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August
11

Economic News from Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Unexpectedly Strong Job Gains Across the Board

With the release of last week's Employment report, the United States reported unexpectedly strong job gains across the board. With this stronger than expected economic data, mortgage rates received an unfavorable reaction.

Overall, the key labor market report far exceeded the forecasts. Thus, mortgage rates ended the week higher.

Employment Report Reveals Unexpectedly Strong Job Gains

Every month, the Employment report represents the most highly anticipated data. With Friday's release, the data revealed unexpectedly strong job gains. Against a consensus forecast of 250,000, the economy gained 528,000 jobs in July 2022. Notably, leisure and hospitality displayed the best performance with a gain of 96,000 jobs. Now, the economy holds more jobs than in early 2020, prior to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell from 3.6% to 3.5%. While unemployment fell below the consensus forecast, it also matched the lowest level since 1969. Additionally, investors and analysts look to average hourly earnings for wage growth indications. Overall, the latest average hourly earnings report showed an impressive 5.2% higher than a year ago, well above the consensus forecast.

ISM Reporting Paints Picture of Shifting Consumer Spending

Aside from the unexpectedly strong job gains, the most recent economic indicators from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) painted a picture of shifting consumer spending habits. The national services sector index ended several straight months of declines with an unexpected jump to 56.7, well above the consensus forecast of 54.0.

By contrast, the national manufacturing sector index posted an expected drop to 52.8. Still, levels above 50 indicate sector expansion. Consistent with other recent data, these two reports suggest that consumers are purchasing more services and fewer goods.

Investors Anticipate 75-Basis Point Increase in September

Following news of unexpectedly strong job gains and an expanding National Services Sector Index, investors anticipate another large rate hike in September. Last week, most investors priced in a 50-basis point rate hike. Currently, the majority price in a 75-basis point increase while debating next year's events.

Presently, investors plan for additional rate hikes later this year. Meanwhile, next year should lead to rate cuts as economic growth and inflation decline. Federal Reserve comments suggest that investors price too high a probability of rate cuts next year given the uncertain inflation outlook.

Looking Ahead After Unexpectedly Strong Job Gains

After the unexpectedly strong job gains, investors watch for additional Federal Reserve guidance on the pace of future rate hikes and bond portfolio reduction. Beyond that, they focus on the inflation data.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was released on Wednesday. Investors and analysts widely follow CPI for price changes covering a broad range of goods and services. Also, the Producer Price Index (PPI) comes out on Thursday of next week. PPI measures price changes for intermediate goods used to make finished products.

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

August
10

Median Home Prices Fall Slightly from June

From our Friends at Boise Regional REALTORS®

Home Prices Adjust to Market Changes

The median sales price for homes in Ada County was $589,990 in July, down 0.4% from June but 9.3% higher than July 2021. Buyers who purchased in recent months faced larger monthly mortgage payments due to higher mortgage interest rates and home prices, which has had a cooling effect on the demand for housing. As a result, home price growth and sales have slowed.  

This point is made more obvious when looking the existing/resale segment, which had a median sales price of $549,000 in July, a 3.7% decrease from the previous month, but a 4.6% increase from a year prior. The existing segment can react more quickly to changes in what buyers are willing or able to pay in contrast to new construction which must factor in land, labor, materials, and other fixed costs into the final home price.  

The month-over-month price declines indicate that the local housing market continues to be driven by supply versus demand, not speculation like we experienced over a decade ago. As demand decreases and supply increases, prices are responding accordingly.  

There were 2,408 homes listed for sale at the end of July, a 128.2% increase from July 2021, and the highest level of inventory we've seen since September 2015. Even with the uptick in inventory, the months supply of inventory in July was 2.8 months, meaning, if no additional homes were listed, the supply of homes would run out in about three months. A "balanced" market, or one that does not favor buyers or sellers, is typically between 4-6 months of supply.  

July also marked the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year declines in the number of sales. There were 685 closed home sales last month, down 33.8% compared to July 2021. There have been 5,370 total sales year-to-date, 707 fewer, or 11.6% less, than this time last year.   

Metrics that indicate competition in the market continued to show signs of normalizing in July. Focusing on the existing/resale segment, homes that closed last month spent an average of 21 days on the market before going under contract, compared to 11 days in July 2021. Additionally, the average original list price received for existing homes in July was 95.6%, which means that on average, buyers paid less than asking through a lower accepted offer, price reductions, or seller concessions. In July 2021, the average original list price received was 101.3%, meaning that on average, buyers paid more than asking price.  

Higher mortgage interest rates have done what the Fed intended and cooled demand for housing, which in turn, has also slowed sales and price growth. However, it's important to remember that 2020 and 2021 were out of the norm for our market — we experienced a surge of demand for housing while we had record low inventory, which drove home prices up at a very rapid rate. Today, we're in the midst of a shift to a more normal market, one where bidding wars are less common, buyers have more time and choices, and appraisals and home inspections don't have to be waived in order for an offer to even be considered.

Whether you're ready to buy today or would like to purchase within the next two, five, or even ten years, work with trusted advisors to make a plan to reach your goals. Taking important steps today, such as improving your credit, researching down payment programs, and saving for your down payment in a tax-sheltered savings account can really make a difference when you're ready to make a move.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE.

July
15

For the Third Time, CB Scores Top in Agent Satisfaction

Coldwell Banker Scores First in Agent Satisfaction. Again.

Confucius said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." 

The real estate professionals across the Coldwell Banker brand are passionate about their industry – and about their brand. For the third time, Coldwell Banker Real Estate ranked #1 in agent satisfaction in the annual "Agent Priorities" report conducted by Quester.

Designed to keep what's important to agents top of mind, the report zeroes in on topics such as work/life balance, brand image, support, tools, and culture. Knowing what makes an agent more likely to stay with a company is a key component in what brokerages can do to foster positive work environments and grow their agents' businesses.

On a local level, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson combines the strength of the national tools with additional services designed to help our Realtors® list, sell, and learn.

Full-time managing brokers are in place to provide immediate assistance. Offices are staffed with Agent Services Experts (ASEs) to help with marketing, paperwork, and training. A company-wide marketing team is in place to create campaigns that support current market trends, listing types, and services.

With continuing education an important aspect of any business, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson offers in-house classes, regular lunch 'n' learn trainings, continuing education at no cost, and national certifications and classes.

To read the results of the report, visit the Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog.

July
14

Strong Job Gains in June

 

 

More than 350k Jobs Added to the Economy in June

Job Gains were better than predicted despite a consensus forecast of just 250,000, the economy added 372,000 jobs in June. This growth is right in line with the gains seen over the last few months. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%.  This is just above the lowest level since 1969. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, were an impressive 5.1% higher than a year ago. Although it was down from an even larger annual rate of increase of 5.3% last month.

Job Gains Show Labor Market Strength

The JOLTS report measures job openings and labor turnover rates. The latest JOLTS report indicated that the labor market remains very tight. At the end of May, there were a massive 11.3 million job openings. This is down a little from the record high in March, but over 4 million more than in January 2020 prior to the pandemic.

There were 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker. High level of openings reflects a strong labor market, as companies struggle to hire enough workers with the necessary skills. A very large number of employees also willingly left their jobs in January. This signals strength in the labor market. Workers usually quit only if they expect that they can find better jobs.

Job Gains Grew as Did Mortgage Rates

Job gains may mean a stronger labor market, but not necessarily a stronger economy. The minutes from the June 15 Fed meeting released last Wednesday significantly contained no surprises. To help the economy recover from the pandemic, the Fed put in place extremely loose policy measures. With the recent surge in inflation, officials have begun to tighten. The minutes confirmed that fighting inflation is the primary goal now.

Aggressive rate hikes likely will continue, even at the risk of slowing the economy. When the federal funds rate has climbed to a more "neutral" level, meaning it neither boosts nor restrains economic growth. Moreover, officials will evaluate whether to continue tightening to a restrictive stance. The minutes emphasized that the Fed wants to prevent expectations for a long cycle of higher prices from becoming "entrenched."

Looking A Head at Inflation & Retail Sales

Looking ahead, job gains aren't the only thing investors are keeping an eye on. They will continue to look for additional Fed guidance. Investors are keeping an eye on the pace of future rate hikes and bond portfolio reduction. Beyond that, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), was released on Wednesday. CPI is a monthly inflation indicator that looks at price changes for a range of goods and services. Retail Sales will come out on Friday, a key indicator of the health of the economy. Consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

July
13

Cooling Demand Slows Home Price Growth

From our Friends at Boise Regional REALTORS®

Median Sales Prices Drop Slightly in June

After passing the $600,000 mark in May 2022, the median sales price for homes in Ada County dropped to $592,090 in June. This was 12.8% higher compared to the same month a year ago. Since 2005, the average year-over-year percent change in home prices in Ada County has been 8.1%.

MSP and Percent Chg YOY - June 2022

The incredible price growth we've seen since the onset of the pandemic was fueled by a rapid increase in demand for housing as people transitioned to remote work, the continued household formation of millennials, and historically low mortgage interest rates. With an already undersupplied housing market prior to the pandemic, prices shot up as demand outpaced supply.

We've seen the buyer pool shrink due to higher mortgage rates and home prices. Cooling demand has given inventory a chance to catch up a bit, giving the remaining buyers more options.

There were 2,135 homes available for sale at the end of June, a 192.9% increase from June 2021, and the highest inventory we've seen since September 2016. Even with the welcome inventory gains, the months supply of inventory in June was 2.4 months. A "balanced" market, or a market that does not favor buyers or sellers, is typically between 4-6 months of supply.

Metrics that indicate competition in the market continued to show signs of normalizing. Focusing on the existing/resale segment, homes that closed last month spent an average of 14 days on the market before going under contract, compared to 10 days in June 2021. Additionally, the average original list price received for existing homes in June was 98.4%, which means that on average, buyers paid less than asking through a lower accepted offer, price reductions, or seller concessions. In June 2021, the average original list price received was 103.9%, which means on average, buyers paid more than the asking price.

The housing market conditions we experienced for the last two years were unique. Historically low inventory, coupled with rampant demand, resulted in above-average price growth and a highly competitive market. The changes we're seeing in price growth, inventory, and slower market times is moving us toward a more normal market — one where bidding wars are the exception and not the rule, and buyers aren't having to make split-second decisions and waive contingencies for their offer to even be considered.

Sales also continued to lag in June. There were 818 closed home sales last month, down 16.0% compared to June 2021, and the fourth month of consecutive year-over-year declines.

As the market shifts, sellers may have to adjust their expectations slightly. Offers may not fly in within the hour or first day you list, and your home may not sell for over list price. This isn't necessarily a bad thing — in fact, it may make your experience less stressful, and sellers are still receiving great value for their homes. Your best bet for selling in today's market is to price your home appropriately, based on the relevant data, comparables, and expertise offered by your real estate agent, and then allow your agent to market your home on the multiple listing service to reach the widest audience possible.

Whether you're ready to buy today or would like to purchase within the next two, five, or even ten years, work with trusted advisors to make a plan to reach your goals. Taking important steps today, such as improving your credit, researching down payment programs, and saving for your down payment in a tax-sheltered savings account can really make a difference when you're ready to make a move.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE.

July
11

Take Action Now on these Home Repairs

Home Repairs that Can't Wait

Delta Media Group

Home improvement can be costly and time-consuming, so it's no surprise that many homeowners put off making repairs as long as possible. Smaller repairs can usually be safely left until the timing is more advantageous, perhaps when you have more money in the bank or some vacation time. There are some repairs, however, that should be taken care of as soon as possible. These home repairs are so important that failing to make them could result in serious injury and increased costs.

  1. Electrical System
    Some home improvement projects include work on the electrical system, such as installing a ceiling fan or changing a light switch. These are examples of repairs that can be done whenever you can fit them into your schedule. Some electrical problems require immediate action, though. These include unexplained circuit breaker failures, flickering or inconstant lighting, and switch plates and outlet covers that feel warm or hot. If you notice any of these problems, it's a good idea to enlist the help of a qualified electrician as soon as possible.

  2. Roofing
    The roof is an important part of your home's defense against the elements. Leaks, missing or damaged shingles, and sagging areas need to be addressed as soon as you notice them. A sagging roof could collapse under the weight of snow or heavy wind and may indicate other problems like improper attic ventilation. In addition, small leaks and damaged areas can lead to big problems like rotted support beams, mold growth, and an overall weakened structure.

  3. Foundation
    Foundation cracks are a fairly common problem, but many people choose to ignore them when they're small. This leads to their spread and growth, eventually becoming so problematic that it can cost many thousands of dollars to repair. While smaller cracks don't typically contribute to structural instability, as they grow larger, they increasingly undermine the foundation's integrity. In extreme cases, this can lead to the collapse of the entire home. Have foundation problems been addressed as soon as they arise, both to save money and ensure safety?

  4. Gas Lines
    Gas leaks in your home can be extremely dangerous. Natural gas and propane are dense and have a tendency to "sink" below regular air. They pool in the low areas of your home, meaning that you're more likely to smell them (they smell like sulfur; "rotten eggs") on the first floor or in the basement if you have one. Anytime you smell gas, or even think you smell gas, get yourself and your family out of the home immediately and call the gas company from outside. Repairs to gas lines should be made before you return to your home, and only by experienced professionals.

  5. Plumbing
    Water leaks and damaged pipes give mold a perfect environment to take hold in your walls, and you may not notice a leak until long after it started. Should you notice any dark spots or weakened areas in walls, or water bills that seem abnormally high, it's important to find the cause and address it before it leads to larger problems.

Managing Home Improvement Tasks

It can be tempting to leave smaller home improvement tasks until "later," but keep in mind that doing so could cost you more in the long run. Not every repair constitutes an emergency, but that doesn't mean that non-emergency repairs should be ignored. Keep on top of home maintenance and repairs by keeping a checklist of necessary tasks; focus on completing one each weekend or each month. This will help you keep your home improvement projects from piling up and becoming major problems.

June
27

Tips for Updating a Concrete Patio

Ideas for Upgrading Your Patio

Delta Media Group

Maybe you've been pondering all those cool ideas seen on TV and the web about redoing your drab slab of a concrete patio so that it's a standout feature of your indoor/outdoor entertainment area. Here's the deal. We are all in love with the idea of extending our living and entertainment area into the outdoors. And why not? There are dozens of relatively inexpensive and yet innovative hacks that will make your outdoors as inviting as the indoors, so let's start working from the ground up by renovating that boring, cracked, or scuffed-up concrete patio and see how dazzling it can be.

  1. Paint it.
    For basic painting, you will need concrete binding primer; concrete paint; painter's tape, a roller tray with liners (for fast cleanup), a paint roller, nap roller covers, and paintbrushes.

    Pressure wash the patio and let it dry. Cover up with painter's tape everything you don't want to be painted. Apply concrete binding primer, allowing it to dry one to four hours prior to painting. Apply two coats of paint, allowing the first coat to dry overnight. Wait 72 hours before you move furniture back onto the patio.

  2. Stain it.
    Apply a stain over the patio, then seal it. 

  3. Paint a pattern.
    Using a circular saw, score a concrete slab with a diamond pattern, then paint it with two shades of gray concrete paint. You can also use a stencil to create interesting patterns like a carpet design.  

  4. Lay decking on top of the concrete.
    Not a fan of concrete? You can lay decking on top of the concrete and attach white fascia boards along the sides.

  5. Create a stamped concrete patio.
    Stamped concrete is wildly popular these days. A bit cheaper than pavers, it comes in a variety of patterns and colors. Installers will try to delay cracking (be advised, it will crack someday) by installing control joints. Obviously, you will have to pour concrete and stamp the new concrete before it hardens. So if you've already got a concrete slab there, you'll have to figure out how to get rid of it. 

  6. Fake a stone look.
    Another redo that involves pouring new concrete is to fake the look of brick or stone with a patterned rubber roller. You'll need a concrete roller to create indentations that look like brick or stone, and those rollers can be costly. Concrete stamping mats are a more affordable option. These flexible pieces of rubber have embossed patterns. Stamp them on wet concrete and apply pressure. Lift the mat and repeat the process. 

  7. Resurface with pavers.
    How about resurfacing your patio with clay pavers? These bricks are hard-fired in a kiln, so they are extra-strong and can stand up to the harsh sun and inclement weather. Less expensive than stone, clay pavers cost more than concrete pavers. 

Although all these projects are relatively inexpensive, you can obviously spend more on some than others. So if cost is a factor, then you may want to go with simple painting or staining.

Once you're done with your new floor, it's time to think about decorating. You might start with a weather-resistant outdoor rug, perhaps in the dining area. Decorate with flower boxes or containers of flowers that can change with the season and move indoors when it's cold. Hang up strands of lights. Add a water feature, which could be a fountain with plumbing or a self-contained model that runs on electricity and recirculates the water.

Let your creativity and inner interior decorator run wild as you think up ways to jazz up that formerly dull space and make it shine.

Have you made some updates to your outdoor living space? Show us some pictures in the comments! 

June
15

Financial News from Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

High Inflation Leads to Reduced Mortgage Applications

In recent months, high inflation (and higher mortgage rates) took a large toll on mortgage application volumes. Now, they've dropped to the lowest levels in 22 years. The rate hike has been implemented to fight against high inflation. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), average 30-year fixed rates rose 2.0% higher year over year.

Purchase applications are down 21% from last year at this time. Applications to refinance a loan have plunged a shocking 75% from one year ago. This year, MBA forecasts total mortgage originations to decline over 35% lower than last year. Analysts attribute this to the massive decline in refinancing.

High Inflation

Inflation remained the focus for investors this week, and the latest readings came in stronger than expected, at or near the highest levels in decades. The European Central Bank also revealed a more aggressive stance to fight inflation. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week higher.

As an inflation indicator, Consumer Price Index (CPI) looks at price changes for a broad range of goods and services. Core CPI excludes the volatile food and energy components and provides a clearer picture of the longer-term trend. In May, Core CPI increased 6.0% higher than a year ago. As a result, Core CPI decreased from an annual rate of increase of 6.2% last month. However, CPI hovers far above the readings around 2.0% seen early in 2021.

Supply & Demand & Inflation

As the economy has steadily recovered from the pandemic, strong consumer demand, supply constraints, and surging commodity prices have pushed prices much higher for a wide range of goods and services. The conflict in Ukraine and the recent shutdowns in China due to COVID-19 have worsened shortages for many key items.

Over time, supply chain disruptions will ease, and Fed tightening will reduce the pressures from high inflation, but it is not clear how quickly this will occur.

European Interest Rates

At its meeting on Thursday (6/9), the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it intends to raise interest rates by 25-basis points at its next meeting in July. It also plans to hike rates again in September by either 25 or 50-basis points depending on whether prices show signs of easing by then.

One primary reason for its monetary policy tightening is that inflation in the eurozone reached a record high in May. The ECB also significantly raised its forecast for annual inflation for 2022 from 5.1% to 6.8%. 

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

June
14

Doers of Good: Featuring NeighborWorks Boise

DOERS OF GOOD: PAINT THE TOWN

For 40 years, NeighborWorks Boise has been helping our senior, veteran, and disabled neighbors by painting their homes. 40 years. Over 3,300 homes. More than 11,000 volunteers.

We're proud to feature NeighborWorks and Paint the Town as our June Doers of Good recipients. Joining teams of volunteers painting homes across the valley, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson agents and staff made their Saturday morning all about sprucing up the home of a neighbor in need in NW Boise. From drab to dazzling, the home has a shiny new look, the homeowner is thrilled, and our team is pleased, knowing they did something good for our community and had some fun in the process.

Team leader and CBT Boise office manager, Danielle Cullip, says, "I love leading PTT because I am able to bring the CBT team together to help someone in our community that is needing it. Together we increase the homeowner's property value and brighten up not only their homes but their smiles as well."

To Danielle, "being a Doer of Good means I have the opportunity to help within my community. I am able to lend a hand to those that need it, and hopefully make a small difference in their lives."

She encourages everyone to get involved on some level, however they can. To that end, she says, "Even though the Paint the Town event is over for 2022, NeighborWorks Boise focuses all year to address the housing needs in our valley. From affordable rentals to their Homebuyer Education Program and homebuyer counseling, neighborhood revitalization, and pocket neighborhoods, NWB is a critical member of our community."

To help or donate, contact NeighborWorks Boise at https://nwboise.org/.

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Join us in celebrating our Doers of Good by getting involved in one of the programs we will spotlight over the next several months or tell us in the comments below about what lights your fire when it comes to making our communities better. 

June
10

Ada County Home Prices Up, Sales Down in May

From our Friends at Boise Regional REALTORS®

Ada County Home Prices Rose Again in May

The median sales price for homes in Ada County reached $602,250 in May 2022, an increase of 16.1% compared to the same month last year, and a new record for the county.

As we saw in March and April, higher prices in the new construction segment contributed to the overall price jump. New home sales made up 28.2% of all sales in May with a median sales price of $639,105, up 17.5% from last year. Home prices also rose to a new record in the existing segment with a median sales price of $586,750, a gain of 16.0% over last year.

There were 894 closed home sales in May 2022, a decrease of 5.8% compared to May 2021, and the third month of consecutive year-over-year declines.

While continued price growth is somewhat puzzling when national economists are predicting a slowdown in prices and sales due to higher mortgage rates and home prices, the data is also beginning to show signs of a shift when it comes to pending sales or properties with an accepted offer that are expected to close within 30-60 days.

In Ada County, there were 1,446 pending sales in May, down 12.7% compared to the same month a year ago. Pending sales have declined year-over-year each month since May 2021.

"Pending contracts are telling, as they better reflect the timelier impact from higher mortgage rates than do closings," said Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. Referring to the national sales data as a whole, Dr. Yun noted that, "The latest contract signings mark six consecutive months of declines and are at the slowest pace in nearly a decade."

Competition in the market waned some compared to a year ago. Existing homes that closed last month spent an average of 11 days on the market, compared to eight days in May 2021. Additionally, 50.7% of buyers paid over list price, resulting in an average original list price received of 100.9% for existing/resale homes in May 2022, compared to 105.0% in May 2021.

Agents are used to fielding questions about what's happening in the market, and today's market is no exception. Higher rates, price growth, and economic uncertainty are top of mind. but prospective buyers will have more options than have been available in over two years because of the increases in housing inventory we've seen in recent months. On the flip side, sellers have continued to receive great values for their homes.

Whether you're ready to buy today or would like to purchase within the next two, five, or even ten years, work with trusted advisors to make a plan to reach your goals. Taking important steps today, such as improving your credit, researching down payment programs, and saving for your down payment in a tax-sheltered savings account can really make a difference when you're ready to make a move.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE.

May
10

Upward Climb Continues: Another Record for Ada County

From our Friends at Boise Regional REALTORS®

Ada County Home Prices Set Another Record

The median sales price for homes in Ada County reached $595,000 in April 2022, an increase of 23.9% compared to the same month last year, and a new record for the county.

Higher prices in the new construction segment played a large part in the overall price jump. New home sales made up nearly a third of all sales in April with a median sales price of $645,000, up 36.7% from last year. However, home prices rose across the board, with the median sales price for existing/resale homes reaching $570,000, a gain of 16.9% over last year. These were record highs for both segments.

Mortgage rates also rose in April, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage average reaching 5.1% at the end of the month, according to data from Freddie Mac. National economists have predicted that the increase in mortgage rates will eventually slow the market, but we haven't seen a price slowdown in our local sales data yet. It's important to remember that homes that closed in April likely went under contract in February and March, so we may not see the immediate impact of rates on prices for a few months. Pending sales, or those with an accepted offer that are expected to close in the next 30-60 days, may provide a better indication of how rates are affecting our market at this time.

There were 1,525 pending sales at the end of the month, a 12.1% decline from April 2021, and 815 total sales for the county in April, down 17.0% year-over-year. The existing/resale segment claimed 586 of those sales, which was a drop of 12.3% compared to last year. Higher home prices, coupled with higher mortgage rates, which results in higher monthly payments for buyers who are financing a home purchase, may be hampering sales.

Looking specifically at existing/resale sales data in April, 53.2% of buyers paid over list price, indicating that competition remained strong, particularly at the median and lower price points. While it may seem obvious, it means nearly half of all buyers did not pay over list, resulting in an average original list price received of 101.0% for existing/resale homes in April 2022, compared to 104.9% in April 2021.

Buyers may be discouraged by increasing rates and prices, but there is some good news — in April, inventory increased by 170.0% compared to the same month last year. While supply is still constrained, especially at the lower price points, more year-over-year inventory is a sign we may be seeing a shift to a more balanced market.

There is some uncertainty as to how inflation, higher mortgage rates, and other economic factors will affect the residential housing market; however, REALTORS® understand that each homeowner and buyer's situation is unique, and help their clients make decisions based on factors that are within their control.

Whether you're ready to buy today or would like to purchase within the next two, five, or even ten years, work with trusted advisors to make a plan to reach your goals. Taking important steps today, such as improving your credit, researching down payment programs, and saving for your down payment in a tax-sheltered savings account can really make a difference when you're ready to make a move.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE

May
9

Considering a Remodel? Some Tips to Get You Started

How to Choose a Contractor for Your Remodel Projects

Delta Media Group

Homeownership is an exciting time — one filled with many new possibilities and experiences. One possibility that has the potential to elevate your home to the next level is a remodel. Remodeling can transform your space into something more functional by better reflecting your lifestyle and adding value to your home. However, your dreams of the perfect renovation project can turn into a nightmare if you don't do your homework. To have a successful remodel, you need the right contractor.

It's understandable to want the best person for the job but finding that person often involves a number of factors like availability, cost, and areas of expertise. The best way to choose a remodeling contractor is to do your homework and take steps to ensure that you find an ideal match for your project.

Ask around or research

If you have a friend or neighbor who has a remodel you like in a room/area you're looking to work on, too, it can be helpful to ask them who they used. You can also ask around your network of people — i.e., friends, family, business partners, or your real estate agent—to get recommendations for remodeling contractors. Once you have a list created, make your own as well by researching resources like Google, Angie, the local Better Business Bureau, and other online places that give you the names of local companies. Weed out any contractors with consistently poor reviews or contractors that don't specialize or have experience in the space you want to remodel.

Look deeper into credentials and projects

Most contractors have a website. Take the time to look at what credentials they may have and if they are current. See if they have pictures of their work as well. You can begin to get a feel for which contractors are more your taste or that have the knowledge necessary for your remodeling project.

Interview possible contractors

The next step once you have fine-tuned your list to a few favorites is to call and schedule a time to meet and talk about the project. Consider both the phone and in-person meetings an interview. It's your chance to ask about experience, find out about their knowledge and skills, and see if you mesh. Like any job interview, you'll be able to get an overall sense of who you're getting. There are also some things you'll want to ask them or have them do, including:

  • Itemize your bid
  • Ask how long they have been in business
  • Determine who their main suppliers are and who will be in charge of the site/project
  • Find out if the pricing is an estimate or a fixed price.

Check references

Even if you've done all your online research and read all the reviews, nothing is as effective as talking with someone who has worked with your prospective contractor. You may find out things you didn't think to ask, and it can give extra assurance that you're making the right choice.

Put it in writing

The last thing you'll want to do when you've made your choice is to put it in writing. This is a great way to keep all parties on the same page and safeguarded. 

Homeownership means making the decisions; it's your house, and you get to choose who remodels it. For the best remodeling experience, by taking your time and the correct steps, you're more likely to find the right person for your project. Not only will it save you time and money, but it will also get you the home of your dreams.

May
5

Financial News from Our Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Mortgage Rates Steady at Long-Term Highs Ahead of Fed

MAY 3, 2022 - Mortgage rates hit their highest levels since 2009 yesterday amid the fastest spike since the early 1980s.  Today's rates were very similar on average, but the bond market left some room for mortgage lenders to offer improvements during the day.  A few of them did, but bond gains evaporated in the afternoon, resulting in rates returning back to long-term highs by the close.

As for motivations, today's volatility wasn't overtly connected to any individual root cause.  The best cases for correlation surround the big picture.  There, the obvious motivations continue to be inflation and the Fed's attempts to address it.  We'll get the latest dose of Fed strategy confirmation in tomorrow's (5/4) official policy announcement and press conference.

The Fed is widely expected to hike its policy rate by 0.50%, but it's important to understand this has nothing to do with the average mortgage.  The mortgage market adjusted for this probability long ago, and even then, mortgage rates are based on longer-term bonds whereas the Fed Funds Rate dictates loans that last less than a day.  Sometimes overnight rates and long-term rates correlate, but their performance varies so much over time that it makes no sense to infer any impact on mortgages from changes in Fed Funds.

Of more consequence will be the way the Fed implements its balance sheet normalization plans.  These are just fancy words to say the Fed will soon be buying even fewer bonds.  This bond buying has a far more direct effect on mortgage rates, but here too, the market widely expects the Fed to make this announcement tomorrow.  There are a few subtle options for the Fed to deliver the message in a way that helps or hurts rates, however.  Depending on which path the Fed chooses, rates could make bigger moves tomorrow, for better or worse.

Residential Building Continues to Dominate Construction Spending

Total construction spending continues to roar ahead of its 2021 pace, led again in March by another double-digit increase in the residential component. The U.S. Census Bureau says the investment in all types of construction was at a seasonally adjusted rate of $1.731 trillion in March, an 0.1 percent gain compared to February and up 11.7 percent year-over-year. So far in 2022, there has been a total of $376.337 billion spent, a 12.0 percent growth compared to the first three months of last year.

Spending in the private sector increased 0.2 percent from February to March at an annual rate of $1.380 trillion. The residential share of that spending rose 1.0 percent month-over-month compared to a gain of 0.7 percent in February. The annual rate in March was $88.045 billion, up 18.4 percent compared to March 2021. The non-residential component fell 1.2 percent from the prior month but is still 8.5 percent higher than in March 2021.

Na Zhao, an analyst for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said the monthly growth in residential spending came from new single-family construction at $472.6 billion a 1.3 percent increase from February and 18.5 percent year over year while multifamily spending slipped 0.5 percent. Spending on home improvements also rose 1.1 percent for the month.

Zhao says NAHB's construction spending index illustrates the solid growth in single-family construction and home improvement from the second half of 2019 to February 2020, when the pandemic hit, and the quick rebound since July 2020. New multifamily construction spending has picked up the pace after a slowdown in the second half of 2019. However, he says home building is still facing supply chain issues, which means the industry is dealing with rising material costs as well as ongoing labor shortages.

Residential spending jumped by nearly $11 billion on a non-adjusted basis in March and year-to-date spending is up 18.8 percent from last year. The gains were again disproportionally in single-family building, up 19.8 percent during the first three months of 2022 while there has been only 5.0 percent growth in multifamily construction spending.

Public sector spending slowed 0.2 percent from February to an annual rate of $350.816 billion, a 1.7 percent annual increase. YTD spending is up 0.7 percent compared to 2021.

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

April
20

Are You Being Spammed? Tips to Protect Yourself

 

Spam 101

From Our Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

Technology scams are running rampant right now, whether they come by email, phone call, and now text messaging. We have had several customers reach out about texts that look to be from their bank asking to "verify information." Be vigilant when dealing with any communications via phone call, email, or text that regard any exchange of money or "verifying" any account information with a link or number to call.   

Our recommendations are as follows:

You can use your cell phone carriers' built-in number blocking on your phone to stop unwanted calls or texts from specific numbers; you can also block offending email addresses in your email account. But with any sort of fraud, scammers often use hundreds of thousands of phone numbers and emails and move very quickly onto the next.  This makes permanent blocking hard.  

To really have an impact, we recommend reporting the offending communication to the FTC.  This can be done online at: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

A few rules of thumb for spam calls, texts, and emails:

  1. Do not engage spammers.  When you answer or respond, you are showing the scammer, spammer, or robo-system that your phone number or email is "live". It is then put on a live numbers list that is sold over and over and the calls/texts/emails will continue infinitely.
  2. Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize. This one is hard for agents, but if it is important or a legitimate call, they will leave a voicemail or text you. 
  3. Do not answer texts from numbers you do not recognize
  4. Get into the habit of regularly entering and labeling known clients, colleagues, friends, family, etc. as contacts in your phone and email.
  5. Do not answer unsolicited or out-of-the-ordinary texts from numbers you do recognize.  The number could be spoofed to fool you. Instead, call the number you have in your contacts (not from the text or email) for the person texting you and verify via phone call that they sent the text.
  6. Do not click on links in texts or emails that you are not expecting from anyone that you do or do not recognize unless you have verified with the actual sender via phone call or in person.
  7. Do not open emails, download any attachments, or click on links in emails from senders you do not recognize.
  8. Do not download any attachments or click on links in unsolicited or suspicious emails or texts from senders you do recognize. Their email may have been hacked or their number spoofed.
  9. TRUST YOUR INTUITION.  Slightest question of authenticity?  Feeling of distrust? Major red flag? Do not ignore these feelings.
  10. COMMUNICATION IS KEY. If a text or email seems weird, out of character, just a slight bit off? We recommend that you call the person/company/bank to verify the contents of an email or text, or ask a trusted professional.

If you have any questions about a suspicious email, call, or text, feel free to contact our office via phone 208.288.4345 or email info@integrityidaho.com.

April
19

Fed News from Our Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Fed Guidance Indicates Rapid Plans to Reduce Their Bond Portfolio

This week, investors awaited the latest Fed guidance. With last month's surprises from the Federal Reserve, Fed officials plan to reduce their bond portfolio more quickly than expected.

This news generated a negative impact for mortgage rates. Thus, mortgage rates rose to their highest levels since late 2018.

Fed Guidance Indicates Rapid Pace

To review, the Federal Reserve loosens monetary policy to boost the economy during periods of weakness such as after the start of the pandemic. By contrast, when the economy exceeds a certain capacity, the demand for goods and services becomes so strong that prices must rise to balance supply and demand, eventually forcing the Fed to tighten. The challenge is to implement the optimal level of tightening. This restrains economic growth just the right amount to bring down inflation without causing an undesirable recession (a soft landing).

Adjusting the federal funds rate and the size of the bond portfolio are the two primary tools used by the Fed to achieve its goals. Two weeks ago, the latest Fed guidance provided fairly precise insight on the projected pace of rate hikes. This week, they revealed their bond portfolio plans. In short, officials expressed more concern about upside risks to inflation than downside risks to economic growth.

Meeting Minutes Reveal Latest Fed Guidance

On Wednesday, March 16th's Federal Reserve meeting minutes indicated that the Fed plans to allow its holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to decrease by up to $95 billion per month. Overall, this reveals a faster than anticipated pace, likely beginning in May. The split comes down to $60 billion in Treasuries and $35 billion in MBS, phased in over three months.

For months, investors awaited this Fed guidance. While these quantities are quite large on a historical basis, they must be viewed in the context of nine trillion dollars of total bond holdings, double the levels held prior to the pandemic. Since mortgage rates are largely based on MBS prices, the reduced outlook for Fed demand for mortgage-backed securities. Conclusively, mortgage rates moved higher.

ISM Shows Expanding Service Sector

Aside from the Fed guidance, the most significant economic indicator released this week stemmed from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). The latest data remained at a high level by historical standards. In fact, the national service sector index for March rose to 58.3.

Levels above 50 indicate that the sector is expanding. Readings above 60 are rare. Currently, investors watch to see how much consumer spending shifts from goods to services.

Looking Ahead After Most Recent Fed Guidance

After the most recent Fed guidance, investors look for additional Fed guidance on the pace of future rate hikes and balance sheet reduction. Also, investors continue to closely follow news on Ukraine.

Beyond that, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) released on Tuesday (4/12). Investors widely follow CPI because it looks at the price changes for a broad range of goods and services. Retail Sales come out on Thursday. Since consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, the retail sales data indicates growth.

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today. Click on the image below to connect!

April
19

Home Prices Continue to Rise

From our Friends at Boise Regional REALTORS®

Ada County Home Prices Reach Another New High in March

The median sales price for homes in Ada County reached $575,000 in March 2022, an increase of 22.6% compared to the same month last year, and a new record for the county.

