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Dori Wick
REALTOR®
(208) 869-0282

Articles Tagged "Home Improvement"

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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
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. 

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.

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).

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

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
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
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.

 

October
4

Fire Prevention: Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe

Fire Prevention TipsOctober 3-9 was National Fire Prevention Week. If you missed it, this is still a great time to focus on fire prevention in your home. Whether you're on your way to buying a new home among Boise homes for sale, or just improving security in your current home, instituting a regimen of fire prevention can help give your family a feeling of safety while preventing tragedies.

Start on these tips right away to help prevent fires in your home.

  • Install Smoke Alarms
    Install smoke alarms in the hallways outside sleeping areas, in all bedrooms, and on every floor. Place smoke alarms high on the wall or on the ceiling. Do not install alarms near bathrooms as steam can cause false alarms and may also damage the unit. The detector placed outside a sleeping area should be loud enough to be heard through a closed door. The best plan is to connect all smoke alarms in the home so that when one sounds, they all do. 

    Test smoke detectors once a month. Press and hold fire alarm buttons until the alarm sounds. If the sound is weak, replace the batteries. Replace smoke detectors every 10 years. Hardwired alarms also require monthly testing.

  • Develop a Fire Escape Plan
    Develop a plan for getting out of your home quickly if an alarm sounds. Develop your plan with at least two ways to escape every room and a meeting place outside. Take into consideration getting pets to safety as well. Practice the plan at least twice a year to make sure all your family members remember the plan.

  • Never Overload Your Electrical Outlets
    Overloading electrical outlets with multiple appliances can lead to overheating and fires. If you need more outlets, have an electrician install them.

    Call an electrician if you are consistently blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers. This also goes for flickering lights, burning smells from appliances, or warm or discolored wall outlets.

  • Exercise Care with Power Cords
    Throw away damaged power cords, or have them professionally repaired. Use power cords labeled "For outdoor use only" for outdoor appliances. Do not rely on extension cords for permanent power sources. Again, if you need a closer electrical outlet, have it installed. 

  • Be Mindful of Heat Sources
    Keep anything flammable at least 3 feet from sources of heat. Exercise particular caution with candles, substituting whenever possible candles with a wick with flameless candles. If you burn candles, make sure they are located at least 3 feet from anything that can catch on fire. Keep hair and clothing away from the flame when you light the candle. 

    Keep lamps and light bulbs away from anything that can burn, such as bedding, clothing, curtains, or lampshades. Also, make sure you turn off space heaters before leaving your home.

  • Dryer Maintenance and Usage
    Do not leave home while a dryer is drying clothing. Always clean the lint trap of the dryer before starting the drying process. Make sure to have your dryer cleaned and free of lint to avoid fires.

  • Exercise Caution While Cooking
    Be mindful that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires. To help prevent this, never leave food unattended while it is cooking on or on the stove. Also, keep a fire extinguisher under your sink in case of emergency.

Our real estate agents have more good advice about home safety. Contact us today. 

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
20

7 Steps for Adding a Fence to Your Property

Fence Tips

Is your fencing old and worn out, or do you need a fence where there isn't any? The process of installing a fence isn't a quick one, our real estate agents caution. There are a number of things you need to do to ensure you don't get in trouble with the city, the HOA, your neighbor, or your home's future buyer. Here are 7 steps to ensure you're doing your due diligence when you install a new fence.

  1. Ask Why
    Your purpose for the new fence will impact the type of fencing you choose. For instance, if you want to increase privacy or block noise, you'll want a tall, solid, heavy-duty fence. If you're trying to keep animals in, on the other hand, you'll want to make sure there aren't any gaps where your pet could get out.

  2. Plan Your Budget
    Building a fence can be expensive, particularly certain materials or designs. The height of your fence and whether it needs to be solid will also determine the cost. Figure out what money you have to spend on your fence, and then compare your options to make sure that the fence you're planning agrees with your budget.

  3. Consider the Material
    Once you have your budget figured out, start shopping around to see what materials are in your price range. Consider not only cost but also other factors such as maintenance and durability. Mixing materials may also allow you to get the fence you want on your budget.

