’s not worth the investment.

Near a freeway,  don’t even think about it.   Not only do you have to contend with the noise, but the exhaust fumes from gas and diesel fueled vehicles that travel up and down the freeway 24 hours a day.  What happens when there are frequent traffic backups?  Idling vehicles, diesel and gas.    If you care about your family, stay away.   Your agent will not be concerned about your future health, closing is their game.

The H O A. (Home Owner’s Association)  Do your really want to pay someone to tell you what you can and can’t do on you own property?  hold up, wait a minute, your city, county and state code enforcement officer does that, so you already have three, do you really need another?


The highly advertised Bus stop.   If you have asthma or any other respiratory illness you want to stay as far away from living at a bus stop as you can.   A vehicle stopping and starting by your home every 15 min……not a good thing.   If you don’t have a respiratory problem now…you will.   Admittedly, this is an extreme example.  this home is on the corner, a bus stop right at the garage, at a stop light and a cell tower across the street.  That’s before you even look at the inside of the house.

Flood Planes

Check the area’s flood plane map.   The is as elevation in most every area that will always flood.   Compare the flood plane with the elevation  and find out the elevation of the property you are considering.    I don’t have to tell you that the elevation of your property should be substantially higher than the flood plane.

The Greenbelt.   These areas are promoted in areas where no other construction is allowed.   While it may seem nice to live near a green belt, there are restrictions and research need to be done to find out what can   and can’t be done on your property.    Various restrictions apply so thoroughly do your research to assure that the restrictions would not hinder your ambitions now or in the future.

Industrial Areas.   After reading this far, do I really need to explain why this area is not a good idea.   But I will say this, trucks, noise, traffic and I don’t want to get into what is stored, shipped in and out of these areas.

Railroad Tracks.   Really!!!

To Be Continued…….Continue To Part III

Home Buyers Beware

It’s A Racket

If you remember the housing bubble, then you should remember when it burst.  Well get ready for Housing Bubble Burst Part II.

Your “Buyer’s” Agent

Fresh out of a Seminar, the job of the agent is to close the deal.  They are brokers.  They are closers,  they don’t make any money until the deal is closed.   So, make no mistake, your buyer’s agent is all about the money.  He/She is all about their commission.   One thing you need to understand is that the more they sell the house for the more money they will make.    Some offers never make it to the seller because of the commission factor.   Each agent has a minimum that they are willing to work for and it’s all in the price of the house.    Very seldom do a buyer actually get to see or haggle with the owner, in fact you may or may not see them at the closing.

This agent is ready and willing to write up and offer and take your “earnest” Money.   Never, and I mean never give anyone any money unless that house is exactly the way you want it.   This is not a handshake deal, they have your money and all you have is a promise.   This agent don’t own this property, yet they will make excuses about the property.  They want to close.    They want you to like the property enough to give up the money, even though there are problems.   I will get into property conditions in a future publication.  The buyer’s agent will  likely not know anything about the house you want to see.  Check with the listing agent to see if the property is available, your agent may not know. There is absolutely no reason for an agent to show you a property that has already been sold.   If this happens, immediately find yourself another agent.    The listing may be sold and just not updated on the Multi-listing Service (MLS).   Unless they are willing to do the foot work for you, you are basically on your own.   You tell  “your” agent how much you have/qualified for, how many rooms, bathrooms, square feet and all the things you want in a home.  Besides,  buying a home is the most important commitment you will make, second only to marriage.   Keep in mind that being a  real estate agent does not require a college degree.  Getting a  real estate broker’s license is easy.   All is needed is 90 hours in classes.    A Real Estate agent do not take an oath with their hand on a bible vowing to give you the best deal you can get.  That being said, you will at least one time end up at a house that is nothing like the house you told the agent you wanted.   You are not paying for their services, so why should they go out of their way for you.  That is the attitude you should have.   Besides,  they see you as a person that is under the illusion that you are some day going to actually own a home.

You need to research the real Estate laws in your state.  Then consider agents has already attended that seminar  found some loopholes and end runs around them. There are a few things that you should realize.    You will never own your home free and clear.  There will always be property taxes, where the county levy against you according to the value that they think it’s worth.  This method incorporates two ways of increasing your taxes.   One in which the county just outright increase your tax rate, and other is when they increase the taxable value of your home.   Tax Levies in some counties and cities are put to a vote.  This is sometimes disguised on a ballot as a temporary tax that will expire in a few years.   In a few years it is put back on the ballot as not raising you taxes, in which I might add is the year that the initial levy is to expire and your taxes would go down.   In any case there would be a value assessment done and home values would be raised to accommodate the taxes needed.   Are you getting the feeling that you might need some Vaseline?    Then there is eminent domain, where the city, county, state or Federal government can come in and take your property just because they found a use for it.   More Vaseline anyone?

A Real estate agent is on the same level as a used car salesmen.   They don’t own the property, they don’t know much about it,  they only know how much it is and where it is.  I can’t stress this enough, they want to sell it to you by any means that they can.    If they have their way you will hit the ground running and in a few years your home (for what ever reason) will be back on the market.   That is their lively hood,  recycling homes.      Ask your potential agent “how many newly built homes have they sold?”     If none then, your agent is Entirely in the home recycling business, and we all know how vicious and cutthroat the recycling industry can be.


Ghost Bidding

Once your (Buyer’s) Agent have summited a written offer to the listing agent, you may be contacted by your “buyer’s” Agent and told that they have gotten a lot of offers for the house and suggest that you raise your offer.  It’s not like you are at auction and can see who you are bidding against.  In fact you may be bidding against yourself.   The agent works on a commission and the more the house sell for the higher the commission.   It’s not in their financial best interest to get you the best price.   Don’t be a glorified lollipop (sucker) and fall into the real estate trap.   You are making an  offer, they will either accept it or a better offer.   They will not tell you how much the other offer is.  You will only know how much the property sold for after the agents close the deal and all is paid.   Never consider it as losing a bid, you made an offer, you did not enter a bid, this is not an auction.   You didn’t lose anything.  You still have your money, and you are not burdened with an over  priced home.  As is the case and the result of so many foreclosures today.    Most people don’t realize that they not only have to pay for the home but has to maintain the home.    Buying an overpriced home don’t leave any wiggle room for maintenance, upgrades and improvements.    Don’t allow your “buyer’s” Agent to get you bogged down with promissory notes.

Definition of “Promissory Note”

A financial instrument that contains a written promise by one party to pay another party a definite sum of money either on demand or at a specified future date. A promissory note typically contains all the terms pertaining to the indebtedness by the issuer or maker to the note’s payee, such as the amount, interest rate, maturity date, date and place of issuance, and issuer’s signature. The 1930 international convention that governs promissory notes and bills of exchange also stipulates that the term “promissory note” should be inserted in the body of the instrument and should contain an unconditional promise to pay.

Submitting an Offer

They love to ask the question “Are You Approved”?” and “how much are you qualified for?”.    Never tell them how much you are qualified for, tell them how much you are willing to finance.    Just because you qualify for 400,000 do not mean you have to go out looking for a home for 400,000 even though the $ signs and % signs are flashing all through the agents head.

When the offer is written by a good realtor, a realtor that truly represents you will go in under the asking price so as to have some wiggle room for negotiations.  Most offers, if for the asking price will require the seller to pay all closing.   If your agent can’t accomplish that, then immediately get yourself  another agent.  It will be in your best interest to require that they accept your offer by a certain time of a certain date.   if they do not accept it by the stipulated time and date given, proceed to recover your earnest money immediately.   No further negotiations on your part is required.    If your agent suggest that you resubmit an another offer,  if you chose to do so, do so without any earnest money.

Insure that there is a stipulation that the property will be vacated by the closing date.   At closing, you will be responsible and liable for the property. Allowing the owners to occupy the home after closing without contract could  subject you to liabilities and damages to the property that you would be hard pressed to recover from.  It’s not worth it.     There also should be a stipulation that all trash is to be removed.    Also should be stipulated that any and all personal property that is left behind will be forfeited by the owners and shall immediately become the property of (You) the new owners.

Don’t be surprised after a couple of offers, your agent email or text you that they will no longer represent or work with you.    Don’t be offended,  they realize that you are not a glorified lollipop (sucker).

A professional would not allow it to get to this point.   A professional would work with you and only show you homes within your criteria and within your means to pay.    They would not expect you to settle for less or over extend your budget.    A professional will find you a home, write up a reasonable offer, insure all the paper work is done to present to your lender close the deal and move on to the next buyer.

If you listen to some agents closely, you would think they are representing the seller.     These UNPRO’s are urgently trying to close the deal, even at your expense.   Besides, you are  actually the only person in this deal that is spending money.    Any money being spent by the seller is only after they are paid or comes out of the price of the home.

Remember,  you are the one that will have a mortgage, you are the one that will have the liability and responsibility after closing and the seller and broker is paid.   You are the one that will have to pay taxes, maintenance, upkeep and improvements over the next possible 30 years.    Buying a home is not a speedy process, so don’t allow any agent to rush you into something that’s  going to take you 30 years  to get out of.  Don’t worry about the one that got away, think about it as the one that got out of your way.

Always be mindful of what your mortgage payments will be.  Keep in touch  with your lender so you will be apprised of the interest rates.   Go over your financing to see what you maximum payments will be.   Just because you qualify for a certain amount don’t mean you need to spend that amount.


To Be Continued and Updated……….Continue to Part II

Shopping at Lowes Home Improvement Center

Take your chances and check your prices

Thursday evening I decided I would clean up some old wood in preparation for fall cleaning.  I Loaded up the trailer with the intention of taking it to land recovery.  After unloading it and paying the clerk we proceeded to Lowes.  I thought I pick up some lumber and a few cinder blocks to build a shed for my garden tools.   The lawn mower had to be jumped the last few times I used it so I’m going to pick up a battery.  I check online and found the battery for my little Yard Bug.  We entered Lowes into the lumber section.  I walked all the way down to the lawn and garden area to pick up the battery.   Lucky I bought the old battery because the core charge is 5.00.    I proceeded to pick up the concrete blocks hmmmm 1.29 ea.   great deal.    I picked up six of them.    I then went over to lumber to pick up 10 2X4X8s.   There were  none within reach so we had to wait for 25 minutes for someone to come off break to operate the forklift.    After loading 10 of them on the cart with the blocks and battery, I then proceeded to the checkout.   There I was informed that Lowes only accepts core charges for batteries from Lowes.  I kindly told the clerk that he could take the battery off the cart.   The clerk counted the 2X4’s 3 times before I had to finally tell him there were 10 of them.   Now for the 1.29 cinder blocks, they all of a sudden morphed into 1.37 ea.   I told the clerk that it wasn’t the right price, he rang them up at 1.37 ea. anyway.   After I paid the clerk, I went back and got the display tab and took it back  to show the clerk.  He looked it up in the book and there it was, 1.29 ea.  He kindly informed me that I could get my refund at the service desk.  

Ok, what have we here?   Lowes will not accept my battery as core charge.   I had to wait 25 minutes to get some 2x4s.  I was over charged for cinder blocks after telling the clerk that the price wasn’t right.   After all was said and done I didn’t even get an apology.

Another thing that I picked up on was, they usually expect a customer to buy the battery and return later with the core.  Which in this case, they would not honor the core refund because it is not a Lowes battery.   Nowhere is it stated that they only accept batteries as cores that were bought from Lowes. 

It was a long walk to the customer service and along the way I found a solution.   I’ll just get a total refund and furthermore discontinue shopping at Lowes.

This is not an advocation to boycott Lowes.  Where you shop is your business.  But please, where ever you shop, check the prices.  Sometimes there are mistakes and sometimes it could be misleading.  In any case, you should know what the price is before you get the checkout.   Demand courtesy and professionalism. 

TomTom VIA 1505 GPS

I purchased this device hoping for a simple way to find those out of the way places.  I purchased the lifetime maps edition.   I already have two GPSs, just thought I’d see what else is out there since they would be out dated soon.  One of the most peculiar things about this device is…..some genius thought is was a good idea to put a screen saver on it.  A screen saver is the dumbest thing to be put on a gps.  Oh, when you are driving down the road, the first thing you want is some advertising to come up on the device that’s showing you how to get where you want to go. 

I know, I know, there is probably a way to disable it.  but it is a waste of memory, a waste of time and a waste of money.   The view map mode seems to be an after thought.  It’s not like you have all the displays that you do when you have a programmed destination.   I programmed in my home location and on my way home It gave a few directions and then went to a screen saver.   Yes the voice continued to give instructions but where is my display of speed, direction and other features I chose in the set up.   There are laws that prohibit fiddling with phones, gps and other electronics while driving and what to tomtom do….they cause you to have to touch the screen to get back to your map and status.  

That same genius was probably the same one that thought it necessary to put a notice on the screen to let the driver know that “NO ROUTE PLANNED”.  

I went on the website and noticed problems that others were having and I realized that I didn’t have the patients for this.   I’ll stick to my garmin nuvi 1300 and the NEXTAR.   screen saver TomTom, REALLY!!!, why?  

I-1183 Update: The Taxes

Washington already have a 9.8% sales tax and tack on the 17% shake-down that the State will collect from retailers for selling the alcohol, comes to almost 27%.  

Also:  The proponents of this initiative didn’t find it important to mention that competition will drive the price down.  That’s exactly what we need, cheap alcohol readily available at any retail store.  

Foresight:  The parking lots will turn into venues for consuming alcohol.  “Meet me in the “you name it” parking lot for a quick drink”

Don’t think that just because it failed “I-1082” the last time, that it will also fail this time.  You must get out and vote and vote no on I-1183.  

Washington State I-1183

At a time when domestic violence, drunk driving, teenage drinking and other alcohol related crime is at an all time high, why would anyone even consider making alcohol more easily available than it is now?   If Washington State want to get out of the alcohol business, the answer is simple, just stop selling it.  Close down the liquor stores.  

I remember a year or so ago, a college student got hold of some 4 loco.  Everyone was outraged. The stores were forced to stop selling it.  Psssst, FYI,  4 loco is nothing compared to vodka, 151 rum or gin

Now…We all know what happens when there is a liquor store one every corner.  We all know where all the corners are located that the liquor stores will be on. 

This economy is a mess.  When it improves and there is a economical sense of normality, there is going be a segment of the population left behind.

I wonder what the number of the initiative is going to be that ask for property taxes to be increased to put more police on the street, create task forces and increase special victims units to combat alcoholism, domestic violence and teenage drinking.

Who are going to be the so-called resident experts that are going to be called upon by the talk shows and news organizations to explain why these problems exist? 

What!!! Judge Ordered Striking Teachers Back To The Classroom?

As though he was a slave master ordering slaves back to the fields, Judge Bryan Chushcoff ordered Tacoma Teachers back to work.   The teacher’s union voted unanimously to strike.   The judge ordered them back to work without the protection of a contract.   You can’t expect excellence by riding rough shot over the very people that we depend on to teach our children.

The Tacoma School District should give them a Great contract.   Then they can be held accountable for doing a great job.

Initiative 1183-Not a Good Idea

The proponents of I-1183 is seeing $ signs and is in a frantic move to expand the distribution of alcoholic beverages.    Initiative 1183 will allow liquors and other spirits, now only sold in state run stores, to be sold in grocery stores, mini marts, service stations and anywhere else that now is only allowed to sell beer and wine.   We know what problems that has caused.   We are now poised to allow the opportunity for alcohol to be put in the hands of juveniles.  

In 2001 there were 3,125 alcohol related collisions, in 2002 there were 3,272 and increase of 147 alcohol related collisions.  By 2003 the alcohol related collisions dropped to 3,070 a decrease of 202, in 2004 increase by 43 to 3113 alcohol related collisions.   In 2005 the total alcohol related collisions was 3228,  115 alcohol related collisions over the previous year.   Do the math, from 2001 until 2005 the Washington State Highway Patrol reported a total of 15,808 alcohol related collisions. 

Now here we are in 2010 making alcohol available from early morning 6-7am until 2:00am at any convenience store, grocery store, gas station or anywhere that presently sell beer or wine.    Well, I am cringing at the thought of making alcohol this convenient, but you had better believe if this initiative pass, I will be LMAO as the alcohol related collisions and deaths increase.  Making alcohol available in this fashion will breed more opportunities for armed robberies, hold ups and smash and grabs at gas stations and convenience stores. 

The aforementioned will no doubt stretch our Law Enforcement capabilities to it limits considering cuts it has suffered due to budget cuts.   It has to be known that teenage drinking, Alcoholism and domestic violence will increase.   Men, sons, women, daughters, infants and children fall  victim to our initiative.

Something to consider.  Now, a person injured in a car wreck, caused by a drunk driver,  has the right to sue the bar that sold the alcohol.    Will we be able now to sue the grocery store, mini mart or convenience store that sold the alcohol to the drunk driver? 

With all the shop lifting that goes on in these establishments, what kind of security is going to be put in place to insure that alcohol do not end up in the hands of juveniles?    

The advocates of this initiative is blinded by $ signs and deafened by the sound of K-ching, with no forethought.  However, there is an effort to strengthen Washington state DWI/DUI laws.   I wonder if these laws are going to contribute to the estimated 443 million dollars that is championed by the proponents of this initiative. 

With the rise in crime such as shoplifting and robbery that’s going to be facilitated by this initiative, any deposits to the states coffers will be drained by enforcement and criminal investigations.  

A little forethought and insight will eliminate any need for hindsight.  Therefore, break out the body bags, coffins, flowers and tissue. 

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