Posts Tagged ‘doors’

Mailbox Installation and Postal Regulations 101

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Rain... sleet... gloom of night... no matter what the time or weather, one day your mailbox or post will require replacement.How To Repair or Replace A Damaged Mailbox Post

Rain… sleet… gloom of night… no matter what the time or weather, one day your mailbox or post will require replacement.

Thank you, snow plow… with an assist from the carpenter ants and termites!

The hardest part of a mailbox installation can be removing the old box or post! So I’m going to make the assumption that you wish to replace the box and the post. If I’m wrong, and you want to do just the box, I will have even less to tell you, but, if you scan down past the sweaty, smelly, earthwormy stuff, you may still pick up a few tips. I don’t exactly know where this tale is going, so follow along as best you can, and hopefully we’ll arrive at the end together!

Removing the old post… pray there’s no cement!

Sorry… I can’t make this easy! Wiggle it, pray for no cement, and pull like heck!! Then again, if you are pretty sure there is no cement, there is a strategy that can work, especially if you have a broken post with only a few inches exposed. Nail or screw a piece of 2×4 or larger lumber to the post at or within a few inches of ground level. Then, using a big pry bar or the mason’s bar, pry the post straight up, using another board, toolbox, or significant other as a fulcrum.

 Caution: don’t use a significant other as a fulcrum… if you expect your relationship to move to a higher level!!

A post set in concrete creates a whole new problem. If I found one of those foundation-like clumps of rocks and gravel mix when the digging started, my first choice was always to choose a new location for the box!

Occasionally, there just isn’t an option and the cement must be removed or moved. Yes… moved. Sometimes, it’s easier to dig the hole a little wider and muscle the ball of concrete aside. Install the new post next to it.

US Postal regulations regarding mailbox location and height

US Postal regulations regarding mailbox location and height

In order for the safe and efficient delivery of mail, the US Postal Service has issued regulations regarding curbside deliveries. However, the local post office has the final say in mailbox placement. The “old guidelines were:

Vertical height from road surface to bottom of mailbox: Between 41″ and 45″.

Distance from outside edge of curb or edge of road surface to front of mailbox : 6-8″

In order for the safe and efficient delivery of mail, the US Postal Service has issued regulations regarding curbside deliveries

This requirement dates back to February of 2001. However, the more recent requirements (12/9/2004) are less specific and do not refer to specifics of height and location. Instead, they require the post to be approved by the local post office and 2) accessible from the vehicle for curbside delivery such that the carrier does not have to leave his vehicle. That means that any obstruction, including parked cars, snow piles, etc. , give the carrier the option of withholding delivery until the obstruction is removed. 
If you are installing a post with an extending arm, figure the position based the final position of the box, not just the arm! Note that the arm will need to be much higher up if you plan to hang the box. (More on mounting the box below.)
If you feel your situation is unique or would like an exception to the rules, talk to your postmaster or ask your friendly postal carrier for suggestions. (This is when that little bag of Christmas cookies or envelope makes all the difference!)

Creating your own mailbox? Be careful...

Creating your own mailbox? Be careful…

If you plan on making a mailbox yourself, you should check with the postmaster or letter carrier to get approval before you spend time and money on it! A poorly designed mailbox can halt your mail delivery!


Choosing your new mailbox post – wood or “other”?


There are a number of choices for mailbox posts. The most recent addition is molded plastic. Some make no pretence about being plastic, using flowing shapes, interesting colors and unique designs with integrated features such as newspaper holders. Others are made to look like painted cedar mailbox posts but for a fraction of the price and without the durability problems. As a whole, plastic mailbox posts are extremely durable and will outlast any wood or metal post.

Aluminum and galvanized steel

Metal posts are available in galvanized steel and aluminum. Both are durable, but the nod goes to aluminum. Because it doesn’t rust like steel, the finish stays looking good longer. However, aluminum posts tend to be more expensive.


