Meridian Blog

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Dec. 24, 2018

Meridian Winter Home Preparation – Important Things To Do

Meridian Winter Home PreparationAs far as home repair tips go, staying on top of home maintenance is valuable advice. You can’t indefinitely put off every maintenance issue you view as non-essential. At some point, those pesky little items will demand attention, and it will likely be in the form of winter home repair—during the time of year home improvement pros note when making those repairs is practically impossible. Investing some time for Meridian winter home preparation will pay off peace-of-mind dividends you’ll appreciate when the icy wind blows, and the snow is falling outside.

Keeping Ahead of Repairs With Winter Home Maintenance  

In Meridian, winter home maintenance should start in the later summer or early fall with the exterior of your home. Pick a sunny weekend afternoon so you won’t be fighting miserable weather while you try to prepare your house for just those conditions. Allstate Insurance recommends starting at the top, with the roof and gutters. Though summer weather is nicer, extreme heat and summer storms can do as much damage as winter weather. Clean off any leaves, twigs, or other debris that may have collected on the roof, then inspect the shingles. Secure loose ones and replace missing ones. Also, make note of any potential leaks and schedule winter home repair with a professional roofer to avoid a major issue after the bad weather hits.

Restoration Master classifies gutter care as part of winter home maintenance of the roof. As long as you’re up on the ladder, it’s a good time to clean leaves out of gutters to keep them draining optimally. Seal seams and downspouts, too, to prevent leaks from seeping water near windows and doors.

And speaking of windows and doors—they’re the next items on the winter home maintenance list. Warm air stays in your home better, and the cold is kept at bay when these areas of the home are well-sealed. Repair or replace caulking and weather-stripping on all your doors and windows every few years as needed.

Winter Prep Home Repair Tips Inside the House

Fixing broken pipes can be a winter home repair issue in Meridian if it gets unusually cold as it does some years, but it’s one that can be avoided with some preventative winter home maintenance. Place pipe insulation around exposed plumbing in the attic, crawlspace or basement. You don’t need to fully heat your crawlspace or basement, but it’s a good idea to keep the temperature at or above 40 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent pipes from freezing.  A good way to help out your crawlspace is to close the foundation vents at the same time you are cleaning out your gutters.  Doing so will help maintain an above freezing temperature.

Change the furnace filter, and have it serviced to ensure there aren’t any issues that will keep it from working through the winter. Every few years be sure to ask the HVAC specialist to check the air ducts for leaks and seal any that he finds.  A programmable thermostat is a wonderful way to save a few dollars in heating costs each winter and helps avoid coming home to a cold home after work.

Most newer Meridian homes have gas fireplaces which typically don’t need much maintenance but some older Meridian homes have wood fireplaces. They’re charming, cozy spots to gather during chilly Idaho winter evenings. Winter home maintenance should always include cleaning the fireplace and getting the chimneys cleaned, too. Removing ash and vacuuming out the interior of the fireplace minimizes dust and soot around your home and, since buildup inside the chimney is a hazard, getting it cleaned is a safety issue, too.

One final item on your winter home maintenance list is checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them to ensure they’re working properly and change out the batteries once a year so you can trust they’ll still work if and when you need them to.

If you’re in the market for a home this winter, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call to find out more about Meridian or the rest of Southwestern Idaho and for a personal tour of the area along with some great homes that fit your style and budget.

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com.

Posted in Buying, Selling
Dec. 7, 2018

Meridian Idaho Home Inspections—Are They Necessary?

Meridian Idaho Home InspectionsFirst-time homebuyers are often surprised at the number of fees associated with buying a house. If a mortgage lender is involved, there will be a few extras such as application fees, origination fees, mortgage insurance fees, credit report fee, etc. Of course, even if the buyer isn’t paying for the house with a mortgage, there are still items like title insurance, appraisals, and inspections that will need to be paid for. Whether you’re prepared for those costs or not, they’re all ones that typically can’t be avoided, though the actual dollar amounts as well as who pays for them can sometimes be negotiable. In the end, many of those items protect the buyer along with the lender. For example, getting an appraisal ensures that the home is worth at least what you are paying.  You might wonder, though, why both Idaho home inspections and appraisals are needed.

We Got An Appraisal—Why Are Idaho Home Inspections Necessary?

Unless you know the difference between a home inspection and an appraisal, you probably wonder why it is necessary to have both of them done. Realtor.com explains that the appraisal mostly focuses on the home’s value. Appraisers consider factors such as the size of the lot the house is sitting on, the size of the structure itself, the quality of the finishes and the condition it’s in. Other aspects that affect the value the appraiser assigns to the home include the location, how close it is to stores, businesses, schools, and other public amenities.

While the appraiser takes the condition of the home into consideration when valuing it, Meridian Idaho home inspections are all about how well the home was built or how well the house has been maintained. It’s likely the appraisal may make a note of things such as broken windows, missing roof tiles, or damaged flooring. The inspector will mention those issues but has his own home inspection checklist that goes much deeper to areas not obvious and will cover other features that might not be problems at the moment but could be potential trouble down the road. Examples of concerns Meridian Idaho home inspections could turn up include problems that may be present in the attic, crawlspace, with the electrical wiring, plumbing grade that slopes toward the house rather than away from it, the presence of mold, and foundation issues.

Meridian Idaho home inspections indicate whether the issues are a matter of safety or are minor defects, as well as whether they need immediate attention or should simply have an eye kept on them over time. Many of the items an inspector may find may not be deal breakers, but they could be cause for renegotiating the sales price or having part of the proceeds set aside in escrow to pay for resolving them after closing if the lender will allow that.  Most issues are resolved prior to escrow closing to protect you and the lender. 