  4. Communicate
    Don't forget to be a good neighbor! If your fence will go along a property line that you share with your neighbor, be sure to let them know your plans. Most likely, if you're replacing a fence that has been deteriorating, they won't mind. In fact, they might even thank you for it! And if it's a shared property line, they might surprise you and offer to go in on the fence together.

  5. Research Your Options
    Before you start building your fence, there are a bunch of things you'll need to do. You'll need to check in with your HOA or municipality guidelines to make sure that your fence plans follow all requirements for materials, style, height, and setbacks. You may need to have your property surveyed to ensure you're building the fence on your own property, and for safety's sake, you'll also need to call 811 to have the power company mark all the buried lines on your property. You'll likely also have to file for a work permit.

  6. Hire a Professional
    Is this all starting to seem a little overwhelming? If so, consider hiring a professional to handle the entire job for you. They'll do everything from calling 811 and getting the building permit to going over your options with you and making sure everything is to code. Plus, you'll have the peace of mind of knowing the work is done professionally. 

  7. Maximize Curb Appeal
    Once the fence plans are in place, plant shrubbery and flowers around the fencing to soften the look, especially if you'll be selling your home soon. Browse Boise homes for sale, and you'll see that the most attractive homes incorporate the fences into their landscaping for maximum curb appeal.

For more tips on getting your home ready to sell, contact us 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
2

Does Your Home Need More Natural Light?

Spokane Lighting

Plentiful natural light is one of the top factors that can help sell a home. Experts are quick to tout the benefits of natural light in spurring home sales: not only does natural light help you cut back on energy usage, but it also seems to provide certain health benefits. What's more, potential homebuyers appear to respond better to well-lit homes than to dark ones. If you're thinking of listing your home among Boise homes for sale, you may want to assess your home's natural light and determine if there are ways to boost the light quotient.

Here are some suggestions for augmenting natural light in your home. 

  1. Add mirrors.
    Adding a mirror will indeed make a room look larger, but an even better trick is to hang a mirror opposite of a window. A mirror can reflect double the amount of light that's shining through the window. Hanging shiny objects on the walls and opposite from the window will also help. Some items in addition to decorative wall mirrors you can hang in your home that will bounce light around: furniture with glass or mirrored accents; silver photo frames; metallic finishes on the ceiling; decorative nickel cabinet pulls; and metallic light fixtures and faucets.

  2. Install larger or more windows.
    This might seem like a pretty drastic step, but if your home needs new windows anyway, you might consider it -- particularly if your home is in serious need of more light. Picture, bow, or bay windows are just the thing to open up your home to more natural light.

  3. Let light in with retro-looking glass blocks in an exterior wall section.
    This retro look is totally contemporary now, particularly with unique textures and shading to complement your architectural style. It's a subtle way to let light in without sacrificing security, privacy, or energy efficiency. 

  4. Open up the ceiling with skylights.
    Skylights let light into your home through the ceiling. Just make sure you have a pro to do the work, so the installation doesn't cause issues for your roof. Skylights are usually ideal in single-story bathrooms and family rooms.

  5. Solar tubes, anyone?
    If you don't have a single-story room that lends itself to a skylight, maybe your home is right for a solar tube. These are reflective, twisting pipes that can be as long as 30 feet from the roof to the ceiling. Available in diameters of 10-14 inches, they cause minimal interference with drywall or paint. The tubes can bring in the equivalent of three 100-watt light bulbs in the smallest size. 

  6. Lighten up.
    Go light when it comes to interior paint or furnishings. Lighter colors will reflect light, while darker walls and furnishing will absorb light. Painting the ceiling lighter than the walls is another trick to make the room look bigger, as well as taller and brighter. A shiny satin or semi-gloss paint will boost the reflective properties of the walls. Select a light-colored sofa or loveseat.

Our real estate agents have valuable experience that can help you sell your home quicker. Contact us 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.

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
17

Helpful Tips for Starting a Compost Pile

Composting Tips

Compost is so often the key to a beautiful, healthy garden; however, many people shy away from composting because they believe it's too complicated or messy. With the right combination of ingredients, composting can be easy and odorless and can make a huge difference in your garden.