Wood mailbox posts are the traditional choice, especially for do-it-yourselfers looking for economy. The cheapest and simplest post is a simple 4×4 or 6×6 post of any wood variety. A 3/4″ – 1″ thick pine, plywood or cedar wood base is attached to the top of the post and the mailbox is screwed onto it. The base should be sized to fit into the recess under the mailbox. On many boxes, you will need to leave some space at the door end of the base to prevent rubbing. Test the operation of the door before making the final box installation.
If you have more money to spend or want a more interesting look, you can buy a fancy-schmancy wood posts with a horizontal arm, complex supports and other ornamentation (or you can build one yourself). These are available in redwood, cedar and various untreated and pressure-treated woods.

Each type of wood has its advantages and disadvantages:


• Cedar and redwood are both very insect resistant, but are quite expensive and will eventually rot if buried. For the maximum “bang for the buck”, they require an underground preservative (see next section for details) applied right to ground level.

• Untreated woods such as Douglas fir and pine can be used for mailbox posts but require preservatives both above and below-grade. They have the shortest lifespan of any post, regardless of the preservative used since they have no inherent resistance to insects or rot.
• Pressure-treated wood has high resistance to rot and insects due to the infusion of a powerful preservative and will last longer underground than any other wood product. However, pressure-treated wood does need to be coated with a protectant above ground or may crack, twist and split rather dramatically!

• Masonry mailbox posts or enclosure of granite, concrete, stone and brick must conform to both local or state code as well as postal requirements. Though the postal service is silent on the post’s material, “rigid structures” at the curbside of busy roads may be considered a “safety hazard” by your state or town, so check with them before building one. (A customer of mine built a large brick mailbox enclosure on a main state road without consulting anyone. In the end, she had to pay for construction and destruction of that structure when the state ordered her to remove it. Let the builder beware!)

Pressure-treated wood has high resistance to rot and insects due to the infusion of a powerful preservative and will last longer underground than any other wood product.

Prepare your mailbox post for burial with the correct underground preservative. There was a time when this was a no-brainer. My father used to put good ol’ creosote on everything, except for my mother’s tulip bulbs. (Or did he?) It rivaled his use of Mobil red and blue paint! Anyway, it went without saying that the old timers expected the wood to rot, so they prepared for it with crosote… the only available solution.
Today, most wooden fence and mailbox posts are made from either pressure-treated wood or cedar. Somehow, in popular thought, cedar has been compared to pressure-treated wood for rot resistance. Nothing could be further from the truth.


I have replaced untreated cedar mailbox posts less than 5 years old, cedar lamp posts less than 3 years old that were totally rotten, full of ants and all sorts of other awful creepy wormy things. In my neck of the woods, a fine 6×6 cedar mailbox post costs well over $200.00 installed. Expensive ant food, if you ask me!
Pressure-treated mailbox posts do not rot under most circumstances. (I’ve never seen it happen in 30 years of installations.) They are more likely to die from snow plow or garbage truck injuries! However, I have heard rumors that, under some unusual conditions of extreme moisture, they may rot after many years. So if you have some underground rated preservative around, slap some on that pressure treated post. Otherwise I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it!

What type of preservative should be used underground on my post?

Good old creosote, a staple wood preservative for generations of do-it-yourselfers, has become extinct… joining the dodo bird, 30¢ cigarettes and the $1.00 gallon of gas! However, there are still quality underground preservatives available. A brand I have used for decades is Termin-8 by Jasco. Its dark-green color means you won’t mistake it for a wimpy deck sealer! Termin-8 is oil-based and can be painted after 2-7 days when thoroughly dry.
Another, somewhat newer product that works quite well is Woodlife Creocoat from Wolman. Unlike Termin-8, Woodlife is water-based and is not designed to be overcoated.

Since the end of your post is most vulnerable to water damage, pour some of the preservative in a small pail and set the post into it to soak as long as you can… overnight if possible. Cut off a few inches from the end of the post immediately before to soaking it for the best results. Of course, you should also coat the rest of the post right up to ground level for the best results.

DO NOT install a mailbox post in cement unless absolutely necessary!

Or a fence post, for that matter! Think about it. 160 pounds of rock-hard concrete mix, buried 18″ into the ground, in the only place the mailman can reach from his truck. Tough luck! So, using the secrets of the Pyramids, you manage to get this now useless clump of lime, gravel, and sand up to ground level. As you marvel at your improvisational skills, there is a lesson to be learned here and it doesn’t only apply to mailbox posts.