Idaho Home Inspections Benefit Buyers

The typical price of a Meridian Idaho home inspection is from around $300 to about $500 depending on the size or age of the house among other things. Considering the buyer is looking at spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a house, it’s well worth it to spend a few hundred more to ensure he knows as much as possible about the home. As Forbes puts it, Idaho home inspections give buyers the big picture of a property, and can often be a much-needed dose of reality.  Jeff Stewart of Stewart Realty explains that it is like buying an insurance policy for your bank account so that after you close escrow you don’t find that you have a $20,000 problem lurking in your attic or crawlspace.

Let’s say you find your dream house. It’s in the perfect neighborhood, close to the best schools, and with a short commute to work. It’s the right color, has the amenities you’re looking for, and a few extras you didn’t know you wanted until you saw them. When a house checks all the boxes on your wish list, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to potential problems such as a faulty foundation or extreme concerns about the plumbing. However, Idaho home inspections shine a light on those issues that could turn your dream home into a house of horrors. There are times when the results of an inspection can change the buyer’s mind about a house, but mostly they’re a valuable tool for negotiating. They provide justification for requesting a price reduction or asking the seller to pay for repairs.

What’s more, the issues the inspector recommends monitoring help the buyer estimate when future repairs will probably need to be done or when specific things might need replacing. One of the items on the examiner’s home inspection checklist is to note the approximate age of the water heater and other elements such as the plumbing and HVAC system. Since water heaters, for example, have a life expectancy of around 10 to 15 years, the new homeowner will have an idea of when he’ll need to replace it in the coming years.

Home Inspection Advantages for Sellers

Real estate and remodeling pros advise that sellers can use Meridian Idaho home inspections to their advantage. Having your own inspection before you list your home will give you a realistic view of your house and allow you to address problems before the property goes on the market. Jeff Stewart of Stewart Realty calls this a “Preemptive Strike” which allows you to resolve items so that a buyer’s inspector will never even bring them up and will help you keep your deal together. At the very least, you’ll be aware of issues that the buyer’s inspector will come across and can disclose any you choose not to resolve before the sale. That’s not to say that all Idaho home inspections are identical line by line, but each examiner’s home inspection checklist is similar, and it’s rare for there to be significant differences between two inspections of the same property.

If you invest in an inspection before putting your house on the market, home inspection tips for sellers start with doing an amateur inspection on your own. Take stock of things you think the examiner will notice, such as peeling paint, loose steps, dripping faucets, or non-working electrical outlets—then fix them. Those will be items that the inspector and appraiser will call out anyway, so why not take care of them early? It will mean having less to worry about when your home is inspected and having your house in excellent repair will look impressive to potential buyers. 

Home Inspection Tips

When listing home inspection tips, remodel and construction experts say buyers should be part of the process. Show up for the inspection and don’t be afraid to ask about things you don’t understand or are concerned with. That will be easier to do if you’ve gone through the house prior to the inspection and made notes about possible issues so you can ask the inspector about them or at least ask him to pay extra attention to them.

You aren’t along for the ride to look over the inspector’s shoulder, but do pay attention to his process and make sure he examines the house thoroughly. Idaho home inspections should cover the entire house, top to bottom.  The inspector should literally go up on the roof to assess its condition and check for missing flashing around the chimney. He’ll likely survey the exterior of the entire house looking at trim, siding, stucco, and masonry as well as checking the foundation and noting whether the grade encourages water to flow away from the house.

Inside, Idaho home inspections include checking out the attic for sufficient insulation, proper ventilation, and air leaks. In the basement, the examiner will look for signs of water problems, cracks in the foundation, and whether there have been any noticeable repairs. He’ll also take pictures and mark down notes on cosmetic issues, electrical problems including malfunctioning GFCI outlets, potential trouble with moisture, and plumbing, heating, and cooling issues. 

Do You Need a Home Inspection Checklist?

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, if you would like to do your own inspection before the professional looks at the house, it will be helpful to have a home inspection checklist to follow. Experienced inspectors follow similar procedures that you can follow, as well. Of course, the pros have been trained and are more skilled and knowledgeable than most homeowners and homebuyers. However, having a basic home inspection checklist will give you an idea of knowing what Idaho home inspections experts look at to help you understand the process better.

Home inspectors take a comprehensive look at the homes they’re examining starting with the structure itself to ensure that everything looks good from the outside such as whether it appears to be straight and not sagging or bowed, as well as whether doorframes and windows are square. Some people may be surprised to learn that Idaho home inspections also include an examination of the grounds. That means the inspector will note any standing water, apparent septic tank leaks, problems with sidewalks, driveways, patios, and exterior structures.

Other elements on the home inspection checklist cover ensuring ceilings, walls, and floors are level, doors are operating properly, that insulation is adequate, and if there are issues with fireplaces and wood burning and gas stoves, appliances, electrical, and plumbing systems. The inspector will even test handrails near stairs, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and automatic garage doors to ensure there are no safety issues with even the smallest element in the home. In the end, Idaho home inspections are a vital part of the home buying and home selling process.

If you have questions about home inspections regarding Meridian Idaho Homes or to find out more about Meridian or the rest of Southwestern Idaho give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call for a personal tour of the area and some great homes that fit your style and budget.

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com.

Posted in Buying, Selling
Nov. 19, 2018

Meridian Idaho Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Meridian Idaho Fall Home Maintenance TipsBecause of its location in an area that is subject to freezing temperatures in the winter, Meridian Idaho fall home maintenance should always include winterizing outdoor irrigation systems. According to residential and commercial irrigation pros, both rigid and flexible pipes in irrigation systems can experience damage from freezing water. When it comes to Meridian Idaho home repairs, fixing a burst pipe in an irrigation system can be spendy. Improvenet lists the cost of the job to be almost $670 but in reality you should be able to get a local sprinkler guy out to fix a leak for a few hundred dollars, assuming there is only one or two pipes that have cracked. What you actually end up paying will depend on how deep the pipes are buried and how extensive the damage is. Plus, remember that a burst pipe can cause other damage in your yard including digging up the grass or flowerbeds, so the price of replacing it is just one small part of the total amount it could end up costing you. However, if a little Meridian Idaho fall home maintenance can reduce the chances of a pipe breaking, winterizing your irrigation system is one of the best home maintenance tips you could follow.  It is simple, cheap  and easy to do as sprinkler blow out services for most yards should run under $50.  Definitely a good investment!