Many of these Boise homes for sale have beautiful gardens, which are likely a result of a good compost pile. If you've been thinking about composting, below are some tips to help you get started.

  1. What Is Composting?
    Compost is a collection of decomposing organic materials that can be added to your garden to enrich the soil and promote plant growth. Compost is a nutrient-rich substance comprised of the right combination of food scraps and yard waste. Compost provides humic acid and microbes to your soil, which delivers nutrients to plants.

  2. How To Make Good Compost
    The key to making good compost is to strike the right balance between carbon and nitrogen. For the most effective, best-smelling compost, our real estate agents usually recommend a carbon (brown materials) to nitrogen (green materials) ratio of 25 to 1. If you add too much carbon, the decomposition process will be slow. If you add too much nitrogen, your pile may be stinky, messy, and attract unwanted animals or pests. 

  3. Start With A Good Container
    You don't need to go overboard with a container. It just needs to be capable of holding all of your ingredients. Wooden crates or wired cages can work. However, an actual bin is usually your best option as it's capable of retaining heat, which helps increase decomposition. Keep in mind, your compost must be turned on a regular basis to promote oxygen. As a result, some people invest in a compost tumbler, which can be easily rotated.

  4. Add Carbon Materials
    Brown materials are rich in carbon and include tree branches, newspaper, napkins, cardboard, sawdust (non-treated wood), coffee filters, tea bags, leaves, hay, and straw. Carbon materials should make up the majority of your compost. Remember, aim for a 25:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio.

  5. Add Green Materials
    Green materials contain nitrogen and are an essential part of your compost pile. Grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, leftover food, tea bags, and eggshells are all items rich in nitrogen. Remember, your compost pile only needs a small amount of nitrogen in relation to carbon. 

  6. Items Not To Include In Compost
    There are some items that should never be included in compost. Anything that contains meat, oil, or grease, treated wood, pet feces, and dairy products should never be included in compost. These materials will not only smell bad, but they'll also attract animals and unwanted insects.

  7. How Long Does It Take To Make Compost?
    The composting process can take anywhere from three months to a year. The timing ultimately depends on the items you use, the carbon/nitrogen balance, heat exposure, and oxygen exposure. One way to increase how quickly your compost decomposes is to shred your carbon items before adding them.

Compost is so important when it comes to gardening and the environment. For more landscaping tips, contact us today.

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.

 

April
5

Your Guide to Getting Your Boise Garden Started

Boise Garden TipsWarmer temperatures are rapidly approaching, and now is the time to think about your Boise garden. What would you like to add this season? From flowering plants to veggies, you'll have a lot of options to consider.
  
Our real estate agents offer the following guide to getting your Boise garden started, from helpful tips to stores that are worth a visit:

Helpful tips  

  1. Start with a plan.
    Take the time to plan your garden's layout and design before you put anything in the ground. Check out local garden stores to see what types of flower and vegetable plants and seeds are available, and plan out your space on a piece of graph paper. It's not important to be exact but map out an estimate of space and the location of existing plants, sun and shade hours, and where sources of water are located.
      
  2. Consult a planting guide for the Boise area.
    Following a planting guide to ensure that you're getting each type of plant into the ground at the correct time. If you plant too soon, you run the risk that they could be damaged by a late frost. The frost-free growing season for the Boise area starts on May 22 and ends on October 6, so some plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, should be started indoors and then later transplanted into your garden.
      
  3. Consider weed control.  
    Weeds can compete with your garden plants for space and nutrients from the soil, so take steps to reduce them before they have a chance to gain a foothold in your garden. If you're planting seeds in your garden, do it as soon as possible after tilling so weeds don't get a head start. Adding mulch like an organic material or fabric, and pulling weeds by hand are methods that will help reduce weeds.

Local garden shops to visit  

  • Zamzows – several Boise locations, including 6313 W. Fairview Ave., Boise, Idaho 83704
    Zamzows is a go-to store for most of your garden-related needs, including weed control products, soil amendments, bug control, and more. You can also expand your gardening knowledge with the store's classes, including one that covers everything you need to know about growing and caring for berries. 
      
  • The Home & Garden Store – 4291 S. Cloverdale Rd., Boise, Idaho 83709
    You'll find plenty of plants, soil amendments, chemicals and fertilizers, and more at The Home & Garden Store. The shop also carries a wide variety of other gardening supplies, and if you need some advice on where or what to plant or how to deal with pests, the staff – including an Idaho-Certified Nurseryman with over 46 years of experience – is friendly and knowledgeable.
      
  • North End Organic Nursery – 3777 W. Chinden Blvd., Garden City, Idaho 83714   
    Want to make your garden organic? Then you'll want to visit North End Organic Nursery, which carries 100% organic fertilizers, pest and weed control products, and more. Over 300 varieties of certified organic vegetable starters are sold, so you can transplant them this spring and get your garden off to a great start. You'll also be able to select edible, native, and water-conserving plants for your garden to make it more environmentally friendly. And if you have questions, the nursery always has qualified horticulturalists on hand to help.

Contact us if you're interested in looking at Boise homes for sale or would like to sell your home. Our agents know the area and its housing market very well and can help you buy or sell a home. 

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
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.

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
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. 

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

September
10

Is a Fixer-Upper Right for You?

 

Are you in the market for a new home and considering one that needs work?

Buying a house that requires renovations can be a great way to find a deal, but before you decide to move forward with an offer to purchase, ask yourself some important questions.

 

Can Your Budget Accommodate Renovations and Unexpected Costs?

While you are compiling costs, don't forget to add any permitting expenses. Check your local city, county, and state regulations so you can acquire the appropriate permits and order any inspections that might be required.

When you've finished estimating your budget, add 15% for unexpected expenditures and repairs required by any inspections, such as lead paint removal, mold remediation, etc. The "Murphy's Rule" of thumb is that everything takes longer and costs more than first anticipated!

Further, you'll need to check with your lender to find out whether you will qualify for a conventional mortgage or will need a renovation loan. Be sure to ask your lender about the financing that might be available to you and what type of home to include in (or remove from) your search.

How Much of the Work Can You Handle Yourself?

One way to keep renovation costs down when buying a fixer is to tackle as much of the work as possible yourself, but it's important to be realistic about what projects truly qualify as DIY. If you have experience in the contracting trades or have renovated a home in the past, you may be able to do much of the work yourself. Most people, though, will need to leave the bigger, more expensive projects to the pros. Determine how much of the work is truly cosmetic and what will require more than some new paint or carpet. Check the ego at the door to avoid getting in over your head and, ultimately, spending more money than you have in the budget – or worse, putting yourself in an unsafe situation.

How Soon Do You Need to Move In, and Do You Have a Place to Stay in the Meantime?

If you have a place to stay and don't need to move into the home right away, then time may not be a major issue. If you need to move in ASAP, a fixer-upper might not be the right choice when buying a house. Depending on the level of work that needs to be done, living in the middle of a renovation with nowhere to get away from the mess can create a great deal of stress. Don't let the "romance" of creating your dream keep you from being realistic about the work it involves. The programs on television may make things look easier than they really are.

Do You Have Trusted Service Providers?

No matter how much or how little of the work you can handle DIY, you'll likely still need contractors, an architect, and other service providers to tackle key tasks. It helps to have people you know and trust – or referrals from trusted sources – when coordinating work on a fixer-upper. Having quality service providers helps keep added costs down and makes it easier to keep the project on schedule.

Do You Have a Vision for the Home You'd Like to Create?

Success with a fixer-upper depends in large part on having a plan and being able to see it through to completion. Before you begin looking at homes, do your best to have a vision of the home that you want to create. Then, as you are house-hunting, keep that vision in mind so you can avoid trying to push a round peg through a square hole. If you are set on a 2-story, looking at a single-story with plans to add on might be one bite more than you are ready to take. Again, be realistic in your expectations and plans.

A fixer-upper can be a terrific way to get a great home. Take the steps needed to protect yourself and your investment by doing your research first!

 

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!