If you think that you may have to redo a job again sometime in the near future, design your repair so that the next time it will be easier… not harder! After all, do you really think a couple of hundred pounds of cement means as much to a moving vehicle (or the the carpenter ants) than it does to your poor overworked back? Hmmm?

NOTE: If you are installing one of those fancy ornamental iron posts, which generally don’t stand upright very well in soil despite what it says on the box, you can use cement… but just enough to stabilize the post, not enough to anchor the Queen Mary!

Digging the hole the easy way… but not too deep!

I was joking. There isn’t an easy way. But we’re not quitters, right? Buy or rent a post hole digger so you disturb the minimum amount of soil. The hole should be no more than 18-24″ deep. You do not have to bury the post down below the frost line! We’re talking mailbox post here, not a house’s foundation!

If you have particularly rocky soil, you may need a long mason’s bar, a rounded heavy steel bar from 4′ to 6′ long, flattened to a wedge-shape on one end. This can be used to pry out rocks and the flattened butt end can be used for tamping.On the graphic of the post hole digger (left), notice the black lines on the handles. They are improvised depth indicators… far better than dirtying up your tape measure! If you rent one and it’s not already marked, apply pieces of black electrical tape at your desired depth.

Add gravel, level the mailbox post and fill the hole in steps…

It’s recommended to put a 4-6 inches of gravel in the bottom of the hole to improve drainage and to keep water from pooling at the bottom of the post. My judgment is that it may not be a bad idea for cedar posts, but for pressure-treated wood it is optional. If you don’t have a bag of gravel handy (or prefer not to steal it from elsewhere in your yard), a bunch of small stones will do as a substitute.

To keep the mailbox post vertically level, I found a nifty little device that straps right onto the mailbox post. However, an ordinary level will do fine, too. Check the level every time you tamp down the dirt. You don’t want your mailbox to become another “leaning” tourist attraction! Don’t put the level on the top of the post… the top might not be square! Always check the level from the side.Some people screw or clamp boards to the post to hold it upright. You can also wedge a few rocks around the post in the hole for temporary support. Or just hold the new post fairly level as you begin filling, making minor corrections as you fill. (A helper wouldn’t hurt, either, if one is available to share the joy!) Filling the hole around the post should be done in steps, packing or “tamping” down the soil as you fill around the post, 6-12″ at a time. If you wait until the hole is full before packing, the post may always be loose. You can use most anything that will fit into the hole to pack the soil… a shovel handle, the but end of your masons bar, 2×4, etc. Keep checking that level!!

Installing your mail box on the post Dutch Touch contracting REO

Installing your mail box on the post

If you wish to mount your box directly atop the pole or onto the top of an extended arm, you will use method (1). If you want to hang the box beneath the extended arm, use method (2).

Whichever way you choose, don’t ever nail the mailbox to it’s support… use galvanized or stainless-steel screws. If your mailbox does not outlive your post, you want it to be easy to remove. I have found galvanized square-drive decking screws to be a great choice.

(1) Mount a board directly on the mailbox post or on the arm extending from the post

If you don’t have a board for the post, you must cut a piece of ¾” plywood or pine that will fit into the base of the mailbox. It should be a tight fit widthwise so the box doesn’t bend when you screw it on, and short enough in length so the box door doesn’t hit the board when the door opens. Position the board as you like it on the post or arm and secure it with at least 4 wood screws. I personally use #8 or #10 galvanized square drive screws, 2½” -3″ long. If you are using a post with an arm, you may want to let the board overhang the end of arm for clearance of the door.

(2) Hanging the mailbox under an arm extending from the post

You can purchase a special set of bolts designed for hanging a mailbox at most hardware or home stores. The hardware consists of an eye bolt and an screw eye, interlocked and ready to use. The eye bolt is screwed into the underside of the post arm and the bolt is attached to the top of the mailbox. It may or may not come with a rubber washer to seal the outside of the hole.

If your hardware store doesn’t carry these parts, you can either (1) use an eye bolt on the mailbox and a hook on the post arm, or (2) use an eye bolt and screw eye of the same size and bend either open to allow you to hook them together… then bend them closed. For each eye bolt, you should get two nuts, one for inside and one for outside the box, and a small rubber washer (a faucet washer will do) slightly larger than the nut, for the outside to prevent leaks.