Best Home Maintenance Tips for Winterization

There are three different methods for winterizing irrigation systems. Which one you use depends on the type of system you have. The company that did the installation should be able to tell you whether the manual, automatic, or blowout draining method applies to your irrigation system. However, professional landscapers say the blowout method is the most effective of the three, and it can be used on pretty much any type of system to help ensure Meridian Idaho home repairs don’t have to include fixing broken irrigation pipes. Keep in mind that the blowout method is also the most dangerous means of performing this particular Meridian Idaho fall home maintenance. It utilizes a powerful air compressor which can cause serious injury if not used properly, so it is recommended that you hire a professional to do the job if you haven’t had experience working with a compressor that has a rating of 80 to 100.

Regardless of which process you use, the first step for all the methods is to turn off the water supply to the system at the main shutoff valve. Sprinkler and irrigation pros recommend installing a main valve to the system if you don’t have one already. It’s a valuable investment because it allows you to turn off the water supply directly for the entire system in an emergency.

The automatic drain method is the easiest of the three, so Meridian Idaho fall home maintenance goes quicker. Once the water is turned off to the system, just activate the automatic drain. This will reduce the water pressure in the pipes and, once it drops below 10 PSI, drain valves situated at the low points and end of the pipes will automatically open. When the mainline is empty, you’ll need to open the end-of-line valves (the boiler drain and the waste drains) to drain any water that remains between the backflow mechanism and the shutoff valve. Even with automatic systems, you still need to manually pull up the sprinklers, if they have check valves, and open the test cocks on the backflow device to ensure the entire system is optimally drained.

If you have a manual drain system, you’ll be spending a little more time on Meridian Idaho fall home maintenance. The process is similar to the automatic system, but you will have to open all of the drain valves throughout the system by hand before proceeding with the end-of-line valves, the backflow mechanism, and the sprinkler heads. Go through your entire system, manually opening the drain valves and leave each one open as you move to the next one. This will give them time to drain as completely as possible while you attend to the other valves and mechanisms. Then, work backward through the system, closing up all the manual valves as a last step.

Completing the Steps for Meridian Idaho Fall Home Maintenance

Draining your irrigation system is among the best home maintenance tips for home winterization, but there’s more to it than just getting the water out. Failing to complete the additional steps necessary for preparing your system can result in additional damage and the need for more Meridian Idaho home repairs.

After you’ve gone through the steps of draining water from the system, the air compressor should be disconnected, and air pressure must be released. Backflow devices that have ball valves should be opened and closed several times. If any water seeped down into that area of the system from the upper parts, this step will allow it to drain out. You’ll also want to leave the isolation valves about half-open, as well as open test cocks.

All the steps for Meridian Idaho fall home maintenance are essential, but the best home maintenance tips that involve winterizing your irrigation system include insulation. Draining water from the system and relieving air pressure is only half of the job. Those steps certainly help protect the pipes, valves, and various mechanisms from damage, but insulating the system offers an extra element of insurance against additional Meridian Idaho home repairs.

Finally, take care of the irrigation system controllers. If your controllers are mounted outside, you shouldn’t need to insulate them, as the transformer will emanate enough heat to prevent freezing, and it should also be enough to keep condensation from building up inside the enclosure. Naturally, freezing and condensation issues don’t affect controllers mounted indoors. What is necessary for Meridian Idaho fall home maintenance where controllers are concerned is to keep power running to them, but turn the switch or dial to “off.” That way, valve run times, start times, and other programmed information won’t be lost, and the system will stay on schedule throughout the winter. It just won’t activate and come on while the switch is in the off position. Your irrigation system will be right on time and ready to go in the spring when you turn it back on and reopen the main valve to fill the pipes back up.

Busy schedules can keep homeowners from tackling Meridian Idaho fall home maintenance themselves, and it’s understandable to want to hire a professional to do the job. On the other hand, unless your system is configured to require the blowout method, draining an irrigation system isn’t difficult and not excessively time-consuming. A couple of hours on a fall afternoon is all you need to methodically go through the steps to get your system ready for the winter. What you save on hiring out for professional service along with the money saved on Meridian Idaho home repairs is worth the time and effort.

To find out more about Meridian Idaho fall home maintenance, as well as the best home maintenance tips for all of Southwestern Idaho, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call. Jeff grew up in the area and has over a decade’s experience in home building and maintenance as well as buying, selling, and renting real estate.

Jeff Stewart

For a personal tour of the area and some great homes that fit your style and budget, call Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or drop him an email at jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com

Posted in Buying, Selling
Nov. 5, 2018

What Makes a Great Meridian Idaho Neighborhood?

What Makes a Great Meridian Idaho Neighborhood?Shopping for your new home doesn't start with the house itself. You begin by looking at what areas of a city you'd like to live in, then focus on what existing homes or new construction opportunities are available. Sure, great Meridian Idaho neighborhood homes are important, but when you already live in a terrific area, you might not give much thought to what makes a great neighborhood. Here are a few neighborhood tips that will get you thinking about what elements are essential in the surrounding area if you've been thinking about buying a home.

It Fits Your Life

There are many factors to consider when looking for a great neighborhood, but Forbes kicks off their list of neighborhood tips with matching your lifestyle. Take a look at the demographics. People whose lives are similar to yours are living in the neighborhoods you'll likely love. For example, families tend to gravitate toward areas that have single-family dwellings with yards rather than townhouses or condos. Before looking for great neighborhood homes, take a tour of a few different neighborhoods in the area and shop for houses in the ones that feel like home.