This jump was driven primarily by the new construction segment — accounting for nearly a third of all sales in March — which saw a median sales price of $606,050, up 31.5% from last year. The median sales price for existing/resale homes was up 16.7%, reaching $555,000.

Many economists are predicting that the increase in mortgage rates will eventually temper home prices, but it's hard to say to what extent, and if inventory will still remain the biggest factor in local home prices.

Fortunately, inventory has been increasing in recent weeks, with levels up 103.1% from the same time last year. More inventory is definitely good news for buyers, but they will need to make quick decisions once they find something they're interested in since supply is still constrained.

The number of days on market for existing homes dropped to 15 days, on average, in March, down 34.8% from February. The 15-day average is the lowest since late last summer, which may be a sign that the spring market will once again be competitive.

Whether due to limits on affordability or willingness among buyers, existing homes that closed in March didn't sell for quite as much over list price as they did last year.

The percent of original list price received on homes in March 2022 was 100.8%, on average, compared to 104.1% in March of 2021. Another interesting finding was that fewer existing homes sold over list price this year than last year, with the share dropping from 58.7% in March of 2021 to 41.3% in March of 2022.

At first glance, it may seem odd that home prices have gone up so significantly when, on average, buyers are paying close to asking price. However, it's important to note how list prices are set. When a similar home sells, it can become a "comparable" property for future listings nearby; so, as homes appreciate, future asking prices tend to rise as well.

But the list price is just a starting point. Sometimes buyers pay more, and sometimes they pay less. Ultimately, a home sells for what the market determines its worth.

Although it may be tempting for sellers to price their home lower than what comparable data indicates to encourage multiple offers, it's important to remember that pricing low doesn't guarantee a bidding war and may not always be in the seller's best interest. On the other hand, setting an asking price that's higher than what comparable data supports may exclude a seller's property from some search results, potentially reducing the pool of prospective buyers. Using MLS data and market experience, a REALTOR® will provide you with a pricing and marketing strategy that's right for each property and situation.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE

April
4

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

DIY Products for Spring Cleaning

Sometimes it seems there is no end to house cleaning, and while there is no clear-cut answer for how to keep your home perfectly clean at all times, it might be surprising just how much you can do with a little baking soda and white vinegar.

Spot Cleaner for Carpet

  • After cleaning up any excess spill, sprinkle the carpet with baking soda or cornstarch. Let stand for 10 minutes and then vacuum.
  • Mix one tablespoon clear dishwashing liquid and one tablespoon white vinegar with two cups of warm water.
  • Using a white cloth, blot the stain with the vinegar solution.
  • Sponge with cold water and blot dry.

Oven Cleaner

  • Make a paste of baking soda and water.
  • Coat the oven (or just the dirty parts) with the paste and let stand overnight. Be sure to avoid the heating elements and bare metal.
  • Use a plastic spatula to remove the paste. (Wear rubber gloves.)
  • Wipe away any residue with a clean, wet sponge.

Grout Cleaners

  • Fill a spray bottle with equal amounts of white vinegar and water and generously spray the tile/grout. Let sit about five minutes.
  • Scrub area with a grout brush, or even a toothbrush.
  • Rinse with warm water.
  • If stains are more stubborn, mix a paste of baking soda and water and using your grout brush, work it into the grout.
  • Immediately follow with the vinegar spray. This should cause the baking soda paste to bubble.
  • Use your brush to finish cleaning.
  • Rinse with warm water.
  • For mold or mildewed grout, hydrogen peroxide is a gem. Spray it on the stain, let sit for a few minutes, and then scrub with your grout brush. You can even mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide into a paste for a stronger clean. Apply the paste to the grout lines, wait a few minutes, scrub and then rinse with water.
  • NOTE: Do not apply vinegar to grout that has not been properly sealed.

Showerhead Cleaner

  • Carefully mix 1/3 cup baking soda with 1 cup white vinegar in a plastic bag.
  • Place the bag over the showerhead, submerging the head in the mixture; secure bag with rubber band or twist-tie.
  • Let soak for at least 3 hours.
  • Wipe clean.

 Window Cleaner

  • Mix together in a spray bottle: ¼ cup vinegar, ½ tsp natural liquid soap, and 2 cups water. Shake to blend.
  • Spray on windows and use newspaper to rub dry & clean, avoiding the window frames (newspaper can leave dark marks on the frames).

March
16

A Look Ahead with Coldwell Banker's Ryan Gorman

The Real Estate Market: Looking Back and Ahead

Recently, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Realtors®, managers, and staff were honored with a visit from the President and CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, Ryan Gorman. Responsible for the operations that support our network of 94,000 real estate professionals in 3,000 offices in 43 countries across the globe, he made the trip from CB's New Jersey headquarters to speak with us about the wild ride that was 2021 and share his predictions about the state of our industry moving through 2022.

Though he foresees a continuation of a seller's market, he believes it won't be "the crazy, crazy" atmosphere we saw in 2021.  "Interest rates are ticking up which will slow things a bit," he said, but "inbound migration will continue to be strong, so it will be a long time before the market shifts."

When asked if he was surprised by the activity during the pandemic, he told us that though he did not predict the "nearly 10 years of appreciation in 18 months" in our area, Ryan said he wasn't surprised to see the market remain strong. Despite the economic downturn, "we had the most equity in homes that we had literally ever had (not on a percentage basis, but on an absolute basis), and we had tighter underwriting for almost 15 years by that point than we had almost ever had, so people had good opportunities."

Contributing to the history-making market, he noted, was that for the past five or so years our area has been named to list after list of best places to live, work, and raise a family, so as people were able to work, not only remotely, but more independently, they began to make good on the question if you could live anywhere, why not live somewhere great?  

In discussing the issue of low inventory, he is quick to point out that even buyers who have been in their homes two or three months may have equity that could propel them to look at selling to purchase something that better fits their dreams and goals and encouraged agents to inform their previous buyers what their homes are worth today. Buyers, he said, can leverage their equity to move more affordably to another neighborhood or city.

Recently named a "Real Estate Newsmaker" for 2021 and "Influencer" for 2022 by RisMedia, a highly respected real estate news and information service, Ryan says is most proud of Coldwell Banker's integrity. "Integrity is first. That's an easy answer. Coldwell Banker was founded on honesty and integrity, and that has lasted."

To learn more about Ryan's strategies for Coldwell Banker in 2022, check out his interview with Jordan Grice of RisMedia.

Search for your new home at cbboise.com.

March
15

Idaho Central Credit Union Shares News from ECB

 

 

European Central Bank Meeting Blindsides Investors with Surprising New Decision

As investors eagerly awaited the European Central Bank meeting, the latest decision on inflation came as a blindside. Additionally, headlines about the conflict in Ukraine continued to cause volatility in mortgage markets this week. However, the headlines created a roughly neutral impact. Instead, the analysts primarily focused on growing concern regarding rising inflation. Thus, mortgage rates ended the week higher.

European Central Bank Blindsides Investors

Faced with skyrocketing prices and the conflict in Ukraine, the European Central Bank meeting led to a very difficult decision. At Thursday's (3/10) meeting, bank officials chose to prioritize lower inflation over economic growth. In doing so, they announced that it plans to end its bond purchase program in the third quarter.

Investors were left stunned as this is much earlier than expected. ECB President Lagarde acknowledged that the conflict in Ukraine will have "a material impact on economic activity." Having said that, resident Lagarde also mentioned having little choice in tightening monetary policy to help bring down inflation.

European Central Bank Meeting Decision Comes as Reaction to Inflation

Analysts closely watch the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as an inflation indicator. CPI looks at price changes for a broad range of goods and services. Core CPI excludes the volatile food and energy components and provides a clearer picture of the longer-term trend. In February, Core CPI rose 6.4% higher than a year ago. Not only did Core CPI jump up from an annual rate of increase of 6.0% last month, it achieved its highest level since 1982. This may lead investors to see the justification of the recent news from the European Central Bank meeting.

There are many reasons why the annual core inflation rate has jumped from the readings below 2.0% seen early in 2021. These include a tight labor market, strong consumer demand for goods, and supply chain disruptions. Shortages for many items caused enormous cost increases, such as used car prices which are 41% higher than a year ago. Fed officials and economists debate how much the recent spike in inflation will subside as temporary factors caused by the pandemic are resolved.

JOLTS Report Shows Massive Job Openings

Aside from the European Central Bank meeting and inflation updates, the latest JOLTS report came out. By definition, the JOLTS report measures job openings and labor turnover rates. In fact, the latest data indicated that the labor market remains very tight. At the end of January, the economy experienced massive 11.3 million job openings. While this is down slightly from last month's record high, February 2022 added over 4 million more compared to January 2020.

A high level of job openings reflects a strong labor market. as companies struggle to hire enough workers with the necessary skills. A very large number of employees also willingly left their jobs in January. Analysts view this as a sign of labor market strength. Typically, people usually quit only if they expect that they can find better jobs.

Looking Ahead After the European Central Bank Meeting

After the European Central Bank meeting, investors continue to closely follow news on Ukraine. Beyond that, the next Federal Reserve meeting will take place on Wednesday (3/16). Investors widely expect a 25-basis point rate increase. In addition, investors seek additional Fed guidance on the pace of future rate hikes and balance sheet reduction.

Retail Sales also releases on Wednesday (3/16). Consumer spending accounts for over two thirds of U.S. economic activity. Therefore, the retail sales data indicates growth. Housing Starts comes out on Thursday (3/17).

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

March
9

Doers of Good: Practice Kindness Every Day

Extending Random Acts of Kindness Day

Random Acts of Kindness Day was last month, and many of our agents and staff marked the day by making an extra effort to help others. Rather than spotlighting a specific charity or cause in March, we asked, why can't this be every day? If each of us did one small thing to help a neighbor, a stranger, a co-worker, regardless of the day, think about the ripples of good that would spread throughout our communities!

On February 17th, National Random Acts of Kindness Day, agents and staff here at CBT surprised neighbors with yard cleanup, trash pick-up, and groceries. They paid for coffee and food orders for those behind them in the drive-through. One purchased lunch for a group of law enforcement officers in a restaurant. Still others opened doors, complimented clothing, and put shopping carts away.

Small or large, monetary or not, little kindnesses can change someone's moment, day, and, yes, life. Challenge yourself and those around you to do something randomly kind, not only one day a year, but every day.

We'd love to hear about your random acts of kindness! Share in the comments. Who knows what good you will inspire!

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Join us in celebrating our Doers of Good by getting involved in one of the programs we will spotlight over the next several months or tell us in the comments below about what lights your fire when it comes to making our communities better. 

February
16

Economic Information from Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Inflation Surges to the Highest Level Since 1982

As inflation surges to the highest level since 1982, the mortgage market left investors stunned. For months, investors remained on edge regarding the inflation rate. On Thursday, the latest Consumer Price Index report hit them with a powerful one-two punch.

First, the CPI inflation report soared even higher than expected. Next, the Federal Reserve a very rapid pace of rate hikes to bring down inflation. As a result, mortgage rates climbed to the highest levels in over two years. Additionally, mortgage rates skyrocketed over 100 basis points higher than a year ago at this time.

Inflation Surges with Latest Consumer Price Index Report

Investors closely watch the Consumer Price Index (CPI) report. As an inflation indicator, CPI looks at price changes for a broad range of goods and services. Core CPI excludes the volatile food and energy components and provides a clearer picture of the longer-term trend. In January, Core CPI rose 6.0% higher than a year ago as inflation surges. Not only is this above the consensus forecast and up from an annual rate of increase of 5.5% last month, Core CPI achieved its highest level since 1982.

There are many reasons why the annual core inflation rate has jumped from the readings below 2.0% seen early in 2021. These include a tight labor market, strong consumer demand for goods, rising energy prices, and supply chain disruptions. Also, the long-term supply shortages caused enormous cost increases. For instance, the price of used cars, climbed 41% higher than a year ago. Fed officials and economists remain divided about how much the recent spike in inflation will subside as temporary factors caused by the pandemic are resolved.

Federal Reserve Rapidly Tightening Monetary Policy

As inflation surges, investors raised their expectations for the pace of Fed tightening this year. Later that day, Federal Reserve official James Bullard hit investors with unexpectedly hawkish (in favor of tighter policy) comments. Bullard said that he would "like to see 100 basis points in the bag by July 1," which would mean federal funds rate increases totaling a full point over the next three Fed meetings.

Investors again raised their outlook for the pace of rate hikes after the comments. Now, investors anticipate a 50-basis point increase instead of a 25 basis point increase at the next meeting on March 16th. Also, investors expect the Fed to scale back its bond purchase program more quickly. Since this will reduce demand for bonds, including mortgage-backed securities (MBS), mortgage rates rose on the news.

 

Looking Ahead After Inflation Surges to Highest Level Since 1982

After inflation surged to its highest level since 1982, investors look for additional guidance from the Federal Reserve regarding future rate hikes and its balance sheet reduction. Furthermore, investors continually monitor the status of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Beyond that, Housing Starts come out on Thursday. Additionally, Existing Home Sales releases on Friday. Concurrently, the latest Retail Sales data also publishes on Friday. Because consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of United States economic activity, the retail sales data indicates growth.

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

February
15

Doers of Good: Featuring The Idaho Humane Society

Doers of Good: Leah and Dave Morgan

The Coldwell Banker Tomlinson #DoersOfGood program is designed to shine a light on the givers in our real estate family, and, by doing so, encourage others in our community to help wherever they can.

Our February #DoersOfGood are a very special couple who have made it their mission to support animals in need. Leah and Dave Morgan, Realtors® and leaders of The Morgan Team at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson, work with the Idaho Humane Society doing whatever they can to help.  Leah provided this first-person account:

We have a long-time history of service AND loving animals and like many people, got especially involved when our daughter wanted to get involved as well.  We started with the Idaho Humane Society by fostering animals (cats and dogs) and started helping with the IDAPI (Inmate Dog Alliance Project of Idaho) where we helped bridge the gap between the now-trained dog "graduating" and the family introduction.  It is amazing to see a dog have a purpose, be well trained, AND become a family member! 

As we fostered dogs and cats, sometimes just for a few weeks while meeting possible new owners/family members and helping the dog have good manners with some light training and learning their "issues" and showing them kindness and some structure, we could literally SEE dogs learn they were safe and were going to be treated well. 

On occasion, we would get a call for an entire litter of kittens and their mama who needed a spot until the kittens were old enough to adopt.  We created the "cat" room in our house so we could quarantine them in their own comfy space.  In most instances, we loved every animal and loved the process of helping them find their furever families. When we didn't have fosters, we were happy to just go walk the dogs at the shelter! 

One particular cat that we fostered, an all-black cat, was not cuddly, wouldn't let us or anyone hold him, and over and over the families that came to meet him passed him by. He was very well behaved and rarely would get on the furniture, etc.  By month 13 of fostering him, we knew his quirks and decided to just adopt him ourselves.  That VERY night, he crawled up on the end of the bed and purred loudly – he KNEW he was home!  It turned out that he was our 13th foster animal, and we renamed him Sirius Black since he was much more like a dog!

We continue to support the Idaho Humane Society by doing the annual See Spot Walk, donating, and fostering whenever possible.  There are so many needs and areas the Humane Society can use our help – from doing laundry at the shelters to delivering supplies, fostering, and of course, adopting a new family member to make your home even more complete! I hope you consider making a donation to them today!

The Humane Society is solely run on volunteer efforts, donations, and fundraisers. The largest fundraiser is See Spot Walk.  We've been donating and participating almost every year since 2009 (and twice while on vacation!).  Donations help tremendously, not just money but things like towels, blankets, food, and supplies, and most importantly time walking the dogs, doing laundry, cleaning cages, sending info, staffing the front desk, delivering items, and fostering, to name just a few. 

When you think how much a furry friend completes the home and family for nearly 75% of Idahoans, it's no wonder the need is so great. 

Coldwell Banker fosters a culture of giving, knowing we are more than real estate agents and that community is in our nature. Being a "Doer of Good" and sharing #CBGoodNews reach far beyond real estate. This is the "good stuff" in life, why we want to give in multiple "causes" and believe that we all can make a difference beyond our expertise of buying and selling real estate. We are only as strong as our community, so it behooves us all to do everything we can.

 

To learn about The Idaho Humane Society and explore all the ways you can help, please visit https://idahohumanesociety.org/.

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Join us in celebrating our Doers of Good by getting involved in one of the programs we will spotlight over the next several months or tell us in the comments below about what lights your fire when it comes to making our communities better. 

February
15

Increase in Home Prices Slowed in January

By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

Home Prices Rise but Rate of Growth Slowed in January

In January 2022, the median sales price for homes in Ada County was $540,000, an increase of 20.0% compared to January 2021, but a slight decrease of 1.1% from the month before.

While the actual median sales price continues to trend upwards, the rate at which it does so has been slowing in recent months. Throughout 2019, we saw fairly steady price growth, and in December 2020, it jumped above 20% year-over-year, reaching a peak of 45.3% in May 2021.

Since then, price growth has slowed, landing at 20.0% in January 2022 — by no means an insignificant year-over-year change, especially for prospective home sellers, but a welcome reprieve from the higher gains we saw last year, especially for prospective homebuyers.

Home price increases continued to be driven by insufficient supply compared to buyer demand — primarily fueled by population growth, migration trends, and increased purchase power due to historically low mortgage rates. The most recent uptick in demand came from people re-thinking how they live and work as a result of the pandemic, contributing to the competitive conditions that enabled the incredible price growth we've seen in the last year.

The metric used to illustrate the supply vs. demand relationship is Months Supply of Inventory (MSI), which takes the number of homes for sale divided by the average number of sales by month for the preceding 12 months. As of January 2022, Ada County was at just 0.3 months for existing homes and 1.0 month for new construction, meaning, if no additional homes were listed, the supply of homes would run out in a matter of weeks. A balanced market — not favoring buyers or sellers — is typically between 4-6 months of supply.

Even though buyer demand has been outpacing supply, weekly listing activity in 2022 has trended up, indicating that an increasing number of homeowners were ready to sell and cash in on the equity their homes have acquired over the last few years.

Listing activity in 2022 has so far been higher than the same period in 2021, but actual weekly listings were down compared to 2019 and pre-pandemic 2020. We'll be watching to see if future weekly listings of existing homes match or exceed those in previous years.

With low, but increasing, inventory, will we continue to see the fast market pace and multiple offer scenarios experienced in 2021? We can't say for sure, but so far Days on Market (DOM), the metric that measures the time between when a property is listed and when it has an accepted offer, has increased and normalized for existing homes.

Days on market for existing homes reached 33 days in January 2022, 18 days longer than in January 2021 and more in line with pre-pandemic levels in early 2020. This is good news for buyers as they may have a bit more time to make decisions and may not feel the need to waive contingencies when writing offers.

Additionally, the Percent of Original List Price Received for existing homes that sold in January 2022 was 97.3%, meaning that, on average, buyers paid less than asking through a lower accepted offer and/or seller concessions. In contrast, the Percent of Original List Price Received for existing home sales in January 2021 was 103.6%, indicating that, on average, buyers were paying more than asking price for homes.

It's hard to say whether these longer, healthier market times were due to increasing prices, increasing mortgage rates, or some combination of the two. While competition may have begun ramping up again, one thing is for sure — our market needs more inventory in order to be more balanced. Homeowners who are considering selling are encouraged to talk to a REALTOR® right away to learn more about thier options. With the appreciation in home prices, there may be more equity than a seller might think.

Other notable statistics from January 2022:

  • The median sales price for existing homes in January 2022 was $515,100, 18.4% higher than in January 2021. The median sales price for new construction in January 2022 was $588,945, 28.0% higher than a year ago.
  • There were 441 homes available at the end of the month — 63.9% more than in January 2021 — although still very low compared to buyer demand.
  • Of the 671 sales in the county, 457 were existing homes, an increase of 30.6% compared to the year prior. Overall sales (existing and new combined) were up 10.5% compared to January 2021.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE.

 

February
10

Should You Upgrade to Windows 11?

 

Windows 11

From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

(If you own a Mac, this doesn't apply, your OS is updated yearly.)

Many of us have seen the update for Microsoft's newest operating system (OS), Windows 11 come through on our laptop or desktop PC. Some of you have likely had it automatically applied.

If you have NOT seen the update, your computer may be too old to upgrade. This is not a cause for concern!

Anyone can stay safely on Windows 10 until its End of Life (EOL) date of October 14, 2025.

And even then, Microsoft may offer extended support as they have done for all other operating systems before it.

If you have seen the update, have you ignored it? You might be able to upgrade to Windows 11.  Most notably, the Windows update icon down by your clock won't go away and now has a blue dot on it (instead of an orange/yellow or red one) like this: 

 

So should you make the jump to upgrade your current PC to Windows 11?   What will it do? What will it change? What will it break? Will it affect you much?

 The answer is, it depends. Like people on the planet, our computer environments are all different, unique. With each individual and different environment, the answer varies. It is complicated because no 2 environments are the same. But this time, Microsoft has given us tools to check.

We recommend you take the following steps if you are prompted for the upgrade:

  1. Read about the upgrade. Is it for you?
  2. Check if your PC components can get the upgrade. Will it work for your computer?
  3. Decide if you want the upgrade or to stay on Windows 10

(please call or email our office if you have any questions or need assistance doing any of the steps above and pictured below) 

 

 

Our findings? Most of the PCs that have upgraded from 10 to 11 are working fine without many significant issues; however, if you have older software (QuickBooks and Quicken apply) or older peripherals like printers, wireless mice, keyboards, and speakers, they may not work with Windows 11.   We are finding that we have had to reinstall some printer and copier drivers and remap network drives. 

If your computer is 2 years or newer, you have current software, you don't mind the change, and/or have the time/patience to learn Windows 11… upgrade.

If you have any hesitations or concerns, please contact us before making the jump. Advances in technology can be both great and frustrating. We are here to help.

Call our office (208-288-4345), or email us (info@integrityidaho.com) if you have any questions or need immediate assistance!

January
14

Doer of Good: CBT Realtor® Theresa Laird

Doers of Good: Theresa Laird

We are proud to introduce our featured Doer of Good here in the Treasure Valley for January. Theresa Laird, a Realtor® in our Nampa office, sits on the Advisory Board for The Salvation Army's Nampa Corps. Begun in the 1870s, The Salvation Army is well-known around the world for its work assisting the vulnerable in our communities with shelter, food, utility assistance, afterschool care, youth programs, and more.

Like most of us, Theresa says, "I've always known about The Salvation Army, but I didn't realize the amount of service they provide until I was approached to serve on their Advisory Board."  For the past four years, Theresa has used her connections as a respected real estate professional in the community to help in any way she can.  Through the Board, she works with JustServe.org, an online volunteer base to assist with ongoing projects, and has helped to organize food drives, ring-the-bell Red Kettle donations during the holidays, and Gala events to raise funds. At the beginning of the Covid pandemic, Theresa worked with her church to help supply 40,000 pounds of food to those in need.

"Every day, there are people who struggle; there will always be someone in need," Theresa explains. "If helping just a little provides any kind of comfort, peace, or hope to another human being, then we must do that."

When asked what being a #DoerofGood means to her, Theresa is quick to reply, "It means sharing your light by word and deed. We need to strengthen and support our community. No one can do it alone."

She goes on to tell us that once while handing out food on a cold day, an elderly woman came to her and asked for a hug. "She had recently lost her husband and just needed another human to connect with. That's one reason I do this."

She encourages others to get involved, to help wherever they can. "Whatever kind of service you have a heart for, try to put aside your political views and faith differences to come together for the greater good. Be a bridge-builder!"

To learn more about ways you can help, visit nampa.salvationarmy.org.

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Join us in celebrating our Doers of Good by getting involved in one of the programs we will spotlight over the next several months or tell us in the comments below about what lights your fire when it comes to making our communities better. 

January
17

How to Create a Cleaning Schedule You'll Actually Stick to

Cleaning Schedule

You've found your dream home among the Boise homes for sale! You've moved in, unpacked, and put your feet up for a bit, enjoying your new home. What's next? It's time to set up a cleaning schedule that works for you.

To keep everything clean and tidy, it's necessary to have a cleaning plan in place, but that's not to say you have to spend hours doing chores every day. Contrary to some misconceptions, having a cleaning schedule doesn't create stress around household chores – it takes it away.

Let's look at creating a manageable cleaning schedule that will take the stress out of running a household.

What's Your Cleaning Personality Type

Everyone has a cleaning personality type. Some people can't stand the thought of cleaning every day while others find cleaning a delight. Here are some questions to help you figure out what type of cleaner you are.

  • Are you the kind of person who wants to do a little cleaning every day?
  • Would you rather tackle your cleaning chores all at once?
  • How do you feel about tackling one major task each day?

There's no specific right way to keep your house clean or a standard cleaning schedule that will work for everyone.

Create a Master Task List

A cleaning schedule can only work if you have a thorough idea of what you need to do. Create a list of chores that need to be completed and break them down by room.

Remember, a schedule for someone living alone in a one-bedroom apartment will look very different from one designed for a family of five living in a four-bedroom house. That's why it's vital to assess your own cleaning needs.

Set Up a Cleaning Schedule

Once you have your chores listed out, your next task is to figure out a cleaning plan that works best for you. You might want to commit to a daily or weekly cleaning schedule, depending on your cleaning personality. That said, some chores like wiping down surfaces and doing the dishes have to be done every day. It's essential to have a daily schedule of minor cleaning tasks you can handle in 10 to 15 minutes, as this will make your larger tasks much easier.

If you enjoy doing some cleaning every day, set aside about one hour in the morning or evening when you can speed clean your house. For some people, it's easier to clean the bathroom on Monday, clean the kitchen on Tuesday, do the laundry on Wednesday, and vacuum on Friday. The key is to divide your tasks so that cleaning doesn't sound overwhelming.

Now, if you'd like to do everything in one day, it's crucial to set aside enough time to take on major sections of the house or even the whole house.

Turn Your Schedule into a Routine

It takes about 21 days to form a habit, the experts say. Creating a cleaning schedule that works for you takes time and patience. Don't hesitate to change up your schedule. You might find cleaning the bathrooms is a task better left for the weekends.

Try different methods until you figure out what works for you and your routine. Your life should not revolve around cleaning. Instead, cleaning should fit seamlessly into your schedule.

Our real estate agents can alleviate some of the stress of the buying process by providing you with all the tips and tricks you could possibly need. Contact us today to get started.

January
13

December Market Report & Year-End Wrap-Up

By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

2021 Market Recap & December Market Report

When summing up the 2021 Ada County housing market, one could easily argue that this past year brought the most fast-paced market we've ever seen, particularly in the first half of the year. The market conditions were incredibly competitive.

The county has faced limited housing inventory for years now, a phenomenon we've detailed in many of our reports. This lack of supply has been insufficient compared to the persistent demand for housing, which has driven up prices and caused a home-buying frenzy earlier this year. We tracked the pace of the market by a few metrics — how quickly homes went under contract, the share of sales that sold over list price, and for how much they sold over list price.

We'll first explore the data for each of these metrics in the existing home sale segment to illustrate just how competitive the market was in 2021.

The Days on Market (DOM) metric measures the time between when a property is listed and when it has an accepted offer. Overall, DOM for existing homes trended down, reaching a historic low of just nine days in May 2021. Since then, the DOM metric has increased and normalized, reaching an average of 30 days in December 2021 — 18 days longer than in December 2020, and more in line with pre-pandemic levels from early 2020.

Not only were existing homes selling at a faster rate, but a larger share of total sales sold for more than their asking price, usually the result of multiple offer situations. The share of homes that sold over list price passed 50.0% in September 2020 and reached a peak of 75.9% in March 2021. By December 2021, it dropped to 22.6%, possibly indicating that list prices have become more aligned with what buyers are willing or able to pay.

But how much over asking did buyers pay in 2021, on average? As the share of over list sales went up, so did the amounts paid over asking. In May 2021, 69.7% of existing homes sold were for over list price, with an average premium of $44,075, the highest we've seen (going back to 2006 based on our existing dataset). The average amount paid over list has dipped since then, coming in at $16,487 in December 2021.

Unsurprisingly, with tight competition for existing homes and so many buyers willing to pay over list, the impact on prices was significant. The median sales price for existing homes was $510,000 in December 2021, up 21.4% compared to a year ago. The year-to-date median sales price was $505,000, a 34.7% increase compared to 2020, and the largest annual gain since we began tracking this data in 2006.

The new construction segment also saw year-over-year price jumps, largely due to increasing costs of land, labor, and materials — as well as the ongoing impact of pandemic-related shutdowns that continue to create delays in increased costs in the global supply chain. (Read more about this in our November report.) In December, the median sales price for new homes was $579,990, a 30.4% increase compared to December 2020. The year-to-date median sales price in 2021 for new construction was $525,000, a 23.1% increase over the previous year.

While homes have continued to sell at higher prices, interestingly, sales have dipped in recent months, and more notably so when comparing data year-over-year. In 2021, there were 10,855 home sales (new and existing combined) a decline of 11.8% compared to 2020, and the lowest number of total annual home sales for the county since 2017.

How can one of the fastest-growing metros in the U.S. with persistent demand for housing have declining home sales? The data provides a few clues.

First, buyers can't buy homes that aren't there, so limited inventory has definitely limited sales. This is especially true at the lower price points where buyer demand is most acute and inventory is hardest to come by. While inventory has ticked up over the last six months, the slim 0.7 Months Supply Inventory in December is still a far cry from the 4-6 months needed for a balanced market.

When year-over-year home sales are broken out by segment, there was a 6.7% decline in existing home sales and a 21.7% decline in new construction sales. One reason there may be fewer new construction sales could be because buyers are having to wait longer to move into their new homes. The average number of days between when a home goes under contract and when it closes was at 106 days in 2021, 30 days longer than in 2020, limiting the number of closings that can take place within the year and possibly leading some new home buyers to opt for an existing home with a quicker move-in date.

Much to the relief of buyers, we saw more normal market times and increases in inventory in the last few months of 2021. However, we're still a long way from a balanced market and we hope more homeowners are able to realize the great values for their properties by listing in the coming months.

Whether you're looking to buy or sell, it's never been more important to work with a REALTOR®. They will help identify potential options for purchase, connect you with a mortgage lender, help craft a competitive offer, and negotiate on your behalf, allowing you to make decisions confidently and quickly to achieve your real estate goals.

Other notable statistics from December 2021:

  • The overall median sales price (existing and new construction combined) in December 2021 was $546,000, a new record high. This is likely due to the large share (35.1%) of the typically higher-priced new construction home sales that closed in December.
  • There were 582 homes available at the end of the month — 75.8% more than in December 2020.
  • As mentioned in the release, the overall (new and existing combined) Months Supply Inventory was 0.7 months. For the existing segment, it was 0.5 months or approximately two weeks.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE.

 

January
14

New Years News from Our Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Mortgage Rates Rise to Kick Off the New Year

The first week of 2022 saw mortgage rates rise. While numerous analysts predicted them increasing throughout the year, this week's reports pushed them to their highest levels since April 2021.

Meanwhile, investors pushed up bond yields due to inflation concerns. Finally, Wednesday's Fed minutes indicated a hawkish report. The minutes indicated that the Federal Reserve remains in favor of tightening monetary policy. As a result, the United States sparked another round of bond selling.

Mortgage Rates Rise After Fed's Purchase Program

Starting off the report, the United States faced a rise in mortgage rates. Early in the pandemic, the Federal Reserve initiated a new bond purchase program. They started this program to help stimulate the economy. Given the progress of the recovery and the rise in inflation, the Fed launched its process of winding down that program. Also, the Federal Reserve stayed on track to conclude it around the end of March.

With that in mind, investors sought guidance on the timing for additional tightening measures. Additionally, investors looked for insight into the timing of the federal funds rate increases. Lastly, investors hoped for information on the reduction in the Fed's massive portfolio of bonds that built upon its balance sheet throughout the purchase program.

Fed Meeting Minutes Lead Mortgage Rates to Rise

The sooner-than-anticipated reduction in federal demand for mortgage-backed securities, the first week of the New Year saw mortgage rates rise. With Wednesday's publication of the December 15th Federal Reserve meeting minutes, investors moved forward their expectations for these other tightening measures. Now, investors expect the first rate hike to take place shortly after the bond purchase program ends. Beyond that, investors anticipate two additional rate hikes prior to the end of 2022.

In addition, all Federal Reserve officials expressed support for a reduction in the enormous balance sheet holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The current plan intends for this reduction to occur "at some point" after the first rate hike.

Mixed Employment Report

While the real estate market saw mortgage rates rise, the closely watched Employment report came out on Friday. Revealing mixed results, the economy gained just 199,000 jobs in December against a consensus forecast of 420,000. However, revisions added 141,000 jobs to the figures for prior months. These revisions offset most of the shortfall. Overall, the gains took place in a wide range of industries, led by the leisure and hospitality sectors. Now, the U.S. economy holds roughly 3 million fewer jobs than in February 2020, prior to the start of the pandemic.

Aside from job gains, the rest of the report came out stronger than expected. The unemployment rate, which is based on a survey of individuals, declined from 4.2% to 3.9%. Thus, the unemployment rate fell below the consensus forecast of 4.1%. In doing so, the unemployment rate hit its lowest level since February 2020. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, exceeded expectations. Concurrently, average hourly earnings climbed an impressive 4.7% higher than a year ago.

Strong Manufacturing News

With the mixed Employment report and strong manufacturing report, mortgage rates rose to start 2022. On the manufacturing front, the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) released a couple of significant economic reports this week. As expected, the National Services Sector Index and National Manufacturing Index remained at high levels. First, the Service Sector Index reached 67.6. Then, the National Manufacturing Index hit 58.7. Levels above just 50 indicate that the sectors are expanding. Also, readings above 60 are rare.

To date, supply chain issues still greatly impact manufacturing companies that produce goods. On the other hand, service-based companies, such as computer programming and banking, face less of an impact.

Looking Ahead After Mortgage Rates Rise

After the rise of mortgage rates, investors closely follow news on the Omicron variant. In addition, investors look for additional Fed guidance on the timing for future rate hikes and balance sheet reduction.

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

January
13

5 Ways to Improve Your Home in 2022

Home Improvement for the New Year

January is a good time to reflect upon the year, your wins, losses, and any lessons learned. Every new year brings with it possibilities to improve. It offers you a chance to reinvent yourself, and if you're in the market for a new home, our real estate agents can help you start the new year on a high note by helping you find your dream home.

Most people vow to exercise, save money, or spend more time with family. Few people remember to set goals to get their homes in shape. Let's look at some New Year's resolutions you can set for your home and how you can go about bringing them to fruition.

  • Declutter and Streamline
    Why wait for spring to declutter? Decluttering is one of the best ways to start the new year. And the best part is you get to feel instantly better about your home. Plus, a decluttered home is so much easier to look after and maintain. Decluttering an entire home is a big job. The best way to tackle the task is going room by room. Contrary to popular beliefs, you don't have to start with the hardest areas. Heading straight into the attic or garage could dissuade all your clean-up efforts. Once you're done decluttering your home, you can declutter other aspects of your life, too, like your digital life and your mind.

  • Reduce Your Energy Use
    Here's a resolution that helps you reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Installing a solar water heating system isn't the only way you can go green. Small things like switching traditional light bulbs with LEDs and getting a smart thermostat could drive your electricity costs down while helping conserve the environment.

    ​​​​​​​Changing your energy consumption habits could also lower your utility costs. Some practices that could help you trim your energy use include:
    • Switching off your appliances when they're not in use
    • Reducing appliance and water use whenever possible
    • Utilizing natural light
    • Buying appliances with a good energy rating
    • Recycling properly

  • Conduct a Safety Check
    Your house may be beautiful, but is it safe? Make a habit of regularly checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replacing the batteries. Repair and replace loose or frayed wires on all electrical devices and have an expert inspect your electrical system for any faults. If you have a pet, you should consider pet-proofing your home. Pets cause over 1,000 house fires each year. Pet proofing will protect your beloved furry friends as well as your home.