Determine the location of the eye bolts on the box first. Some mailboxes have indentations or raised areas to indicate the suggested location for the eyebolts. Locate and drill the holes in the mailbox. Hold the box up under the arm in the position you want it, and use a pencil to transfer the location of the front-most hole you just made to the underside of the arm, being sure to center it along the width. Measure between the holes on the mailbox, and use this measurement to locate the second hole on the arm. Predrill both holes and install the screw eyes.

Put one nut on each eye bolt, and then push on the rubber washers. Bore out the centers of the washers with a drill if they are too tight for the bolts. Then put the eye bolts through the holes in the mailbox and secure them with the remaining nuts, tightening securely.

NOTE: You can use a dab of caulk instead of a rubber washer. The washer, however, will probably last longer.

mailbox numbers and other interesting facts Dutch Touch Contracting REO

Last but not least… mailbox numbers and other interesting facts

•The post office requires your street address number on the side of the box or post facing your approaching mailman. This is required even if you have your number on your home.

• If your box location is on another street (for example, if your home is on a corner), regulations require that both the house number and street name be on the box or post.

• You do not have to put your name on the mailbox unless you want to.

• Placing offensive graphics, caricatures or effigies intended to ridicule or disparage an individual or group of people is prohibited. People, huh. I guess the cats and cows haven’t started complaining yet!

• Advertising on mailboxes is also prohibited.

Again, this regulation can be waived by your local postmaster for the appropriate consideration. (Only kidding!) So it goes.

For more information, please visit our website:

Stainless Steel Restoration Services 101

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Stainless Steel Restoration Services 101  How to Repair Scratched Stainless Steel

Whether you can remove a scratch has much to do with how deep the scratch goes. Here are several ways to deal with this problem and restore your cookware, stainless steel appliances, countertops or sinks to their former glory.  

You have a shining, gleaming stainless steel and a kitchen that fairly sparkles. Then, it happens. Somehow there is an ugly scratch on the stainless steel refrigerator, oven, or dishwasher, and you can see it from across the room. It’s just about as obvious as a blemish on prom night. But you can restore your stainless steel appliances to their former beauty.          


Assess the damage. Determine if this is a deep scratch or a surface scratch, by running your finger across it. If you can actually feel the indentation, you have a deep scratch, gouge or ding. With clamps, carefully hold a small piece of dry ice over the gouged area. Hopefully,it will pop out, and not be as noticeable. Then you can treat it in the same way other scratched areas are treated in the steps below.        


Determine if the scratched appliance is “real” stainless steel or if it has a synthetic coating or finish. Damage to coated appliances is permanent.
These are all coated: Whirlpool – “Satina;” GE – “Clean Steel;” Amana – “Ultra Finish Steel;” Kitchenaid – Architect Series II, “Monochromatic Stainless;” Kenmore – “Ultra Satin;” Frigidaire – “Titanium;” Electrolux (all brands except “Classic,” “Icon” and “Electrolux”); Maytag – “Silver Ultra Finish,” “Satina Stainless Look,” “Monochromatic Stainless steel,” “Monochromatic Satina.”   

Also, coated stainless steel doesn’t smudge easily and is magnetic. You will only further damage the surface if you use a rubbing compound, or a product like Scratch-B-Gone, on a synthetic or clear-coated finish. If your appliance is coated, you cannot fix the damage.       


Identify the existing grain of the stainless steel. See which direction the tiny original brush lines go in the damaged area.         


Use an abrasive pad from the Scratch-B-Gone kit to repair scuffs, light scratches and even deep scratches. The kit has 4 different abrasive pads and instructions to tell you which one to use depending on the severity of the scratches and scuffs. Otherwise, go to an automotive shop and buy different fine grades of sandpaper.         


Apply a small amount of Ultra Shine from the Scratch-B-Gone kit onto the appropriate abrasive pad. Or use an automotive rubbing compound on the sandpaper.      


Begin rubbing the damaged area of the stainless steel in the direction of the grain covering over about a 5-inch area at a time. Slide the pad backward and forward increasing pressure as needed until you see the scratch is disappearing.        


Repeat this process until the scratch is removed and the surface is restored. For a deeper scratch, dry rub the area with the coarse pad, and wipe area off with a microfiber cloth to make sure the scratch is gone.      