Terrific Common Areas and Lots to Do

The best cities put a lot of thought into planning, and great neighborhoods are built around places for people to meet and also offer a variety of things to do, according to the Project for Public Spaces. Parks, youth sports programs, greenways, amphitheaters, and activity centers are hallmarks of a great neighborhood, and they get extra marks if they're as appealing and comfortable as they are conveniently located. Those types of areas in a neighborhood offer things to do, but a really great neighborhood also has access to amenities such as shopping, entertainment, libraries, and restaurants, too.  Meridian Idaho is that kind of place! AreaVibes is an excellent resource for seeing what extras a city offers and which neighborhoods are closest to the things you like to do the most.

High Curb Appeal, Low Crime

You probably won't find great neighborhood homes in areas where residents have no pride of ownership or crime rate is high. There's a reason you're drawn to places where the other houses in the area are well-kept and the yards cared for. That's what you want for your home, and the surrounding houses should reflect that. The local chamber of commerce or the Idaho State Police website is a good place to get crime rate information on individual neighborhoods, but so are neighborhood watch groups and local police precincts.

Neighborhood Groups

And speaking about neighborhood watch groups, having one is an additional feature of the best neighborhoods. It's part of that pride of ownership issue combined with controlling crime. The National Crime Prevention Council says that neighborhood watch groups are among the most effective crime prevention tools available. Group meetings are a place to socialize and get to know your neighbors, as well as to actively make your neighborhood a great place to live.

Other types of neighborhood groups exist, too, for getting together with those nearby who have similar interests. Some cities have groups that serve specific blocks as well as ones that cover larger sections of the city. You may find special interest neighborhood groups formed for a variety of reasons from special issues regarding parks or schools to neighborhood book clubs, knitting circles, and yard and gardening organizations.

Super Schools

Families with children of any age will want to find great neighborhood homes in areas that have access to great schools and all the auxiliary programs for kids associated with them. In addition to being a benefit and a convenience, however, Realtor.com reveals that proximity to good schools also increases home values and the same is true in Meridian, Idaho.  In fact Meridian has a number of school options such as Charter and Magnet Schools that give parents great choices for their kids.

For local tips and advice on the best neighborhoods in Meridian Idaho or the rest of Southwestern Idaho give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call at 208-602-1993. He'll be happy to give you a personal tour of terrific neighborhoods that match your lifestyle and great neighborhood homes that fit your style and budget.

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com  

Posted in Buying, Selling
Oct. 25, 2018

Tips for a Successful Home Sale in Meridian, Idaho

According to the National Association of Realtors, (https://www.nar.realtor/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics) homes right now typically spend an average of about 4 weeks on the market, and typically sellers end up getting very close if not over their asking price.  The average is running around 98 percent of the original list price in Meridian, Idaho. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as simply listing your home then sitting back to wait for a bidding war to ensue. Selling your home requires some work on your part, and successful Realtors have an arsenal of home sale tips to help you understand what to do and what not to worry about.

Basic Advice

Basic home sale tips are common sense. Clean the house thoroughly and clear out clutter to minimize distraction and make the home have a comfortable feel, but not too sterile. Take care of minor repairs such as broken doorknobs, locks, and windows. Touch up scuffs on the walls and baseboards, or invest some time and effort in repainting some of the rooms. Replace old faucets and light fixtures, as well as broken tiles on floors or countertops. Staging is typically effective to add to the success of selling your home in Meridian. It's a technique for showcasing your house in an inviting light, and it requires more than cleaning up. You need to be able to look at your house through the eyes of a potential buyer, and you might want to enlist the help of a professional designer or home stager. Fox News offers some home sale tips for staging such as rearranging furniture to make rooms more inviting, presenting spare rooms in unique ways, such as creating an office or cozy guest room, and partially clearing out closets to make them look spacious. Also, staging can extend outside of the house, so clean up the exterior of your home. Landscape the yard, and arrange patio furniture or a bistro table and chairs to create an attractive outdoor setting.

Sweeten the Deal

Sometimes, the seller's success in staging a home is what makes the sale. The buyer falls in love with everything about the house, including the furnishings. So kicking in bits of personal property can help close the deal for Meridian home sales. What you're willing to leave behind is up to you, but some suggestions include patio furniture, the gas barbecue grill, at least one flat screen TV, and the surround-sound system if you have one.

Take Some Advice

Whether or not this is the first time selling your home, it's always good to have access to an experienced real estate agent. Reader's Digest recommends finding an agent you can rely on and following their advice. They're professionals with tons of home sale tips that can help you successfully sell your home. An agent can tell you what similar homes in the area are selling for and can get you in to tour of some of them so you can ensure your house is in better than comparable condition to sell quickly and command a good price. They'll have ideas for staging your house that you didn't even think of and a Realtor has the skills to negotiate for you when the time comes.

To learn more about selling your home, call Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty. His extensive background in construction, property appraisal, and the local Meridian Idaho Housing Market will give you the edge you need for successfully selling your home quickly and for the highest value.

The team at Stewart Realty knows homes and they know Southwest Idaho real estate. To find out more about real estate in the Boise Region give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call to set up your personal real estate search, a personal tour of the area and find some great homes that fit your needs and budget.

Compose Your Personal MLS Search With Us:
http://StewartRealtyllc.com or http://HomesInMeridian.com

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com

Posted in Selling
Oct. 10, 2018

Protecting the Investment in Your Meridian Idaho Home

For many people, buying a house is the most important investment they'll make, so protecting your home is a logical move that helps ensure you are safeguarded against unexpected circumstances. Home protection in Meridian, Idaho, can mean more than one thing. First, homeowners insurance is a way of protecting your investment from disasters that can damage or destroy it. Plus, insurance companies allow customers to customize home protection plans to include more than basic replacement in the event of a tragedy, as well as additional coverage for catastrophes that are more likely to happen in certain areas of the country.

Additionally, modern technology has made protecting your home with a home security system affordable and commonplace. In the past, home protection plans to optimize the safety of your family and security of your house were costly and complicated. These days, however, security systems for home protection in are easy to install and, many times, having one will make protecting you home with an insurance policy less expensive.