  • Improve Ventilation
    Prolonged exposure to polluted air can lead to respiratory conditions and diseases. Use your HVAC system as the first line of defense, and make sure to regularly change your furnace and AC filters. Plus, ensure your kitchen has enough ventilation to get rid of smoke and cooking fumes.

  • Invest in Home Improvement Projects
    Home makeover ideas don't have to involve knocking down a wall or adding square footage. DIY projects are a fun and creative way to spend time with your family and make memories, all while transforming your house into the haven you've always desired.

Nothing beats the feeling of finally moving into your own home. Contact us today so we can help you find your perfect home among our Boise area homes for sale.

January
12

Tech Resolutions for 2022

 

2022: New Tech Habits

From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

A few ideas and some new, some old - tried and true… start 2022 with some new tech practices! 

  1. Backup, backup, backup! Whether you rotate a flash drive or hard drive, or use an online/cloud backup service, backing up and checking that backup is critical.  Irreplaceable or important family photos/documents/files? Back up to the cloud.
  2. Set a reminder every week to perform general tech maintenance: check your backup, scan for malware, apply any waiting updates (Macs, PCs, and phones), organize files into folders, clean off your desktop, physically wipe down and clean your devices, etc.
  3. Turn on multi-factor (MFA) or two-factor authentication(2FA) everywhere you possibly can.
  4. Set a reminder every 90 days to change passwords on important accounts that do not have MFA/2FA and to remove unused apps from your phone.
  5. Stop saving passwords on important sites to your internet browsers (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, etc.) and start writing them down.
  6. Groom email inboxes daily. Mark messages as junk or spam, delete unimportant items, organize the important ones, and check your spam filter for messages that are legitimate.
  7. Start a dummy email account for spammy stuff.
  8. Log out of sites, close internet tabs, and save and close documents before leaving work or going to bed. Updates, power outages, and hardware failures happen.
  9. Take time away from your screens. Do other office tasks, chores at home… give your eyes and body a break from the blue light, scrolling, and/or typing.
  10. Silence, distance, or power off your devices when not in use to not only give yourself a break from 24/7 availability, but to prolong device lifespan and pause analytics being gathered when on or in use.
  11. Be careful with "smart" devices - is having any essential home function like door locks, outlets, or thermostats connected to your Alexa or Google Assistant necessary?
  12. Stop paying for PC antivirus software and uninstall any free versions; Windows has built-in antivirus and any other programs usually end up causing performance and permissions issues.  (Anti-malware software is different and recommended, even for Macs; their free versions work well.)
  13. Protect your privacy on social media accounts. Review your privacy settings frequently as social media platforms are always making changes. Make friends lists private, remove your location information, tighten privacy on photos and albums, don't use Instagram or Facebook to log in to other accounts, and log out and log in correctly especially on shared devices.
  14. Protect your personal information on any platform, when in doubt, OPT OUT.  From signing up for grocery loyalty rewards to online newsletters (see #7), clicking on ANY link in an email or filling out an online form. Is the hassle of 10 emails a day from a retailer AND THEN all the spam from your email being sold over and over worth that 10% savings on your first order? Is saving 40¢ once a month on a gallon of gas worth all the dead phone line or car warranty renewal phone calls?
  15. Think twice about clicking things (buttons, links, pictures)!

Things to never click:

  • Emails links that ask you to change any password
  • Email links that ask you to verify any account credential
  • Email links that ask you for money for any reason
  • Email attachments you were not expecting
  • Malicious pop-ups about a virus or sweepstakes winning that covers your screen

And take a pause before clicking on things like sponsored articles or ads on Facebook, Instagram, or in news stories, or links in email for a story, cool new gadget, sale, discount, sweepstakes, etc. Is the chain reaction that click is going to cause worth it?

Lastly, sometimes low tech is the best tech. Technology comes with a lot of learning, understanding, and maintenance. Sometimes, just doing things "the old-fashioned" way is the easiest and most secure.

Please call our office (208-288-4345), or email us (info@integrityidaho.com) if you have any questions or need immediate assistance!

December
29

Introducing Doers of Good: CBT's Culture of Giving

Doers of Good: CBT's Culture of Giving

Coldwell Banker agents, staff, and managers are a special breed, working hard to assist our clients fulfill their real estate goals while keeping our focus on community and on making our cities and towns better places for all of us.

Because of our firm belief that we have an obligation to the people and places that keep our communities strong, we've set an ambitious goal for the next ten years: to give a minimum of $10 million to the organizations that work to help our neighbors in need. We call this our "Doers of Good."

We believe this focus needs to be shared and celebrated – and in a big way – so we are shining a light on those who are bright spots in the lives of others. We know the kind of people we have in our family, and we want you to know, too. Doers of Good will do just that.

Our agents, staff, and managers work in the background "doing their thing," sometimes on their own and sometimes with the help of our entire company. As we close a difficult year and look forward to a bright 2022, we'd like you to meet just a few of our 2021 4th quarter Doers of Good.

Camp Rainbow Gold

Pamela Carson, CBT Realtor® in our Eagle, Idaho, office, got involved with Camp Rainbow Gold because of her daughter, a nurse practitioner in oncology at St. Luke's and the medical director for the nonprofit. Camp Rainbow Gold "has been able to provide support and companionship to parents of children affected with cancer, giving them connections to other families going through the day-to-day struggles of childhood cancer," says Pamela. The organization even allows siblings to have their own camps. "The children feel safe and normal at camp."

A volunteer and financial supporter for the past five years, Pamela says "it gives me a real sense of pride to be a part of such a worthy cause…I get a feeling of paying it forward for all of the blessings I have in my life.

"Everyone should take a moment to reflect on how they can pay it forward or make a difference in their community, whether it be by contributing to a charity that is near and dear to them, or by reaching out to the charity organization to see how best they can assist in their continued fundraising or manpower needs."

Funding for Camp Rainbow Gold comes from private donations and community partnerships with local businesses. Most of the programs are run by volunteers under the guidance of a few camp staff members.  To learn more about Camp Rainbow Gold, visit https://camprainbowgold.org/.

 

Idaho Diaper Bank

Did you know that in Idaho, 46% of children under the age of three don't have a consistent supply of diapers to stay clean, dry, healthy, and happy?  This statistic shocked Shawna Walz and her mom, Carol Seiber, CBT Realtor® in our Boise, Idaho, office. Together, they founded Idaho Diaper Bank with the mission of providing diapers through collaboration with other social service agencies and nonprofits.

Says Carol, "IDB was formed to address the silent crisis of diaper need." She goes on to explain that diapers cannot be purchased with food stamps or WIC but represent a significant portion of the monthly budget for the Idaho families struggling to provide basic necessities like food, shelter, and hygiene. Oftentimes, parents feel they have no option other than trying to reuse soiled diapers.

Since its inception in 2014, Idaho Diaper Bank has provided over 4.5 million diapers to babies in need. IDB primarily serves SW Idaho but has worked to expand into eastern Idaho, the Magic Valley, and north Idaho with their Warehouse on Wheels program.

"Passion and empathy drive me to participate in charitable organizations in my community," Carol says. "Our community is growing and with that comes many issues facing our low-income families. Giving back is part of my business plan and along with Coldwell Banker we are able to make positive outcomes for many!"

IDB receives grants and donations from individuals and businesses. Community diaper drives help, as well. To help or learn more about Idaho Diaper Bank, visit http://www.idahodiaperbank.org/

Coldwell Banker Tomlinson agents, staff, and managers raised funds for both Camp Rainbow Gold and Idaho Diaper Bank at our annual Turkey Tuesday bowling fundraiser in November. Over $5,000 was raised during our event.

 

Meridian Elementary School & Meridian Food Bank

For the past several years, Joan Johnston, CBT Realtor® in our Meridian, Idaho, office, has spearheaded a fund and supply drive for underprivileged kids and their families at two different elementary schools in the valley.

Joan explains that one of her dearest friends was a teacher at a school with a high number of at-risk children – children who would oftentimes come to school on a Monday morning having eaten nothing all weekend. With her friend's help, Joan devised a plan to deliver some Christmas cheer, as well as food and gift cards to a grocery store, to these kids and their families.

"I have always felt a great sense of responsibility to care for those who are in need," Joan says.  "Children are often the ones who suffer the most when families struggle financially…Many of the homeless are living in their cars, trailers, or inexpensive hotels.  For whatever reason, they are experiencing hard times."

This year, Joan was joined by fellow Meridian office Realtor® Lindsey Dykstra. Together, the two organized the annual Meridian office "bake sale auction" to raise funds for 13 homeless families with children who attend Meridian Elementary School, as well as for the Meridian Food Bank, which has helped almost 20,000 households this year.   

CBT agents, staff, and managers donated baked goods to be auctioned at the event. In a few short hours, the group raised over $7,000 for the two worthy causes. "The generosity and caring exhibited by our agents, vendors, clients, and others are unparalleled," Joan explains.

Adds Lindsey, "This was my first year getting to help out with the fundraiser and distribution at the school. Being a doer of good means living and giving intentionally, having a purpose beyond just your own personal gain, and being open and available to show kindness and love to everyone. It doesn't have to be anything huge."

Contact your local school district to see how you can assist children in need, and visit https://meridianfoodbank.org/ to learn more about Meridian Food Bank.

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Join us in celebrating our Doers of Good by getting involved in one of the programs we will spotlight over the next several months or tell us in the comments below about what lights your fire when it comes to making our communities better. 

December
15

Protecting Against Data Breaches

 

Data Breaches:  Safeguard Yourself

From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

A constant reminder: people are always wanting to steal your information.  Please take a moment to refresh on our best practices:

 We recommend you do as many of the following to help safeguard your information:

  1. Cash is king!  Pay with cash when buying goods locally.  The fewer instances of your card information being available to retailers, the less likely it is to be stolen.
  2. Use Paypal (they have great security features and anti-fraud measures; they also protect your purchases with dispute resolution).
  3. If you have the opportunity to opt-out of saving credit card information, do it. Do now allow sites to save critical financial information unless it is absolutely necessary. 
  4. If you can check out as a guest and opt-out of creating an account and saving your information, do it.
  5. If you can opt-out of providing personal information, do it.  From grocery stores and online retailers to doctor's offices and cell phone providers, they are all hungry for your information.  Always ask what information is absolutely necessary when filling out paperwork or online forms. Use only the information that is required and nothing more.
  6. Opt-out of providing your phone number unless it is absolutely necessary, you can opt-out altogether or use a dummy number instead.  The vast majority of Microsoft imposter calls, and solicitation calls in general, are coming from phone lists that are legally purchased.
  7. Be aware of where you are ordering from online. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.  Purchase only from verified sellers.
  8. If you are using a site that requires an online account, make sure your password is secure even if the site you're logging into does not require it.  We recommend using a combination of upper and lower case letters, with numbers AND special characters, and not using any recognizable words.  For example, a password of "Ilovedogs" can be made more secure by changing all the vowels to look-alike numbers and special characters, breaking up the actual words into something more secure: !L0v3d0Gs.
  9. Get into a habit of changing your password on a schedule (especially if it is a site that houses financial information or credit card numbers), even though it is a pain, we recommend changing passwords every 30 days.  Write down your passwords and keep them in a safe place.
  10. Do not use the same password for every site.  Make each password different (even if it is off by one or two characters) and keep a record of it.
  11. Do not click on links or open attachments in emails unless you are 100% sure they are legitimate.  If the email has a link you can mouse over it, a little box will show you where it is taking you.  If it does not align with the stated destination, do not click it.
  12. Check your bank account/statement frequently.  Report fraud immediately.
  13. Check your credit report yearly. Report any suspicious credit activity immediately.

If you need help with anything listed above, this can be done remotely.  Please call our office (208-288-4345), or email us (info@integrityidaho.com) if you have any questions or need immediate assistance!

December
14

Median New Construction Home Prices Set New Record

By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

PRICES FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION REACH RECORD HIGH

In November 2021, the median sales price for new homes in Ada County was $601,301— passing the $600,000-mark for the first time. This is an increase of 39.8% compared to the same month last year.

This record reflects a variety of market factors that were present prior to the pandemic — namely increasing costs of land, labor, and materials — as well as the ongoing impact of pandemic-related shutdowns that continue to create delays in increased costs in the global supply chain. (A recent article from the National Association of Home Builders provides more context on this, and includes comments from a local custom home builder, Steve Martinez of Tradewinds.)

Speaking with Christine Comstock, Managing Associate Broker for CBH Homes, she echoed these sentiments, particularly on the impact of materials on the final price of a new home: "Lumber is a constant moving commodity. We work hard to keep our pricing in check in the midst of a fluctuating market. We are averaging a 24% increase year over year."

The external pressures causing delivery delays are also beginning to impact the number of sales for new homes, which were down 32.2% year-to-date compared to last year.

 Also affecting new construction sales is the uptick in existing inventory over the past six months. There were 426 existing homes available for purchase at the end of the month, an increase of 217.9% compared to November 2020.

There is a strong correlation between the existing inventory and new construction pending sales (properties under contract with an accepted offer that should close within 30-90 days). Looking at activity since January 2019, we have seen new construction pending sales go up when existing inventory dips, then begin to slip as existing inventory increases. 

You'll always have a certain number of buyers in the market that are strictly looking for a new home, but existing homes are often the starting point for many buyers looking for something that's move-in ready. So as existing home inventory has been limited, some buyers shifted to the new construction market. Then as delays in delivery occurred, and as more existing inventory is becoming available, some are reverting back to the resale market. This ebb and flow may seem obvious, but the big takeaway is that the demand for homes remains strong in our area, and motivated buyers continue to make purchasing decisions based on what's available.

The strong and consistent demand for housing is apparent when examining the Months Supply Inventory (MSI) metric, which takes the number of homes for sale divided by the average number of sales by month for the preceding 12 months. As of November 2021, Ada County was at just 0.9 months for existing homes and 1.5 months for new construction. This means, if no additional homes were listed, the supply of homes for sale would run out in less than two months. A balanced market — not favoring buyers or sellers — is typically between 4-6 months of supply.

Whether you're considering a new home or existing property, your REALTOR® is there to guide you through every step of your home buying journey. Once a seller or builder has accepted your offer, the sale goes "pending" and there are a number of steps that need to take place before you reach the closing table. From appraisals and inspections to negotiations and final paperwork, a REALTOR® is there to make sure your interests are being represented throughout every step in the process.

Other notable statistics from November 2021:

  • The median sales price for existing homes was $510,000, up 19.7% year-over-year and a slight 1.9% drop from October.
  • Existing homes were spending an average of 25 days on the market before going under contract, 92.3% longer than the 13 days we saw a year ago.
  • Total sales were down 7.8% from a year ago, primarily from delays in the new construction segment, as existing sales were up 3.5%. More existing inventory resulted in more existing home sales.
Stages of a Real Estate Transaction

In each of our reports in 2021, BRR is focusing on the various phases of a real estate transaction to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE.

 

November
15

Dealing with Junk Email

 

More Email Best Practices: How should you handle junk email?

From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

We all are familiar with that random email from a weird sender that makes it into your inbox, that phishing attempt on your non-existent Dropbox account, a message to verify your Apple ID, or even emails you may have subscribed to that are just plain annoying… how do you get it to stop?  Unfortunately, email spam is almost more common than legitimate messages it seems. 

How you handle email messages is super important.  Email servers like Gmail, Office 365, Yahoo!, etc. and mail programs on both computers and phones like Outlook, Thunderbird, Microsoft Mail app, etc. are heuristic and learn how you handle email.  The trick is staying on top of it and being consistent. Simply deleting messages does not help.

Our best practices for messages that are spam and junk?

  1. Mark junk and spam messages as such, ALWAYS.
  2. Do not open junk messages if you don't have to.  If you do, do not click on any content within it once you determine it's spam/junk.
  3. You can always right-click on any message for more options, and find the option to move to junk or report as spam.  You can also check the box for a single message or multiple and use the menu at the top of your email provider or email program to handle it accordingly.
  4. If an email is junk (random advertising or content), move to your junk or spam folder or report it as spam.
  5. If an email is phishing (asking you for personal or account information) definitely report it as spam. Reporting emails tells a mail server important information.
  6. Block senders or domains if necessary.
  7. Unsubscribe from email lists you know you signed up for but don't want to receive emails from (usually an unsubscribe link can be found at the bottom of the email).  Do not use the unsubscribe function on emails you do not recognize.
  8. Covet your email address, especially if it is used for business or real personal use; don't use it to sign up for anything.
  9. Create and use a separate email address that you use specifically for spam content like newsletters, rewards programs, and the like. 
  10. If you are unsure of the validity of an email, send it to an IT professional you trust to check it out for you. We are happy to let you know if something is legitimate or not and how to handle it.  (However, if it is truly spam, it will sometimes get stuck in our spam filter; so if you do not receive a timely response, please call our office!)

If you need help with anything listed above, this can be done remotely.  Please call our office (208-288-4345), or email us (info@integrityidaho.com) if you have any questions or need immediate assistance!

November
12

Home Prices Drop Slightly in Ada County in October

By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

PRICES DROP SLIGHTLY AS ADA COUNTY HOUSING MARKET SLOWS ITS RAPID PACE

The median sales price for homes in Ada County was $533,950 in October, a slight 0.2% decrease from the September median sales price of $534,950. Inventory was up 158.5% year-over-year, with 1,145 homes available for purchase at the end of October.

We're starting to see a shift in our market. While homes still sold for near record highs for the last few months, we haven't seen the same month-over-month price jumps and properties aren't flying off the market quite as fast as they were this spring and summer.

Generally speaking, the more competitive the market, the faster properties have an offer accepted and go under contract, as measured by the Days on Market (DOM) metric. Overall, DOM for existing home sales has trended down for the last five years, with the fastest DOM at nine days in May 2021. Since then, the DOM metric has inched up, reaching an average of 21 days in October 2021 — eight days longer than in October 2020.

Ada County Average Days on Market for Existing Homes

As competition for homes increased, more buyers were willing to pay over list price. This became the primary factor driving up the median sales price from October 2020 through July 2021, when more than half of all home sales were sold for over list price. Since July 2021, the share has dropped significantly, making up 26.1% of all home sales in October 2021.

Additionally, price reductions on listed existing homes have become more common since June 2021. Weekly price reductions averaged less than one a week between January 1–June 6, and nearly eight a week from June 7–November 1. The $500,000-749,999 price range had the largest share of price reductions, making up nearly half of all adjustments year-to-date.

Weekly Price Reductions by Price Range for Existing Homes in Ada County

If existing homes are staying on the market longer, price reductions are becoming more common, and the majority of buyers are no longer paying over list price, why haven't we seen a major drop in the median sales price?

One reason is that list prices have also gone up. Typically, homes for sale are priced based on comparable properties that have recently sold. As sales prices have risen, so have the comparables, or "comps." These higher sales prices have may have also inspired more homeowners to sell, as existing inventory has also been trending up, with 703 available properties for sale at the end of October, an increase of more than 300% year-over-year.

Weekly Average Original List Price of Existing Home Sales in Ada County, YTD

The average list price of existing homes reached the $550,000-mark in June and remained above that level through the competitive summer months. Higher list prices were supported by the comparable sales in the weeks and months prior, but sale prices are ultimately determined by what buyers are willing to pay. As list prices shifted up in the latter part of the year, buyers were less likely to have to pay over asking to secure the property.

As the market adjusts to buyer's expectations and needs, we may continue to see price reductions or even a drop in the average list price for existing homes. If list prices go down, it doesn't necessarily mean sales prices will also drop. The median sales price for existing homes has held relatively steady, as has buyer demand. Homes are still selling at near record highs, but the rise in list prices may have eliminated some of the multiple offer situations and competition we saw occurring earlier this year.

This fall is still proving to be a great time for homeowners to capitalize on the current home prices. For those who are considering selling, we recommend talking to a REALTOR® about the different factors at play within our market and how they may affect different situations.

Stages of a Real Estate Transaction

In each of our reports in 2021, BRR is focusing on the various phases of a real estate transaction to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE.

 

November
11

News From Our Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Solid Job Gains Spotlight Uncommonly Busy Week for Mortgage Markets

The past week saw solid job gains amidst a packed week for mortgage markets. Highlighted by key labor market data and a Fed meeting, the U.S. economy did not see a shortage of economic news. When the dust settled, mortgage rates ended the week a little lower.

Solid Job Gains

Analysts closely watched Friday's Employment report. Overall, Employment modestly exceeded expectations, showing solid job gains.

Against a consensus forecast of 450,000, the economy gained 531,000 jobs in October 2021. Revisions added 235,000 jobs to the results for prior months. Though the gains extended broadly across a wide range of industries, the leisure and hospitality sectors led the improvements.

Declining Unemployment Rate Accompanying Solid Job Gains

Alongside the solid job gains, the unemployment rate declined from 4.8% to 4.6% in September 2021. Thus, unemployment fell below the consensus forecast of 4.7%.

Investors view average hourly earnings as an indicator of wage growth. The most recent average hourly earnings data displayed an impressive 4.9% increase from a year prior. Additionally, average hourly earnings jumped up from 4.6% last month, hitting the highest level since February 2021.

Supply Chain Issues Plague Manufacturing

Aside from the solid job gains and declining unemployment rate, the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) highlighted several other reports. The ISM reports demonstrated the negative effects of supply chain disruptions on the manufacturing sector.

The national services sector index unexpectedly skyrocketed from 61.9 to a record high of 66.7. Meanwhile, the national manufacturing index remained roughly flat at 60.8. Levels above just 50 indicate that the sectors are expanding. Readings above 60 are rare.

While both reports hold strong by historical standards, supply chain issues greatly impact manufacturing companies. Many of these manufacturing companies need materials to produce goods.

Fed Tapering to Begin

All in all, the Fed did a commendable job of communicating its plans to investors in advance. Once again, there were no surprises and little lasting impact from the latest meeting.

According to the Fed meeting statement, the Fed plans to taper its $120 billion per month of bond purchases by $15 billion per month beginning later this month. This revelation fell right in line with expectations.

Officials anticipate that inflation will ease from current elevated levels as supply chain resolve, and solid job gains persist. However, the Fed offered little new guidance in determining the exact timing of the first federal funds rate hike. Lastly, investors anticipate the rate hike to take place near the middle of next year.

Looking Ahead After Solid Job Gains

Looking ahead after the solid job gains, investors seek hints from Fed officials about the timing for future rate hikes. Additionally, investors closely watch COVID-19 case counts around the world, particularly in Europe.

Beyond that, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was released on Wednesday. Analysts widely follow CPI as a monthly inflation indicator. CPI looks at the price changes for a broad range of goods and services.

Mortgage markets close in observance of Veterans Day. Finally, the JOLTS report, which measures job openings and labor turnover rates, comes out on Friday.

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

November
6

Should You Renovate or Move?

The last 18 months changed what many buyers are looking for in a home. Recently, the American Institute of Architects released their AIA Home Design Trends Survey results for Q3 2021. The survey reveals the following:

  • 70% of respondents want more outdoor living space
  • 69% of respondents want a home office (48% wanted multiple offices)
  • 46% of respondents want a multi-function room/flexible space
  • 42% of respondents want an au pair/in-law suite
  • 39% of respondents want an exercise room/yoga space

If you're a homeowner who wants to add any of the above, you have two options: renovate your current house or buy a home that already has the spaces you desire. The decision you make could be determined by factors like:

  1. A possible desire to relocate
  2. The difference in the cost of a renovation versus a purchase
  3. Finding an existing home or designing a new home that has exactly what you want (versus trying to restructure the layout of your current house)

In either case, you'll need access to capital: the funds for the renovation or the down payment your next home would require. The great news is that the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

Home Equity Is Skyrocketing

The record-setting increases in home prices over the last two years dramatically improved homeowners' equity. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, quantifies the amount of equity homeowners gained recently:

"Remember U.S. households own nearly $35 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $11 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$24 trillion in equity. In inflation adjusted terms, homeowners in Q2 had an average of $280,000 in equity- a historic high."

As a homeowner, the money you need to purchase the perfect home or renovate your current house may be right at your fingertips. However, waiting to make your decision may increase the cost of tapping that equity.

If you decide to renovate, you'll need to refinance (or take out an equity loan) to access the equity. If you decide to move instead and use your equity as a down payment, you'll still need to mortgage the remaining difference between the down payment and the cost of your next home.

Mortgage rates are forecast to increase over the next year. Waiting to leverage your equity will probably mean you'll pay more to do so. According to the latest data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), almost 57% of current mortgage holders have a mortgage rate of 4% or below. If you're one of those homeowners, you can keep your mortgage rate under 4% by doing it now. If you're one of the 43% of homeowners with a mortgage rate over 4%, you may be able to do a cash-out refinance or buy a more expensive home without significantly increasing your monthly payment.

First Step: Determine the Amount of Equity in Your Home

If you're ready to either redesign your current house or find an existing or newly constructed home that has everything you want, the first thing you need to do is determine how much equity you have in your current home. To do that, you'll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can probably find the mortgage balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To find the current market value of your house, you can pay several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or you can contact a local real estate professional who will be able to present to you, at no charge, a professional equity assessment report.

Bottom Line

If the past 18 months have refocused your thoughts on what you want from your house, now may be the time to either renovate or make a move to the perfect home. Contact us today to help guide you through the process and help determine what makes the most sense for you!

November
4

7 Ways to Warm Up Your Home's Entryway

Entryway Tips

Your entryway is the first space guests experience when they step into your home. And more importantly, it is the first space you experience when you get home! As such, you really want your entryway to feel warm and welcoming. Here are a few useful tips to help you make your entryway a sight to behold.

  1. Include a Bench Seat
    Sometimes, entryways have a tendency to become cluttered with items like umbrellas, hats, and bags. Including a bench seat in your design takes care of this problem. You can store all of your accessories in the bench seat and also sit on the bench as you put your shoes on or otherwise prepare to go out.

  2. Create Symmetry With Two Plants
    In a small space like an entryway, decorating with symmetry can help create a sense of balance. An easy way to create symmetry is with two identical potted plants. If you have a bench seat, place one plant on either side of the bench. If you have a larger piece of furniture, such as a set of cabinets, you could place two small plants on top of it — one on either side. 

    Plants are perfect for an entryway because greenery evokes a calm, peaceful feeling. They also help unify the outdoors with the outdoors, which is exactly what your entryway is intended for.

  3. Include a Clock
    Clocks are timeless decor, and you don't see them in homes as often as you used to, now that everyone has the time on their own smartphone. But your entryway is the perfect place for a clock. People will appreciate knowing exactly what time it is as soon as they step in the door. You'll also appreciate being able to check the time without pulling your phone out as soon as you get home. A large, decorative clock mounted on the wall directly across from the door is perfect entryway decor.

  4. Use Warm Colors
    When choosing paint colors for your entryway, be sure to opt for warm undertones. This will subliminally make guests and family members feel cozy when they step into the space. "Warm colors" does not have to mean brown or red, either. Your paint store professional can point you towards all sorts of different colors with warm undertones.

  5. Include Large, Fuzzy Doormats
    Doormats can warm up your entryway not only visually but temperature-wise. In the winter, you'll really appreciate not having to step onto the chilly floor. Pick mats that are generously sized to fit everyone's shoes. Those with a plush or fuzzy look tend to make the space look and feel warmer.

  6. Add Texture, When Possible
    As you decorate your entryway, look for ways to add texture to the space. For example, you may include a wall hanging with some burlap. Or, you might find a light fixture with some roughly hewn wood in its design. Incorporating a mixture of smooth and rough textures can make any space feel warmer and more balanced overall.

  7. Install a Dimmer Switch
    If your entryway does not already have a dimmer switch, consider having one installed. This lets you set the mood for your home.

These tips can make any entryway give a warm welcome! If you're still looking for Boise-area homes for sale, please feel free to reach out. We can help you navigate the house-hunting process with ease.

October
15

Stark Autumn Beauty: Shoshone Falls

Don't Let the Lack of "High Water" Keep You from Visiting this Fall

Looking for some weekend adventure, but want to explore somewhere new? If you are in the Boise area, take the two-hour trek to Shoshone Falls in south-central Idaho's Magic Valley. Located approximately three miles west of the city of Twin Falls, the "Niagra of the West" drops an impressive 212 feet, 45 feet higher than the real Niagra.

Though the most dramatic time of year to visit is in the spring when flows can reach in excess of 20,000 cubic feet per second, the fall and winter bring a different kind of beauty. Striking rock formations and stunning pools reveal themselves only when the water is low.

Lying within the Snake River Canyon, the Falls and surrounding geology is a fascinating scene created over millions of years and is truly one of nature's—and Idaho's—most glorious wonders worthy of visiting any time of year.

Shoshone Falls Park is situated at the bottom of the canyon via a fairly steep and curvy road that is open year-round, except when snow and ice make travel too dangerous. The road is paved and fine for all vehicles. In the fall and winter months, the park is open from dawn to dusk, and there is no charge for access. Picnic areas, overlooks, and portable toilets are accessible all year.

Wear comfortable shoes and plan to take a hike along one of the many trails in and around the Falls. Centennial Trail takes explorers 1.4 miles to the site of Evel Knievel's failed attempt to jump the canyon in 1974. The out-and-back trail is paved and features canyon overlooks.

To get to Shoshone Falls from Boise, travel east on I-84 to US 93/exit 173 south to Twin Falls. Turn east on Falls Ave. E to N 3300 E/Champlin Road and follow the signs.

Be sure to stop at the Twin Falls Visitor Center at the south side of the Perrine Bridge for breathtaking views of the canyon and to pick up a trail map.

October
14

View the Latest Employment Report from the Mortgage Professionals at Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Latest Employment Report Reveals Job Gains Went Down

This past week, analysts and investors closely watched the latest employment report. Unfortunately, it revealed that job gains went down, falling short of expectations. For the most part, the other major economic reports coincided with expectations. In other news, investors shifted to riskier assets. While doing so, stocks increased while bonds decreased. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week higher.

Job Gains Fall Short in Latest Employment Report

The latest employment report suggested that COVID-19 hindered job creation. Friday's release showed that the economy added just 194,000 jobs in September 2021 against a consensus forecast of 500,000. While this result resembles August 2021, job gains plummeted dramatically from over one million in July of this year.

However, there were many offsetting factors. First, upward revisions added 169,000 jobs to the results for prior months. Second, the unemployment rate declined from 5.2% to 4.8%. Not only did unemployment decline far below the consensus forecast of 5.1%, but it also hit the lowest level since February 2020. These two components often paint a somewhat different picture. While companies provide data for the job gains calculation, the unemployment rate is based on a separate survey of individuals.

Analysts also looked for the latest figures on average hourly earnings. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, rose 0.6% from July 2021. This statistic jumped well above the consensus of 0.4%. Of note, average hourly earnings clocked in at an impressive 4.6% higher than a year ago. The latest employment report showed that this number also climbed above an annual rate of increase of 4.0% last month.

Education jobs sharply underperformed expectations. Analysts attribute this due to distortions in the seasonal adjustment caused by the pandemic. Experts adjust education job data to reflect historical seasonal trends, such as the start of the school year. Concurrently, many of the usual hiring and firing patterns changed during the pandemic. To summarize, job gains fell short partly due to seasonal issues related to the pandemic. On the other hand, wage gains remained very strong. Conclusively, the report barely affected mortgage rates.

ISM Service Sector Index Reports Growth

Aside from the latest employment report, the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) released another significant economic report. The ISM national service sector index rose to 61.9. Not only did the service sector index rise above the consensus forecast of 60.0, it also neared a record-high. Levels above just 50 indicate that the sector is expanding. Readings above 60 are rare.

Of note, a large number of companies reported difficulties in hiring enough skilled workers to keep up with growing demand. Many other companies indicated that supply chain disruptions held back production. Because of these current obstacles, later months may see stronger readings as companies catch up.

Looking Ahead After the Latest Employment Report

Looking ahead after the latest employment report, investors closely watch global COVID-19 cases. They also look for hints from Fed officials about the timing for changes in monetary policy.

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

October
13

Home Prices in September Hold Steady

Fewer Buyers Paid Over Asking Price for Homes in September 

By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

The median sales price for homes in Ada County moved to $534,950 in September 2021, marking a slight 0.8% increase over August when the median sales price was $530,500. 

While prices remained steady month-over-month, the most notable statistic was the share of homes that sold for over list price dropped to 33.1% — the lowest level since June 2020. 

Competition for homes has been fierce for nearly a year, and as market times fell, more buyers were willing to pay over list price, which became a primary factor driving up the median sales price. When the share of homes that sold over list price exceeded 40% in August 2020, the median sales price moved into the $400,000-range for the first time. When it reached nearly 65% in May 2021, that's when prices exceeded the $500,000-mark.  

(For more on this, and additional factors driving home prices, check out our blog post: "Making Sense of the Rising Home Prices in Ada County.") 

That jump in price likely brought prospective sellers to the market, which has helped inventory levels increase. In fact, September marked the sixth consecutive month of inventory growth. The 1,249 homes available for sale at the end of the month represented an 11.1% increase from August and a staggering 165.7% increase compared to September 2020. 

In addition, the average number of days between when existing homes were listed for sale and an offer was accepted increased to 17 days — the longest market time in the last 12 months — and 21.4% longer than the 14 days we saw in August 2021.  

The increased inventory and a slightly slower pace are good news for buyers and may be two reasons that fewer homes sold over list price last month. 

That said, while the Months Supply of Inventory (MSI) continued to trend up — reaching 1.5 months in September — Ada County is still not in the 4-6 month range of supply which is typically considered a balanced market — creating ongoing opportunities for sellers. 

This fall is still proving to be a great time for homeowners to capitalize on the current home prices. For those who are considering selling, we recommend talking to a REALTOR® about the different factors at play within our market and how they may affect different situations.

Stages of a Real Estate Transaction

In each of our reports in 2021, BRR is focusing on the various phases of a real estate transaction to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market.

To view the Treasure Valley homes currently for sale, CLICK HERE.

 

September
27

9 Tips for Buying and Selling Your Home at the Same Time

Selling your home while shopping for a new one can feel daunting to even the most seasoned homeowner––especially when the competition for housing is so high. That doesn't mean, though, that you should just throw up your hands and give up on moving altogether. In fact, as a current homeowner, you could be in a better position than most to capitalize on a seller's market and make a smooth transition from your old home to a new one.

We can help you prepare for the road ahead. Here are some of the most frequent concerns we hear from clients who are trying to buy and sell at the same time.

"What will I do if I sell my house before I can buy a new one?"

While it may be an inconvenience, this is a common scenario that can usually be handled with a little creativity and compromise. Here are some options to consider:

1: Flex your muscles as a seller.

In some cases, a buyer may agree to a rent-back clause that allows the seller to continue living in the home after closing for a set period of time and negotiated fee. We can discuss the benefits and risks involved and whether it's a good option for you.

2: Open your mind to short-term housing options.

If you're lucky enough to have family or friends who offer to take you in, that may be ideal. If not, check out furnished apartments, vacation rentals, and month-to-month leases. If space is an issue, consider putting some of your furniture and possessions in storage.

3: Embrace the idea of selling now and buying later.

With cash on hand from the sale of your current home, you'll be in a better position to budget for and buy your next home. And by focusing on one step at a time, you can alleviate some of the pressure and uncertainty involved.

"What if I get stuck with two mortgages at the same time?"

If you can't afford to carry both mortgages, then selling before you buy may be best. (See Tip #3.) But if you have flexibility in your budget for some overlap, it is possible to manage a home sale and purchase simultaneously. Here are some steps to help streamline the process:

4: As you get ready to sell, simplify.

You can condense your sales timeline if you only focus on the renovations and tasks that matter most. We can advise you on the repairs and upgrades that are worth your time and investment.