Blend the metal surfaces by using the finest grade sandpaper or abrasive pad with the rubbing compound or Ultra Shine and gradually increase the area around the original damage to about three times the original scratched area. Be sure to go with the existing grain of the stainless steel so you don’t create crosshatching.
How to Shine Stainless Steel Appliances

How to Shine Stainless Steel Appliances

Bright, shiny stainless steel appliances can add a nice touch of class to a kitchen, but if they aren’t properly cared for, they will lose their lovely patina. With just few simple steps, you can keep those stainless steel appliances bright and shiny for many years to come     


Apply baby oil to the stainless steel appliance with a soft, dry cloth.     


Rub it on well, making sure all of the appliance has been coated with baby oil.   


Apply a stainless steel cleaner to the area with a soft cloth. Follow up with a stainless steel polish to bring back the shine.  


If the scratch is still there or if you can put your fingernail in the scratch, you may have to try fine grit sand paper. Sand the area and go outside the scratch by one or two inches as you did before, following grain of the metal.        


After sanding, use the coarse side of the finishing pad. Flip the pad over and use the fine side to help smooth the surface out.   


Follow up with using a stainless steel cleaner and apply with a soft cloth. Use a polish afterward to help restore the metal to its original shine.      
Do not use abrasive cleaners containing bleach or it could scratch the metal. Do not use abrasive cleaners containing bleach or it could scratch the metal. Use cleaners specifically designed for stainless steel or others such as white vinegar, Windex, club soda, rubbing alcohol or ammonia, which are safe and will not harm the surface. Just because a product is for stainless steel it still may be acidic or slightly abrasive and you should proceed with caution when using. Always use soft cloths to clean such as micro fiber to prevent scratches. You may have to consult a professional for very deep scratches or scuffs.      
Always use soft cloths to clean such as micro fiber to prevent scratches. You may have to consult a professional for very deep scratches or scuffs.   

How to Get Corrosion Off of Stainless Steel Appliances

Stainless steel is a steel alloy that is incredibly resistant to rust and corrosion; it is commonly used in building or decoration. The visual beauty of stainless steel makes it a popular choice as a finish for home appliances. However, although stainless steel is incredibly resistant to wear, it is not indestructible. Proper care can prevent nearly all rust or corrosion, but in rare cases, your appliances can show wear. Luckily, it only takes a few steps to clean stainless steel.  

Things You’ll Need:

Soft cloth
Mild detergent
Stainless steel cleaner   

 Step 1

Wipe the appliance down with a wet rag to remove any debris, grease or oils from the surface.  

Step 2

Dry the appliance with a soft cloth or towel.  

Step 3

Apply a small amount of mild detergent such as dish soap to a wet rag, until the rag is sudsy. Wipe the appliance down, applying mild pressure.  

Step 4

Clean off any remaining soap from the appliance and dry.  

Step 5

 Apply stainless steel cleaner to your appliance, and buff with soft cloth. Rinse with wet cloth.  

Step 6

Dry the appliance one last time, making sure to leave no residue of water or cleaner on the appliance.  

How To Remove Rust From Stainless Steel

Though stainless does have incredible resistance to oxidation and corrosion there are still major factors that can lead to different types of corrosion. Corrosion of stainless can come from moisture from the ocean and air, humidity and temperature from weather, as well as the oils and skin secretions from people.

The best method to remove rust from stainless steel that we’ve found is to use Bull Frog Rust Remover. This rust remover will remove the rust and it has proven itself safe on the stainless steel finish.

To use Bull Frog Rust Remover on stainless steel, just apply the product to the rust stained surface. Let the rust remover work for half an hour, and then wash off with water. If the rust stain remains, repeat the process but leave the rust remover on for an hour.

Again, rinse off the rust remover.Using Bull Frog Rust Remover has advantages over traditional abrasive methods. First, this method is very quick to apply. Secondly, and most important, is the end result. Using abrasive methods can lead to a sanded looking finish on the rust stained area. Keeping the original finish on the stainless steel is important to the overall appearance of the stainless steel. (Source:

To prevent corrosion, all stainless steel should be kept cleaned and coated with a corrosion prevention coating. In salty and humid environments they should be washed more regularly as salt can accelerate the rusting process.