Protecting Your Home With Insurance

If you take out a mortgage on your house, the lender will require that you also have an insurance policy in place protecting your home so they will get their money back if the house burns down or some other disaster befalls it. Even though there are no laws that require home protection in Meridian through insurance if you own your house free and clear, it's still wise to buy a policy for the same reason a mortgager insists on one.

When it comes to insurance policies, not all home protection plans are the same, and most are adeptly written to only pay out if damage is incurred under specific circumstances. Investopedia explains that the verbiage in insurance policies usually restricts coverage to damage that happens accidentally and suddenly. That means a basic policy will typically cover damage from fire, hail, high winds, and theft, but won't necessarily cover a roof that collapses because of its age, damage that happens from a slow and unknown roof leak rather than from storm damage. Also, if you have any outbuildings that aren't attached to the house such as a shop or garage, you should make sure your policy addresses those structures, too. If it doesn't, damage to those buildings may not be covered. 

While insurance policies don't normally cover destruction from earthquakes, floods, mold infestation, neglected repairs, or acts of terrorism or war, you can typically buy home protection plans with additional coverage that addresses any or all of those specific instances. Mortgage lenders even require protecting your home with extra coverage in some cases, for instance such as stipulating you must buy flood insurance if your house is in a flood plain.

Insurance for home protection in Idaho goes above and beyond insuring just the replacement cost of your house and its contents. In today's litigious society, liability coverage is more important than ever. If someone trips on your porch and breaks an arm, you are liable, but homeowners insurance with liability will cover the cost of medical care. If a neighbor's house is damaged because of your negligence, such as from an unattended charcoal grill resulting in fire, the liability coverage kicks in. Even if your pet causes injury or damage, liability insurance should cover the cost.  You can also take out what is called an umbrella liability policy that covers very high amounts of liability.  These are typically very inexpensive for what you get.

Angie's List points out that insurance policies can be purchased to cover more than just home protection. If a disaster occurs that causes you to have to live elsewhere because of damage to your house, the right policy will ensure you don't have to worry about alternative housing costs. Insurance for additional living expenses will pay for restaurant and hotel bills among other expenditures you might have while your home is being repaired.

One more optional type of insurance that some may want to consider adding to home protection plans would cover a home business. According to the NEA website, your homeowners policy may offer some coverage but, especially if customers and clients will be coming to your home, you should ask your insurance agent about adding on an endorsement to cover a home-based business. It's an expense you can pay for and write off through the business, and you'll be happy for the extra coverage if someone is injured on your property while there on a business-related matter.

Ensuring the insurance policy you have is sufficient for protecting your home requires more time than clicking a few boxes on a website and entering your banking information for electronic payment. It's better to make an appointment with an insurance agent and spend some time talking about your specific needs and which home protection plans fit those needs. An agent can help make sure you get the best coverage that fits your budget and will walk you through the factors that affect what you'll pay for home protection in Meridian, Idaho. For example, your premium will depend on where you live, how much your home and its contents are insured for, what additional endorsements you purchase, and even what your credit score is. Don't be afraid to shop around. Do talk with more than one agent and get multiple quotes for comparable coverage, but don't jump at the lowest rates. Dig a little deeper and find out about the reputation of the company in addition to what kind of coverage and rates they offer.

Home Security for Home Protection in Meridian

Overall, Idaho is considered a very safe place to live, and Meridian even ranks among the safest cities in the nation with a crime rate 56 percent lower than the national average, according to AreaVibes. However, no place is entirely free from crime, making home security a vital part of protecting your home. How far you go for home protection is a personal choice, and can be as simple as securing all entrances with new locks and adopting a pet that can double as an alarm system and bodyguard for the family.

On the other hand, even with a dog on the premises, you may feel safer protecting your home with a security system. Considering that the U.S. Department of Justice reports that, on the average, 3.7 million households are burglarized each year, beefing up home protection with cameras, monitors, and alarms understandably provides homeowners with extra peace of mind.

Fortunately, home security systems are better than ever. Cutting-edge technology puts advanced equipment at your disposal, and it's all surprisingly reasonably priced. What makes security home protection plans even more affordable and attractive is that having one installed can get you a break on the price of homeowners insurance as well as increase the value of your home if and when you want to sell it. In fact, according to Home Advisor, installing a home security system ranks up there with finishing a basement or redoing the kitchen when you want to increase the sales price of a home, but it's far less expensive than those construction projects.

There are a variety of types of systems for home protection in Meridian Idaho. Some companies sell packages and base the pricing on what each one includes. Examples of some features are alarms on each entrance including the windows, security cameras, different types of keyless entry options such as numerical keypads or fingerprint recognition, and monitoring services. Most homes only require a basic system, but each homeowner chooses the options that appeal to them for convenience as well as home protection in Meridian. They might like the idea of a security company monitoring their system because, for a small monthly fee, the company will notify the authorities if an emergency occurs. The Chicago Tribune points out that monitoring isn't required for the alarm system to work, but it's a valuable addition to any system.

Many systems are now incorporating fire, flood, and carbon monoxide detectors along with intrusion alarms for protecting your home against dangers not related to break-ins. Additionally, you can have cameras installed in areas other than entrances to help you keep an eye on your children or pets. What's more, many people love that their system can be set up so that they can remotely adjust the thermostat in their home, turn lights and appliances off and on, and even view the camera feeds using an app on their smartphone or tablet. One popular system includes a microphone and speaker with a camera at the front door so you can see who's ringing the bell as well as send them away or let them in from anywhere in the house--or the world!--as long as you have Wi-Fi access. On top of it all, many systems are wireless, meaning no major construction or drilling holes in walls is required to install the system you want.

If you are house shopping, you'll want to keep issues for home protection in Meridian in mind as you view homes that interest you. Be on the lookout for structural concerns or locations far from fire protection that might affect insurance rates, and take note of homes that already have security systems installed.

The professionals at Stewart Realty have the experience to help you with both matters vital for protecting your home. To find out more about Meridian Homes for Sale or the rest of Southwestern Idaho, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call for a personal tour of the area and some great homes that fit your style and budget.