5: Prep your paperwork.

If you'll need a mortgage for your next home purchase, get pre-approved in advance. And start pulling together relevant records for your current home, such as appliance warranties and renovation permits. That way, you'll be ready to provide quick answers to buyers' questions should they arise.

6: Ask about other contingencies that can be included in your contracts.

For example, it's possible to add a clause to your purchase offer that lets you cancel the contract if you haven't sold your previous home. This tactic could backfire, though, if you're competing with other buyers. We can discuss the pros and cons of contingencies and what's realistic given current market dynamics.

"What if I mess up my timing or burn out from all the stress?"

To make sure you're in the right headspace, take the time to slow down, breathe and delegate as much as possible. In addition:

7: Relax and accept that compromise is inevitable.

Rather than worry about getting every detail right with your housing search and home sale, trust that things will work out eventually––even if it doesn't look like your Plan A or even your Plan B or Plan C. Luckily, if you've got a good team of professionals, you can relax knowing that others have your back and are monitoring the details behind the scenes.

8: Don't worry too much if your path is straying from convention.

Remember that rules-of-thumb and home-buying trends are just that: they are estimates, not facts. So if your home search or sale isn't going exactly like your neighbor's, it doesn't mean that you are doomed to fail.

9: Enlist help early.

This leads us to our final tip: If possible, call us early in the process. We'll not only provide you with key guidance on what you should do to prep your current property for sale, we'll also help you narrow down the parameters for your next one. That way, you'll be prepared to act quickly and confidently when it comes time to list your home and make an offer on a new one.

Call today for tailored advice that works for you.

Buying and selling a home at the same time is challenging. But it doesn't have to be a nightmare, and it can even be fun. Click here for a free consultation so that we can help you review your options and decide the best way forward - or visit our site for a listing of homes for sale.

September
16

Facebook: Spoofed Profiles

 

What is a "spoofed" profile?

From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

A spoofed profile is where a scammer copies your profile and pretends to be you. The scammers use the information that the original profile makes public.  This includes profile pictures, location(s), and biography information, so they are very convincing. Oftentimes, these spoofed profiles send out another friend request to people on copied profile's friends list.  While more and more people are becoming aware that this is an issue when they get a second friend request from someone they are already friends with, many people still don't know what is happening (no, their friend has not been "hacked" i.e someone has gained unauthorized access to the account) or what to do about the profile, and there are many people who still will add the fake profile and further perpetuate this activity. 

 

Besides it being annoying, what damage does this cause?

Once a spoofed profile is created, the creator will add friends listed on the original profile, send messages that ask for money… or worse, send videos and/or clickable content via messenger or page posts that contain phishing sites, adware, malware, or viruses when clicked.

 

How do you prevent this from happening?

Make your friends list viewable to "Friends only" or better yet, "Only me".  These settings can be accessed both on the computer and in the Facebook app on phones.  Simply view your profile, then go to Settings and Privacy, then under Audience and Visibility, "How People Find and Contact You".  Select "Who can see your friends list", and select Friends or Only me.  Setting it to "Only me" is the only sure-fire way to make it so people cannot use your friends list to create fake profiles and spam your friends, colleagues, and clients who may be friends on your page.

 

It's already happened to you. Now what?

Have your friends report the spoofed profile as soon as possible.  All you or they have to do is go to the scammer's duplicate Facebook page and click on the three dots.  Select "Find Support or Report Profile" and then "Pretending to Be Someone."  You will then be asked who they are pretending to be.  If it's a friend, you'll report which friend it is and then confirm your submission.  Facebook will then review your report and notify you of the outcome.  The process is pretty quick and painless.

Next, take steps to secure your public information. And it wouldn't hurt to complete Facebook's privacy checkup, and lock down your privacy settings which includes not allowing people to post anything on your page without your review.

Any of these things can be done remotely.  Please call or email our office if you have any questions or need immediate assistance!

September
15

Lower Unemployment Rate Offsets Lower-Than-Expected Job Gains

 

 

Key labor market data revealed mixed results, including lower-than-expected job gains missing the mark. However, a better unemployment rate counterbalanced those job gains.

Economists viewed the data as roughly neutral. The other major economic news contained no surprises. Therefore, mortgage rates ended the week with little change.

Dampened Job Gains

Analysts closely watched last Friday's employment report. The latest report suggested that COVID-19 dampened job gains. Unfortunately, the leisure and hospitality sectors experienced this impact the most. Against a consensus forecast of 720,000, the economy added just 235,000 jobs in August 2021. Job gains greatly declined from over one million in July 2021.

However, there were some offsetting factors. First, upward revisions added 134,000 jobs to the results for prior months. In addition, education jobs sharply underperformed expectations. Having said that, analysts likely attribute the distortions to seasonal adjustment caused by the pandemic. Analysts adjust data to reflect historical seasonal trends, such as the start of the school year. Also, many of the usual hiring and firing patterns changed during the pandemic.

Better Unemployment Rate Despite Dampened Job Gains

The unemployment rate declined from 5.4% to 5.2%, matching expectations. Simultaneously, unemployment hit its lowest level since before the pandemic. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, rose 0.6% from July. As a result, average hourly earnings climbed well above the consensus of 0.3%. In addition, average hourly earnings jumped 4.3% higher than a year ago, up from 4.1% last month.

To summarize, job gains fell short partly due to seasonal issues related to the pandemic. Meanwhile, wage gains came in very strong. In conclusion, the report provided little net effect on mortgage rates.

ISM Hiring News

Aside from dampened job gains, a couple of other significant economic reports were released this week. Overall, the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) revealed the expected strong results. The national services index fell to 61.7, down from a record high last month.

Subsequently, the national manufacturing index came in at 59.9. Levels above just 50 indicate that the sectors are expanding. Readings above 60 are rare. Of note, a large number of companies reported difficulties in hiring enough workers to keep up with growing demand.

Looking Ahead After Dampened Job Gains

Looking ahead after dampened job gains, investors closely watch global COVID-19 cases. Investors also will look for hints from Fed officials about the timing for changes in monetary policy.

Beyond that, the JOLTS report came out today. JOLTS measures job openings and labor turnover rates. 

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

September
14

Number of Homes for Sale in Ada County Increases

Encouraged Sellers Add More Homes to the Market 

By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

The median sales price for homes in Ada County was $530,500 in August, down nearly $10,000 from July, although 32.2% higher than the same month last year.   

While our region has faced insufficient supply compared to demand for years — the main driver of home prices over the past few years — August marked the fifth consecutive month of inventory growth. There were 1,124 homes available for sale, up 6.5% from July and up a tremendous 90.8% compared to August 2020.  

These inventory gains were very encouraging — and likely prompted by higher prices — although still low compared to what they might have been had they tracked with the historical trendline. 

On the other hand, both pending and closed sales tracked with their respective trendlines. In August, there were 1,606 pending sales — homes with an accepted offer that should close within the next 30-60 days — and another 931 homes closed during the month.  

Both pending and closed sales were down compared to last year, at 22.9% and 28.3%, respectively. Some in the national news have speculated that declines in national sales activity indicates buyers are backing off. This may be the case in some situations, especially among more price-sensitive buyers, but the declines likely have more to do with the seasonality and limited inventory.  

As evident in the chart above, sales activity begins to increase each December/January, typically peaking around May/June, then tapering off throughout the fall and winter as kids go back to school and the weather gets colder. The past two years haven't had that same seasonal feel with the pandemic compressing the traditional market cycles, but any additional declines in activity from now through the end of the year are not completely atypical.  

 

Note on Historical Trendlines: These are helpful tools but should be used in conjunction with other metrics to understand why something may be trending higher or lower than past data might otherwise suggest. To that point, we released a blog post about a recent Florida Atlantic University study suggesting Boise metro homes were overpriced compared to historical trends, which you can read here. You can also check out our mid-year housing summit presentation for insights as to why inventory levels continue to be constrained despite ongoing demand.

 

The uptick in the number of homes for sale continues to be good news for buyers, but buyers must still be prepared to act quickly once they've found a home to purchase. We advise buyers to work with a REALTOR® and lender to determine ways to make an offer as competitive as possible.

One of the most popular ways buyers have competed is on price, offering to pay more than the listing price. Of the homes that closed in August, 42.3% sold for more than list price, paying on average, $22,675 more than list, which is a change from the past few months when a majority of homes were selling over list price.

For homes that sold under their original list price in August, buyers paid $24,423 less, on average. That said, decisions on what price to list a home at, or whether a buyer might offer more or less, can be made easier with the help of a REALTOR®.  

Stages of a Real Estate Transaction

In each of our reports in 2021, BRR is focusing on the various phases of a real estate transaction to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market. 

To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for August, CLICK HERE.

 

August
30

5 Factors That Reveal Where The Real Estate Market Is Really Headed

Boise Downtown

It's the old supply-and-demand predicament: U.S. home sales continue at a rapid pace, but the number of listings remains limited. Amid historically low mortgage rates, buyers keep shopping, reducing inventory and sparking a rise in home prices.

Meanwhile, homebuilders are coping with an increase in material costs and a shortage of labor. These issues come during an ongoing housing shortage. A National Association of Realtors study shows the U.S. has a deficit of about 2 million single-family homes and 3.5 million other housing units.

Follow along to learn the five factors that illustrate where the U.S. housing market is today and is heading tomorrow.

ROCK-BOTTOM MORTGAGE RATES TO GRADUALLY RISE

Low interest rates continue to fuel demand from homebuyers. Some experts believe mortgage rates will creep up later this year, but they expect rates to remain near historic lows. In June, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that 2020 closed with the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 2.8%. But the association anticipates the average rate climbing to 3.5% at the end of 2021 and 4.2% by the end of 2022.

What does it mean for you?

When mortgage rates are at or near historic lows (as they are today), you should seriously consider taking advantage of those rates to borrow money for a home purchase or to refinance your existing mortgage.

HOME PRICES EXPECTED TO KEEP CLIMBING

In June, the national median list price for a home reached an all-time high of $385,000, up 12.7% on a year-over-year basis. And according to the Home Buying Institute, various reports and forecasts indicate home prices will keep climbing throughout 2021 and into 2022. While this may be welcome news for homeowners, high prices are pushing homeownership out of reach for a growing number of first-time buyers.

What does it mean for you?

If you're a buyer waiting on the sidelines for prices to drop, you may want to reconsider. While the pace of appreciation should taper off, home prices are expected to continue climbing. And rising mortgage rates will make a home purchase even more costly.

SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES REMAIN ROBUST

Single-family home sales are down from their peak in October 2020 yet are still above the overall level last year. In May 2021, 5.8 million existing single-family homes were sold in the U.S. That's a 45% increase over the 4 million homes sold in May 2020.

However, home sales saw a 0.9% dip in May 2021 compared with the previous month, the National Association of Realtors says. That was the fourth straight month for a decline in home sales. The number of home sales has slid recently because of rising prices and a lack of inventory, but Fannie Mae expects total home sales to tick up slightly in the fourth quarter and finish the year up 3.8% over last year.

What does it mean for you?

The market for single-family home sales remains quite active. As a result, if you're a homeowner, you may want to ponder whether to sell now, even if you hadn't necessarily been thinking about it. With demand high and inventory low, your home could fetch an eye-popping price.

LACK OF INVENTORY STILL CONSTRAINS THE HOME MARKET

According to the National Association of Realtors, in May there were 1.23 million previously owned homes on the market, down 20.6% from the same time last year. This translates to a 2.5-month supply of homes, which is well below the 6 months of inventory typical in a balanced market. According to the Realtors group, the lack of inventory translates into tougher searches for buyers and contributes to a rise in prices.

What does it mean for you?

If you're thinking of selling your home, now may be the right time to do it. Across the country, it's a seller's market, meaning demand is outpacing supply. That supply-and-demand imbalance puts sellers in a great position to sell their homes at a premium price. The May 2021 Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors found the average home that was sold attracted five offers, and the association says nearly half of homes are selling above list price.

CONSTRUCTION OF SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES SEES SLIGHT UPTICK

Frustrated buyers may soon find some relief from an increase in new construction. Economists forecast that 1.1 million new houses will be started in 2021, compared with a predicted 940,000 units just six months ago, with 1.2 million new starts predicted for 2022 and 2023, according to the Urban Land Institute.

What does it mean for you?

Given the issues affecting the new-home market, it may make sense to widen your home search to include both new and existing homes. Your brand-new dream home may not be available, but you might be able to find an existing home that lives up to your vision. Keep in mind that we can help you find either a new or existing home and can advocate for you to ensure you get the best deal possible.

ARE YOU THINKING OF BUYING OR SELLING?

If you're in the market for a home, you're ready to sell your house or you've simply been wondering whether you should sell, you could benefit from an expert to help you navigate the hot real estate market. Let's set up a free consultation to discuss your situation. We can review your options and come up with a plan to capitalize on the value of your current property or to find your ideal next home. Contact us today. We are here to #guideyouhome.

August
23

Interior Design Trends: Cottagecore Home Decor

When you buy a new home, you want it to be a reflection of you and your style. As you consider various trends, you may come across a popular new one called cottagecore. But what is it, exactly, and will it work for your interior design needs? Essentially, cottagecore home decor is a nostalgic journey to a simpler time and place. If sipping tea in a garden, breathing in the delicate scent of roses and honeysuckle strikes your fancy, this could very well be the interior design style you are seeking. If the homes you are asking to be shown are reminiscent of country living, you may want to consider these key elements:

  • Nostalgia
    From the garden to the living room, the house should speak of bygone days. This may look different to each person. If your cherished memories include crocheted Afghans and ruffled curtains, by all means, include them. If they lean more toward the brown leather overstuffed couch and the roll-top desk you might find in an 1890's ranch house, then go that direction. It's even possible to blend styles a bit in this very unscripted decor. If you have antiques or just books and knick-knacks that have been in the family for a long time, cottagecore provides a perfect setting to display them.
  • Simplicity
    Although many of us work in the world of technology, we don't all want to live there. When incorporating cottagecore interior design trends, necessary technology will often be hidden inside wooden cabinetry or disguised in other clever ways. The lifestyle celebrates minimalism, including handcrafting, home cooking, and creativity over video games. Rather than the cold, sleek surfaces you will find in industrial decor, you will find the warmth of wood, the natural textures of organic materials, and the cozy atmosphere they bring. Shining wooden floors with simple rugs and a wooden coffee table that reflect the same color as the floor. You might find the same wood theme repeated in bathrooms and bedrooms. 
  • Nature
    Embracing nature is critical to the cottagecore style. This doesn't mean that you must raise your own chickens and livestock in order to enjoy the designs. But the interior of the home should blend with the environment surrounding the exterior. This can be accomplished with muted colors, natural materials, house plants, and fresh or dried flowers. Imagine a little girl collecting wildflowers and displaying them in a milk bottle. The romantic ideal of rural living can be reflected in prints and paintings without the less pleasant realities of farm life. An indoor herb garden is just the right touch to a cozy kitchen, while the fresh herbs bring your recipes to life. 
  • Vintage
    Antiques are certainly great additions to cottagecore home decor, but you can obtain the vintage feel without an extensive collection. Simple lines, wooden frames, and natural textures will help balance the design. Wooden chairs next to pristine white wainscotting in the dining room are reminiscent of homes of a hundred years ago, even if they were just purchased recently. The elegance of a colorful quilt can carry the sleeper back to Grandma's house. Overstuffed chairs reupholstered with soft, nubby fabrics or floral designs are both frugal and practical, echoing the lifestyle of the past as much as the appearance. 
  • Do-it-yourself
    To truly embrace the cottagecore lifestyle, you should bring in your own creations. Have you learned to embroider? Frame an original piece and hang it on the wall. Did you grow your own fruits and vegetables? Proudly store them in wire baskets on the kitchen counter. Craftspeople know that you can't create anything worthwhile without making a little mess. You can embrace the clutter a bit without letting it take over. A basket of colorful yarn complete with knitting needles will actually enhance the decor of the den. A loom in the corner will make a fascinating conversation piece. You may even discover common interests with friends you didn't know existed. 

If you've been waiting for some of the vintage things you love to come back in style, the time has come. Our real estate professionals will be happy to help you find your new home. Contact us when you're ready to make the change. 

August
12

From Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Breakthrough Job Gains as Labor Market Makes Vast Improvements

The monthly employment report brought stronger than anticipated data as the U.S. achieved breakthrough job gains. Simultaneously, incoming Institute of Supply Management (ISM) service data also yielded great news.

As the United States economy took home a couple of "wins," the impact negatively affected mortgage markets. Ultimately, mortgage rates ended the week slightly higher.

Breakthrough Job Gains

In July 2021, employment realized breakthrough job gains, gaining 943,000. Overall, this soared far above the consensus forecast of 850,000. Additionally, analysts revised results from the prior two months.

After a brutal 2020, analysts saw massive growth in the leisure and hospitality sectors. In total, leisure and hospitality added 380,000 positions. Job gains primarily permeated bars and restaurants.

As an added bonus, the unemployment rate declined from 5.9% to 5.4%. Contrary to job gains, unemployment fell well below the consensus forecast of 5.7%. Finally, average hourly earnings jumped 4.0% higher than a year ago. Average hourly earnings also increased from 3.7% in June 2021. Investors and analysts view average hourly earnings as an indicator of wage growth.

More Breakthrough Job Gains to Come?

The pace of labor market improvement picked up significantly over the last couple of months. However, the full COVID-19 impact remains to be seen. This makes experts question whether the trend of breakthrough job gains will continue. Unsurprisingly, many of the new jobs appeared in sectors previously hurt by the pandemic.

Fed officials repeatedly noted that the timing of monetary policy tightening depends on its goals. Mainly, the Fed closely watches for progress toward their labor market goals. Concurrently, investors keep a close eye on the impact of rising COVID-19 case counts.

Strong Results from the ISM

Aside from the breakthrough job gains, the ISM released a couple of other significant economic reports this week. Both yielded strong results. Hitting a record-high, the national services index unexpectedly surged to 64.1. Meanwhile, the national manufacturing index came in at 59.5. Levels above 50 indicate that the sectors are expanding. However, analysts rarely see readings above 60. Of note, a large number of companies reported difficulties in hiring enough workers to keep up with growing demand.

Looking Ahead After Breakthrough Job Gains

Looking ahead after the breakthrough job gains, investors closely watch global COVID-19 cases. They also look for hints from Fed officials about the timing for changes in monetary policy. Beyond that, the JOLTS report comes out on Monday. The JOLTS report measures job openings and labor turnover rates. In addition, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) releases on Wednesday. Analysts follow CPI as a monthly inflation indicator. CPI examines price changes for a broad range of goods and services.

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We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

August
10

More Homes are For Sale as Higher Prices Encourage Sellers

More Homes Enter the Market as Prices Rise 

By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

The median sales price for homes in Ada County reached $540,000 in July, up 2.9% from June.

While our region has faced insufficient supply compared to demand for years — the main driver of home prices — July marked five consecutive months of inventory growth. While still low compared to previous years, there were 1,055 homes available for sale at the end of the month, up 44.7% from June.

After home prices rose above the $500,000-mark in May, homeowners may have been encouraged to list, as existing inventory was higher than the previous month and year for the second month in a row, something not seen since March of 2020 just before the pandemic hit the market. At the end of June, there were 729 existing homes available for purchase, up 50.3% from June 2021 and up an astonishing 116.3% compared to July 2020.

Despite more inventory, the speed of the market continues to be fast. The number of days between when a home was listed for sale and an offer was accepted (also referred to as Days on Market) was at 13 days, on average, in July — 22 days faster than the same month last year.

While the uptick in the number of homes for sale is great news for buyers, they must still be prepared to act quickly. Buyers must also know that an offer acceptance is only the beginning of the work that a REALTOR® will complete throughout a transaction working on behalf of their clients.

Following the average 13 days on market, as noted above, there were another 52 days between the offer acceptance and closing, on average, based on the homes sold in July. During this time period, there is typically a home inspection and title search, and if the buyer is purchasing with a mortgage, an appraisal, and final loan approvals.

The REALTORS® representing the buyer and seller help keep these tasks on track and work through any follow-up items, such as negotiating repairs based on the inspection report, providing documentation to the escrow agent at the title company, requesting documents and financials from a homeowners' association (if applicable), and confirming closings costs or mortgage payoffs with the lender. Other behind-the-scenes duties include helping clients coordinate movers, obtain homeowners insurance, switch over utilities, schedule painters, assist with changes of address, maybe locate temporary housing, and much (much) more.

Research from the National Association of REALTORS® indicates that most people move every 10-15 years. Those gaps in time are where REALTORS® show their value in understanding every step involved, knowing that each home and transaction will be different. REALTORS® guide their clients through the listing, search, and offer processes, and then make sure all terms agreed to in the contract are fulfilled and done on time. They do this in coordination with lenders and escrow officers, etc., to ensure the financing and legal transfer of the property are done correctly.

Stages of a Real Estate Transaction

In each of our reports in 2021, BRR is focusing on the various phases of a real estate transaction to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market. 

To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for July, CLICK HERE.

 

July
14

From Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Homebuying in 2021

At Idaho Central Credit Union, we know how overwhelming the task of purchasing a home can be, especially in this market! As exciting and life-changing as it is, the process of buying a home can also be very emotional. ICCU's home loan specialists are here to help you through the rollercoaster and make the transition to home ownership as smooth as possible.

We have broken down several emotions you can expect to feel on the journey to becoming a home owner, and some unique benefits that ICCU offers to help along the way!

Excitement

The excitement is palpable! You've decided to make one of the largest purchases of your life! The options are endless and the housing market is your oyster. What will you choose?

Getting a preapproved letter from an ICCU Mortgage Loan Officer can make this process go smoothly. Some realtors require house hunters to be pre-qualified to save buyers and sellers time. In order to get pre-qualified, our lenders will want to see employment status, income, debt-to-income ratio, and your credit report. We can then help you determine how much you can afford and what type of loan is best for your situation.

We have several different tools to help you in these beginning stages of searching for your dream home. The Rent vs Buy Calculator takes into consideration taxes, insurance, and other fees when debating whether you should rent or take the plunge into home ownership. The Mortgage Qualifier Calculator will help you determine how much you can comfortably afford to borrow.

Frustration

The house hunting is the fun part! However, there may not be as many options as you thought, and the housing market in certain price ranges can sometimes be a bit slim. Once you're preapproved for a price, there are several things to consider such as square footage, school districts, property trends, and real estate taxes. While some of these factors may be negotiable, there are some that are deal-breakers, and it is easier to have these decisions made before looking at certain houses.

Market conditions can change quickly and the high hopes that you had for your dream house may change along with it. After looking around and seeing what types of homes are in your area that fit your budget, ICCU is here to help you decide if buying, upgrading, or building is the best option for you.

Disappointment

Many things can go wrong during the initial stages of the house-hunting process. It can be easy to fall head over heels in love with a house, but you may get outbid or the seller could reject your offer. In a seller's market, there may be several offers on a desirable home very quickly. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed and disappointed if a bidding war ensues or if you feel the need to continue increasing your offers. Keep your head up and your mind open though! The house of your dreams may be just around the corner.

Determination

Making an offer on a house and getting it accepted is the end of the road, right? Not quite so fast! While the first step to owning your dream house is making an official offer and getting it accepted, there is still a lot to do, and determination will be needed to get you to closing!

A home inspection is usually necessary to find out what problems the house has before you move in. A home appraisal is also needed to give current value to your potential property before your mortgage loan can be processed. Expensive problems with the property found during inspection or discrepancies in the appraisal can both bring more demanding decisions. Our Mortgage Loan Officers have seen every type of complication when it comes to purchasing a home, and we are ready to guide you through these financial decisions!

Relief

Once you've closed on your home, you can breathe a sigh of relief, and start packing. Congratulations, all of those emotions will pay off once you have those keys in hand and the welcome mat set. You are officially a homeowner!

We understand that no two paths to buying a home are the same. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate mogul, we have a variety of products and loans designed specifically to meet your needs. We offer local underwriting and fast approvals to save you time and money. We have options for down payments and additional resources like our Finally Home! online program to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact one of our home loan specialists to discuss your options today!

 

July
9

How to Bridge the Appraisal Gap in Today's Real Estate Market

If you're searching for drama, don't limit yourself to Netflix. Instead, tune in to the real estate market, where the competition among buyers has never been fiercer. And with homes selling for record highs, the appraisal process is receiving more attention than ever. That's because, in a rapidly appreciating market, a property is more likely to appraise below the sales price—which can lead to major repercussions for both buyers and sellers.

It's never been more important to understand the appraisal process and the risks involved. It's also crucial to work with a skilled real estate agent who can guide you to a successful closing without overpaying (if you're a buyer) or overcompensating (if you're a seller). Find out how appraisals work—and in some cases, don't work—in today's unique real estate environment.

APPRAISAL REQUIREMENTS

An appraisal is an objective assessment of a property's market value performed by an independent authorized appraiser. Mortgage lenders require an appraisal to lower their risk of loss in the event a buyer defaults on their loan.

In most cases, a licensed appraiser will analyze the property's condition and review the value of comparable properties that have recently sold. Appraisal requirements can vary by lender and loan type, and in today's market, in-person appraisal waivers have become much more common. If you're applying for a mortgage, be sure to ask your lender about their specific terms.

APPRAISALS IN A RAPIDLY SHIFTING MARKET

An appraisal contingency is a standard inclusion in a home offer. It enables the buyer to make the closing of the transaction dependent on a satisfactory appraisal wherein the value of the property is at or near the purchase price. This helps to reassure the buyer (and their lender) that they are paying fair market value for the home and allows them to cancel the contract if the appraisal is lower than expected.

Low appraisals are not common, but they are more likely to happen in a rapidly appreciating market, like the one we're experiencing now. That's because appraisers must use comparable sales (commonly referred to as comps) to determine a property's value. This could include homes that went under contract weeks or even months ago. With home prices rising so quickly, today's comps may be lagging behind the market's current reality. Thus, the appraiser could be basing their assessment on stale data, resulting in a low valuation.

HOW ARE BUYERS AND SELLERS IMPACTED BY A LOW APPRAISAL?

When a property appraises for less than the contract price, you end up with an appraisal gap. In a more balanced market, that could be cause for a renegotiation. In today's market, however, sellers often hold the upper hand.

That's why some buyers are using the potential for an appraisal gap as a way to strengthen their bids. They're proposing to take on some or all of the risk of a low appraisal by adding gap coverage or a contingency waiver to their offer.

Appraisal Gap Coverage

Buyers with some extra cash on hand may opt to add an appraisal gap coverage clause to their offer. It provides an added level of reassurance to the sellers that, in the event of a low appraisal, the buyer is willing and able to cover the gap up to a certain amount.

For example, let's say a home is listed for $200,000 and the buyers offer $220,000 with $10,000 in appraisal gap coverage. Now, let's say the property appraises for $205,000. The new purchase price would be $215,000. The buyers would be responsible for paying $10,000 of that in cash directly to the seller because, in most cases, mortgage companies won't include appraisal gap coverage in a home loan.

Waiving The Appraisal Contingency

Some buyers with a higher risk tolerance—and the financial means—may be willing to waive the appraisal contingency altogether. However, this strategy isn't for everyone and must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

It's important to remember that waiving an appraisal contingency can leave a buyer vulnerable if the appraisal comes back much lower than the contract price. Without an appraisal contingency, a buyer will be obligated to cover the difference or be forced to walk away from the transaction and relinquish their earnest money deposit to the sellers.

It's vital that both buyers and sellers understand the benefits and risks involved with these and other competitive tactics that are becoming more commonplace in today's market. We can help you chart the best course of action given your individual circumstances.

DON'T WAIVE YOUR RIGHT TO THE BEST REPRESENTATION

You need a master negotiator on your side who has the skills, instincts, and experience to get the deal done...no matter what surprises may pop up along the way. If you're a buyer, we can help you compete in this unprecedented market—without getting steamrolled. And if you're a seller, we know how to get top dollar for your home while minimizing hassle and stress. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

June
18

Spam Email: Best Practices

 

Tips for Dealing with Spam Email

From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

We have seen an unprecedented rise in spam email, spoofing and phishing attacks are on the rise as well.  Unfortunately we see these continuing and increasing into the future.  

 Here are a few best practices and tips keep it to a minimum: 

  1. When in doubt, do not open the email. Many spam emails have attractive subject lines to get you to open the email.  When that happens, the sender/spammer is notified with analytics and they will keep sending emails to you.
  2. Do not reply to spam or spoofed emails. Google the business and call the number from there if you are unsure of an email's legitimacy.
  3. Email management is key.  Do not delete these messages.  Move them to your spam filter or mark them as junk, often this is as simple as a checkmark or a right-click on the message in the email list to do this.  It can be done in Outlook and the web portals for all email providers. All mail servers are heuristic and actively and constantly learn how users use their email.  The more you move to spam and junk, the more your email provider will start to put there automatically.
  4. Never respond to emails asking you to verify information like phone numbers, credit card info, etc. These are phishing emails and are 100% never legitimate.  If you have fallen victim to a phishing email, please call our office so we can assist you in securing the account that was compromised.
  5. Unsubscribe from those pesky newsletters you signed up for. Scroll down to the bottom of the email and hit that link to unsubscribe.  It can be automatic or they will give you a list of options to unsubscribe from.
  6. Covet your business and personal email addresses.  Is saving 50¢ on a gallon of milk, gas, etc, worth years of daily headache with spam emails and also giving businesses the ability to sell your information or lose it in a data breach?  It's more common than you think.
  7. Set up a separate email for those spammy newsletters, loyalty programs, etc.

 As always you can send questionable emails to us for evaluation.  Send them to info@integrityidaho.net. However, as most of these emails are spam, they do get caught in our spam and junk filters.  If you do not receive a response, please call our office at 208.288.4345 and check to make sure we have received it. 

June
17

From Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Good Hospitality Job Gains Fuel Hope in Promising Mortgage Market

Last week's labor report illustrated good hospitality job gains after a rough 2020. Overall, this continues to fuel hope in what's quickly becoming a promising mortgage market.

However, the job gains fell in line with current expectations. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week nearly unchanged.

Good Hospitality Job Gains

In May, the economy gained 559,000 jobs. Thus, May's job gains fell a little below the consensus forecast of 650,000.

Not only were there good hospitality job gains, the leisure sector realized economic strength as well. Again, this is after the economic nightmare of 2020. When the coronavirus pandemic struck, both the hospitality and the leisure sectors saw limited activity. Simultaneously, both sectors saw countless layoffs while the American economy spiraled. For now, it appears that the worst is over.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.8%. In conclusion, this dropped slightly below the consensus of 5.9%. On the other hand, average hourly earnings rose 2.0% higher than a year ago. In addition, the most recent average hourly earnings jumped up from an annual rate of increase of 0.4% last month. Generally, analysts view average hourly earnings as an indicator of wage growth.

Economic Prospects Aside from the Good Hospitality Job Gains

Even with another month of good hospitality job gains, the economy still has a long way to go. 2020 accounted for countless financial losses due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

While the economy faces a path to recovery, it has about seven million fewer jobs than it did early last year. Therefore, Fed officials desire to move slowly before tightening monetary policy.

Manufacturing Sector Update

Aside from the job gains spearheaded by the hospitality and leisure sectors, last week showed other economic news. The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) remained at very high levels, as expected.

The national manufacturing index rose to 61.2. Also, the national services index increased to 64.0. This is a record high.

Levels above 50 indicate that the sectors are expanding. Of note, a large number of companies reported difficulties in hiring enough workers to keep up with growing demand.

Looking Ahead After the Good Hospitality Job Gains

Looking ahead after the good hospitality job gains, investors monitor global COVID-19 case counts and the vaccine distribution. Analysts widely follow the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In essence, CPI looks at the price change for goods and services.

Commentary provided by MBSQuoteline

For answers to your questions regarding this information and what it might mean for you, please don't hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!

 

June
16

Take Advantage of Your Home Equity: A Homeowner's Guide

Homeownership offers many advantages over renting, including a stable living environment, predictable monthly payments, and the freedom to make modifications. But one of the biggest benefits it offers is the opportunity to build wealth over time. Researchers at the Urban Institute found that homeownership is financially beneficial for most families, and studies have shown that the median net worth of homeowners can be up to 80 times greater than that of renters in some areas.

So how does purchasing a home help you build wealth? And what steps should you take to maximize the potential of your investment? Find out how to harness the power of home equity for a secure financial future.

WHAT IS HOME EQUITY?

Home equity is the difference between what your home is worth and the amount you owe on your mortgage. So, for example, if your home would currently sell for $250,000 and the remaining balance on your mortgage is $200,000, then you have $50,000 in home equity.

The equity in your home is considered a non-liquid asset. It's your money; but rather than sitting in a bank account, it's providing you with a place to live. And when you factor in the potential of appreciation, an investment in real estate will likely offer a better return than any savings account available today.

HOW DOES HOME EQUITY BUILD WEALTH?

A mortgage payment is a type of "forced savings" for home buyers. When you make a mortgage payment each month, a portion of it goes towards interest on your loan, and the remaining part goes towards paying off your principal, or loan balance. As your loan balance goes down, your home equity goes up.

Additionally, the value of your home generally increases, or appreciates, over time. And when you sell it, even if you've only paid off a small portion of your mortgage, you get to keep 100% of your property's appreciated value. That's the wealth-building power of real estate.

WHAT CAN I DO TO GROW MY HOME'S EQUITY FASTER?

There are two basic ways to increase the equity in your home:

  1. Pay down your mortgage. Some homeowners do this by adding a little extra to their monthly payment, making one additional payment per year, or making a lump-sum payment when extra money becomes available. Another option is to decrease your amortization period. For example, if you can afford the higher monthly payment, consider refinancing from a 30-year or 25-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage

  2. Raise your home's market value. Many homeowners enjoy do-it-yourself projects that add value at a relatively low cost. Others choose to invest in larger, strategic renovations. Keep in mind, you won't necessarily get back every dollar you spend on upgrades, so consult a professional before making any major investments.

A word of caution: neglecting routine maintenance could decrease your home's value (and equity), so be sure to stay on top of recommended upkeep and repairs.

HOW DO I ACCESS MY HOME EQUITY IF I NEED IT?

What if you want to tap into your home's equity while you're still living in it? There are several ways to borrow against your home equity, depending on your needs and qualifications:

  1. A Second Mortgage (or Home Equity Loan) enables you to borrow a lump sum, which you are responsible for paying back—with interest—over a set period of time. Most second mortgages have a fixed interest rate and provide the borrower with a predictable monthly payment.

  2. With a Cash-Out Refinance, you refinance your mortgage for a higher amount than you currently owe. Then you pay off your original mortgage and keep the difference as cash. This option may be preferable if you have a high-interest rate on your current mortgage or prefer to make just one payment per month.

  3. A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC ) is a revolving line of credit, similar to a credit card. It allows you to draw out money as you need it. The interest rate on a HELOC is variable, so your payment each month could change depending on how much you borrow and how interest rates fluctuate.

  4. A Reverse Mortgage enables qualifying seniors to borrow against the equity in their home to supplement their retirement income. In most cases, the loan (plus interest) doesn't need to be repaid until the homeowners sell, move, or are deceased.

It's important to note that borrowing against your home's equity isn't always the best option, and it carries the risk of foreclosure if you default. Please ask for a referral to a lender or financial adviser to find out if a home equity loan is right for you.

ALWAYS HERE TO HELP

If you're ready to begin building equity with a new home purchase, grow the value of your current home, or access your equity through a home sale or loan—help is here.  Schedule a complimentary consultation!

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

June
14

Ada County's Median Sales Price Sets Record

Ada County Median Home Prices Exceed $500,000 

By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

 

Note: Last year, our May 2020 market report showed a nearly 30% drop in sales year-over-year in Ada County, the largest drop since 2008. Sales were down because REALTORS® and consumers heeded the statewide stay-home order that was in place at that time, and sales quickly rebounded as we moved through the phased re-opening plan. Since there will be stark fluctuations when comparing activity this year to last year, we will focus on month-over-month changes instead.  