How to clean stainless steel

1. Water and a cloth. 

Routine cleaning can be accomplished by using warm water and a cloth. This is the least risky option for cleaning stainless steel. Dry with a towel or cloth to prevent water spots. Wipe in the directions of the polish lines.

 2. Mild detergent, (dish washing liquid) and cloth.   

For cleaning that needs more power, mild detergent and warm water can do a great job without damaging the stainless steel. Make sure you rinse the surface thoroughly to prevent staining and spotting. Towel dry to prevent water spots which can be caused by minerals in water.   

3. Glass cleaner for fingerprints.

Fingerprints are one of the biggest complaints about stainless steel, but can be taken care by using glass cleaner or household ammonia. Rinse thoroughly and towel dry. There are some newer types of finishes for stainless steel that resist fingerprints, a must if your pint-sized helpers leave their mark on your stainless steel appliances.   

4. Stainless Steel Cleaner

If you’ve had staining or scratching, or need to polish your stainless steel, a stainless steel cleaner may be a good option. Some of these cleaners and polishes can help minimize scratching and remove stains. They also can polish stainless steel surfaces nicely. Read the directions on the stainless steel cleaner and test in an inconspicuous spot. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and towel dry.  

Tips and Warnings

1. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

2. Keep stainless steel appliances clean, because dirty appliances will lose their shine very quickly. Wipe them often to remove kitchen grease, using a damp sponge or rag soaked in hot, soapy water. Dry the appliance thoroughlyt with a soft towel. Wipe against the grain and with the grain of the stainless steel

3. Remove fingerprints from stainless steel appliances with window cleaner, and wipe them dry.

4. For a quick shine, put some club soda in a spray bottle and lightly mist the stainless steel appliance. Follow up by drying the appliance with a soft cloth.

5. Never use bleach on stainless steel appliances. It will react with the steel and can cause staining.

6. Never use brushes or steel wool on stainless steel appliances. They can scratch the stainless steel and cause rust to form.

Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

How to Get Scratches Out of Stainless Steel Appliances

Stainless steel appliances can be sharp and modern when they are gleaming, shiny and new. However, it can be easy to scratch up a stainless steel surface and this can take away from its luster. There are a few things that can be done to remove scratches from stainless steel. It just takes a few materials and a little effort to get your appliances back to their original state and shine.
1. Use the coarse side of a finishing pad on the scratch if it is minor. Be sure to follow the grain of the metal. Overlap the area by one or two inches on each side, which will help it to blend in with the surrounding metal. Flip the pad over and use the fine side of the pad to smooth out the area.

For more information, please visit our website:

Contracting and REO Renovation Tips 101

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Contracting and REO Renovation Tips 101

REO stands for real estate owned, and it refers to homes that have been foreclosed by mortgage lenders and are now owned by the financial institutions that foreclosed. Foreclosed homes may also be listed as “bank owned.”

REO homes are typically priced lower than prevailing market price, and sellers may offer incentives including favorable mortgage terms for financing the purchase of an REO home.

First time buyers REO properties provide first time home buyers an opportunity to buy a home and get an affordable mortgage. They may also qualify for state, county, and local home buyer funding and assistance.

Real Estate Investment In spite of today’s market fluctuations, licensed contractors and investors can buy a damaged REO property for pennies on the dollar, rehab it, and rent of sell it at a profit. “Flipping” is not recommended unless you’re experienced and knowledgeable about home renovation and local real estate markets.

REO bad news Dutch Touch Contracting Services 101

REO Bad News Foreclosed homes can be damaged by former owners, squatters, and vandals. They may be little more than shells, and can attract crime and vermin. Don’t buy an REO property you haven’t inspected.

Neighborhood BlightForeclosed homes may sit vacant and damaged for months. This invites further damage and can result in citations by city building departments and health agencies. Be prepared to start work on a damaged REO as soon as you buy it.

Negotiate with SellerBanks and mortgage companies are overloaded with REO homes. Feel free to negotiate with sellers; you may be pleasantly surprised.

Getting a MortgageMany lenders selling REO properties can also provide a purchase money mortgage. Ask about this when considering an REO property; you may receive very good terms on a fixed rate mortgage.