The team at Stewart Realty knows homes and they know Southwest Idaho real estate. To find out more about real estate in the Boise Region give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call to set up your personal real estate search, a personal tour of the area and find some great homes that fit your needs and budget.

Compose Your Personal MLS Search With Us:
http://StewartRealtyllc.com or http://HomesInMeridian.com

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com

Posted in Buying, Selling
April 15, 2018

Outdoor Living Space Design Ideas

Idaho is now attracting attention. In fact, Vogue lists the Gem State as one of the top 10 travel destinations in the world, citing our outdoor lifestyle as the main draw. Those who already live here in Meridian love taking advantage of the hiking, biking, skiing, hunting, fishing, camping, whitewater rafting and more that is so accessible statewide. Additionally, outdoor space designs allow Idahoans to take optimal advantage of nature's beauty by turning outdoor spaces into living spaces.

Taking the Basic Outdoor Lifestyle Up a Notch

Patios and decks were the precursors for modern Meridian outdoor living. Patio furniture and barbecue grills turned the backyard into second living and dining rooms. While that's a good start, current outdoor space designs create comfortable and convenient areas outdoors that are livable, and they can increase the value of your home while also appealing to buyers, according to HGTV. You can start out basic with outdoor space designs and add on as you need or want to.

For example, building a roof over your deck or patio provides shade from the sun and protection from the rain, instantly making it more usable more frequently. A roof and one or two partial walls make the space seem more room-like, and adding indoor decor such as area rugs, chair side tables, and throw pillows enhances the indoors-outside-feel even more. Better Homes and Gardens advises that a fire source is a necessity for Meridian outdoor living especially to extend the usable season into the late fall. Whether it's a chiminea, fire pit or a full-sized fireplace, it will add a cozy element perfect for any size gathering. 

The Outdoor Lifestyle--One Step Further

Eating and entertaining outdoors is one of the best parts about Meridian outdoor living. No one wants to be stuck inside cooking and preparing drinks, so some of the latest outdoor space designs bring the kitchen out of the house. Your fire source can always double as a place to cook, but it's much more convenient to have a cooktop and an oven built into counter space right on the patio.

What's more, many decks and patios now have built-in bars. In addition to offering seating options and counter space, they also have mini freezers and fridges for keeping ice and cool drinks handy as well as including fully-functioning sinks for easy cleanup and supplying running water.

Any Usable Space

While decks and patios are what most people consider the best locations for implementing outdoor space designs, House Beautiful encourages creativity in finding unique spots on a specific property for Meridian outdoor living. Rooftops and areas over garages or additions can be repurposed to expand your outdoor lifestyle and a gazebo or similar structure can be constructed in an empty space in the yard to create or extend outdoor space designs. To make the experience most enjoyable it is always good to think about prevailing breeze patterns to keep your outdoor living area sheltered in the cooler months when designing your area.

As popular as Meridian outdoor living is, many homes on the market either have features that facilitate the outdoor lifestyle or at least have a good start that you can take as far as you want, implementing whatever outdoor space designs appeal to you. The professionals at Stewart Realty can help you find a home with the outdoor features you're looking for.

To find out more about homes that exemplify Meridian outdoor living or the outdoor lifestyle in the rest of Southwestern Idaho, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call for a tour of the area and some great homes that fit your style, budget and dreams!

The team at Stewart Realty knows homes and they know Southwest Idaho real estate. To find out more about real estate in the Boise Region give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call to set up your personal real estate search, a personal tour of the area and find some great homes that fit your needs and budget.

Compose Your Personal MLS Search With Us:
http://StewartRealtyllc.com or http://HomesInMeridian.com

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com

Posted in Selling
March 20, 2018

Increasing the Selling Value of Your Home

When selling your Meridian, Idaho home, everyone wants to get the highest sales price that they can.  Any home you purchase is an investment, and no successful investor is happy to lose money or break even in the end. You want to be able to upgrade with your next home, and aiming for a higher home selling price than what you purchased it for will facilitate that. Increasing your home’s potential value in Meridian, Idaho can be done in a variety of ways and on a pricing scale that ranges from economical to expensive. The things you do to increase home value will depend on how much higher you want your home selling price to be, how much time you have to get the home sold, and how much money you want to or can invest in bringing up your home's value without spending too much.

Fast and Inexpensive

Cleaning up and decluttering is just two of the simplest ways to increase home value, and they are also the most affordable things you can do. Give every room a thorough cleaning, organize the kitchen, bathroom, and home office, and get rid of clutter.  Clean, simple and no distractions! You'll need to do that last one before moving, anyway, so carting off Goodwill donations first can help sell your home. According to Consumer Reports, this step alone has the potential of a 3 to 5% return. Also, do some maintenance in the bathroom, like re-grouting and caulking. That step alone can make a bathroom look like new again.

Quick and low-cost ways to boost your home value in Idaho include:

  • Power-washing your home’s exterior, walkways, driveways, patios, decks, fences, etc.
  • Cleaning up the yard--trimming trees and bushes and landscaping.  Re-barking flower beds.
  • Cleaning windows, light fixtures, replacing old light bulbs.
  • Painting the front door and touchup of exterior and interior paint, especially baseboards.
  • Fixing the doorbell or anything else that doesn’t work properly.

Low-Cost Improvements

A fresh coat of paint is go-to advice most Realtors will tell you really works. If you do the painting yourself, all it will cost is the price of the paint, brushes, and other small odds-and-ends you'll need to do the job which typically saves you half or more over hiring a professional. On the inside, you don't even have to re-paint every room. Give the walls in the living room and bedrooms a good cleaning, and just paint the kitchen and bathroom. Stick to neutral shades such as light yellows, tans, or grays. On the outside, the trim might be the only thing that needs paint but keep that low-key, too.