+++

The median sales price for homes in Ada County reached a new record of $523,250 in May, up 8.7% compared to April 2021. Crossing this threshold may have been anticipated by some, considering the recent report from realtor.com shared by the Idaho Statesman noting that the Boise metro's price growth was the highest in the country over the past four years.

The Boise region has faced insufficient supply for years, which has been the main driver of home prices, but several factors have accelerated the growth in recent months. Buyer demand remains high due to historically low mortgage rates, and the added ability for more people to work remotely has likely increased in-migration due to our relative comparative affordability in comparison to more expensive metro areas.

Further, the supply of homes for sale continues to be restricted by longer homeownership tenure, baby boomers aging in place, and hesitancy from potential sellers who may be concerned about finding another home in these competitive market conditions.

New construction has often been an option for those looking to sell their existing home; however, due to rapid increases in material costs — especially lumber — coupled with supply chain disruptions, not only are new construction homes more expensive, some builders have held back available inventory until they are closer to delivery so they can price the property based on final materials costs. As a result, new construction home prices reached a median sales price record of $544,986 in May 2021 — an increase of 16.0% from the previous record of $469,900 in April 2021.

With delays in new home delivery, demand for existing homes that are ready to move-into, further increased. Prices followed suit with nearly 70% of buyers willing to pay over list price for existing homes in May 2021, compared to 30% from a year ago. This led to a new record median sales price for the existing segment of $523,250, up 8.7% from the previous record of $481,208 in April 2021.

However, the amount buyers were willing to pay over list price varied by the price point of the home, with the most expensive homes selling for the highest amount over list. For homes that sold at or above $750,000, buyers were willing to pay nearly $80,000 beyond list price, on average, in May 2021, putting additional upward pressure on the overall median sales price.

Average Paid Over List Price - Existing Homes - Ada

The speed at which Ada County homes went under contract also accelerated, as the average number of days between when a home was listed for sale and an offer was accepted dropped to a record low of 12 — two days faster than in April 2021. Existing homes had accepted offers within just nine days, on average, the shortest amount of time on record, and 10.0% faster than last month.

The drastic rise in home prices and competitive market conditions can be challenging for those looking to get into the market, particularly at the lower price points. Some may decide to wait awhile before starting their home search or continue to save for a down payment to improve their purchase options, while others may consider expanding their search area for homes farther from the Boise metro. But for those who are ready to buy, we want to stress that while it's taking more work to purchase a home right now, it isn't impossible to buy a home in the Treasure Valley. We have hundreds of sales closing just in Ada County every month and working with a REALTOR® is your best bet to help guide you through the fast and complex process.

When you're ready to start your home search, your REALTOR® will likely present a buyer representation agreement, giving them permission to work on your behalf, including the ability to write, present, and negotiate offers for you, once you find a home you'd like to purchase. Additionally, your agent can advise you on search strategies to find homes that fit your needs and budget and discuss the financial and legal implications of presenting offers over list price or that may waive certain contingencies like an inspection or appraisal, and whether those tactics are right for you and your specific situation.

Stages of a Real Estate Transaction

In each of our reports in 2021, BRR is focusing on the various phases of a real estate transaction to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market. 

To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for May, CLICK HERE.

 

May
18

Pets and Plants - What's Not Safe?

Boise North End

Now that spring has arrived, many of us are welcoming tulips, daffodils, and other perennials to our gardens. After a gray and gloomy winter, the bright blooms are a glorious sight!

Local stores and greenhouses are overflowing with colorful flowers, creating the yearly hustle to get pots and beds planted to adorn our homes. It's hard to believe that these beautiful posies could cause our pets harm, but, sadly, many can cause intestinal upset, and some can lead to death.

When making your shopping list, here are some spring plants that can cause serious harm to your four-legged family member. If you have any of these perennials/bulbs planted where your fur-kids can get to them, you might consider moving them to a different location.

All Lilies

Both blooms and leaves can result in kidney failure in cats. Many varieties, including peace lilies, calla lilies, and autumn crocus are dangerous to dogs, as well.

Daffodils

These beauties (including paperwhites and narcissus) contain lycorine that can be poisonous to pets. The toxins are primarily in the bulbs but leaves and blooms can also cause cardiac arrhythmias and convulsions.

Geraniums

Common in hanging baskets and pots, geraniums can cause skin rashes, low blood pressure, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Tulips

Like daffodils, most of the toxins in tulips reside in the bulbs, however, the rest of the plant can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling.

Begonias

Popular for their ease of growth, begonias can thrive in many conditions, but can cause serious burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips.

Azaleas

Ingesting any part of this plant can result in vomiting, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

For printable lists of toxic and non-toxic plants, visit ASPCA.org.

May
13

Housing Market Pace and Prices Pick Up in April

Our Area's Insufficient Supply of Homes Continues to Affect the Market Pace and Home Prices 

By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

 

Note: Last year, our April 2020 market report showed a nearly 20% drop in sales year-over-year in Ada County, a figure not seen since 2011. This did not come as a surprise as REALTORS® and consumers heeded the statewide stay-home order that was in place at that time, and as anticipated, sales rebounded as we moved through the phased re-opening plan. Since there will be stark fluctuations when comparing activity this year to last year, we will present any year-over-year comparisons with both 2020 and 2019 figures, where applicable, but focus on month-over-month changes in the next few reports.

+++

The speed at which Ada County homes went under contract accelerated in April 2021 as the average number of days between when a home was listed for sale and an offer was accepted dropped to a record low of 14 — 36.4% faster than in March 2021. Existing homes had accepted offers within an average of just 10 days — 28.6% faster than last month.

The fast pace of the market was due to the insufficient supply of homes for sale compared to buyer demand. This imbalance in supply versus demand, as well as the fact that nearly 70% of buyers of existing/resale homes paid more than the list price last month, put upward pressure on home prices. The median sales price in April reached a record $489,000 for existing/resale homes — up 2.8% from March 2021.

Another factor impacting price was the historically low mortgage rates, which enabled some buyers to purchase at these higher price points, or, allowed them to increase their offers to be more competitive. In April 2021, the 30-year fixed rate was at 3.1%, on average, compared to 3.3% in April 2020 and 4.1% in April 2019.

As more homes sell above the listed price, many sellers rely on research provided by their REALTOR® to set the price initially and what they will accept.

REALTORS® offer sellers guidance when it comes to setting their list price by comparing similar homes that recently sold nearby or are currently on the market, making adjustments for square footage, upgrades, amenities, location, and so on. Your agent might suggest various pricing strategies to ensure the home is listed within common price range searches to get in front of more buyers, or, suggest a price below similar market comparables to encourage more offers, which often results in higher sales-to-list price ratios or multiple offer situations.

Ultimately, the decision on what the property will be listed for is made by the seller based on their goals, and the sold price is determined by what buyers are willing to pay.

New construction home prices also reached a median sales price record of $469,900 in April 2021 — an increase of 1.9% from March 2021. In addition to buyer demand, prices for new homes reflect the ever-increasing cost of materials, especially lumber. Using the most recent data available, through March 2021, the national price of lumber and wood products increased by 28.8% since 2020, and by 30.5% since 2019.

These costs are being passed along to homebuyers, and due to the uncertainty in the availability and price of materials, some builders are holding back available inventory until they are closer to delivery so they can price the property based on the actual build cost.

Producer Price Index by Commodity - Lumber and Wood Products

But because some prospective sellers are also holding back existing homes from the market — sometimes due to concerns over COVID-19, but more often so they can find their next home before listing their current one — the extreme lack of existing supply has made new homes less expensive, on average, than existing homes for the past three months.

These unprecedented trends of new homes selling for less than existing homes, the willingness of buyers to pay over list price, and the record fast market times illustrate the incredible demand we've been experiencing, driven by low rates and insufficient supply.

One trend we hope to see continue was the uptick in inventory between March and April. The number of homes for sale was up 22.4% month-over-month with 361 homes available at the end of April. Additionally, another 671 homes became available and went under contract during the month, for existing and new construction combined. While the market is moving fast, these figures show that inventory is available.

If you're considering selling, reach out to a REALTOR® today to get current and hyper-local research to guide your list price decisions and to expose your home to the widest pool of potential buyers through the multiple listing service.

Stages of a Real Estate Transaction

In each of our reports in 2021, BRR is focusing on the various phases of a real estate transaction to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market. 

To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for April, CLICK HERE.

 

May
11

From Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

 

 

Job Gains See a Startling Plummet Lowering Mortgage Rates

This past week marked disappointment in the labor market as job gains see a startling plummet. The major economic data accompanied by Friday's labor market report fell well below analyst expectations. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week lower.

Why Did We See Such a Shortfall in Job Gains?

The monthly employment report was highly anticipated. Without a doubt, the report saw an enormous miss, but the reason why is far less clear. In April, job gains saw a surprising downturn when the economy gained just 266,000 jobs. Thus, job gains notched far below the consensus forecast of 975,000.

To make matters worse, the unemployment rate increased to 6.1%. Therefore, the unemployment rate rose above the consensus for a total decline to 5.8%.

Now, investors debate the cause of the shortfall. Whereas some believe it is due to unexpectedly slow job creation by companies, others feel that there is a lack of available workers to fill positions.

While job gains experienced this decline, the average hourly earnings showed positivity. Analysts consider average hourly earnings to be an indicator of wage growth. In April 2021, earnings rose 0.7% from March. Due to this outcome, average hourly earnings slightly increased above the consensus forecast.

However, they still were only 0.3% higher than a year ago, down from an annual rate of increase of 4.2% last month. The rapidly shifting proportion of higher paying and lower paying jobs in the U.S. has made average wage growth highly volatile in recent months.

Manufacturing Fell Short of Forecasts

Aside from job gains seeing a startling plummet, there were a couple of other significant economic reports released this week from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). However, they also fell short of the forecasts.

The ISM national manufacturing index unexpectedly dropped to 60.7. This statistic is well below the consensus forecast of 65.0. Similarly, the ISM national services index fell to 62.7. Once again, the data declined below the consensus of 64.0.

Overall, these two reports did not meet the elevated expectations of investors. However, levels above 50 indicate that the sectors are expanding. In conclusion, both reports remained quite strong by historical standards.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead after the surprising drop in job gains, investors still monitor global COVID-19 case counts and vaccine distribution.

Beyond that, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) releases on Wednesday. Analysts and investors widely follow the CPI monthly inflation report. They use this data to gauge the price change for goods and services.

Retail Sales comes out on Friday. Since consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, retail sales data is a key indicator of growth.

Commentary provided by MBSQuoteline

For answers to your questions regarding this information and what it might mean for you, please don't hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!

 

April
19

Malware & Viruses are Increasing!

 

Keep Your Online Information Safe

From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

During this time people are conducting a lot of business via email, spending money online, and trying to find information online. Please be vigilant when opening emails, browsing the internet, downloading free software or games, and clicking on links in email and on the internet.

  • Fake emails from Amazon, Paypal, TurboTax, etc. are a daily occurrence. For most users, your spam filtering on your email account picks these types of emails up.  However, some do get through.  Please be extremely cautious opening these emails or downloading attachments from them. Please check the email address first and foremost, if the email does not line up with the company, mark it as junk and disregard.  Then mouse over (DO NOT CLICK ON) the links in the email; do they take you to a legitimate website? If not, mark it as junk and disregard.  If you have any questions about the validity of an email you can always send it to us at info@integrityidaho.net.  (Be forewarned, if we do not respond within 24 hours, it may have gone into our own junk folder.  Please call our office for a follow-up if necessary.)
  • Malicious pop-ups on the internet are worse than ever. They usually take over your computer, are very loud with either an alarm or voice telling you your computer is infected, and request you call a number for "tech support".  Usually, a simple reboot can clear this from your machine.  First, try CTRL+ALT+Delete to correctly reboot your computer, however, in most instances, we are finding that you will have to hard reboot, aka push the power button until the computer shuts down. After you reboot and go back on the internet, make sure to click the option to NOT restore the previous session. 
  • Browser hijackers are also increasing.  You go to a website or download a program and it asks to install an extension… you allow it and then your entire browser is infected.  In many instances, we are having to reload computers due to these, as they sometimes install extensions in your internet browser and affect your registry.
  • Click-bait articles, product advertisements, and videos are also a rising nuisance as people try to seek out information on Covid-19 and the correlating vaccines.  If it seems outrageous or too good to be true, please do not click on it! Only click on trusted sources only when searching for information or buying products.

    If you have any questions about updates, pop-ups, emails, or need a clean-up, this can be done remotely.  Please contact our office via phone at 208.288.4345 or email info@integrityidaho.com if you need immediate assistance.

    April
    19

    How the Service Sector Growth Fuels the Expanding Economy

     

     

    This week's story focused on how the service sector growth fuels the expanding economy. Across the board, the United States realized market growth and increasing inflation. Despite the strong data, mortgage rates ended the week slightly lower.

    Service Sector Growth Affects Mortgage Rates

    The most significant economic report this week exceeded expectations by a considerable amount. The ISM national services index jumped from 55 to 64. This result is far above the consensus forecast of 59. It is also the highest ISM national services index level ever recorded.

    The service sector accounts for more than 75% of the United States' economic activity. Readings above 50 indicate that the United States economy is expanding. Thus, the service sector growth tends to have a substantial impact on mortgage rates.

    Service Sector Growth Dovetails into Employment Data

    Last week's key Employment data revealed that companies are hiring back workers. This is taking place after companies laid off numerous employees throughout the coronavirus pandemic. However, Tuesday's JOLTS report pointed to exceptional strength in the labor market and service sector growth.

    At the end of February, job openings jumped to 7.4 million. Based on analyst expectations, this statistic soared above the consensus forecast. It is also the most monthly job openings since January 2019.

    Ultimately, unfilled positions reflect increased demand for more workers, indicating labor market tightness.

    Signs of Rising Inflation

    The time during the pandemic is characterized by reduced economic activity. Overall, this led to a decline in inflation. The inflation decline is one of the chief factors lowering mortgage rates.

    Recently, the vaccine rollout moved forward. In addition, many parts of the United States economy are reopening, and this week reflected service sector growth. Investors worry that inflation may be heading higher. Subsequently, this week's data amplified those concerns.

    The Producer Price Index (PPI) is a widely followed monthly inflation report. PPI looks at the price change for raw materials and intermediate goods used to make final products. In March, PPI jumped 1.0% from February, far above the consensus forecast of 0.5%. Also, PPI rose 4.2% higher than a year ago, the highest annual rate of increase since 2011.

    As a result of the service sector growth and expanding economy, there are finally signs of rising inflation.

    Looking Ahead After the Service Sector Growth

    Looking ahead after the service sector growth, investors monitor the market for COVID-19 case counts and vaccine distribution.

    Beyond that, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) comes out and is a widely followed monthly inflation report. Mainly, CPI examines the price change for goods and services.

    Retail Sales data released on Thursday. Consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of American economic activity. Because of this, retail sales data is a key indicator of growth.

    Commentary provided by MBSQuoteline

     

    April
    13

    What's Causing Our Competitive Real Estate Market?

    Insufficient Supply Causing Our Competitive Housing Market 

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    Anyone looking to buy a home has heard of or experienced the fast pace of the real estate market. In March 2021, the average number of days between when a home was listed for sale and received an offer to purchase was 22 — 50.0% faster than in March 2020. Offers were accepted even faster for existing homes with an average of 14 days — 24.1% faster than a year ago.

    The insufficient supply of available homes compared to buyer demand is the main reason the market is moving so quickly, and the competitiveness of the market continued to impact home prices. The median sales price in March was at $475,500 for existing homes — up 35.0% year-over-year, due in part to buyers often paying more than the list price to make their offer stand out.

    REALTORS® offer guidance and expertise to sellers when it comes to list price, but ultimately the decision on what the property should be listed for is set by the seller. Further, the sold price is determined by what buyers are willing to pay and which offer is accepted by the seller. With our competitive market conditions, there are often reports of homes selling significantly over list price, which may be a part of the pricing strategy.

    On average last month, existing/resale homes in Ada County sold for approximately $18,000 over list price. If you're searching for a home, this is certainly something to keep in mind. Your REALTOR® can pull recently sold comparables to see what homes similar to what you are looking for are selling at, including how much over list. If it's a significant difference, consider reducing the top end of your price range so you're still looking at homes that could be purchased within your overall budget, where possible.

    Speaking of budget, working with a mortgage lender early on is crucial. For buyers that have credit concerns or questions about saving for a down payment, creating and implementing a plan well before you begin searching for a home will allow you to shop confidentiality when you're ready. Lenders may also help identify down payment programs or grants to help first-time homebuyers, for example, especially where affordability is a concern.

    Ryan Froehlich, President of the Idaho Mortgage Lenders Association Boise Chapter, noted that "one of the main drivers of housing affordability are interest rates, which have pushed up off of the historic lows experienced during much of 2020, however, continue to be very low giving borrowers strong buying power. Rates fluctuate daily and a great indicator for rate movement is to watch 10-year treasury bond yields, which as of this past week have been pointing to a slight downward trend in rates. With that said, if you have a property under contract the recommendation is to lock your rate as the bond markets can be dynamic. As the number of COVID-19 vaccinations continues to build and the economy continues to open back up there looks to be more pressure on upward rate movement, hopefully in a gradual and natural fashion."

    Historically low rates are continuing to drive demand from prospective home buyers, along with rising rental costs. As reported by KTVB, "Boise rent has gone up 16% since March 2020, according to a study done by Apartment List. The study also said Boise rent rose 3.4% in March 2021." Additionally, the desire to own a home and move away from rentals – in some cases from larger metro areas, due to COVID-19 – have also been factors increasing home buyer demand.

    Looking at our March 2020 report, we were unsure of the impact the pandemic would have on the local real estate market, which we now know has roared back despite a few months of limited activity last year. We will do our best to provide context to year-over-year figures in the next few months of reports – keeping in mind that sales activity for April and May, in particular, might look high in comparison to 2020 since sales were dampened in those months as a result of the statewide stay-home order.

    Although real estate was deemed essential in Idaho, the level of general uncertainty put a lot of home buyers and sellers on pause. In July, we began seeing year-over-year increases in existing/resale sales, while listing activity remained below 2019 levels throughout most of last year. This, compounded with the overall trend of year-over-year declines in existing inventory since 2014, further contributed to the insufficient supply compared to the demand problem we find ourselves in today.

    However, there are still homes available for purchase, even if they are selling quickly or over list price. These competitive conditions mean it is imperative for prospective buyers to work with a REALTOR® to help them through the process. Sellers, too, are finding that their REALTORS® provide tremendous value in helping them determine the best pricing strategy based on current market conditions specific to their property and managing multiple offer situations.

    If you are considering buying a home soon or anytime this year, talk to a REALTOR® right away. Together, you can make a plan that works best for your timeline, especially if you need to coordinate selling your current home and would like to negotiate a rent-back agreement.

    In this pre-purchase stage, your REALTOR® and mortgage lender will advise you on what's needed to prepare your search process, such as qualifying for a mortgage, firming up your down payment funds, establishing your search criteria, and timeframe. They can also prepare you for the financial and legal implications related to a home purchase, most importantly what to expect when making offers, including offers over list price, ways to compete with cash offers, how to avoid fair housing violations by skipping the buyer "love letter", holding off on any large purchases or credit pulls to protect your loan qualification, and discussing any contingencies that a seller may request be waived, such as an inspection or appraisal, and how that may create risk for you… and more.

    Stages of a Real Estate Transaction

    In each of our reports in 2021, BRR is focusing on the various phases of a real estate transaction to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market. To find a REALTOR®, please visit realtor.com/realestateagents.

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for March, CLICK HERE.

     

    March
    16

    From Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

     

     

    The Tide May Be Turning for Mortgage Rates and Inflation

    Overview: Over the past week, investors remained focused on the incoming economic data, the vaccine rollout, and government stimulus spending. Mortgage markets continued to be volatile, but rates ended the week with little change.

    Two key reports from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) are closely watched by investors each month, and the latest data contained mixed results. The ISM Manufacturing Index rose to 60.8, above the consensus forecast of 59. This was up from a low of 41.5 in April 2020 and matched the highest level since 2004. By contrast, the ISM Services Index declined to 55.3, well below the consensus forecast of 58.5, reaching the lowest level since May. Readings above 50 indicate an expansion, meaning that both sectors are growing. However, manufacturing has been steadily rebounding in nearly every area, while certain services, such as hospitality, are still constrained by the pandemic.

    The reduced economic activity resulting from the pandemic caused a significant decline in inflation last year, which was one of the factors responsible for record-low mortgage rates. However, investors are now worried that the trend may have reversed due to improving economic conditions. In January, the core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index was 1.5% higher than a year ago, above the consensus forecast and up from an annual rate of increase of 1.4% last month. The core PCE Price Index is the inflation indicator favored by Federal Reserve officials, and, as such, it more heavily influences monetary policy than other inflation measures.

    For more detailed economic information, or to discuss how this affects you, please contact one of our mortgage loan officers by clicking the image below!

    Commentary provided by MBSQuoteline

     

    March
    16

    Is This The Year You Should Upgrade Your Kitchen?

    Kitchen Upgrade Tips

    Many people call the kitchen the heart of the home, and it's easy to see why. It's used by multiple family members throughout the day and becomes a gathering spot for family and friends. And as people spend more time at home, this year is the perfect time to make your kitchen more appealing to yourself and your family as well as to prospective buyers if you're selling your home.

    If your kitchen is outdated, an upgrade can improve its appearance and make it easier for you to complete your food preparation tasks. Our real estate agents suggest the following ways to upgrade your kitchen this year:

    • Appliances that feature germ-control  
      Several manufacturers – including LG Electronics and Whirlpool – are set to roll out products that remove germs and allergens. LG, for example, has a refrigerator that uses ultraviolet lights to sterilize. And Beko Electrical Appliances Co. has a fridge that has a disinfection drawer.

    • Lower-maintenance faucets, fixtures, and more 
      COVID-19 has also made homeowners prioritize cleanable kitchen finishes, and in some cases, microbial. Look for coated finishes like smudge-resistant stainless steel and countertops that are non-porous and stain-resistant. In some cases, countertops and other frequently touched surfaces can be antimicrobial.

    • Large kitchen islands   
      With more people staying at home, having room to prep for a meal is more important than ever. That's why homeowners want to add a kitchen island or improve the one they already have. If you choose to upgrade your kitchen with an island, make sure it features storage in the form of shelving, cabinets, or pull-out drawers.

    • Updated hardware  
      You probably don't pay much attention to your kitchen hardware. But if your knobs, pulls, and faucets are outdated, you can easily – and inexpensively – replace them to have a big effect on your kitchen's appearance. New hardware can give your kitchen a more modern, attractive look that creates an instant update.

    • A fresh paint job   
      Painting your kitchen yourself or paying someone to do the job can make your kitchen look newer as it provides an instant refresh. Especially if you don't have much natural light in the room, using a lighter or brighter color can instantly give your kitchen a boost. If you're selling your home, it's best to stick to a relatively neutral color.

    • Upgraded cabinets  
      Cabinets are workhorses in the kitchen, so if something about them has left you less-than-satisfied in their appearance or performance, now's the time to upgrade. Your cabinets don't need to be completely redone to achieve these results – often, a refreshed paint job will be enough to improve their appearance. You can also fix issues such as squeaky doors, chipped paint, and loose handles to help restore your kitchen into a point of pride.

    • New backsplash   
      Installing a new backsplash is a relatively simple and inexpensive task that can have a big impact. Metal tiles, glass, and other materials can be used to make your home's backsplash look sleek and attractive.

    • Modernized lighting   
      Many kitchens have outdated lighting, which negatively impacts the entire appearance and functionality. Choosing upgrades such as pendant lights or interior cabinet lighting can instantly make your kitchen brighter and focus light exactly where you need it.

    Contact us if you're interested in listing your home. Our experienced, knowledgeable agents can suggest upgrades that will make your kitchen and home more attractive to prospective buyers while providing a good return on your investment.

    March
    12

    Beware of Fake Tax Websites

     

    Millions of Dollars are Lost Each Year to Tax Scams

    From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

    The IRS provides a comprehensive list of things to look out for here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts

    However, we are noticing a new trend on the rise; fake tax websites that mimic or look similar to TurboTax, or other popular online tax filing services.   We are also seeing a rise in phishing emails and malicious pop-ups claiming to be from these well-known tax filing sites.

    What can you do to protect yourself and your tax information?

    1. Make sure your computer is updated before starting and logging into any online tax service.
    2. Make sure your computer is clean before starting and logging into any online tax service. We recommend that you run malware removal software each time you login to any online tax program. (MalwareBytes is a free malware removal program that can be downloaded here: https://www.malwarebytes.com/mwb-download/ Select your operating system under the home section and install.)
    3. Do not visit a tax site from an email or advertisement on Google. Check the web address and make sure you are going to the correct site.  All tax sites have an SSL which means there is security on the site for logging in.  The address should always start with https:// Be cautious of any numbers, letters, or weird domain extensions in the web address.
    4. Do not click on any or call any numbers from popups that say they are from customer support.
    5. Be careful when calling for support, call the number from the tax filing website, not the ones from Google search results.
    6. When saving a copy of your tax return, password protect it. This can be done with Adobe Acrobat (not Adobe Reader) or by putting it into a zip file. Or print and save a paper copy in a secure location.

     

    Please call our office at 208-288-4345 or email us at info@integrityidaho.com if you have any questions or would like an appointment to help with any of the above.

    March
    15

    Quick Sales & Home Prices Driven By Insufficient Supply

    Insufficient Supply & Rising Home Prices Continue 

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    Builders and prospective home sellers have been unable to keep up with the persistent demand from homebuyers, stemming from general population growth, Millennials "aging into" the traditional homeownership years, in-migration due to our comparative affordability, and now, the ability for many to work from anywhere.​

    These reasons, coupled with historically low​ mortgage rates, have resulted in buyer demand outpacing supply for years, which has been driving​ the growth in home prices and increasing the speed of the market.​ In February 2021, the median sales price was $452,400 — up 25.5% year-over-year — and the average days on market metric was 19 days — down 62.0% year-over-year.

    Rising home prices are good news for​ prospective sellers, allowing them to utilize​ any equity gained to help with the purchase​ of their next home or a variety of other opportunities. According to a recent Homeowner Equity Insights report from CoreLogic, Idaho ranked second among all states in which homeowners gained the most equity between 2019 and 2020, $48,500 on average year-over-year.

    Despite the equity sellers may bring to their next purchase, the tight supply of inventory has made some hesitate to put their current home up for sale until they find their next one.

    At the end of February 2021, there were just 168 existing homes for sale — 51.2% fewer than in February 2020. However, there were 65 more homes for sale at the end of February than in January, an increase of 63.1% month-over-month, which we hope is an early indicator of more inventory coming online as the weather warms up.

    Looking at weekly activity through the second week of March, new listings were nearly even with 2020 and just below 2019. This is a trend BRR will continue to monitor, keeping in mind any year-over-year comparisons to April 2020 will be skewed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

    For those shopping in the new construction segment, there were just 135 homes for sale at the end of February — 80.6% less than the same month last year, and a month-over-month decrease of 18.7%. However, we have heard from some builders that they are selling properties yet-to-be-built, meaning more new homes are available than indicated in the inventory counts.

    This tight supply has contributed to the fast, competitive market with homes receiving accepted offers quickly after being listed. Looking at just the existing/resale segment, in February, homes were on the market for just 10 days on average, compared to 32 days last year — a decrease of 68.8% and the fastest we have on record.

    New Listings by Week for Existing - Ada County

    If you are considering selling your home soon or anytime this year, talk to a REALTOR® right away. Together, you can make a plan that will coordinate your sale and purchase around a timeline that best suits you, keeping these fast market times in mind.

    In this planning stage and as part of this pre-sale consultation, your REALTOR® will advise you on what's needed to prepare your home, such as how to declutter, how much to invest in staging, repairs, or updates (or even if that is needed) and will then coordinate the professional marketing to help your home show best and be seen by the widest audience of potential buyers.

    Your REALTOR® can also prepare you for the financial and legal implications related to your home sale and purchase, including, but not limited to the following:

    • Determining the appropriate pricing strategy based on nearby sales and the demand for homes like yours.
    • How to best evaluate multiple offers and which contingencies you are willing to accept from buyers (or not).
    • How to avoid fair housing violations when marketing the home and evaluating offers.
    • Tips to keep you safe and your property secure as it relates to COVID-19, audio and video recording devices, property photos, and other potential risk factors.
    • Disclosure of adverse material facts that may be present on the property and whether a pre-listing inspection or home warranty may be worthwhile.
    • Ways to mitigate any capital gains tax, utilize a 1031 tax-deferred exchange or bridge loan, whether or not you should consider a leaseback… and much more.
    Stages of a Real Estate Transaction

    In each of our reports in 2021, BRR is focusing on the various phases of a real estate transaction to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market. 

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for February, CLICK HERE.

     

    March
    15

    DIY Projects Buyers Will Appreciate

    DIY Boise Projects

    DIY projects can have more of an impact than you'd think. For the cost of nothing more than your time and some inexpensive supplies, you can make your house look more put-together and appealing to prospective buyers. Here are a few easy DIY projects our real estate agents recommend.

    1. Paint the interior.
      It's amazing how much difference a new coat of paint can make, and it's something that's easy (if a little time-consuming) to do yourself. Freshen walls with new paint or cover up hard-to-sell paint colors with pleasant neutral tones. Cabinets in the bathroom and kitchen can be painted too for an easy, updated look.

    2. Match your cabinet hardware.
      What's one thing about a newly renovated kitchen or bathroom? Everything always matches. You can get that same matchy-matchy look yourself by picking out updated, matching hardware for your cabinets. It's easy to change out and will take only an hour or so. It's also a perfect way to finish off freshly painted cabinetry!

    3. Update bathroom fixtures.
      Nothing makes a bathroom look outdated faster than clunky old fixtures. Replacing the faucets in your bathroom or kitchen takes little to no plumbing expertise. With the right tools and armed with advice from home improvement store employees and online videos, you should be able to complete this simple project. The end result: attractive modern fixtures that can do a lot for the overall look of your bathrooms. And while you're at it, the same goes for your kitchen sink!

    4. Change out light fixtures.
      While you're painting and considering which neutral tone to go with, think about changing out those outdated light fixtures. Changing out lighting is a little higher level DIY but still fairly manageable if you're handy around the home. Installing updated lighting fixtures can help you to not only make your home look more modern but also dramatically improve the lighting inside your home. Better lit homes show better and will be more tempting to buyers.

    5. Freshen your landscaping.
      Another easy DIY project you can do is to add interest to your yard. If you've maintained the landscaping around your house, you may not have much to do other than freshening it up a little. But if your yard is very plain and boring, consider adding a little landscaping in a few choice places, especially in the front of the house, with special attention around the front porch. This will help brighten your home's curb appeal and make its listing stand out from other Boise homes for sale.

    It's important to be fair and honest with yourself about how much DIY you can handle, but there are plenty of easy projects you can do yourself to help improve your home's value. To consult with an agent about what your home might need before it's ready to be listed, contact us today.

    February
    16

    Economic News from Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

     

     

    Last Week's Labor Report Shows a Mixed Employment Picture

    Overview: Over the past week, news about the pandemic, government stimulus proposals, the labor market, and inflation caused some daily volatility for mortgage markets. The net effect of these influences was minor, however, and rates ended the week with little change.

    Friday's key labor market report contained mixed news, but it is clear that the pandemic has slowed the pace of hiring in recent months. In January, the economy gained 49,000 jobs, which was very close to expectations. However, revisions subtracted 159,000 jobs from the results for prior months. The unemployment rate unexpectedly plunged to 6.3%, below the consensus forecast of 6.7%. A significant portion of the decline was due to the departure of 406,000 workers from the labor force, though, which is a sign of weakness. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, were 5.4% higher than a year ago, which was well above the consensus forecast.

    The diminished economic activity resulting from the pandemic has caused inflation to fall, which is one of the factors responsible for the decline of mortgage rates to record-low levels. While investors are concerned that inflation may rise later in the year, current readings show no signs of this happening. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a widely followed monthly inflation report that looks at the price change for goods and services. In January, core CPI was just 1.4% higher than a year ago, which was lower than expected and down from an annual rate of increase of 1.6% last month.

    Lawmakers continue to negotiate the details of additional coronavirus relief measures. President Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion package, and investor expectations for the final figures vary widely. Increased government spending is negative for mortgage rates since treasury bonds must be issued to fund it, which causes yields to rise.

    Looking ahead, investors will continue watching COVID case counts, vaccine distribution, and negotiations on the size of additional government relief measures. In addition, the retail sales report will be released on February 17. Since consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., the retail sales data is a key indicator of growth.

    For more detailed economic information, or to discuss how this affects you, please contact one of our mortgage loan officers by clicking the image below!

     

    February
    15

    Our Fast-Paced Housing Market Continues in 2021

    Insufficient Inventory and Low Mortgage Rates Continue 

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    The first month of 2021 saw a continuation of 2020 trends — insufficient inventory compared to demand, faster market times than a year earlier, and persistently low mortgage rates — which combined, led to a new record median sales price of $454,000 in January.

    Looking specifically at existing homes, the median sales price was at $443,500 in January, also a record, and an increase of 30.4% from last year. For many sellers, higher home prices usually mean greater equity, which can be used for another home purchase, to fund a business, send a child to college, or a variety of other opportunities.

    For some buyers, the higher prices have caused affordability challenges, while others have found the low mortgage rates have increased their purchase power, helping them buy despite the rising prices. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 2.73% in January 2021 compared to 3.60% last year.

    Most buyers and sellers have also experienced a competitive, fast-paced market where offers and decisions must be made quickly. To understand just how fast things have been moving, we looked at the average pace of existing home sales in Ada County over the last 15 years.

    In the chart below, the gray bars show the average time between when an offer to purchase a home was accepted and when the sale officially closed. That has remained at 34 days, on average during this period, and is the stage in which the buyer and seller, with the help of their REALTOR®, lender, home inspector, and title company, work through the final mortgage approval, and any appraisals, home inspections, or repairs.

    The stage that has sped up significantly is the time between when a home is listed and when an offer is accepted, as illustrated by the blue bars falling well below 30 days by 2020. This is important to point out because it is the reason sales can be higher year-over-year despite falling inventory. Here's why: Inventory is reported as a snapshot of what is available for sale on the last day of each month, so if a home were listed on the first day of the month and then when under contract on the 17th of the month, the home would show up as a pending sale in our monthly reports but never as an active listing or available inventory. While our market is experiencing low inventory, these fast turnaround times have created a misperception that there is "no inventory."

    DOM graphic Jan 21

    This acceleration has made the market feel frantic for many home buyers. In 2015, for example, after being listed a seller could expect to accept an offer in about 43 days, on average. Prior to then, they may have fielded multiple showings, had a few open houses and had some buyers back for a second or third showing before receiving an offer. By 2020, that timeframe dropped to just 17 days, on average, meaning, if a buyer saw a home they liked, they may only have a few days, or hours even, to decide whether to make an offer as there were likely others interested.

    In January 2021, that fell even further, as the average days on market for existing homes was at just 13 days — 66.7% faster than the same month last year.

    To be competitive in these situations, many buyers have offered full list price or more, which is another reason the overall median sales price rose again. In January 2021, the percent of the original list price received on existing home sales was 103.5%, compared to 97.2% in January 2020. This indicates that multiple offer situations are becoming more common, and buyers are willing to pay more to get an accepted offer. Among existing homes, the $400,000–$699,999 price range for existing homes was the most competitive, with the percent of original list price received reaching 104% or more, in January.