Bank Owned (REO) Buying Tips

Properties that have been taken back by the bank through the foreclosure process are known as “real estate owned” or REO. Buying these bank owned homes can result in some real cost savings, however, there are some different procedures and contractual terms that a buyer should understand. It is very important that a buyer work with a seasoned and experienced professional that understands the REO buying process.

Finding bank owned properties is best done through the multiple listing service (MLS). Banks generally list their properties with real estate brokers just like most Sellers. The bank wants to expose the property to as many potential buyers as possible, and this is best done through the MLS. Locating and making an offer on a property before it is listed is very difficult, and most banks will not entertain pre-list offers.


It is absolutely imperative that the buyer be pre-approved for a loan BEFORE, viewing available bank owned properties. Banks take into consideration when evaluating offers: the amount of any down payment, the type of loan and the borrowing strength of the buyer. Some banks may consider a lower purchase price if the buyer will be obtaining a loan through the same bank that currently owns the property. This is especially important when there are multiple buyers making offers on the same property. It is also important to be pre-approved so that as a buyer you’re only evaluating and considering homes that you could actually afford to purchase.

Making an offer on a REO begins with the same contract that a buyer would use when placing an offer on a regular house. In addition to the California Association of Realtors (CAR) Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA), almost every bank has their own set of addendums. Some banks prefer to have the terms all completed on their own forms when making the initial offer, while others prefer to evaluate the offer on the RPA only, and then provide the counter-offer terms on their addendum. Each bank is different on these procedures. Knowing how an individual bank works, and then proceeding along their desired system will increase the likelihood of your offers acceptance. Banks generally take longer to accept an offer than a normal seller. This is especially true when the home is priced low for the area and there are multiple offers. Buyers need to be patient, and understand that when there are numerous people bidding on the same house, that only one will “win”. Having the “Best” offer is not always the highest price. Knowing what the risks are to a bank is very important in a multi-offer property.


When your offer is accepted, the clock for your Due Diligence period starts ticking. Due Diligence is that period of time that the Buyer has to confirm that this is in fact the property he wants to buy. The banks enforce the timeframes very strictly, and most will only extend the time limits for a fee. The Buyer will have between 5 days and 21 days to complete all of the property inspections, review disclosure reports and confirm that their financing is in place. These dates are usually shorter than the time frames contained in the standard RPA. Banks have different time frames that they follow, so it is very important to understand them and make sure you complete each task on time. Working with a Realtor that knows the time limits is crucial to a successful closing. Most banks do NOT want to fix or repair the properties before they are sold. Be sure that the contracts are very clear about who will be paying for Termite inspection and repairs, or who will handle any of the Buyer’s Lender required repairs.


One of the biggest differences between a traditional sale and a REO purchase deals with the deposit. The Earnest Money Deposit is the initial money that is placed into escrow by the Buyer. It is intended to show that the Buyer is “serious” about buying the property. Under the standard RPA, the deposit is usually returned to the Buyer if the home does not close because of a financing or other problem that causes the Buyer to change their mind about closing on the home. When buying a bank owned home, the bank’ contract usually allows the bank to keep the deposit once the timeframes for the various contingencies pass per the contract addendum. It is absolutely critical for a Buyer to understand the timeframes, and for them to comply with the dates listed in the bank’s contract. The amount of deposit may also have an impact on the banks evaluation of multiple offers on the same house.


Escrow companies that are hired by larger banks with a lot of inventory are usually paid a lower than market fee. This has resulted in a low level of service from these escrows. Patience is a must when going through a REO purchase. Be ready to move very quickly when the bank asks you as the Buyer for paperwork or information. Also be prepared for the bank as the seller to take a long time with no real reason for them to get back to you with information or signatures. Remember that the bank is dealing in some cases with thousands of properties in the system, so responses from them can take some time. Be patient.


Once you close escrow, you get to move into your new house. Do not discuss in detail the GREAT deal you received with your new neighbors. Be courteous and realize that your “Great Deal” probably just lowered the value of your neighbor’s home. Make exterior repairs like front lawn and weed abatement as quick as you can after you move in. Be a good neighbor, and enjoy your HOME!

For more information, please visit our website: