Property Grunt

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Roll Call: The Reality Check

Reality for this family began when the camera crew left and the bills started piling up.

Folks. Reality shows are not reality as this recent article about Extreme Makeover has indicated.

Extreme Home for sale

Staff writer
Hebert can’t afford upkeep nor time for maintenance

SANDPOINT — Eric Hebert’s Extreme Home Makeover home is for sale.

Although grateful to the community for building the home, Hebert said owning it is more than he can manage time-wise and financially as he raises his late sister’s 11-year-old twins, Keely and Tyler.

His personal priorities changed four years ago and his primary concern is raising two children, Hebert said.

“It’s a little too much for the three of us,” he said.

Hebert is concerned that community residents who helped build his home in November 2006 will think he is selling it to make a profit.

“I’m not doing it (selling) to make a profit. I’m doing it not to lose money,” he said. “I just hope people understand the reality of it.”

Upkeep on the 3,678-square-foot challenge also is difficult. Hebert, who is single, works full-time and spends most evenings taking the kids to baseball and soccer practice. He said wants to enjoy his time with his niece and nephew. The cost to maintain the home is expensive and Hebert is worried about the economy, the price of gas and the cost of food.

Since moving into the new home, Hebert said his bills have tripled. This winter his electrical bill for forced air heating was no less than $300 a month, in addition to him paying for propane, Hebert said.

Sullivan Homes co-owner Lori Sullivan said she understands Hebert’s plight, calling him a great guy. Sullivan Homes was the primary contractor on the project. A number of other contractors from Bonner County and the Spokane area also helped, along with hundreds of local volunteers.

“Home ownership is tough for a lot of people all over the country right now,” Sullivan said.

She does not regret her involvement with building Hebert’s home, she said.

“It’s too bad it’s a burden for him,” Sullivan said. “We’re sad for Eric.”

When his subterranean home was replaced by the existing structure, Hebert was working in construction. However, he was given the opportunity to work at a sales job on 100 -ercent commission.

That did not work out and Hebert went back to his old job in construction. It has been humbling to discover that some things in life just do not work out, Hebert said.

“It took awhile for that reality to set in,” he said.

Hebert would not trade the Extreme Home Makeover experience for anything. He believes it has changed his life and the children’s for the better, citing their opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and lobby the American Heart Association, the chance to meet so many caring people in the community and to own a nice home.

Hebert also is realistic and knows there will be some “I told you so’s,” from people who questioned whether he could make his new situation work.

He doubts he will ever live in a home as nice as the one in which he is currently living, but he also does not see a home like the first poorly-built structure that put him on Extreme Home Makeover’s radar in his future either.

The 3,678-square-foot house and the one-acre property it sits on are listed for sale for $529,000 with Jim Watkins of Tomlinson’s Sandpoint Sotheby Realty. Hebert also owns another two acres adjacent to the home and has listed that property for $160,000.

Bonner County has appraised the house at $552,244 and the acreage at $125,000, according to the Bonner County Assessor’s office.

Although Hebert is hopeful someone will buy the property by the end of this summer, he also knows selling it may be a challenge given that there are 48 other homes for sale in the county within the same price range.

Hebert said he loves the home’s layout and its private Baldy Road location, but after six months of thinking about what to do, he said he had to be realistic and put the home up for sale.

The three-bedroom home is spectacular inside and out. It includes three bedrooms, three and a half baths, a bonus room, an office, a master bedroom with access to a deck that includes a fireplace and hot tub.

Two large windows in the two-story great room overlook a tree farm. The floors are covered with hardwood and slate.

Hebert spent six months thinking about whether the decision would be good for the kids who already have lost their mother who died of heart disease.

Fortunately, the kids understand his decision and are “resilient,” he said.

Although Keely’s room and its adjoining bathroom are plush, it is difficult for her to keep the room clean. They spent last weekend cleaning her room to prepare for showing buyers. However, Hebert did not have time to put away the vacuum cleaner and it sits in the middle of the upstairs hallway floor.

The dining room is rarely used — Hebert refers to it as the poker room and a light dust layer covers most surfaces.

Hebert is unsure what he will do once his home sells. He may stay in the area because he has a lot of friends here as well as an aunt and uncle in Kootenai with whom he is close. However, he also has friends in Montana.

“One thing at a time,” he said. “But I like it (Sandpoint). It’s a great place to raise kids.

It was a nice gesture on part of the show, however it jutt goes to show that the designers were more interested in building a showcase of a home instead of building home that suited the needs of the Mr. Hebert's household. Of course Mr. Hebert's timing could not be worse.

And it looks like even politicians are now getting in on the foreclosure act.

Update: Congresswoman denies foreclosure report

Update: California Rep. Laura Richardson today denied a published report that her $535,000 Sacramento home had slipped into foreclosure, saying she had renegotiated her loan to keep the home.

The house "... is not in foreclosure and has NOT been seized by the bank," Richardson, a Democrat from Long Beach, said in a statement. "I have worked with my lender to complete a loan modification and have renegotiated the terms of the agreement -- with no special provisions." (Richardson's entire statement is at the bottom of this article).

In other words she got a workout. However it still does not inspire alot of confidence in her constituents that someone that they elected nearly lost her home.