    Also, as more buyers purchased existing homes at higher price points — with the biggest increase among homes selling for more than $700,000 — that further contributed to a higher median sales price in January. For example, in January 2021, just 5.5% of the existing homes that sold were for more than $700,000, compared to 15.8% in January 2020. This mix of homes sold had a significant impact in pushing up the overall median sales price for the county.

    Existing homes by price range Jan 2021

    Market statistics are helpful indicators of the housing market overall, but what does the process of buying or selling look like for the individual?

    In 2021, BRR will dig deeper into the various phases of a real estate transaction, to help consumers be prepared before, during, and after a real estate transaction, showing them what their REALTOR® will be doing for them along every step, and the key data points they can look for to make sense of the market.

    These two scenarios outlined above – faster market times and more off-market sales – make it imperative to work with a REALTOR®.

    A REALTOR® provides buyers the advice and data needed to make informed decisions quickly and may be able to identify properties that are not yet on the market. Sellers find value in a REALTOR®'s ability to help evaluate multiple offers, oversee the negotiating process, as well as all the legal, financial, and administrative steps that come after the offer has been accepted in the pending stage. And for both groups, a REALTOR® can provide guidance in planning and preparing for a purchase or listing, long before any offers are accepted or for sale signs are put up.

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for January, CLICK HERE.

     

    February
    15

    7 Things That Can Decrease Your Property Value

    Property Value BoiseEven if you're not planning to sell your home right away, it's a good idea to know how your actions affect your home's value long term. The updates you choose to do or not to do, or whether you do a repair now or put it off a while longer, can all impact how much you can sell your home for later on down the road. Here are 7 things that our real estate agents warn can decrease your property value.

    1. Poor landscaping.  
      You've probably heard how important curb appeal is when you sell your home. It's important the rest of the time, too. When you let your yard go over a long period of time, it becomes difficult and expensive to reverse the long term damage to your landscaping when it comes time to sell.

    2. Poor exterior paint.
      Curb appeal is also important when considering the exterior of your home. Specific paint colors can devalue your home by making it unappealing to buyers. Cracked and crumbling paint makes your home look run down, plus it might actually be causing damage by letting moisture get to your siding and woodwork.

    3. The wrong interior paint.
      The color you painted your walls might be your favorite color, but it's not everyone's, and bright colors especially can be a hard sell. This doesn't mean you shouldn't express your uniqueness in your own home, but unless you intend to repaint everything when it comes time to sell, choose colors that are warm and neutral.

    4. Deferred maintenance.
      Think it doesn't matter if you don't get that repair done right away? Think again. If you have a habit of putting off maintenance and repairs, the entire house will look run down, and chances are the small problems have become big ones by the time you get to them.

    5. Out-of-date or poorly updated kitchen.
      The room buyers almost universally pay the most attention to when looking at Boise homes for sale is the kitchen. Even if you don't put a lot of work into anything else, be sure to update your kitchen. Remember, the kitchen has always been thought to be the heart of the home, and buyer preferences show this to still be true.

    6. Bathrooms with bad taste.
      After the kitchen, the bathrooms are the next thing a prospective buyer tends to look at, so it's important to update them over the years. A dark bathroom with cracked tile, dirty grout, and outdated fixtures stands out like a sore thumb in today's world of bright, clean, spacious bathrooms.

    7. Garage conversions.
      Yes, it might seem like a great idea to turn that garage into more living space, but when it comes time to sell your home, prospective buyers aren't likely to think of it that way. Most buyers want garage space, or at least the ability to choose for themselves what the garage will be used for. If you're going to turn the garage into something, such as workout space, make sure it's not a permanent change.

    Owning a home is just like any financial investment: Your decisions today can have an impact years or even decades down the road. For more information about how to maximize your home's value, contact us today.

    January
    27

    Coldwell Banker Real Estate Recognized by the Women's Choice Award

    Design Trends

    Women's Choice Award® recipients have earned the 2021 award for being recommended by 9 out of 10 customers.

    by Athena Snow, Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

    MADISON, N.J. (January 25, 2021)  In a national survey conducted by the Women's Choice Award, over 85% of the Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC's female customers who have had experience with the brand say they would recommend Coldwell Banker Real Estate to their friends and family. For the fourth year in a row, The Women's Choice Award has recognized Coldwell Banker for its exceptional customer recommendation rating, earning the brand the coveted 2021 Women's Choice Award®

    The exclusive set of products and services that earn the award have the honor of touting the Women's Choice Award designation, honoring their achievement as having 9 out of 10 of their female customers highly recommend them. As recommendation ratings are the pinnacle for determining true brand loyalty and love, the Women's Choice Award is a powerful indicator of a brand's commitment to their customers. The Women's Choice Award seal also represents Coldwell Banker's commitment to empowering women to make the best consumer choices for themselves and their families.

    The Women's Choice Award is a significant and meaningful accomplishment in real estate because women are at the heart of most transactions. Women make or influence 91% of home-buying decisions and make up two-thirds of all real estate agents. Coldwell Banker has incorporated many diversity and inclusion programs committed to the advancement of women leadership efforts, including the CB Women initiative and What Moves Her campaign, that are dedicated to making sure women are provided with opportunities for career growth.

    QUOTES

    "At Coldwell Banker, we value women in real estate. I am beyond proud to work for a brand that empowers women to take on leadership roles and strives to make the industry better. Through our work with our Inclusive Ownership program and What Moves Her initiative, we are continuously exploring new ways to support leadership development, promote shared values, and provide resources for enhancing leadership tools and capabilities for women in the industry."

     Liz Gehringer, chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate

     "Today's marketplace is more cluttered than ever, yet women have less time than ever to sift through the saturated online options and store shelves. And with women on a constant hunt to identify the best brands for herself and her family, the Women's Choice Award serves as a trusted endorsement and visual beacon of empowerment, simplifying her choices. When consumers see that other women recommend a brand, through the Women's Choice Award seal, it provides an unparalleled level of trust and validation, putting her mind at ease- and that's priceless."

     Delia Passi, founder and CEO of the Women's Choice Award

    January
    26

    Interior Design Trends to Know About in 2021

    Design Trends

    With 2020 behind us, our real estate agents are excited about the new possibilities 2021 represents. A new calendar is a blank slate, and maybe not just for you, but for your home too. So as we look to the future, keep these up-and-coming design trends in mind for your next home project. 

    1. Light Wood Tones
      A case could be made that wood is always in style. It's just the way we utilize it that changes. Lighter woods are a big design trend to watch out for in 2021. Taking a cue from Scandinavian inspiration, light woods bring a raw, natural look to any space. It's not just for floors, either. Lighter woods can help transform ceilings, shelves, cabinetry, even furniture. We love designs that let the natural light tones of the wood shine through, without dark and overpowering stains and finishes. 
       
    2. Modern Vintage Looks
      Striking a balance between the old-fashioned and the contemporary has been a growing trend that will continue through 2021. A big part of it has to do with incorporating vintage (or vintage-inspired) looks with their contemporary counterparts in a way that doesn't feel overpoweringly or artificially old-timey. Doing so creates not only contrast but balance. 
       
    3. Functional Comfort
      As we let a tough year go on its way, a desire for comfort and connection will play a huge role in shaping the biggest interior design trends of 2021. That includes an increased emphasis on soft curves, overstuffed furniture, and traditional, comforting designs. It's also about making spaces functional as well as comfortable. For example, if you have a formal sitting room, 2021 is the year to re-imagine it as a more welcoming, functional, and comforting space. 
       
    4. Bold Wall Colors
      Expect to see light and neutral walls give way to bolder tones this year. As we spend more time at home, there comes a need to introduce more life and color into our living spaces. If you're planning on repainting one or more rooms in your house this year, consider making a statement with your color choice, especially in living rooms and dining rooms. In other places (especially bedrooms), more relaxing neutrals are still the go-to choice. 
       
    5. Your Home, Your Office
      With record numbers of people working from home this year, many remote workers are discovering that they really do like working remotely. And a lot of companies are discovering that letting their employees work from home is actually a sustainable business model. We predict that more and more people will take the time to set up a truly epic home office this year. Choose a room with natural light, paint it a relaxing color, and get creative with storage options. If you weren't satisfied with your office at work, you can create your dream office at home. 

    Whether you're planning on listing your Boise area home for sale in the new year or are simply planning a DIY project to improve your own living space, we're here to help. Contact us today to learn more. 

    January
    15

    Great Tips from Integrity Computer Consulting

     

    Proper Passwords & Great Keyboard Shortcuts

    From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

    Password Best Practices

    To help safeguard your card data and personal information on sites that require a login, we recommend:

    1. Make sure your password is secure even if the site you're logging into does not require it.  We recommend using a combination of upper and lower case letters, with numbers AND special characters, and not using any recognizable words.  For example, a password of "Ilovedogsalot" can be made more secure by changing all the vowels to look-alike numbers and special characters, breaking up the actual words into something more secure: !L0v3d0Gs@Lo+ 
    2. Use two-step authentication if it is available.
    3. Get into a habit of changing your password on a schedule (especially if it is a site that houses financial information or credit card numbers), even though it is a pain, we recommend changing passwords every 30-90 days. 
    4. Do not use the same password for every site. Make each password different (even if it is off by one or two characters) and keep a record of it.
    5. Write your passwords down or consider using a reputable password keeper like LastPass (www.lastpass.com).

     

    Tech Tip – Keyboard Shortcuts

    Keyboard shortcuts can make quick work of a lot of things.  They can be valuable when right-click on your mouse doesn't bring up what you want it to, or your mouse is not working.

    Some of the most common keyboard shortcuts are listed below.

    Press this key

     To do this

    F1

    Display Help

    Ctrl + C

    Copy the selected item

    Ctrl + X

    Cut the selected item

    Ctrl + V (or Shift + Insert)

    Paste the selected item

    Ctrl + Z

    Undo an action

    Ctrl + Y

    Redo an action

    Ctrl + A

    Select all items in a document or window

    Ctrl + P

    Print

    Delete (or Ctrl + D)

    Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin

    Shift + Delete

    Delete the selected item without moving it to the Recycle Bin first

    F2

    Rename the selected item

    Ctrl + Right Arrow

    Move the cursor to the beginning of the next word

    Ctrl + Left Arrow

    Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous word

    Ctrl + Down Arrow

    Move the cursor to the beginning of the next paragraph

    Ctrl + Up Arrow

    Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous paragraph

    Ctrl + Shift with an arrow key

    Select a block of text

    F3

    Search for a file or folder

    Ctrl + Mouse scroll wheel

    Change the size of icons on the desktop

    F4

    Display the address bar list in Windows Explorer

    Shift + F10

    Display the shortcut menu for the selected item

    Ctrl + Esc

    Open the Start menu

    F10

    Activate the menu bar in the active program

    Right Arrow

    Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu

    Left Arrow

    Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu

    F5 (or Ctrl + R)

    Refresh the active window

    Alt + Up Arrow

    View the folder one level up in Windows Explorer

    Esc

    Cancel the current task

    Ctrl + Shift + Esc

    Open Task Manager

    Ctrl + Alt + Delete

    Lock the Computer, Switch User, Sign out, Change Password, and Open Task Manager

    Shift when you insert a CD

    Prevent the CD from automatically playing

    Windows logo key

    Open or close the Start menu.

    Windows logo key  + Pause

    Display the System Properties dialog box.

    Windows logo key  + D

    Display the desktop.

    Windows logo key  + M

    Minimize all windows.

    Windows logo key  + Shift + M

    Restore minimized windows to the desktop.

    For a full list of keyboard shortcuts for all operating systems and common programs visit:

    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12445/windows-keyboard-shortcuts

    If you have any questions about anything above, would like help with your Mac, need help installing or uninstalling any programs, removing malware, or viruses, you can always check in with us! These things can also be done remotely. Please contact our office via phone at 208.288.4345 or email info@integrityidaho.com if you need immediate assistance.

    January
    18

    Your Guide to the Colors of the Year for 2021

    Colors of the Year 2021

    Color makes a huge difference in the appearance of your home's interior and exterior, with few changes making such a huge impact for a relatively small amount of money. 2021's colors of the year have been named by paint companies and color experts, and they're inspired by the need to create a sense of calmness, wellbeing, and optimism after a trying 2020.
      
    Our real estate agents share the colors of the year for 2021 and suggest some of the best ways to use these hues on the inside and outside of your home:  

    1. Aegean Teal   
      Paint company Benjamin Moore has named Aegean Teal, a soothing blend of blue and green with subtle hints of gray, as its color of the year for 2021. It's a versatile mid-tone rich enough to impart a good amount of color, but it also has an earthy quality. Radiating warmth and wellbeing, the color is comforting, and according to Benjamin Moore, it makes the home feel more like home. Try using it as an accent color on a wall or in a small room, or paint your front door in this cozy color.
        
    2. Moss Green 
      This natural-looking color can work with a variety of styles. Use it in rooms with wood and natural fibers, and moss green brings a touch of nature's tranquility.

    3. Beige 
      Beige brings a feeling of comfort to a home, and it's expected to be popular in 2021. Different textures will help beige stand out, and it pairs well with decorative elements in darker tones.

    4. Euphoric Magenta   
      Behr's Euphoric Magenta is reminiscent of jewel tones and adds a touch of sophistication to your home. Despite its richness, it's a soothing shade that can be used successfully on only one wall or throughout the room.

    5. Ultimate Gray and Illuminating
      Pantone has chosen two colors of the year for 2021 – Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. Ultimate Gray is a solid, dependable color inspired by natural elements like pebbles on a beach, while Illuminating is a warm, cheerfully vibrant yellow. These colors work well together in areas like the kitchen, where Ultimate Gray walls or cabinets can be accented with canisters or other accessories in bursts of Illuminating yellow. The colors can also be used on the front door, with Illuminating being used to brighten up the door and Ultimate Gray used on exterior finishes.

    6. Orange  
      Somewhat surprisingly, orange can be a great addition to your walls. An intense shade of orange is lively and is best used on an accent wall, and a more subtle pastel shade can be used more liberally to bring a touch of summer to your home.
        
    7. Off White    
      Basic and traditional, off white is about as versatile as it gets. It provides comfort and tranquility and has a warmth that the purest shades of white don't have. Off white can be used in any room since it creates the perfect backdrop for virtually any color scheme.
        
    8. Turquoise
      Cheerful turquoise works well when it's combined with neutral colors. When combined with ocher (pale yellowish-brown) elements and furniture, it creates an appearance of warmth and sophistication.

    Contact us to see Boise homes for sale, and if you'd like to sell your existing home, we can suggest the best ways to make it more appealing to prospective buyers with updates that will provide the best value. 

    January
    13

    Ada County Real Estate in 2020 - An Overview

    2020 Ada County Real Estate Market Outpaced Previous Years Despite COVID-19

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    We cannot have a 2020 review without first addressing the impact that COVID-19 had on the real estate market locally. 

    The year started strong with January 2020 sales 21.5% higher than in January 2019 but began to taper off in February and March as the uncertainties of the pandemic made their way to our local market. In April and May, when our spring market typically begins to ramp up, sales activity dropped by 19.5% and 29.7%, respectively, because of the government-mandated shutdowns and restrictions.  

    Sales began to pick up in June, then jumped 22.0% year-over-year in July, and remained elevated through November, compressing nearly a year's worth of activity into just six months. 

    Despite the many challenges to buying and selling homes during the pandemic, home sales were able to continue due to a greater adoption of virtual technology for showings which limited in-person activities, as well as additional steps taken by REALTORS® to protect clients and properties when meeting in person, couldn't be avoided. 

    In total, 11,728 homes sold in Ada County in 2020 — 5.2% more than in the previous year. The only other time we saw more sales in one year was in 2005 which had 11,974 sales. This represents existing and new construction combined. 

    Low Mortgage Rates Increase Purchase Power 

     Historically low interest rates allowed home sales to quickly recover and then outpace 2019 levels. According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the U.S. was at 3.11% on average in 2020 — the lowest ever based on data going back to 1971. These low rates increased purchasing power for buyers, allowing them to buy despite rising prices, and in some cases, compete in multiple offer situations. 

    Home Prices Driven by Supply vs. Demand 

    A major factor that pushed home prices up was insufficient supply compared to demand, especially for existing inventory. For most of the year, the average Days on Market metric (DOM) for existing homes was at 20 days in 2020, on average, compared to 42 days in 2019. Then in October, DOM dropped to just 13 days — a record low based on data going back to 2004. This meant buyers had to act quickly and write a competitive offer when they found a home. 

    On the last day of December 2020, there were just 333 homes available for sale, for both existing and new construction combined — 79.6% lower than December 2019 and a record low based on data going back to 2004. More inventory is needed to bring balance back into the market at all price points and product types. 

    This begs the question, "How can home sales be up while inventory continues to drop?"  

    Unlike the closed sales metric which reflects all homes sold during the month, the inventory metric fluctuates daily and is based on the number of homes listed as "active" in the multiple listing service on a given day. For our monthly reports, it's the last day of the month. This "snapshot" of inventory compared to a monthly total of sales is one reason we can see more closings than available inventory.  

    Additionally, once a seller accepts an offer, the home is no longer considered available inventory. With the average Days on Market at less than a month, many properties that were available during the month are not reflected in the reported inventory "snapshot" at the end of the month. 

    Factors Restricting Inventory 

    The historically low mortgage rates mentioned earlier also caused a surge in refinancing at the beginning of the year (SOURCE) which likely kept some of the existing homes that may have otherwise been listed for sale off the market. Then after COVID hit, it further reduced the number of homeowners willing to sell due to safety concerns or general uncertainty. While we cannot quantify how many homeowners held back from listing, it was something we heard often from REALTORS® throughout the year. 

    In addition to the impacts of refinancing and safety concerns, there were a variety of other reasons existing/resale inventory has been so limited. Many homeowners have delayed listing until they find their next home, which takes longer due to already limited and fast-moving inventory; some homeowners may not have felt they could "trade up" from their current home due to current prices, despite equity and low mortgage rates; or people may have been unable to manage a sale while working from home or if they had children at home for school. 

    Interestingly, the push to stay home for work and school as a result of COVID had people across the country re-evaluating where they wanted to live. Wills added, "It's no secret that Idaho has been one of the top states experiencing growth over the past few years, and the ability for many to work from anywhere brought more interest than ever, equating to even more demand for homes in our market." 

    The Role of New Construction 

    The lack of existing/resale inventory put tremendous demand on builders, and they have been responding. According to Construction Monitor, 3,336 permits were approved for new single-family homes throughout Ada County during 2020. When we compare this permit count to the 4,010 new homes that sold in 2020, it suggests that we are not overbuilding as demand is absorbing all supply that becomes available, reinforcing the need for continued building.  

    New home sales made up 34.2% of all sales in 2020, up slightly from 2019. New construction typically costs more than an existing home, due to higher increasing land, labor, and materials, so as the share of new home sales increases, it pushed up the overall median sales price. The median sales price for new construction in Ada County in 2020 was $424,995 compared to $375,000 for existing homes. Taking the two segments together, the median sales price for the market overall was $392,230 in 2020. 

    Looking Forward 

    Looking forward to 2021, the Boise Metro area continues to be among many economists' top picks for markets that should see continued growth. The National Association of REALTORS® even included Boise in their list of markets that are "expected to perform well in a post-COVID-19 environment." (SOURCE)  

    To help balance the market out, again, we need more inventory among new and existing product. We hope to see more homeowners list in the coming months and take advantage of the ongoing demand. One additional opportunity for more existing inventory, though, comes from investors holding single-family properties. Investors should talk to a REALTOR® and tax professional to understand their options for selling their rental homes and potentially rolling proceeds into other sectors such as commercial or multi-family to diversify their portfolios. 

    A fast, competitive market like ours presents challenges and opportunities to buyers and sellers alike. Whether you're looking to buy or sell, it's never been more important to work with a REALTOR®. They will help identify potential options for purchase, connect you with a mortgage lender, help craft a competitive offer, and negotiate on your behalf, allowing you to make decisions confidently and quickly to achieve your real estate goals. 

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for December, CLICK HERE.

     

    January
    12

    Housing News from Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

     

     

    Housing Ends the Year Strong

    Overview: As usual, trading volume was considerably reduced during the last couple of weeks of the year. The market reaction to the economic news was minor, and mortgage rates remained near-record-low levels.

    The remarkable rebound in the housing market has continued. In November, existing-home sales, which account for roughly 90% of the market, were 26% higher than a year ago and near the best levels since 2006. The median existing-home price was 15% higher than a year ago, also close to record levels. The one drawback was that inventory levels were down 22% from a year ago. The number of homes for sale was at a record-low 2.3-month supply nationally, well below the 6-month supply that is considered a healthy balance between buyers and sellers.

    Sales of new homes, which make up the remaining 10% of the market, also continued at a blistering pace. In November, new home sales were 21% higher than a year ago, yet a lack of inventory has been a constraint in this area as well. Builders say that they are putting up new homes as quickly as possible, but that a lack of land, labor, and materials is limiting the pace of construction.

    Congress passed a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill, which will provide additional assistance to households, small businesses, and healthcare providers. The bill includes an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 per month and direct payments of $600 to qualifying individuals. Lawmakers continue to discuss whether to increase the amount of these payments.

     

    December
    16

    Economic Information from Our Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

     

     

    Job Gains Slow; Manufacturing and Services Remain Strong

    Overview: The past week was relatively quiet for mortgage markets. While the key labor market data was a bit weaker than expected, the other major reports were right on target, and they all caused little reaction. Mortgage rates remained near-record-low levels.

    According to the most recent data, the solid rebound from unprecedented job losses has continued, albeit at a slower pace. In November, the economy gained 245,000 jobs, below the consensus forecast of 450,000. The economy has now recovered more than half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April.

    The unemployment rate matched expectations at 6.7%, falling from a peak of 14.7% in April and a level of 6.9% last month. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, were an impressive 4.4% higher than a year ago.

    Two significant reports from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) released this week were close to anticipated levels. The ISM Services Index came in at 55.9, far above the level of 41.8 seen in April following the partial shutdown of the economy. Readings above 50 indicate an expansion. The ISM Manufacturing Index was even stronger, at 57.5. Since many consumers are spending less money on travel and leisure activities, they are buying more goods, which has boosted manufacturing activity.

     

    January
    11

    How Pet Owners Should Prepare for a Showing

    Pet Owners Boise

    Man's best friend does make for a good housemate, but unfortunately, not so much of a great real estate agent. Pets are an interesting element of the real estate process. Many of the buyers attending a showing may love animals and even have pets themselves. However, that doesn't mean that they're crazy about moving into a new home that has lingering traces of cats, dogs, or other animals. There are also those who do not like animals and aren't particularly interested in purchasing a home that once housed pets. If you're a pet owner, our real estate agents suggest these tips on how to prepare for a successful showing:

    • Step 1: Find a place for your pet.
      You definitely need to find a temporary place for your pets. First, ask your neighbors if they can watch your animal for a few hours. If they cannot, consider taking the animal to a friend or family member's house or a pet sitting service.


    • Step 2: Remove evidence of pets.
      As you prepare to stage your home, you'll need to remove all evidence of your animals. Before thinking about cleaning or damages, first, focus on physical items that either belong to your pets or represent your pets. Water and food bowls, beds and furniture, toys, and supplies, all of these items should be stored away. You may also want to remove any photos or décor that may alert prospective buyers to the fact that you share your space with an animal.


    • Step 3: Repair all damages inside.
      It's best to take care of any repairs in the home before cleaning so that you can ensure the whole home is completely clean. Go around each room and seek out damages from your pet. Keep an eye out for claw marks on the floors or furniture, wall marks where pets or their furniture rub, carpet stains, and hair clumps under furniture. If you can, throw away and replace heavily used spots like area rugs.


    • Step 4: Professionally deep clean your home.
      Though it should go without saying, you should always invest in a professional cleaning service to make your home sparkle. If you have pets, choose a cleaning service that knows how to combat animal odors and debris. Some scents may be imperceptible to the human nose, while some pet dander can linger even after a good dusting. An experienced cleaning company specializing in pets will make your home look, feel, and smell like no animals are on the lease.


    • Step 5: Repair all damages outside.
      Now that your interior has been taken care of, it's time to focus on the exterior. Many pet owners don't notice just how much of their outdoor space receive wear and tear from pets. Fill all holes in the yard and clean up any "presents" left behind. Remove all outdoor pet toys or furniture. Fix any areas where damage may be noticeable, such as scratch marks on a wooden fence or bite marks on any outdoor human furniture.

    A pet is a wonderful guest to have in your home, but you should also understand why buyers may not be wagging their tails at the thought of sharing the same space. Contact us today for more pet-proof staging advice before listing your property alongside our Boise homes for sale.

    December
    15

    The Home Identity Crisis: The Dining Room Office

     

    Storage Solutions to Make Your Dining Room Office Sparkle

    By Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company

    Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

    Remember life pre-pandemic lockdown before your dining room morphed into your zoom room, office, workstation, and study hall? Thanks to your new work-at-home lifestyle, files and papers found a permanent home on your dining room table. You probably haven't had a meal on that table, besides a quick sandwich and many lattes, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Now the holidays are here, and while we won't be hosting big gatherings this year, it would be nice to have a holiday meal with a few close family and friends in your safe bubble. It's time to reclaim and tame the dining room table! A little organizational magic, and presto! You can alleviate the room identity crisis and turn it into a beautiful two-in-one space. An office by day and a dining room by night!

    Here are simple ways to keep your dining room/office space organized and easy to clear for holiday meals:

    • Place trays on the dining room table so your work stuff has a home. At the end of the workday, simply remove the trays and…voila! There's actually a clear table when it's time for dinner.
    • Use magazine organizers for filing. Place magazine organizers on a tray. They not only keep your files tidy; they can easily be transported from the dining room. Way more efficient than stacks of papers or files, and your paperwork takes up less room.
    • Tuck a folding computer desk in the corner of your dining room. Use it as the home base for all your office trays and supplies. And when you want to completely clean-up the dining room, move your office trays into a closet or bedroom, and simply fold up the desk and remove it.
    • Use a rolling utility storage cart for office supplies and items. They easily roll away into a closet. You might call it a "miracle vehicle" as it whisks away the office items, clearing the way for holiday meals and pie.
    • Reuse a toy chest, or purchase a trunk, simply store all your office items inside. A trunk can hold and hide everything from files to your laptop. You can even choose a trunk that complements your dining room decor.

    Have fun shopping online for pretty organizers. After all, you spend a huge part of your time working, so make it enjoyable!

    With these budget-friendly storage solutions, your dining room can easily do double-duty: a functional space to both entertain and work. Your transformed two-in-one space has the added bonus of giving you peace of mind. Mindfully designing your space so it actually functions will make you feel more relaxed, organized, and in control. Here's to a unique and joyful holiday season!

     

    Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award-winning, "A+" rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.  www.northstarmoving.com

    December
    14

    Ada County Home Prices Driven by Insufficient Supply Compared to Demand

    Ada County Home Prices Driven by Insufficient Supply Compared to Demand, Fueled by Low Mortgage Rates

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    There were 887 homes sold in Ada County last month with a median sales price of $425,000 — the point at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less. This new record is a result of insufficient supply compared to persistently strong demand, fueled by historically low mortgage rates. 

    As mortgage rates have fallen, homebuyers' purchase power has increased and for some, so has their willingness to offer higher purchase prices to be competitive, which has also had an impact on the overall median sales price. 

    The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 2.77% on average in November 2020, according to Freddie Mac — down 24.3% from last year. Based on the median sales price, a buyer with this rate could expect a monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest only) of $1,565 if they put 10% down or $1,391 if they put 20% down.  

    For buyers who are selling a property and then purchasing another, their down payment often comes from the incredible equity that has built up over the past few years, as home prices have risen. However, many first-time homebuyers report securing a down payment was the most difficult task in the home buying process.  

    [NOTE: There are a variety of down payment and closing cost programs available through the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, the City of Boise, and the Boise City/Ada County Housing Authorities, among others. Reach out to a REALTOR® and mortgage lender to find out what resources may be available for your specific needs and situation.] 

    In a report from the National Association of REALTORS®, 22% of non-homeowners surveyed nationwide said that rising rents was holding them back from saving from a down payment, second only to their income level.  According to data from Apartment List.com, the average monthly rent in Ada County was at $1,106 in November, up 10.6% or approximately $106 per month compared to last year. 

    A $1,106 monthly mortgage payment, based on the latest interest rates and a 20% down payment, is roughly the equivalent of a $270,000 home. In November, 138 homes sold at or below that price, which represented 14.4% of all sales.  

    While rents remain more affordable than purchasing when looking at market averages, the pressure of rising rents and increased purchase power due to low mortgage rates is pushing many renters to become homebuyers, adding additional demand to the market. 

    As noted, 887 Ada County homes sold in November, another 1,700 were under contract and should close within the next month or so, and an additional 408 homes were listed as available inventory. 

    These numbers beg the question, "How can there be more home sales than homes available for purchase in a given month?" While we explained this in detail in last month's report, it's important to note that our inventory data is a snapshot of what's available for purchase on the last day of each month, not a cumulative total of the homes that were available for purchase throughout the month. 

    As the supply of homes remained insufficient compared to demand, and as more buyers compete for the inventory that is available, the speed of the market continued to accelerate. 

    In November, the number of days between when a home was listed and went under contract was at 13 days for existing homes (compared to 32 days in November 2019) and 29 for new construction (compared to 57 days). Meaning that properties can be listed and go under contract without ever being reflected in our inventory numbers. As long as the average days on market metric remains below 30 days, we could continue to see higher monthly sales numbers compared to available inventory. 

    A fast, competitive market like ours presents challenges and opportunities to buyers and sellers alike. We are not seeing a typical winter slow down. In fact, throw out all of your preconceived notions about the best time to buy or sellIf you're ready to enter the market as a buyer or seller, a REALTOR® will be your most valuable resource in helping you make decisions quickly, navigate

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for November, CLICK HERE.

     

    November
    16

    The National Housing Market Excels

     

     

    The Housing Market Remains Strong

    Overview: Growing concern about rising coronavirus case counts around the world was negative for stocks over the past week, but the mortgage market remained relatively quiet with rates near-record-low levels.

    The housing sector's impressive rebound from the spring decline continues to gain momentum. In September, sales of previously owned (existing) homes, which make up about 90% of the market, rose significantly more than expected to the highest level since2006 and were 21% higher than a year ago. National median existing-home prices were up 15% from a year ago.

    Inventory levels were down 19% from a year ago and remained the primary trouble spot. The number of homes for sale was at just a 2.7-month supply nationally, well below the 6-month supply that is considered a healthy balance between buyers and sellers.

    After four straight months of solid gains, new-home sales, which account for the remaining10% of the market, declined 4% in September. Despite this small dip, however, they were still a massive 32% higher than a year ago.

    Several factors have helped boost home sales activity over the last few months, including record-low mortgage rates and pent-up demand from March and April when many people were reluctant to buy or sell a home. In addition, the pandemic has caused many people to seek larger homes and less densely packed regions.

     

    November
    13

    Ada County Home Sales Remain Strong Despite Low Supply

     

    Home Sales in Ada County are Strong Despite Low Inventory

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    For years now, Boise Regional REALTORS® has reported on how the demand for homes has outpaced supply and the impact that has had on home pricesOctober 2020 was no exception as the median sales price for homes sold in Ada County was $406,684 in October, up 14.7% year-over-year, but down slightly from September 2020. 

    This was based on 1,112 home sales, aincrease of 11.9% compared to October 2019. But looking at the supply of homes for sale, according to data from the Intermountain MLS (IMLS), there were 443 of single-family homes available for purchase at the end of October, down 73.7% compared to the same month last year. 

    This begs the question, "How can home sales be up while inventory continues to drop?" 

    It's important to note that the inventory metric fluctuates daily and is based on the number of homes listed as "active" in IMLS on any particular dayFor consistency purposes, our reports use the number of single-family homes available for sale on the last day of each monthso it does not represent the total number of homes that may have been available for sale throughout the month; however, the closed sales metric reflects all homes sold during the month. 

    That one-day "snapshot" of inventory compared to a monthly total of sales is one reason we can see more closings than available inventory in our monthly reports 

    Adding to that, once a seller accepts an offer, the home is no longer considered available inventory. With homes spending an average of only 20 days on the market before going under contract, some may not make it into the reported inventory numbers.  

    Looking specifically at inventory trends for existing/resale properties, there are a variety of reasons the supply has been so constricted: homeowners delaying listing until they find their next home, which takes longer due to already limited inventory; some homeowners may not feel they can "trade up" from their current home due to current prices, despite equity and low mortgage rates; the surge in mortgage refinancing may have reduced some homeowners' monthly payments, making it more affordable compared to what they may spend on another home; and in response to COVID-19, some have delayed listing to limit the number of people in their home, or, they may be unable to manage a sale while working from home or if they have children at home for school 

    These kinds of situations are when a REALTOR® can be incredibly valuable to a homeowner in helping them understand their options. Discussing new construction opportunities for those worried they won't be able to find their next home, or explaining how virtual open houses and showings can limit in-person visits while still exposing the home to the widest pool of potential buyers can help homeowners find a path forward.

    New construction inventory was also down significantly, year-over-year, while sales were up by 16.7%. With new homes selling almost twice as fast this year than last year, similar to existing homes, it reduces the numbers captured in our monthly inventory snapshot. But as many builders have had to alter their construction timelines, with fewer tradespeople or difficulty obtaining materials (including home appliances) causing delays, some have also delayed when or how they list a home as available in IMLSSome builders are able to pre-sell units through model homes, which then later show up in our reports as a closed sale but never as active inventory. 

    The low inventory conditions have put tremendous demand on builders, and they have been responding. Between January and September of this year3,374 permits were approved for new single-family homes throughout Ada County, according to Construction Monitor, and another 380 permits were approved in October. While a few of the newly approved permits were for existing owners, most were for homes that will be available for purchase in the coming months. 

    Again, this is where working with a REALTOR® is so important for home buyers. They can help guide you through the complex process of a new buildand often, can identify new construction options before the ground has even been broken, or, for existing homes, they may have insights on those that may be getting ready to sell. So, while inventory remains low compared to demand, higher year-over-year sales show that there are properties available to be purchased. 

    NOTE: While this month's report provided an explanation on our inventory metrics, even with the variables that affect the monthly counts, the information from IMLS remains the most complete and reliable database for tracking our local housing market, helping home buyers, home sellers, and their REALTORS® make the best decisions for their unique situations 

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for October, CLICK HERE.

     

    October
    14

    From Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

     

     

    Home Sales Surge Nationwide

     

    Overview: Over the past week, the primary economic news came from the surprisingly strong housing sector. Mortgage rates experienced some volatility during the week but ended with little net change. 


    The past week's housing data has again revealed that recovery from the economic impact of the coronavirus has been much faster than anticipated. In July, sales of previously owned (existing) homes, which make up about 90% of the market, unexpectedly jumped a record 25% from May to the best level since 2006. National median existing-home prices were up 9% from a year ago. A shortage of inventory remained the primary trouble spot, as the number of homes for sale was at just a 3.1-month supply nationally, well below the 6.0-month supply that is considered a healthy balance between buyers and sellers.

    New home sales, which account for the remaining 10% of the market, also far exceeded the consensus forecast. In July, they too rose to the best level since 2006 and were 36% higher than a year ago. Unlike existing home sales, which are based on closings, new home sales measure contracts signed during the month.

    On August 12, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) unexpectedly announced that a new refinance fee of 0.5% will be assessed for cash-out and no-cash-out refinances sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after September 1. Many members of the mortgage industry quickly expressed strong disapproval of the new policy. In response, the FHFA announced on Wednesday that the implementation date for the new 0.5% fee will be postponed from September 1 to December 1 and that refinance loans with loan balances below $125,000 will be exempted.

    Looking ahead, investors will continue focusing on news about medical advances to fight the pandemic, government stimulus programs, Federal Reserve monetary actions, and the pace of the reopening of the economy.

     

    November
    9

    5 Tips for Buying a Home in a Different State

    Buying a Home in a New State

    When exploring Boise homes for sale, your to-do list will look a little different if you're moving from a different state. Interstate home purchases require careful planning and preparation to minimize the expense and hassle associated with purchasing a home while you're living in another state. Check out these helpful tips to follow to help the process go as seamlessly as possible. 

    1. Research All the Costs Associated with Living in a Neighborhood
      If you're buying a home in another state, see that you research all the costs associated with living in a specific area. It's easy to focus only on the amount of your potential mortgage payment, but this is just one portion of your housing expenses. You should also consider:
      • Property taxes
      • Housing insurance (more expensive for some neighborhoods)
      • Homeowner's association dues
      • The city's cost of living
    1. Look for Neighborhoods That Fit Your Lifestyle
      To ensure you'll be happy in your new home, you want a neighborhood that's compatible with your lifestyle. For example, if you prefer a home with lots of shops and eateries within walking distance, you're unlikely to be happy in a house that's nestled out in the country where it's a necessity to own a car. Getting a feel for a neighborhood can be tricky when you're doing the majority of your home shopping out of state. When you contact our real estate agents, tell us what you're looking for in a neighborhood. This will help us match you with properties that meet your priorities. Social media groups and online neighborhood groups are two other useful resources to help you get a better feel for the environment in a neighborhood. 
    1. Choose the Right Real Estate Agent
      An experienced real estate agent is always a valuable resource, but their expertise is even more invaluable when you're buying a property out of state. Look for a real estate agent who has extensive experience selling homes in the area you're interested in.
    1. Utilize Technology To Learn More About Potential Homes
      While a virtual tour can't completely replace an in-person examination of a potential house, it's the next best thing. Look for an agent who is willing to conduct video walkthroughs of properties that you're interested in. Don't be afraid to ask the agent to zoom in on any areas that you want to reexamine or that warrant a closer look. Virtual tours can cut down on the amount of travel associated with purchasing your new home, as they can help you decide which homes have characteristics that are deal-breakers.
    1. Prioritize Attending the Home Inspection Over Other Home Buying Milestones
      Some out-of-state buyers can't see their homes in person at all until after closing; if you can only see the home once, try to make it to the home inspection. This will give you a chance to learn about any prospective problems the home has and receive an explanation as to how the major systems work (like the HVAC system or fireplace). Your home inspector is also a fantastic resource for what items in the home will require ongoing maintenance.

    Ready to get started on your out-of-state home purchase? Contact us today!

    October
    13

    Ada County's Fast-Paced Real Estate Market Continued in September

     

    Home Prices Rise Again in September

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    Home prices in Ada County were up again in September — a result of the competitive housing market which is being fueled by low mortgage rates and limited supply compared to demand.

    The overall median sales price, including existing and new home sales, reached $409,945 last month, an increase of 17.2% year-over-year.

    According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 2.9% in September, a decrease of 19.7% compared to the same month a year ago. While the actual interest rate a borrower receives is based on a variety of factors, the very low rates, as well as increasing rents (as reported by BoiseDev) may be encouraging more people to consider a home purchase.

    One way to measure that supply vs. demand relationship is with the Months Supply of Inventory metric (or MSI) with a balanced market tracking at 4-6 months of supply. In September, MSI was at just 0.4 months, meaning, if no additional homes were listed for sale, Ada County would run out of homes to buy in under two weeks.

    Homes are also going under contract faster — another indicator of a competitive market. In September, existing homes spent an average of only 17 days on the market, compared to 26 days in September 2019.

    REALTORS® are a homebuyer's best resource to help navigate inventory options and offer strategies, as well as help sellers' field multiple offers or coordinate a simultaneous sale and purchase. They can also help connect consumers with lenders and other financial resources. Whether you are just getting started and you need help finding a lender or down payment assistance, or if you're pre-approved and ready to find your next home, a REALTOR® can provide valuable expertise and guidance.

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for September, CLICK HERE.

     

    October
    8

    Trending: Antivirus Software

     

    Steps to Keeping Your PC Safe from Viruses and Malware

    From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

     

    With our current and daily compounding reliance on technology and computers to work, pay bills, shop, attend school, etc., protecting your computer from viruses and malware is paramount, especially if you are using a PC that has Windows.  There are so many advertisements out there for so many different varieties of anti-virus software, so which do you choose?  What is the best way to keep your computer clean and your data, and, essentially, your identity, safe?

     

    Your first line of defense is keeping your computer up to date. 

    Do not ignore the notifications that pop up on the taskbar!  Windows Update and Security Center notifications are located down by the clock.  If you see the Windows Update notification displayed, left-click on it, and select your restart option to make sure updates are applied.  We do not recommend hiding the notification.  Click on Open Windows Update if you want to view the updates that are being installed. 

     

    If there is a yellow exclamation on the Windows Security shield icon, right-click on it to open the Windows Security Center

    Items or settings that need to be addressed will be listed on the next screen.

     

    The second line of defense is having virus protection.

    We recommend the free onboard virus protection that comes with Windows 10, Windows Defender.  It works very well with the firewall settings in Windows as it is a Microsoft product.  We often find that paid versions of antivirus software (McAfee, AVG, Norton, etc.) are not only system resource hogs that can and do bog down the performance of your PC, but they often cause issues with other programs and settings.  They also can be costly, and many try to rope you into automatic renewals that automatically charge your card, monthly, or yearly.  The free stuff in this case, works just as well, if not better, than the paid options.

     

    The third line of defense is having malware removal software. 

    Even with everyday, regular browsing on the internet, you can pick-up not only viruses, but straggler programs, junk, and malware; malware removal software will remove all those things.  We recommend the free version of MalwareBytes.  If you want real-time protection and can't commit to manually opening the program and scanning regularly, MalwareBytes has a paid version. However, the same applies here as well; it's a bit more of a hefty program and constantly runs in the background which can – and often does – affect a computer's performance.

     

    If you have any questions about anything above, would like help with your Mac, need help installing or uninstalling any programs, removing malware, or viruses, you can always check in with us! These things can also be done remotely. Please contact our office via phone at 208.288.4345 or email info@integrityidaho.com if you need immediate assistance.

    October
    12

    Zoo Boise - One of Idaho's Greatest Gems

     

    History, Conservation, and Fun

    There's a lot to see and do at Zoo Boise, whether you take a lunch-hour stroll, or make it a family outing. There's a fascinating history, as well as much to learn, too. You might even say Zoo Boise has definitely evolved. In fact, the zoo came about almost by accident.

     

    Exotic birds and an escaped circus chimp!

    In 1916, Zoo Boise began as a menagerie to house a collection of exotic birds and an escaped circus chimp. For the last 100 years, Zoo Boise has continued to grow, adding new exhibits and programs to become a community treasure that provides a wonderful educational and recreational opportunity for more than 340,000 visitors annually making Zoo Boise one of the largest attractions in the state.

    Unfortunately, as Zoo Boise has grown, so have the threats facing animals in the wild.  Elephants, lions, tigers, rhinos, gorillas, pandas, polar bears, and countless others—all face extinction within a couple of decades.

    For Zoo Boise, simply being a nice place to bring your family to learn about animals is no longer enough. We had to do more in order to address this crisis that threatens the world's most iconic species, the same species our children hold so dear.

     

    Zoo Boise turns the act of visiting a zoo into a conservation action!

    In 2007, Zoo Boise became the first zoo in the country to create a conservation fee. The 50¢ fee, charged in addition to the admission price, was designed to fund conservation projects taking place in Idaho and around the world. More importantly, it changed the purpose of a zoo visit—empowering visitors to help save the very creatures they were seeing.

    Additional mechanisms were created, including a conservation fee on memberships, the chance to feed a giraffe or a bear in exchange for a small fee, the opportunity to take a conservation cruise to see monkeys or feed goats and sheep in our Zoo Farm. All these little conservation fees, multiplied by our hundreds of thousands of visitors, have now generated $3 million to date for the conservation of animals around the world.

    While we all care about animals and want to protect them in the wild, knowing how to help can be a challenge. So, Zoo Boise has redefined itself as a vehicle to help our visitors save endangered species. Now, when families visit Zoo Boise, they don't just see animals, they help save them as well.

    Learn more by visiting www.zooboise.org/conservation.

     

    Gorongosa National Park Exhibit and other iconic species!

    Zoo Boise is home to more than 100 different species including lions, tiger, giraffes, sloths, penguins, bald eagle, snow leopards, spider monkeys, Komodo dragon, and red pandas.

    In 2019, Zoo Boise opened its brand new Gorongosa National Park Exhibit! Gorongosa was once one of the greatest parks in Africa but was destroyed during 25 years of war in Mozambique. Zoo Boise is part of a partnership to rebuild the park, increasing animal populations while also addressing the needs of the very poor people who live nearby.

    Besides housing amazing animals like Nile crocodiles and baboons, the exhibit also tells the story of the agricultural, medical, and education programs that are in place to partner with the people of Mozambique.

    Ever-evolving, Zoo Boise is a fantastic place for everyone in groups or by oneself. Make a plan to visit today!

    *************

    The City of Boise is closely monitoring COVID-19. Zoo Boise is following City recommended guidelines and policies for the safety of our guests, employees, and animal collection. Advance tickets may be required. Visit www.zooboise.org to learn more about current ticketing and operating guidelines and to find out what exhibits, animal encounters, buildings, and play structures are currently open or closed.

     

    October
    3

    Lowest Mortgage Rates In History: What It Means for Homeowners & Buyers

    In July, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell below 3% for the first time in history.1 And while many have rushed to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity, others question the hype. Are today's rates truly a bargain?

    While average mortgage rates have drifted between 4% and 5% in recent years, they haven't always been so low. Freddie Mac began tracking 30-year mortgage rates in 1971. At that time, the national average was 7.31%.2 As the rate of inflation started to rise in the mid-1970s, mortgage rates surged. It's hard to imagine now, but the average U.S. mortgage rate reached a high of 18.63% in 1981.3

    Fortunately for home buyers, inflation normalized by October 1982, which sent mortgage rates on a downward trajectory that would bring them as low as 3.31% in 2012.3 Since 2012, 30-year fixed rates have risen modestly, with the daily average climbing as high as 4.94% in 2018.4

    So what's causing today's rates to sink to unprecedented lows? Economic uncertainty.

    Mortgage rates generally follow bond yields, because the majority of U.S. mortgages are packaged together and sold as bonds. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to dampen the economy and inject volatility into the stock market, a growing number of investors are shifting their money into low-risk bonds. Increased demand has driven bond yields—and mortgage rates—down.5

    However, according to National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, "the number one driver of low mortgage rates is the accommodating Federal Reserve stance to keep interest rates low and to buy up mortgage-backed securities." According to Yun, "we will see mortgage rates stay near this level for the next 18 months because of the significance of the Fed's stance."6

    How do low mortgage rates benefit current homeowners?

    Low mortgage rates increase buyer demand, which is good news for sellers. But what if you don't have any plans to sell your home? Can current homeowners benefit from falling mortgage rates? Yes, they can!

    A growing number of homeowners are capitalizing on today's rock-bottom rates by refinancing their existing mortgages. In fact, refinance applications have surged over the past few months—and for a good reason.7 Reduced interest rates can save homeowners a bundle on both monthly payments and total payments over the lifetime of a mortgage.

    The chart below illustrates the potential savings when you decrease your mortgage rate by just one percentage point. When it comes to refinancing, the bigger the spread, the greater the savings.

    Estimated Monthly Payment On a 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

    Be sure to factor in any prepayment penalties on your current mortgage and closing costs for your new mortgage. For a refinance, expect to pay between 2% to 5% of your loan amount.8 You can divide your closing costs by your monthly savings to find out how long it will take to recoup your investment, or use an online refinance calculator. For a more precise calculation of your potential savings, we'd be happy to connect you with a mortgage professional in our network who can help you decide if refinancing is a good option for you.


    How do low mortgage rates benefit home buyers?

    We've already shown how low rates can save you money on your mortgage payments. But they can also give a boost to your budget by increasing your purchasing power. For example, imagine you have a budget of $1,500 to put toward your monthly mortgage payment. If you take out a 30-year mortgage at 5.0%, you can afford a loan of $279,000.

    Now let's assume the mortgage rate falls to 4.0%. At that rate, you can afford to borrow $314,000 while still keeping the same $1,500 monthly payment. That's a budget increase of $35,000!

    If the rate falls even further to 3.0%, you can afford to borrow $355,000 and still pay the same $1,500 each month. That's $76,000 over your original budget! All because the interest rate fell by two percentage points. If you've been priced out of the market before, today's low rates may put you in a better position to afford your dream home.

    On the other hand, rising mortgages rates will erode your purchasing power. Wait to buy, and you may have to settle for a smaller home in a less-desirable neighborhood. So if you're planning to move, don't miss out on the phenomenal discount you can get with today's historically-low rates.


    How low could mortgage rates go?

    No one can say with certainty how low mortgage rates will fall or when they will rise again. A lot will depend on the trajectory of the pandemic and subsequent economic impact.

    Forecasters at Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association predict 30-year mortgage rates will average 3.2% and 3.5% respectively in 2021.9,10 However, economists at Fannie Mae expect them to dip even lower to an average of 2.8% next year.11

    Still, many experts agree that those who wait to take advantage of these unprecedented rates could miss out on the deal of a lifetime. It's hard to imagine that rates may drop even lower. Positive news about a vaccine or a faster-than-expected economic recovery could send rates back up to pre-pandemic levels.


    How can I secure the best available mortgage rate?

    While the average 30-year mortgage rate is hovering around 3%, you can do a quick search online and find advertised rates that are even lower. But these ultra-low mortgages are typically reserved for only prime borrowers. So what steps can you take to secure the lowest possible rate?

    1. Consider a 15-Year Mortgage Term

    Lock in a low rate by opting for a 15-year mortgage. If you can afford the higher monthly payment, a shorter mortgage term can save you a bundle in interest, and you'll pay off your home in half the time.12

    2. Give Your Credit Score a Boost

    The economic downturn has made lenders more cautious. These days, you'll probably need a credit score of at least 740 to secure their lowest rates.13 While there's no fast fix for bad credit, you can take steps to help your score before you apply for a loan:14

    ● Dispute inaccuracies on your credit report.
    ● Pay your bills on time, and catch up on any missed payments.
    ● Hold off on applying for new credit.
    ● Pay off debt, and keep balances low on your credit cards.
    ● Don't close unused credit cards (unless they're charging you an annual fee).

    3. Make a Large Down Payment

    The more equity you have in a home, the less likely you are to default on your mortgage. That's why lenders offer better rates to borrowers who make a sizable down payment. Plus, if you put down at least 20%, you can avoid paying for private mortgage insurance.

    4. Pay for Points

    Discount points are fees paid to the mortgage company in exchange for a lower interest rate. At a cost of 1% of the loan amount, they aren't cheap. But the investment can pay off over the long-term in interest savings.

    5. Shop Around

    Rates, terms, and fees can vary widely amongst mortgage providers, so do your homework. Contact several lenders to find out which one is willing to offer you the best overall deal. But be sure to complete the process within 45 days—or else the credit inquiries by multiple mortgage companies could have a negative impact on your credit score.16


    Ready to take advantage of the lowest mortgage rates in history?

    Mortgage rates have never been this low. Don't miss out on your chance to lock in a great rate on a new home or refinance your existing mortgage. Either way, we can help.

    We'd be happy to connect you with the most trusted mortgage professionals in our network. And if you're ready to start shopping for a new home, we'd love to assist you with your search—all at no cost to you! Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

    This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

     

    September
    18

    Fraud Alert! News From Our Technology Partners

     

    Online Merchant "Brushing"

    From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

    In this day and age where many people are resorting to buying online rather than going in-store for purchases, this is becoming a rampant trend. 

    What is brushing?

    Simply put, it's receiving an unsolicited package from an online retailer.  You may have heard about the mysterious seed packages being sent from China (which the US and Idaho Dept. of Agriculture are requesting you do not plant and report the receipt of such packages to them), but it isn't just seeds.  Clothing, technology, beauty products, and sundries are often being sent to unsuspecting consumers.

    So, what is the problem with receiving these free "gifts"? It means that your personal information (such as name, address, and phone number, at the very least) is out there on the internet and being bought and sold illicitly. Online retailers are using this information to create fake reviews to boost product and seller ratings.

    What can you do?

    Notify the marketplace of the seller.  You can either keep or discard the items; that part does not matter.  However, use this as an alert to start monitoring and adjusting how you buy things and what information you are providing to anyone requesting it, both in-person and online.

    A few recommendations to safeguard your information:

    1. Be cautious about entering in personal details on any website or platform (even loyalty rewards programs). Any customer database has the constant threat of being hacked where customer database information is stolen and sold.
    2. Do not buy things from web platforms that are not retailers, such as Facebook or TikTok.
    3. Be very cautious about purchasing items from Wish or overseas retailers that have less than strict data management and information retention policies or those that cannot be enforced here in the US.  You can usually tell an overseas retailer by a very long shipping delay.
    4. If you buy from online marketplaces such as Walmart, Amazon, Newegg, or any others, check the seller reviews.
    5. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Is saving $20 on a new TV, monitor, computer, or any other purchase worth selling your personal information and having it possibly land in unsavory hands? 
    6. Be careful what you click on! This year we have the one-two punch of Coronavirus and an election.  Overzealous advertising with clickbait is extremely rampant.

    Read more here: https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/20509-brushing-scam-indicates-a-serious-problem-for-victims

    If you have any questions about any of the above you can always check in with us!  If you have an urgent need, please call or email our office.

    --------------------------------------------------

    Reminder: Coronavirus – technology cleaning best practices:  

    1. Wash your hands before and after using your own or any community computer.
    2. Regularly sanitize your own phones and computers, especially if used by multiple people.
    3. Once a week (or once a day), turn your computer off and using an alcohol swab (preferred) or Lysol wipe, thoroughly wipe down your keyboard and mouse, and really any common surface that is touched.  Make sure to get in between the keys and the scroll wheel on the mouse.  If you have a touchscreen, make sure to wipe the screen.  If you have a laptop, wipe the entire case, open and closed.  Be careful of using Lysol wipes around speakers and ports to avoid excessive moisture buildup.
    4. For phones, do the same, but be careful of using Lysol wipes around speakers and input jacks/ports to avoid excessive moisture buildup.
    5. If using Lysol or Clorox wipes, make sure to read the label and keep the surface wet for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer.

    *We are seeing an increased amount of port damage due to Lysol wipes; please be very cautious using these around the ports in your phone and computers.*

    We recommend using rubbing alcohol rather than wipes. You can find the rubbing alcohol wipes in the first aid section of most stores.

    If you have any questions about updates, pop-ups, emails, or need a clean-up, this can be done remotely.  Please contact our office via phone at 208.288.4345 or email info@integrityidaho.com if you need immediate assistance.

     

    September
    17

    From Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

     

     

    The Fed Remains Accommodative; Retail is Bouncing Back

     

    Neither the Federal Reserve meeting nor the economic data had much impact on mortgage markets over the past week. Rates again ended little changed, close to record-low levels.

    At Wednesday's meeting, Fed officials confirmed what most investors had anticipated for quite a while. In short, to help support the economy, the Fed has no plans to raise the federal funds rate for the next few years. According to the statement, the Fed will maintain short-term rates near zero until the labor market reaches "maximum employment" and inflation has risen above 2%. Officials also revised their 2020 gross domestic product (GDP) projections from June, which forecasted a decline of 6.5%, to a smaller drop of 3.7%.

    Since consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., the retail sales data is a key indicator of growth. Following large declines in March and April due to the pandemic, retail sales have bounced back rapidly, and the trend continued in August with a solid increase of 0.6% from July. Purchases of clothing and furniture were particularly strong.

    The reduced economic activity from previous months has caused a significant decline in inflation. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a widely followed monthly inflation report that looks at the price change for goods and services. In August, core CPI was 1.7% higher than a year ago. While this was up from recent levels of just 1.2%, it still was far below the readings of around 2.3% seen during the first few months of the year, prior to the pandemic.

     

     

    September
    14

    Lack of Inventory Continues to Drive Home Prices

     

    Valley Home Prices Continue to Rise Amid Low Inventory

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    The median sales price for all homes sold in Ada County in August reached $400,000, up 12.7% year-over-year, surpassing the previous high in July 2020 of $390,000.

    Our home prices continue to be driven by a shrinking supply of existing homes available for sale compared to demand, more new homes selling at ever-higher prices, increased purchase power due to low mortgage rates, and now, buyer activity being compressed into a shorter time period as a result of COVID-19.

    First, the number of existing homes for sale has trended down for years now, and there were only 239 existing homes available for purchase at the end of August. This is a dramatic decrease of 72.1% compared to the same month last year, and a record low since BRR began tracking the metric in May 2006.

    To further illustrate this imbalance, the months supply of inventory for existing homes in Ada County was also at a record low of 0.3 months as of August. For reference, a balanced market would be between 4.0-6.0 months. This lack of inventory is putting tremendous pressure on existing home prices, which reached a median sales price of $385,500 in August.

    Another factor impacting prices is the mix of sales. With fewer choices among existing inventory, many homebuyers are purchasing new construction, increasing the demand in that segment. In August, new homes made up 32.9% of all closed sales, at a median sales price of $444,900. In addition to greater buyer demand, new construction prices are being driven by rising lumber prices. According to the National Association of Home Builders, "The price of lumber has staged a staggering increase in recent months, rising roughly 80% since mid-April… [which is adding] thousands of dollars to the cost of a typical newly-built home."

    Third, the historically low mortgage interest rates are allowing buyers to purchase at higher price points. For comparison purposes, the rate in August 2006 (the market's previous peak) was at 6.5% versus 2.9% in August 2020. This has kept monthly payments at roughly the same as what they were during the previous peak in 2006, despite the increase in home prices.

    Finally, after a brief COVID-related slowdown earlier this spring, home sales rebounded in August with 1,251 homes closing during the month, up 18.9% compared to August 2019. Interestingly, closed sales year-to-date versus the same period last year were nearly even, with 7,737 and 7,547 sales, respectively.

    Off-market new inventory is allowing us to have consistent sales numbers despite low inventory. With so many buyers looking at new construction, builders can sell homes that are not yet built, and therefore, not yet reflected in the IMLS as inventory.

    In August, nearly 25% of newly built homes sold were not previously listed on the MLS showed up as a closed sale. This should give hope to homebuyers that while inventory is low, there are options available. Identifying new construction opportunities, in addition to options in the existing market, is just one more way a REALTOR® can bring value to your home search.

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for August, CLICK HERE.

     

    September
    16

    Outdoor Adventure in Boise

     

    Get into Outdoor Learning

    The City of Trees, the valley's many parks, and the surrounding foothills are rich with learning opportunities for all ages. With most of the valley's schools in some combination of online school and after a summer of social distancing and activities that were likely far from normal, parents might feel exhausted at the possibility of coming up with something new to get their kids away from the screen.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of outdoor places to explore. From area parks and the Greenbelt to foothills trails, now is one of the best times to make your own adventure.

    Identify birds common in SW Idaho – visit whatbirdsareinmybackyard.com and challenge the kids to make a list of the birds they see. If they have cameras or smartphones, encourage some picture-taking. Keep track and set out each time to add to your list.

    Take part in some autumn science – as the summer turns to fall, what changes are you seeing around your yard, a nearby park, or on your street? Keep track of where the sun is on the horizon at the same time each day for a week. How much has it changed? Ask the kids to draw pictures that include the differences the observe.

    Check out kindercare.com for some fun ideas you can all do with the leaves that will start falling soon. Make it a family affair with everyone participating. Even mom, dad, and the older kids will have fun making art, tossing maple seed pods in the air and watching the helicopters spin to the ground, and enjoying cooler evenings.

    Pack a picnic and visit Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve – Nestled between Maple Grove and McMillan and just south of Chinden, this lesser-visited park is a wonderful treasure waiting to be explored. This 44-acre park provides a haven for birds and wildlife. Well-maintained trails and educational signage provide a learning experience for the whole family. Because this is a reserve, pets are not allowed. Make note that restrooms are closed for the time being due to COVID-19.

    Take in the MK Nature Center in SE Boise – This 4.6-acre site runs along the Greenbelt offers visitors a unique view of nature tucked in the city. The StreamWalk offers underwater viewing windows so visitors can see fish in their natural habitat. Bird and wildlife viewing is plentiful, as well. There are four online lessons available that you can watch before your visit, and a mobile-friendly brochure lists 30 fun things to discover while you are there.

    Challenge yourself with the Great Boise Scavenger Hunt – Put on your walking shoes, head downtown, and learn about the history of Boise while solving puzzles and discovering treasures. The approximate two-mile course generally takes between two and three hours to complete, depending on stops in between. Using smartphones, teams (who must register/purchase tickets) will be given clues to solve about monuments, parks, statues, and more. Points of interest include the Basque Block, Freak Alley, and the Anne Frank Memorial.

    Boise and the surrounding cities have much to offer, so take a break from sitting in front of a computer screen, and go outside to play!

    August
    13

    Email Alert! Be Aware of Spam, Phishing, & Spoofing

     

    How to Spot and Protect Against Scam Emails

    From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

    Spam, phishing, and spoofing emails are not legitimate and are phishing for account credentials to your email and/or Dropbox account.  If you have entered any credentials into any link from these types of emails, please call our office so we can help you secure your accounts.

    Common Definitions of the Types of Malicious Emails: 

    Spam email: usually commercial advertising; usually a result of signing up for something; an economic solution for retailers because email is cheap and most times, free. 

    Phishing Email: an email to attempt a fraudulent activity like to steal your account information or personal information, often used in conjunction with spoofing to make the email believable.  A lot of these emails originate from hacked accounts, where a hacker or hack program has gained entry and is using the account to send out these types of email.

    Spoofing Email: the forgery of an email header/label so that the message appears to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the actual source; these can also originate from hacked accounts. Spoofing is often an issue on the recipients' side, not the sender.

    All email accounts are experiencing hacks and malicious emails.  Real estate in general gets hit hard… agents are marketed so heavily on the internet.  Your email and phone numbers are out there, along with your profession.  This is an easy target for spammers and hackers to exploit, simply because they know real estate deals with large monetary transactions.

    We can set spam filtering rules all day long to thwart against receiving these types of email, but hackers move fast; you block one email address, domain or offending IP, and then they are already on to the next. 

    So, what can you do?

    The best policy against spam/spoofing/scams is prevention with your email habits. How you handle your email account and emails are paramount.

    1. When opening emails… check the email address, is the email header/name/label for correct to the email account? 
    1. Is the sender one you know? If not, don't open any attachments or click on any links in the email, mark the sender as spam.
    2. Is the sender someone you know sending you something you weren't expecting? Call the sender and verify.  If it's not a legit email, you have then notified them of an issue and they can secure their account -or- if its legitimate, they will verify that they did indeed send what you received and you can safely open.
    1. If you suspect suspicious activity on your email account(s), please report it to us immediately so we can secure your account and stop further damage.
    2. If you get a request to reset a password or confirm account credentials, go directly to the website of the service in question.  Never reset any account credentials from links in an email.
    3. When sending documents, a good practice is a follow-up call to the recipient to let them know you what you are sending and if you password protect a document, provide them the password. 
    4. Set a protocol with your clients and let them know how you handle secure emails (like send and call) and then follow through, every time.
    5. Consider password-protecting documents that you send.
    6. Use a separate email for spam.  Set up an email that is separate from your business and personal accounts to sign up for newsletters, mailing lists, retail purchases, and the like.
    7. Run scans for viruses and malware frequently (every week or month depending on the volume of online activity or emails), but remember, antivirus like all technology, is not fail-proof protection does not protect against 100% of threats.  We like to equate antivirus to snow tires… just because you have them, does not mean you won't get stuck in the snow.
    8. Have a working backup. The majority of ransomware/cryptolocker-style viruses come from infected email attachments; the only way to restore your data is from a backup, not paying the ransom they sometimes request.

    If you have any questions about a suspicious email you can always send it to us; REMINDER: because these items are spam, they may end up in our spam filter.  If you do not receive a response within an hour or two, please call our office. 

    If you need any assistance with anything else mentioned above, this can be done at tech clinics or remotely. If you have an urgent need, please call or email our office!

    ____________________________________

    Coronavirus – Hygiene and Action Reminder

    1. Wash your hands before and after using your own or any community computer.
    2. Regularly sanitize your own phones and computers, especially if used by multiple people.
    3. Once a week (or once a day), turn your computer off and using an alcohol swab (preferred) or Lysol wipe, thoroughly wipe down your keyboard and mouse, and really any common surface that's touched.  Make sure to get in between the keys and the scroll wheel on the mouse.  If you have a touchscreen, make sure to wipe the screen.  If you have a laptop, wipe the entire case, open and closed.  Be careful of using Lysol wipes around speakers and ports to avoid excessive moisture buildup.
    4. For phones, do the same, but be careful of using Lysol wipes around speakers and input jacks/ports to avoid excessive moisture buildup.
    5. If using Lysol or Clorox wipes, make sure to read the label and keep the surface wet for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer.

    If you have any questions about updates, pop-ups, emails, or need a clean-up, this can be done remotely.  Please contact our office via phone at 208.288.4345 or email info@integrityidaho.com if you need immediate assistance.

     

    August
    17

    7 Creative Ways to Make Your Home Look More Spacious

    Tips to Make Your Home Look Spacious

    If you have plans to sell your home, solid home staging can make your property more attractive to potential buyers. Feel like your home is lacking in space or worry that it feels cramped? A few simple changes will help make your home feel roomy and uncluttered during your showings and open houses. Here are some creative ways to spruce up your home so that it feels spacious and inviting.  

    1. Opt for Light Colored Walls
      One of the easiest ways to instantly make a room look larger is to paint the walls a light color. Light colors reflect light, yielding a space that maximizes its natural light, and looks open and inviting. You don't have to stick with white when choosing a paint color. Lighter grays, blues, yellows, and greens can all make a room look bigger. 
    2. Add White Trim and Accessories to a Dark-Colored Room
      If you have a room that's a darker hue and you prefer not to change the color, you can still make the room more spacious with the addition of white trim and accessories. White floor molding and crown molding will instantly make a dark-colored room look more open. You might also add light accessories, such as an area rug or throw pillows, to maximize the effect. 
    3. Keep Your Furniture Away from the Wall 
      Make a room look larger in minutes by pulling your furniture a few inches away from the wall. Many people push furniture against the wall in an attempt to make the room look larger, but this actually has the opposite effect. 
    4. Pay Attention to Where You Hang Your Drapes and Your Shelving 
      When hanging your drapes and installing shelving, take a few moments to consider their placement. Hanging your curtain rod a few inches above your windows will make your windows (and your room) look larger. You should also select a curtain rod that's a little larger than the window to add to this effect. Your shelving should be installed at eye level or higher for the same reason. This will draw the eye upward and make the room look larger. 
    5. Integrate a Mirror into Your Wall Decor
      A mirror is a classic addition to help a space look larger. The mirror will reflect the light in the room so that it looks bigger. Mirrors also add depth, making the room look more interesting. When hanging the mirror, make sure that whatever it's reflecting is aesthetically pleasing for optimal effectiveness. 
    6. Vertical Stripes are Your Home's Friend
      Vertical stripes work to lengthen the appearance of a wall or floor, making it appear larger. A rug with vertical stripes is one option for your floors. For your walls, consider adding vertical shiplap or a print with a vertical design. 
    7. Utilize Your Home's Natural Light
      Whenever possible, avoid hindering the amount of natural light that enters a room. Homes for sale perform better with prospective buyers when they're filled with natural light. Sheer curtains are an excellent alternative if you like the look of draperies but don't want something that will hinder the flow of light into the room. Or, if you need a bit more privacy but want lots of light whenever possible, check out blinds or shades that you can open within seconds. 

    Ready to use these tips and put your home on the market? Let's get started!

    August
    12

    The Residential Housing Market in Ada County Sees Record-Setting Numbers

     

    Ada County Housing Market Sets Records in July

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    In July, the median sales price for homes sold in Ada County reached $390,000, inventory bottomed out at 743, closed sales hit a high mark at 1,402, and pending sales soared to 2,046.

    These were all new records since 2004 when BRR started tracking these metrics, and the results of the spring and summer markets being compressed into a shorter time frame after COVID-related slowdowns in March and April.

    At $390,000, the median sales price was up 11.7% compared to July 2019 and continues to be driven by the mix of sales. New homes made up 31.1% of all closed sales in July, at a median sales price of $425,000, which was up 9.1% from the same month last year.

    The median sales price for the existing segment rose as well, reaching $380,000 in July, an increase of 15.2% year-over-year. Looking more closely at the mix of sales, we see a drop in the number of homes listed and sold between $200,000-$299,999, and a sharp increase in those priced above $500,000, which pushed up the median for the segment and market overall:

    There are a number of variables at play when it comes to home prices, but the bottom line is that buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale. The existing homes that are available for purchase are often being listed and are selling at higher prices than in what we saw in 2019. Our market has faced low inventory for years now, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recession have put even more pressure on the supply/demand relationship.

    At the end of July, there was a record low 743 homes available for sale in Ada County, down 56.8% year-over-year. Of those listings, 337 were existing and 406 were new construction.

    As mentioned in previous reports, we expected a rebound in closed and pending sales due to pent up buyer demand even before the pandemic hit, so the July sales numbers did not come as a surprise. There were 1,402 home sales in Ada County in July, up 22% compared to the year before and the highest number of sales on record since we began tracking the metric in 2004.

    And don't expect things to slow down just yet: Pending sales hit an all-time high of 2,046 in July, which will be reflected in closed sales data in the coming months. The concept of a "traditional buying or selling season" has been forgotten in 2020. As the market continues to change, buyers and sellers are finding it's more important than ever before to rely on the guidance and expertise of a REALTOR®.

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for July, CLICK HERE.

     

    August
    11

    From Our Lending Partners at Idaho Central Credit Union

     

     

    The Services Sector Improves; Inflation Falls

     

    Overview

    Over the past week, the economic data continued to reflect a stronger than expected recovery following the partial shutdown due to the pandemic. Mortgage rates held relatively steady near-record-low levels.

    The major economic reports have broadly revealed a rapid rebound in June and July from the historic weakness seen in April and May, and recent data from the services sector continued the trend. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Services Index rose to 58.1, which was well above the consensus forecast of 55 and the highest level since February 2019. Services account for over two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, and readings above 50 indicate an expansion in the sector.

    The decline in economic activity due to the coronavirus has caused inflation to fall, which has helped keep mortgage rates low. In June, the core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index was just 0.9% higher than a year ago, which was down from an annual rate of increase of 1% last month. Core PCE is the inflation indicator favored by the Federal Reserve (Fed), and officials have stated that their target level for annual inflation is 2%.

    Gross domestic product (GDP) is the broadest measure of economic growth. Economists had long been forecasting massive declines of around 30% to 35% for the period from April through June due to the pandemic, and the actual report revealed that second-quarter GDP fell a record 32.9% on an annualized basis. Early estimates for third-quarter GDP growth are about 20%, which reflects the improvement in more recent economic data.

     

     

    July
    28

    Tips for Moving During COVID-19

     

    Planning on moving soon? Here are some of our top safety tips for moving during COVID-19 to protect your family and your belongings.

    By Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company

    Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

    Over the past few months, we have all been learning how to adapt to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. While many of our social events or travel plans have been put on hold, moving does not have to be. Moving and Storage are actually considered essential businesses, which means they remain open. With a little extra planning and by following the CDC and WHO safety measures, you can safely move during the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are some of our top safety tips for moving during COVID-19 to protect your family and belongings.

    What to do before your move:

    1. Plan a Contactless Move during COVID-19

    As you begin researching moving companies online, remember to also ask questions on how they are mitigating the health risks of COVID-19. A few movers can provide virtual estimates, rather than in-home visits. The video estimate feature allows you to get the cost of your move without having an onsite estimator in your home. You can also use this handy moving box calculator to figure out how many moving boxes you will need.

    2. Get packing supplies delivered to you

    Since studies have shown that the coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, it's best to purchase new moving boxes and tape from your mover. Eco-friendly moving companies, like NorthStar Moving, use moving boxes made of 100% recyclable materials and also give you a discount when you recycle them back. Even during a pandemic, we can do our part to care for our environment.

    3. Let others know ahead of time

    If you are moving out or into an apartment building or condominium complex, notify your management company of the time and date of your move. Remember to make these arrangements ahead of time on both ends of the move. Ask your management team about using a service elevator for the day of your move and special arrangements needed for parking the moving truck. You should also notify your neighbors by phone or email so that they can be aware to keep a safe distance in halls and elevators on your moving day.

    4. Donate unwanted items during this time of need

    As you prepare for your move, mark boxes of unwanted clothing and non-perishable food items that can be donated to Goodwill or local food banks. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused food insecurity for many families; donating your shelf-stable foods is a great way to lighten your load and give back to your community.

    What to do during your Move:

    5. Extra Sanitary Precautions while moving during COVID-19

    Movers should come prepared with their face masks. Keep your distance from movers and avoid handshakes. Keep soap, running water, and paper towels available for movers and your family to wash your hands throughout the day. As much as possible, keep windows opened to allow plenty of fresh air to circulate.

    6. Label rooms and boxes to make the move seamless

    Take the time to label your boxes and the rooms in your new home before your movers arrive. Clear signs will help movers know where to place each moving box and large furniture without you having to come into close contact with them. Creating a simple floor plan ahead of time will save you time and money.

    What to do after your Move:

    7. Clean your new home before unpacking

    After the movers leave, take some time to disinfect any areas that are high touch zones. Wipe down door handles, light switches, and bathrooms before you finish unpacking. Get rid of any germs that could have been brought in on foot traffic by sweeping and mopping your floors. 

    8. Pack your patience and an overnight bag

    Finish unpacking by disinfecting boxes or simply wait 24 hours. Pack a fresh set of sheets, pajamas, and toiletries in your overnight bag. This will come in handy after a long day of moving.

    Stay informed while moving during COVID-19

    Keep in mind, as we all continue to adapt to the changing times, it's important to stay informed and follow any local or state restrictions. At NorthStar Moving, we want to alleviate the anxiety and stress of moving during the Coronavirus pandemic. Please consider all of the extra safety precautions our team is taking during moves and in our offices. If you are not ready to make the move yet, learn how to transform your home for stay-at-home needs.

     

    Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award-winning, "A+" rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.   www.northstarmoving.com

    July
    15

    Ada County Home Sales Pick Up in June

     

    Ada County Home Sales Pick Up in June

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    Following two consecutive months of year-over-year declines, home sales in Ada County were up 3.4% in June 2020 compared to June of 2019. Pending sales, or properties with an accepted offer that should close within 30-60 days, were also up 17.0% year-over-year.

    This rebound in closed and pending sales was due to pent up buyer demand and the fact that our market was strong before the pandemic hit our region. While our local housing market may continue to be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis on some level or another, this uptick in sales and homes under contract is a good sign.

    Home prices also increased in June with the overall median sales price reaching a new high at $375,000. This was 6.3% higher than in June of 2019, and less than a percent higher than the previous high from April 2020 of $374,900. Prices continue to be driven by a lack of existing supply compared to demand, and more than one-third of all home sales represented by new construction.

    One way to measure the supply vs. demand relationship is by using the Months Supply of Inventory metric (or MSI), which compares the number of sales (buyer demand) to available inventory (supply). A balanced market — not favoring buyers or sellers — is between 4-6 months. In June 2020, the overall months' supply of inventory was at just 1.0 months — the lowest number we've seen since January 2016 when we began tracking MSI. Inventory is constricted even further in the existing/resale segment with only 0.6 months' supply in June.

    Inventory is needed across the board, but demand is especially high for existing homes. If you're considering selling but want to limit interactions with the public, talk to your REALTOR® about virtual tours, tactics to minimize foot traffic, personal protective equipment, and other ways to keep yourself and others safe.

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for June, CLICK HERE.

     

    June
    15

    Have Ada County Home Sales Slowed Due to COVID-19?

    Home Sales in Ada County were Slower for the Second Month Due to COVID-19

    By Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer, Boise Regional REALTORS®

     

    For the second consecutive month, home sales in Ada County were lower than the same month in 2019, as REALTORS® and consumers heeded Idaho's stay-home order for any non-essential transactions.

    Closed sales were down 29.7% compared to May of 2019, but as this is a backward-looking metric, it primarily reflects buyer activity during March and April when more restrictions around showings and open houses were in place.

    However, pending sales, or properties with an accepted offer that should close within 30-60 days, were up 4.7% in May 2020 compared to last year, and up 25.4% compared to April. The 1,957 pending properties, which were almost evenly split between the new construction and existing/resale, will be reflected in the sales data in June and July.

    While the Ada County housing market has indeed been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, we believe the stage is set for a rebound in sales, due to the strong market position at the beginning of the year and continuing buyer demand compared to supply.

    The median sales price in May 2020, for new construction and existing/resale combined, was $360,450, up 6.0% year-over-year but down 3.9% from the record high in April of $374,900.

    This month-over-month dip was primarily driven by the mix of sales. Previous record highs were the result of new construction making up a large share of closed sales. While still significant in May at 31.8%, the share of new construction sales was down from 35.0% in April, helping to bring down the overall median sales price for the county.

    Whenever you're ready to buy or sell a home, REALTORS® are here to help. Across the valley, brokerages and builders are taking extra precautions to protect clients. Additionally, REALTORS® have access to local, up-to-date market data, and are able to customize it to your unique situation.

    To view the Treasure Valley Market Report for May, CLICK HERE.

    June
    10

    Four Things That Can Hurt Your Home's Resale Value

     

    While likely unintentional, there are several ways to lower the value of your home.

    By Tamara Oakley, Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

    Home resale value is something most homeowners strive to increase so that they can see a profit when it's time to sell. Unfortunately, there are many things that they accidentally do that have the opposite effect. Here are four ways that you can unintentionally lower the value of your home.

    Not Keeping Up with Maintenance

    This is the easiest way to lower the value of your home. Not keeping up with maintenance typically leads to larger problems down the road or hidden problems that are discovered when you try to sell your home. If you notice a damp spot on a wall or a wiring issue that you don't ever look into, you could be setting yourself up for massive problems in the future. Damp spots can turn into huge mold infestations (which must be included on your home disclosure and can cause potential buyers to pass on your home) and wiring problems can turn into electrical fires that cause massive damage and put you and your family's lives at risk. Pay attention to the tiny things that come up along the way and try to keep your investment in the best possible shape.

    Trying to DIY When You Don't Know What You're Doing 

    Incorrect installations and work not done up to code or with the proper permits can also lower home resale value and be a turn off to buyers since they'll have to make the necessary repairs. Trying to do some things yourself is fine, but consider hiring a professional before you make any massive changes.

    Renovating Your Property Too Much 

    Upgrades and renovations normally add value to a property, but it is possible to overdo it. If you live in a neighborhood where homes are in the $300,000 range and you add $200,000 worth of upgrades to your home, it's going to be challenging to find someone willing to pay the full value for your property because it will be much more expensive than the other comparable homes in the neighborhood (if there are any). Even if it does have the added value, someone interested in living in a luxury home probably wants to live in a luxury neighborhood as well. Be aware of the ROI for your upgrades and try not to price yourself out of your neighborhood.

    Not Updating It at All

    Not making any changes is another way that you can accidentally lower the value of your home. If your home is dated, buyers are going to consider the cost of updating it and might try to offer you less for it. There's a fine line between not enough and too many upgrades, but it's a line that's important to stay close to.

    If you take care of your home and do your best to make sure that it keeps up with the times, you shouldn't have a lot of trouble with a decrease in your resale value. As long as the market in the Treasure Valley continues to grow, homeowners can expect to see higher sales prices as long as their homes are in good condition.

    June
    10

    News From Our Technology Experts

     

    Keeping Yourself and Your Devices Safe

    From Your Friends at Integrity Computer Consulting and Repair

     

    Coronavirus – Hygiene and Action Reminder

    1. Wash your hands before and after using your own or any community computer.
    2. Regularly sanitize your own phones and computers, especially if used by multiple people.
    3. Once a week (or once a day), turn your computer off and using an alcohol swab (preferred) or Lysol wipe, thoroughly wipe down your keyboard and mouse, and really any common surface that's touched.  Make sure to get in between the keys and the scroll wheel on the mouse.  If you have a touchscreen, make sure to wipe the screen.  If you have a laptop, wipe the entire case, open and closed.  Be careful of using Lysol wipes around speakers and ports to avoid excessive moisture buildup.
    4. For phones, do the same, but be careful of using Lysol wipes around speakers and input jacks/ports to avoid excessive moisture buildup.
    5. If using Lysol or Clorox wipes, make sure to read the label and keep the surface wet for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer.

     

    BE AWARE: Contact-tracing text scams, emails, and robocalls

    Unfortunately, scammers and hackers are taking advantage of Coronavirus health crisis.  The FTC has issued several warnings and advisories about these scams; that even though Health Departments could reach out via text or email…

    Contact tracers will never ask for sensitive identification or financial information!

    You can use your cell phone carrier's built-in number blocking on your phone to stop unwanted calls or texts from specific numbers; you can also block offending email addresses in your email account. But with any sort of fraud, scammers often use hundreds of thousands of phone numbers and emails and move very quickly onto the next.  This makes permanent blocking hard. 

    To really have an impact, we recommend reporting the offending communication to the FTC.  This can be done online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

    A few rules of thumb for spam calls, texts, and emails:

    1. Do not engage spammers.  When you answer or respond, you are showing the scammer, spammer, or robo-system that your phone number or email is "live" and put on another list that is sold over and over and the calls/texts/emails will continue infinitely.
    2. Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize.  If it is important or a legitimate call, they will leave a voicemail.
    3. Do not answer texts from numbers you do not recognize.
    4. Do not answer unsolicited or out-of-the-ordinary texts from numbers you do recognize.  The number could be spoofed to fool you.
    5. Do not open emails, download any attachments, or click on links in emails from senders you do not recognize.
    6. Do not download any attachments or click on links in unsolicited or suspicious emails from senders you do recognize. Their email may have been hacked or spoofed.

    If you have any questions about a suspicious email, call, or text, feel free to contact our office via phone 208.288.4345 or email info@integrityidaho.com.

     

    Malware and Viruses

    During this time people are conducting a lot of business via email, spending money online, and trying to find information on the internet. Be vigilant when opening emails, browsing the internet, downloading free software or games, and clicking on links in email and on the internet.

    1. Fake Adobe Flash Player pop-ups and trying to download the "update" have reared their ugly heads again. If you need to update Java or Flash, we recommend closing the window and going directly to Adobe.com or Java.com and getting the update from the software maker themselves.
    2. Malicious pop-ups on the internet are worse than ever. They usually take over your computer, are very loud with either an alarm or voice telling you your computer is infected, and request you call a number for "tech support."  Usually a simple reboot can clear this from your machine.  First, try CTRL+ALT+Delete to correctly reboot your computer; however, in most instances, we are finding that you will have to hard reboot, aka push the power button until the computer shuts down. After you reboot and go back on the internet, make sure to click the option to NOT restore the previous session. 
    3. Browser hijackers are also increasing.  You go to a website or download a program and it asks to install an extension… you allow it and then your entire browser is infected. In many instances, we are having to reload computers due to these, as they sometimes install extensions in your internet browser and affect your registry.
    4. Click-bait articles, product advertisements, and videos are also a rising nuisance as people try to seek out information on Covid-19.  If it seems outrageous or too good to be true, please do not click on it! Only click on trusted sources only when searching for information or buying products.

    If you have any questions about updates, pop-ups, emails, or need a clean-up, this can be done remotely.  Please contact our office via phone 208.288.4345 or email info@integrityidaho.com if you need immediate assistance.

     

    May
    19

    When was the Last Time You Cleaned These 20 Items?

    These common items in your home need to be cleaned regularly. Now, more than ever, it's important to clean and sanitize these easy-to-forget items.

    By Lindsay Listanski, Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

     

    Did you know there are 10 MILLION bacteria per square inch of a kitchen sponge? (dailymail.co.uk) What about the fact that your pillow is as germy as a TOILET SEAT! (NY Post) Those are just two of the mind-blowing (and scary) facts about common household items that are probably not getting cleaned as regularly as they should be. Here are 20 items that you should give a little extra TLC:

     

    Remote Control

    Many of us have heard that remotes are often the dirtiest item in a hotel room, but did you know the same holds true for the remotes in our homes? You should clean this, and game controllers, once a month with some rubbing alcohol and a q-tip for those hard to reach spots.

     

    Stove Knobs

    Cleaning stove knobs can be a pain but it is an important part of keeping your kitchen free of icky germs we spread from handling food. For a quick clean simply pull off the knobs and soak them in a bowl of white vinegar.

     

    Dishwasher

    Sometimes we forget to clean the things that clean. Add cleaning this appliance at least once a month to your to-do list. Depending on the model you have, you may need to manually clean the filter. To do this, pull out the bottom rack, locate the filter, and clear it of any debris. Check the appliance's owner's manual for complete instructions. After that, you can place a clean bowl with a cup or two of white vinegar in the center of the bottom rack, and run through a cycle without detergent.

     

    Light Switches

    The basic rule of thumb is this: if a hand touches it, it needs to be cleaned. This is especially true during cold and flu season. Think about how often light switches are touched – and by whom – over the course of a single week! To clean naturally, use a quality microfiber cloth and hot water, wringing as much water out as possible.

     

    Door Knobs

    Again, think about how often doorknobs are touched. A once-a-week cleaning, then, is a must.

     

    Garbage Cans

    Sure, you take the trash out when the bag is full but when was the last time you actually scrubbed the inside of the can? And how about the can(s) outside?

     

    Comforter

    You may change your sheets every week (or every other week) but when was the last time you cleaned your comforter? Cleaning experts suggest cleaning it once a season.

     

    Pillows

    Dust mites, pet hair, and dead skin. Sadly, all of these things might be living in and on the place where you lay your head to sleep each night. Wash the pillow cover (not the pillowcase that matches your sheets – you'll wash those when you wash the sheets) a minimum of every three weeks. Did you know you can wash most pillows (even down/feather ones) in the washing machine? Do this about every three months. Make sure you dry them thoroughly!

     

    Keurig/Coffee Maker

    Is your morning cup of Joe contaminated? To be sure you get coffee and not germs, experts recommend that a Keurig be cleaned (and descaled) every 3-6 months. Wondering how to clean it? Here you go.

     

    Dish Sponge

    Did you know that a kitchen sponge is actually 200,000 times DIRTIER than a toilet seat? First things first, if your sponge is over a month old then toss it. For regular cleaning, wet the sponge and, without wringing out the water, place it in your microwave on high for a couple of minutes. Don't walk away! You need to make sure the sponge doesn't dry out and catch fire. As an alternative, make a solution of 10% bleach and soak the sponge for up to five minutes. Rinse and wring out excess water. Let dry.

     

    Drying Rack

    Anything that has standing water in it tends to be…well…stinky. Be sure you scrub down that drying rack every few days to avoid a slimy mess.

     

    Top of the Fan

    Cleaning a ceiling fan can be a dirty and dusty job if you let it go too long. Carefully climb a stepladder, and use a mixture of water and white vinegar (a couple of tablespoons mixed in a spray bottle of water) to loosen grime. Wipe clean and dry.

     

    Pet Toys

    If you have pets, then they probably have toys. Rubber ones can be washed in the dishwasher (alone and without detergent), whereas lots of cloth toys can be washed in the washing machine. Be sure to check the tags or online to see the manufacturer's recommended cleaning methods, and never use bleach. It could poison your dog.

     

    Lint Trap

    This is an important one not only to keep your home clean but also safe! "The U.S. Fire Administration (part of FEMA) cites that there are 2900 home clothes dryer fires every year resulting in an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. And the leading cause: failure to clean them." (cushmaninsure.com)

     

    Washing Machine

    Washing machines are pretty clean since you use often use hot water to clean your clothes but they still need attention about once a month. To clean your washer just run an empty load with hot water and bleach or check the manufacturer's website.

     

    Toothbrush Holder

    According to NSF International, this is one of the germiest items in a home. Pretty gross considering it holds the item you clean your mouth with.

     

    Sofa

    Clean your sofa with a vacuum every couple of weeks, and deep clean it once a year.

     

    Toilet Bowl Handle

    Use a disinfectant wipe and make sure to close the lid before flushing to avoid airborne germs!

     

    Ice Trays

    If you don't have an ice maker in your fridge/freezer, and your ice tastes funny, there is a chance that may be from the ice tray being dirty and not actually your water. Use warm water to remove any remaining ice, and then mix two teaspoons of baking soda with a half cup of warm water. Pour into trays, let sit a few minutes, scrub each section, and run the tray under warm water to rinse thoroughly.

     

    Makeup Brushes

    Brushing bacteria onto your face may not be your first thought you have as you apply powder, blush, or eye shadow to your face but if you aren't cleaning them regularly it is exactly what you are doing. Make sure to clean all of your brushes once a month. Here's how.

    July
    15

    Lights, Camera, Action! 6 Tips for Staging Your Home for Real Estate Photos

    Real Estate Photos

    There are a lot of ways to gain an edge when you're listing your home for sale, but few are more effective than staging. When it comes to showing your home in the best possible light, it pays to go the extra mile. 

    We have lots of experience staging and showing homes, and we're happy to share some of our favorite tricks and tips we've learned along the way! With more homes being shown online these days, staging is more important than ever.

    1. Cut Down on Clutter
      You want your home to look as clean, clear, and clutter-free as possible when you stage it to be photographed. Some professional home stagers recommend removing one-third of the furniture and decor and storing it somewhere off-site. In any case, if you haven't already been de-cluttering as you've started to pack, now is the time. 
    2. Leave a Few Choice Decorations
      As important as it is that your home not appear cluttered, it also should look like an inviting place to live. Hang onto a few well-chosen pieces of decor to keep your home looking stylish and welcoming. A stack of nice-looking books here, a couple of tasteful throw pillows there—little touches make a big difference. A few well-placed pieces of artwork or photographs are a nice touch as well but avoid personal family photos. You want future owners to be able to envision themselves living there, not thinking about the previous occupants. 
    3. Let There Be Light
      Natural light is your best friend when it comes to making your house look open, warm, and inviting. Always photograph your house in daylight, with the shades and curtains open to let in plenty of sunlight. At the same time, you want to be careful not to photograph in direct, intense sunlight to avoid pictures looking blown-out. The ideal conditions are often in the late morning and early afternoon, when there's plenty of indirect light coming through the windows. 
    4. Keep it Clean
      Now is the time to clean your house like it's never been cleaned before. You may even want to hire a professional to get your entire house spotless before having pictures taken. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom; these are the two most important rooms in the home, and potential buyers will be unforgiving about dirt and grime in these areas. 
    5. Highlight Improvements
      Don't shy away from highlighting your home's best assets. That includes any unique features or anything that's recently been redone or improved. Whether it's new windows, a redone bathroom, or just a few simple fixture upgrades, it helps to let buyers know. If you have any special lighting in your house, make sure to turn it on and show it off. 
    6. Stage the Outside Too
      Your home's exterior is just important as the interior, and there are plenty of ways you can spruce up the outside of your house before having photographs taken. Make sure the yard is as neat and clean as possible, and give shrubs and hedges a trim. Stash the trash cans out of sight, and either put your car in the garage or park it down the street. If your landscape is lacking, spruce it up with some colorful flowers if you can. 

    Contact me today to learn more about how staging can help you sell your home. I look forward to serving you!

    May
    11

    Home Sellers & Buyers Return to Market As IDAHO REBOUNDS Begins

     

    Like all industries, the real estate world is in unchartered territory when it comes to navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexibility and adaptation are key. As Idaho begins to reopen, what might we expect in the housing market?

    Two significant indicators of real estate market activity – numbers of new listings and pending sales – show clear increases since May 1st, when "Idaho Rebounds" began.

    According to data provided by the Intermountain MLS, 125 new listings were placed on the market on May 1st – the highest number in any one day since March 20th, before the "Stay in Place" order was issued in Idaho.  Additionally, the number of accepted sale contracts jumped to 79 on May 4th, which was the highest number of new pending sales since March 9th.

    These trends could indicate a resurgence in real estate sales activity and serve as a potential early indicator of consumer confidence at the start of the "Idaho Rebounds" phased approach to opening businesses and loosening social restrictions.

     "Our real estate market was strong as we headed into this event, and it appears that we may be one of the leaders coming out," said Bob Van Allen, president and designated broker at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson.  "Sellers who were considering listing their homes before the shutdown, but held off, are now confident in doing so."

    Buyer demand waned early in the quarantine period but has been increasing steadily since early April.  The average number of accepted contracts has gone up from under 40 per day at the lowest, to the most recent high of 79 on May 4th.

    Real estate industry practices such as virtual home showings, live video, and 3D home tours, and adherence to social distancing protocol during in-person meetings have made effective home marketing possible, even during this pandemic.  Additionally, restrictions placed on the number of in-person showings requested for a listing are widely accepted, and serious homebuyers continue to express interest in looking at homes for sale.

    Real estate experts nationwide have listed Idaho in general and the Boise area specifically as markets that will rebound quickly. The evidence we're seeing supports those claims.

    March
    27

    What Does the Statewide Stay-Home Order Mean For Idaho Real Estate?

    Spokane Landscaping Trends

     

    The Idaho State Governor's Statewide Stay-Home Order allows certain real estate activities to continue as "essential infrastructure". What does this mean for Idaho Realtors® and clients?

    Please note, this information is accurate as of this article's posting time, March 27th, 2020, at 12:00pm.  The situation is very dynamic and is subject to change.

    Idaho State Governor Little's statewide Stay-Home Order, effective as of 1:30pm March 25th, 2020, through at least midnight April 15th, 2020, "requires Idaho residents to stay and work from home as much as possible while ensuring all essential services and businesses remain available."

    The order lists the "transfer and sale of real estate" as essential infrastructure, however in-person home showings are not considered essential. 

    What does this mean?  Idaho REALTORS® provides clarification on the order:

    For many of you this means you will be able to show properties on an individual basis. You must adhere to all of the social distancing and additional requirements in the order.

    We are interpreting the order to prohibit traditional open houses as historically conducted.

    Even when accessing or using essential services, people are still required to maintain appropriate social distancing (six feet) and hygiene practices (washing your hands etc.) 

     

    Boise Regional REALTORS® also clarifies, stating:

    BRR does not encourage or recommend members conduct open houses at this time.

    BRR members are encouraged to utilize virtual tours, video conferencing, phone calls, or any other means of virtual or remote communication to serve the needs of their clients, wherever possible.

    Please know we are not advocating for business as usual. If you do not need to do something in-person, don't. Stay home and practice social distancing.

    All actions and policies must follow all local, state, federal, and CDC guidelines, which may change from time-to-time.

     

    We at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson are abiding by the Stay Home Order, for your safety and ours.  It's the right thing to do even though it's difficult.  We are all working remotely from home.  We are equipped to support you virtually using the industry's finest technology.  We are here for you.  Please reach out if you have any questions.

    March
    23

    5 Tips for Getting the Best Real Estate Photos

    Real Estate Photos

    If you want to sell your home, don't skip this essential task! Research states that homes with high-quality photos sell 32 percent faster. Real estate photos play an essential role in getting buyers interested in learning more about your home.

    Follow these tips to ensure you obtain amazing photos that showcase everything your home has to offer. 

    1. Declutter Your Home
      Decluttering is one of the most important things you can do to help your property photograph its best. When there are too many items on your counters, tables, or floor, it takes away from your home's features. Some home stagers recommend that you pack away at least a third of your home's personal effects and knickknacks. Make sure also to remove overly personal items. Your goal is to create a space that appeals to as many potential buyers as possible.
    2. Have the Pictures Taken During the Daytime
      When scheduling your photo session for your home, make sure to schedule the session for the daytime hours. Every photographic subject, including homes, look better under natural light. Ideally, the sun shouldn't be at its brightest or directly entering your home, as this can produce unsightly shadows and alter the colors inside your home. Instead, try to schedule the session during the late morning or early afternoon hours. 
    3. Steam Your Fabrics
      Even though you may not be concerned about wrinkled bedding when its bedtime, wrinkles can negatively affect how well your home photographs. Wrinkles give the space a cluttered, unkempt look. Fortunately, you can hire someone to come in and steam all your fabrics. Or, if you have a professional-grade fabric steamer, you can handle the job yourself. 
    4. Opt for Photos That Market a Lifestyle
      When selling your home, you're trying to sell a lifestyle to your buyers. You want to make it easy for buyers to envision themselves living in your home. Photographs are an effective way to accomplish this goal; to optimize their effectiveness, check that every photo helps the buyer see themselves living and thriving in your home. For example, a photo of your dining room with a dining table doesn't do much to help buyers with understanding how they will use the space. Instead, set the dining table for a dinner party with dinnerware, placemats, and flowers. This small change goes a long way in helping potential buyers envision themselves and their families in your home. 
    5. Stick with a Professional Photographer
      It can be tempting to try to save a little money and have a friend with a friendly camera to take pictures of your home. However, you should stick with using a professional photographer who has experiencing photographing real estate. You only have one chance to separate your home from other Boise homes for sale. This means that your home needs to put its best foot forward in every single photo. Amateur photography can result in photos that don't depict the true colors of your home or that neglect to focus on items that can make your home more attractive to potential buyers. 

    Ready to put your home on the market? Call our REALTORS® to set up an appointment. 

    March
    9

    3 Ways to Stand Out in the Spring Market

    Spring Housing Market

    Everything blooms in spring, including your house selling prospects. The warm weather and longer days make it possible to view a house in daylight, and after being stuck inside through a chilly Idaho winter, people are eager to get out and see new places. To help encourage a potential buyer to make an offer on your home, our REALTORS® recommend a simple process to help your home shine among the other Boise homes for sale

    1. Get The Fix In
      If you want to sell your home as one that's ready for a family to move in, your house needs to be in good repair. If you have any repairs that you've put off, reconsider them in the light that potential buyers will be examining your home not just for aesthetic appeal, but for signs of needing expensive work. Compare estimates from several technicians. You may be tempted to try a DIY repair, but unless you are confident that your repair can pass professional inspection, hiring the pro can save you money and time in the long run. 
    2. Enthusiasm Starts At The Curb
      What gets potential buyers to sign up for the open house or ask to see your home is the image they see of your home's exterior. Entice potential buyers in from the warm spring days with a house that's well-maintained inside and out. Consult an arborist about the best time to prune any trees on your property. Clean your home's exterior, including the windows. A pressure washer will remove years of grime, but for older brick, try an attachment to your garden hose for a softer, finer spray that won't harm more delicate exteriors. Mow your lawn in diagonal stripes to make it appear larger. Place flowers in outdoor planters to give your home's exterior an enticing pop of color. 
    3. Host With The Most
      Potential home buyers will want to sense that a home is a place to relax, but that does not mean that you shouldn't pick up your socks. Clean your house completely before the first showing. A home cleaning service will get your house sparkling before an open house. Use towels in spring pastels in your bathroom. Decorate your home with flowers. If you're concerned about allergies, look for high-quality silk flowers to form a wreath or place in a vase. As the spring days warm towards summer heat, chill water bottles and offer them to potential home buyers. 

    It's not always easy for your home to stand out among similar homes on the market. But your home doesn't have to be the biggest or most luxurious home in Boise for someone to want to make it theirs. If you have any questions about selling your home, we'd love to chat. Contact us soon. 

    February
    24

    10 Ways to Prepare for an Open House

    Open House Prep

    The home that stands out is the home that sells quickly. The more effort you put into preparing for an open house, the better your prospects for selling the home in the time frame and the price range you desire. Our real estate agents have extensive experience preparing for open houses, and we recommend the following.

    1. Trim the Landscaping
      Always keep trees, shrubs, flower beds, the lawn, and other landscaping elements trim and tidy. Remove any dead foliage, reseed, and replace plants as needed. You will also want to repair any damaged masonry, remove bric-a-brac, and fix any damaged patios or decks.
    2. Touch up or Repaint the Exterior & Interior
      A fresh coat of paint can give your home a completely new appearance. Choosing neutral colors helps prospective buyers visualize how the home will appear in their favorite color scheme.
    3. Give the Home a Hospital Clean
      Sterilize, sanitize, and make sure that every nook, cranny, corner, and cubby are free of dust, rust, and other debris that can turn a prospective buyer's nose towards another seller's home.
    4. Declutter Every Room
      Get rid of extra possessions. Go through each room and donate, sell, or discard any items that you no longer use. You should also box up and place into storage any items you can do without until after your move.
    5. Stage Your Home
      Renting new furniture, hanging neutral artwork, and other little touches can give your home a less personalized, more appealing ambiance. It's worth working with a professional home stager to create a modern look that speaks to the interests and desires of the types of buyers you want to attract.
    6. Send the Pets on Holiday
      If possible, send your pets on an extended holiday until after the open house is behind you. Put them up in a pet hotel, or with friends and family gets them out from underfoot and makes it a little easier to keep the home free of pet dander and odors.
    7. Choose Your Market
      Work with your real estate agent to identify the ideal buyer for your home. Develop flyers, advertisements, and other marketing materials that will capture their attention and keep them interested in your property.
    8. Bake the Cookies and Brew the Coffee
      The smell of fresh-baked cookies wafting through the home is disarming and relaxing. It's a cliché, but it's a cliché that works. It also provides an opportunity for your real estate agent and the prospective buyer to sit down, share a cup of coffee, and discuss the benefits of the home.
    9. Remove Valuables & Firearms
      Always remove jewelry, family heirlooms, and firearms from your home before the open house. This will help protect them and allows your real estate agent to focus on interacting with clients instead of guarding valuables.
    10. Go Away...but be Available
      Many buyers feel uncomfortable meeting the current homeowner until later on in the home buying process. Go to dinner, explore a museum, or play a round of golf. Stay available to answer questions if your real estate agent calls, but otherwise, find a relaxing way to enjoy the day.             
    11.  

    Contact us to discuss the ways we recommend preparing open houses for Boise homes for saleIt is our pleasure to answer your questions and determine the ideal strategies for selling your property.   

    January
    27

    Painting Project: 4 Ways Painting Can Help You Sell

    Painting ProjectsHome sellers often wonder how to make their homes more appealing to buyers. Before you consider more expensive, complicated changes, don't forget about the power of paint. It's a comparatively inexpensive, fast, and easy way to make your home look more appealing when you're planning to sell it.

    Our real estate agents point out the following 4 ways that painting your home can help it sell more quickly and at a higher price:

    1. It improves your home's photos.
      Many of today's buyers begin their search for a home online. If your home has dark or bold paint colors, it may cause potential buyers to immediately lose interest in your home and start looking at another one online.

      Painting your home in light, neutral colors that don't tend to turn off buyers can make your photos and home more likely to attract a buyer. Even in pictures, it makes your home look brighter and more appealing.

    2. Paint enhances your home's curb appeal.
      Painting the exterior of your home can make it appeal to prospective buyers who drive by your home. It gives them a good first impression and makes them want to see more.

      The right exterior paint color for your home depends on the style of your home as well as on what colors are popular in your area. In general, light colors accented with a black or navy-blue door are popular. Sage green can also be a popular choice when paired with white trim or black accents. If you live in a historic district or home or in a subdivision with a homeowners' association, you may be limited in the colors you can choose, so it pays to check before painting.

    3. Your home will feel fresh and clean.
      Even if you clean the rest of your home thoroughly, paint that is dingy or faded can make your home look drab. It may make prospective buyers question whether your home is well maintained as their eyes focus on scuff marks or other flaws. As you've lived in your home, you may no longer notice flaws on walls or doors, but prospective buyers' eyes will naturally be drawn to these areas.

      A freshly painted home, on the other hand, gleams and reflects natural light, creating a bright, clean appearance. Buyers will feel as though your home is well cared for, and it will be shown to its best advantage.

    4. Paint can also improve your home's interior.
      Just as paint can greatly improve the appearance of your home's exterior, it can also make the inside of your home more appealing. A light, neutral color can make even small rooms seem larger than they are, and a dark or bold color should be avoided since it has the opposite effect.

      A neutral color also enables potential buyers to be able to picture themselves in your home. A color that's too bold or dark, on the other hand, can make your home look dated and will turn off a substantial number of prospective buyers.

    Contact us for more information about what buyers are looking for in Boise homes for sale. Our agents know what's popular in our area and can suggest paint colors that will make your home more sellable.

    December
    23

    11 Ways to Improve Your Home in the Winter

    Winter Home ImprovementsFalling temperatures send people into hibernation, but it's also a golden opportunity to add some improvements to your home. Move up to the most desirable level of Boise homes for sale with these winter projects that boost value.

    1. Fertilize the Yard 
      Before you head inside for good, take time to apply fertilizer to the lawn, trees, and shrubs. This keeps greenery nourished over the winter months for maximum curb appeal once spring comes around.

    2. Paint the Interior
      Painting is one of the home improvement projects that offer the most bang for your buck. It's relatively inexpensive, easy to complete, and creates a fresh new look. Stick to white or another soft neutral shade for a more pleasing aesthetic that won't turn off potential buyers.

    3. Install Programmable Thermostat
      The Internet of things (IoT) has made the concept of "smart homes" an attainable reality. Programmable thermostats let you automatically regulate home temperatures based on your specific needs using a phone or tablet. Federal energy efficiency program Energy Star estimates annual savings of $180 for homes with programmable thermostats.

    4. Add Insulation
      The best thermostat in the world isn't much use if the furnace has to work too hard. Head up to the attic and take a look. If you can see the floor joists, you need more insulation. Even if you can't see them, adding an extra layer of insulation helps reduce heat loss. Be sure to check the basement and crawlspaces as well.

    5. Seal Openings and Leaks
      A home can lose up to 30 percent of its heating and cooling from leaks around doors and windows. Use caulk, waterproof sealing, or weatherstripping to close up any leaks. If the windows are old and in poor condition, consider replacing them. 

    6. Redo Flooring
      Do you take your home's flooring for granted? You may be surprised to learn that, according to Realtor.com, flooring is the single biggest factor in terms of return on investment (ROI). Hardwood floors are currently the most popular option, averaging a whopping 70 to 80 percent ROI.

    7. Declutter
      A project doesn't have to be technical or skilled to qualify as "home improvement." Winter is a perfect time to brew a pot of coffee, turn on some good music, and start weeding out the junk. Break the job up into manageable chunks, so you don't get overwhelmed. Not only will the home be more attractive to buyers, but you'll cut down on packing.

    8. Install Crown Molding
      Looking for a quick weekend project? Crown molding provides a finished, custom look to a room without a lot of heavy equipment or labor.

    9. Change out Cabinet Hardware
      This is another seemingly minor project that pays big dividends. You can even enlist the kids to help.

    10. Install a New Bathroom Vanity
      Do the bathrooms still have the original vanities? Chances are you can gain major style points by updating them. Modern vanities make the installation process virtually plug-and-play.

    11. Add a Backsplash to Kitchen and Bathroom
      A backsplash adds visual interest and serves a practical purpose by protecting walls and preventing odors. Tiles come in an endless variety of colors, styles, and textures to enhance any decor. With options such as peel-and-stick, beadboard, and artificial stone, it's an easy DIY project.

    No matter what the season, count on our REALTORS® for experienced help with all your needs. Contact us for more information.

    Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 08/14/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 08/14/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of INTERMOUNTAIN MLS (last updated Sun 08/14/2022 9:28:58 PM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Coldwell Banker Tomlinson may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --

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