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
1

How to Make Your Own Backyard Fire Pit

Backyard Fire Pit Tips

Fire pits are hot these days-- literally and figuratively. They form a focal point for outdoor socializing and can extend your outdoor time with the warmth they provide in the evenings. Plus, let's not forget the joy of making s'mores in the backyard!

You can purchase a pre-made kit or have one professionally installed, but a DIY fire pit is a relatively simple project for a long weekend, and if you'd like to create a fire pit of your own, read on. 

Safety First 

Examine the area where you'd like to build your fire pit. The best spots for fire pits have a non-flammable material such as dirt or stone, and are free of overhanging or nearby branches, and are well away from other potential fuel. Your fire pit should be at least ten feet away from the house or other structures. What should be near your fire pit is a space for an appropriate fire extinguisher that's kept ready each time you light the fire pit. 

The Right Stuff

Stone, cement blocks, and brick make suitable materials for a DIY fire pit, as they can be arranged into almost any shape you want. Retaining wall blocks serve as ideal side material for fire pits. Pavers provide the perfect smooth surface for the bottom of your fire pit. Use paver sand to fill in the gaps and discourage shifting. If your fire pit is deep and you'd like the fire to sit slightly higher in the pit, use river stones or gravel for a non-flammable filler. 

Some Light Upcycling 

Some items require only a little refashioning to make a great fire pit. A large stone, concrete, or terracotta planter makes an excellent fire pit. If you'd like to give concrete casting a try, a container that is a great shape but in a less than ideal material, such as a plastic planter, might make a good mold for a concrete fire pit. 

Light Your Fire 

Only light materials designed to be burned in an outdoor setting. Seasoned wood, pressed wood logs, or gel canisters are all ideal for fire pits. If you use gel canisters, make sure the cap stays handy for extinguishing the flame. Avoid using green wood or other materials not prepared for fueling outdoor fires. If you plan to cook using your fire pit, make sure your fuel is designed for cooking. 

Home design trends come and go, but a fire pit has practical value and is very DIY-friendly. 

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!

April
6

Your Guide to Starting a Garden in Boise

Boise Garden

Now that spring is finally here, it's time to work on starting a garden at your Boise home. While it's still too early to put many plants in the ground, you can plan, prepare, and start some plants indoors to transplant when it gets warmer.

Our REALTORS® share the following guide to starting a garden in Boise:

The Basics of Gardening in our Area 

If you're starting a garden in Boise, your frost-free growing season will start, on average, on May 7. This date will help you start and transplant your seeds at the right time. 

It's also important to use the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Mapwhich helps you learn the plants that are likely to grow well in your area. The map's zones are determined by the average annual minimum winter temperature in every area of the country, and Boise is in zone 6. So, if you read a plant label or look up information about it online, check to see if it's recommended for zone 6. It's no guarantee, of course, but the plant's chances of thriving in this area will be good. 

The Boise area has a relatively short growing season, so many plants will need to be started indoors and then transplanted when there's no longer any danger of frost.

Growing Veggies

  • Cole Crops 
    These include broccoli and cabbage and also apply to lettuce and spinach. They're ideally started indoors in early spring and are transplanted into the garden in early May. They can also be direct seeded into your garden around April 10, but this option is less preferable since the ground may still be unworkable.

  • Onions Starts, Potatoes, and Peas 
    Onion starts, and potatoes can be planted in late March, and pea seeds can be sown at the same time, provided the ground has thawed.

  • Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants 
    Start these indoors in early spring and then prepare to transplant them into the ground in mid-May. You should wait until no more frost is forecast for the season before planting.

  • Summer Veggies 
    Plant these indoors around the first of May and transplant them into the ground after the danger of frost has passed.


Growing Flowers 

  • If you're growing flowers, April is a great time to get started by shearing back groundcovers and using a general fertilizer on your flower bands. Roses should also be pruned.

  • Plant any conifers and shrubs as well as summer bulbs like daylilies and cannas.

  • If you have indoor seedlings, start hardening them off, but shelter them from the wind.

  • Aphids can be a nuisance this time of year, so check your plants for them and blast any of these pests you see with water. Also, set up supports for floppy plants such as peonies.