If your house is a bit outdated and you have a little to spend This Old House lists additional fixes that increase home value and aren't too expensive:

  • Updating and upgrading light fixtures
  • Replacing broken tiles on the floor and countertops
  • Replacing the toilet seat (if not the entire toilet)

Bigger Investments for a Higher Home Selling Price  

If you have the time and the funds, you can make a bigger investment in improvements to garner a significantly higher home selling price. Upgrade the HVAC system. Consider "green" elements that will look attractive to buyers such as solar panels to help with energy costs. Install new rain gutters and/or siding. Replace windows and storm doors. Open up the floor plan by knocking out walls that divide but are non-structural.

Other investments that will be worth your while to increase home value in Idaho, according to DIY Network include:

  • Instead of repairing flooring, replace it with new carpet, natural wood or engineered floors.
  • Remove wallpaper and paneling
  • Remodel the attic or basement to increase usable living space
  • Redo the kitchen to improve the flow of the workspace and upgrade appliances

Having the right Realtor to help you know what to spend your time and money on can make all the difference in getting a higher home selling price. Stewart Realty has lots of Real Estate Appraisal experience.  Let us help you know what to fix and what not to fix.

Ways we can help:

  • Free in-home consultation regarding what things you should spend money to repair and what you should leave alone.
  • Connect you with reputable, low cost contractors to get your work done correctly and quickly.
  • Provide you with an As-Is and an As Repaired market value estimate of your property.

If you still wonder what value a good Meridian, Idaho Realtor can bring to you here is a good refresher course with all the reasons why our clients love us!

Our Premium Marketing Plan

Selling your home for the highest possible price and having a great real estate experience just really depends on hiring the Right Team. Here is how we are different?

Ø  Experience:  Jeff has appraised or sold more than 900 properties in the last 16 years. Experienced representation translates into a higher net sales price and overall, a better client experience.

Ø  Education:  Most Realtors are “Agents” and there are lots of frilly designations.  Jeff is a “Designated Broker”, the most difficult of all real estate licenses to obtain in the State of Idaho.

Ø  Exposure: Our highly optimized, “City Specific” webpages give your property exceptional exposure.  Many of our specific “City Pages” are found on Google’s top pages of real estate search results for search phrases for Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Star, Nampa and other cities throughout Treasure Valley.

Ø  Service: Jeff Stewart and Office Manager Sheri Partyka are here to serve you every day.  We return your calls promptly, provide showing feedback weekly and take care of all the details to make your sale progress smoothly all the way to closing.  Fire us anytime if you are not completely satisfied.*

Ø  Honesty & Trust:  Stewart Realty is a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ Rating.  There has never been even one complaint filed against Stewart Realty with the Idaho Real Estate Commission, the BBB or anyone.

Ø  Reviews: We encourage you to read what our clients are saying about us so you will have detailed examples of the level of service you can expect and will receive.  Read our 5 STAR Ratings on our Google Business Page, Yelp, our BBB Profile and on our website at http://StewartRealtyllc.com/about/testimonials/ .

*Unless we already have your property under contract with a buyer.

Premium Marketing Plan - What You Can Expect When You List Your Home with Stewart Realty

Our Premium Marketing Plan substantially increases the odds of selling your home for the maximum price. You can expect exceptional, personal, one-on-one service in every stage of your transaction. You will be a "Client" under Idaho Agency Law. We will be your advocate.  We offer you all this and more:

 

1.     Professional home staging consultation to prepare your property to show at it's very best.

2.     Expert market analysis using comparison of current actively listed competing properties, the latest pending sales and the most recent sold comparables for outstanding pricing accuracy.

3.     Professional MLS listing with full digital photos, detailed specific property features and facts.

4.     Online Virtual Tour on every property we list and Craigslist advertising that we renew each week.

5.     Exposure on StewartRealtyLLC.com, Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, Homes.com & all IMLS fed websites.

6.     Professional signage, flyer box and lockbox.  Custom made color flyers and we keep flyers stocked!

7.     Show your property to all interested clients.  Agent Staffed Open Houses Saturdays when productive.

8.     Monthly market review of sold and competing properties to maintain market competitiveness.

9.     Represent only your interests and advise you in contract negotiations with buyers and buyer's agents.

10. Verify that the prospective buyer is qualified and capable of closing the transaction.

11. Provide all legal contracts for transaction and Brokerage Trust Account to hold buyer earnest money.

12. Schedule and provide access to all property inspectors, appraisers, etc.

13. Verify all title and escrow documents and fees for accuracy and attend escrow closing with you.

The team at Stewart Realty knows homes and they know Southwest Idaho real estate. To find out more about real estate in the Boise Region give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call to set up your personal real estate search, a personal tour of the area and find some great homes that fit your needs and budget.

Compose Your Personal MLS Search With Us:
http://StewartRealtyllc.com or http://HomesInMeridian.com

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com

Posted in Selling
Feb. 15, 2018

Why Buyers Need an Exclusive Agent to Represent Them!

Buyers need an exclusive agentLet's say you are in the market to buy a Meridian home. Before you have had a chance to think about retaining an exclusive agent to buy a home, you unexpectedly find a house for sale that looks like it could be your dream home. Conveniently enough, the listing agent is out in the yard setting up the "For Sale" sign as you're driving by, so you stop to ask if he can show you the house. So far, the scenario might seem uncomplicated, but it is right at that point that things can become problematic.  In most cases if you attempt to buy real estate directly through the Listing Agent, hence without an exclusive buyer representative you will be dealing directly with the agent who has obligations to bring the best possible terms to (you guessed it) the seller.

Divided Loyalties

When someone hires a Realtor to sell their home, that agent's job is to protect their client’s interests through the process of selling a house and that includes getting the best possible price for the seller. If someone comes along who doesn't have a buyer's exclusive agent, which party is the listing agent obligated to?  The seller!

Skilled, competent agents do try and give both sides equal representation and fair consideration, but Bankrate points out that the inherent conflict of interest makes it practically impossible for one agent to fulfill their duties to both parties. Inevitably, one side or the other will have to take a back seat, and without a real estate exclusive agent in Meridian to represent them, it usually ends up being the buyer.  As the saying goes, no one can serve two masters!