  • When it's May, remove dead blossoms from tulips, daffodils, and crocuses. Feed your roses and plant annuals to fill in your perennial beds. According to local lore, it's safe to plant when the snow has melted off Shafer Butte north of Boise.

Contact us to learn more about starting a garden in Boise. It's a wonderful way to improve your home's landscaping and make it stand out compared to other Boise homes for sale when you're ready to put it on the market.

March
19

Spring Tips for Cleaning & Disinfecting Your Home

Spokane Landscaping Trends

COVID-19 is a new reality that is now affecting our homes and the way we live. It's more important than ever to clean and sanitize your home. We've combined a spring-cleaning checklist with tips from the CDC to help you protect your home. Here are some best practices to keep your home clean and virus-free.


Disinfecting Your Home

 

General Spring Cleaning Tips

  • Start with a general de-cluttering in each room

  • Strip beds, wash pillows & comforters

  • Deep clean mattresses - sprinkle baking soda, let stand, then vacuum

  • Dust and clean walls & baseboards

  • Clean window sills & sliding door tracks

  • Dispose of expired meds at approved drug take-back location

  • Donate old blankets & towels to an animal shelter

  • Clean all remote controls with alcohol and cotton swabs

  • Remove stove knobs and soak in white vinegar; clean stove face

  • Clean & sanitize light switches, doorknobs, microwave buttons, fridge handle

  • Scrub inside & outside of all garbage cans

  • Clean & de-scale coffee maker

  • Replace all sponges

  • Dust and clean ceiling fans - don't forget the top

  • Wash all pet toys

  • Clean & sanitize washing machine according to the manufacturer's directions

 

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.

October
28

How to Create Storage Space in Your Home

Adding Storage to Your Home

Our REALTORS® at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson show clients the best Boise homes for sale every day of the week. One of the most critical steps to making a home sales-ready is easily overlooked: Organizing and de-cluttering the space.

Even if a home is immaculate, it can look messy when there's too much "stuff."

Organizing items and putting them away helps prospective buyers visualize what it would be like to live in the home. 

Unfortunately, getting organized can be a lot tougher than it looks!

One vital step to getting there is finding enough storage space. Even if you aren't planning on selling just yet, it's still a good idea to take a close look at where your things go when you're not using them. 

Here's how to create extra storage space in almost any home:

  1. Use Storage Systems in Closets
    It's all too easy for a hallway closet to become a "catch-all" where things go when you don't expect to use them for months. By installing shelves or a simple organizational system you can buy at any major housewares store, it'll be easier for you to see at a glance what's inside.
  2. Utilize Vertical Space
    Vertical space can be surprisingly valuable. Vertically-oriented bookshelves can hold a great deal of material in a minimal footprint. Specialized vertical racks can be purchased for things like DVDs, shoes, toys, and many other small items that might end up scattered.
  3. Set Aside a Place to Discard Things
    If you set aside a box for items you want to donate, you'll quickly find it getting full. You never have to get rid of things you want, of course, but you will have the chance to get rid of items that are getting in the way. 
  4. Tidy Up Ten Minutes a Night
    One of the biggest decluttering challenges comes when things end up on the floor. To become mindful of these things in a hurry, set a ten-minute timer each night to pick items up. Pay attention not only to what winds up on the floor, but where you end up putting it. You might learn you need a new piece of storage furniture to help.
  5. Utilize Under-Stair Storage
    Multi-story homes have many storage opportunities. The space beneath stairs can be fitted with custom cupboards, shelves, or drawers to meet your exact needs. Each of these could be for one specific type of item.
  6. Hang Things
    Hanging certain items from the ceiling is one of the latest trends in home storage. Hanging pots, pans, and cooking utensils over a kitchen island is especially helpful. Not only can you access things quickly, but it is easier to wash them and return them where they belong.
  7. Convert Your Attic into a Storage Room
    Most Boise homes have traditional gabled roofs with shingles, and an attic is an architectural necessity. However, that doesn't mean you can't use the attic how you want to! Instead of leaving it idle or letting it get cluttered, use the other organizing tips to turn it into a real storage room.

Need to get your home in shape to sell? Our experts will help with personalized advice. Contact us to find out more.

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 9:04:10 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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