What a Real Estate Exclusive Agent in Meridian Brings to the Table

Realtors in Meridian who specialize in representing buyers play an important part because they have the buyers' best interests at heart through the whole process, from consulting the buyer on the area, negotiations, inspections, etc. When you hire an exclusive agent to buy a home, he will listen to you so he understands what you're looking for in a house and a location. With access to the most current listings and an expert knowledge of the Meridian real estate market, he'll be able to show you the homes that fit your wish list and your budget.

What's more, when you have an exclusive agent to buy a home, he will be more likely than a selling agent to point out concerns with any property you're considering. He can recommend financing options and help you get prequalified with a competent lender, so you know the homes you are looking at in truly in your price range. Your exclusive agent's job doesn't end there, either. He'll be there for you throughout the escrow process to help make sure no detail gets overlooked. The Realtor representing you will be on top of necessary disclosures and inspections and will double-check on repairs. He'll even be there at closing to explain closing documents are in order.

Finding an Exclusive Agent to Buy a Home

It's not hard to find a buyer's exclusive agent in Meridian, but you should do some homework before deciding on one. Research Realtors you're considering. The Wall Street Journal says that research should include checking with the Idaho Real Estate Commission to find out if any of the agents you're interested in have had past or current complaints filed against them. WSJ also recommends not only asking explicit questions about the services the agent will provide but to get it all in writing to ensure there are no misunderstandings. Plus, ask for references so you can talk to people about their buying experiences with the agents you're considering.  Online review sites are also great places to read up on a Realtor’s past client’s experiences.

You will get a dedicated exclusive Meridian Buyer’s Agent when you come to Stewart Realty. Jeff Stewart has over 15 years of experience in real estate in Southwest Idaho, including working in construction as well as a real estate appraiser. Those jobs provided an invaluable foundation and unique insight when he earned his real estate and broker's licenses and his experience has served his clients well.  You can read what they have been saying here:

If you're considering home buying in Meridian or the rest of Southwestern Idaho, make your first step to call Jeff at Stewart Realty. He'll be happy to give you a personal tour of the area and some great homes that fit your style and budget. 

The team at Stewart Realty knows homes and they know Southwest Idaho real estate. To find out more about real estate in the Boise Region give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call to set up your personal real estate search, a personal tour of the area and find some great homes that fit your needs and budget.

Compose Your Personal MLS Search With Us:
http://StewartRealtyllc.com or http://HomesInMeridian.com

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com

Posted in Buying
Feb. 4, 2018

Hiking in Meridian, Idaho

Hiking in Meridian, IdahoHiking in Idaho has so many options.  There is millions of acres BLM Land, National Forest Lands as well as many wilderness areas to choose from.  Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in Idaho. The variety of trails and wilderness areas offer a hiking experience for people of all skills and interests. Even those who don't consider themselves outdoorsmen can find areas that aren't too much of a challenge, but there are certainly enough trails that can test even the best hikers.  Overnight and lengthy backpacking trips are great options also.

Meridian sits in a relatively flat agricultural valley just 10 miles west of Boise that used to be a farm and dairy community, but not anymore.  Now it's a thriving suburban city and the closest rural style hiking trails are 20-30 minutes to the north or east in the Boise foothills.  The more common hiking trails are just up out of Boise and Eagle.

If you do an Internet search for "things to do in Meridian," over 90 percent of the results will be outdoor-related, and most get top ratings. In fact, the Ridge to River Trail System in the Boise foothills about a half hour from Meridian gets high marks on TripAdvisor. Ridge to River offers over 200 miles of ground that are fairly easy to cover, whatever your hiking skill, including flat land and hills.

There are other places near Meridian for hiking in Idaho. Table Rock Trials are a short 25-minute drive away, and they provide stunning views of the Treasure Valley. Also nearby is Jump Creek Canyon featuring beautiful waterfalls and trails that lead both above the falls where you can enjoy the exquisite Idaho scenery, and to the base where you can take a swim. Additionally, hiking enthusiasts know about Mores Mountain Trails that meander through established forests, cross opulent meadows filled with stunning Idaho wildflowers, and ascend Mores Mountain.

Hiking in Idaho With the Whole Family

Hiking in Idaho isn't just for the adults--or the humans. There are plenty of trails that are kid and pet-friendly. Because it follows along the River, the Boise River Greenbelt doesn't run directly through Meridian, but it is close enough to enjoy. There are trails throughout various sections of the Greenbelt that make you forget you're anywhere near the city, such as the Bethine Church River Trail. Everyone in the family will love exploring this particular trail with its bridges, streams, and nesting spots for wildlife, and Only In Your State lists it as a perfect trail for winter hiking in Idaho.

Just a 1.5 hour drive to the southeast you will find another area near Gooding, Idaho. MagicValley.com says Gooding City of Rocks is another ideal place for hiking in Idaho with the kids. Formations made of volcanic rock line the trails, creating arches, columns and abstract shapes to ignite the imaginations of children of all ages.

If you love living close to nature and are ready for a move, take a look at homes in Meridian Idaho. You'll get a beautiful house that's close enough to foothills, mountains and wilderness areas to provide all the hiking experiences you crave. Hikers who have already made the move love how the area seems designed specifically for them. Whether or not hiking in Idaho is your passion, Meridian is an incredible place close to everything Idaho has to offer!

To find out more about Meridian or the rest of Southwestern Idaho, give Jeff Stewart, Owner/Broker at Stewart Realty a call for a personal tour of the area and some great homes that fit your style and budget.

The team at Stewart Realty knows homes and they know Southwest Idaho real estate. To find out more about real estate in the Boise Region give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call to set up your personal real estate search, a personal tour of the area and find some great homes that fit your needs and budget.

Compose Your Personal MLS Search With Us:
http://StewartRealtyllc.com or http://HomesInMeridian.com

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com

 

Posted in Buying