Meridian Blog

We will keep you up to date with Meridian Real Estate news and information in our blog...

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.

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.

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!

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're putting a home on the market, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call. He has the experience to help you decide on the best way to increase home value and get your house sold quickly. 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. 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.

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

 

Posted in Buying
Jan. 1, 2018

What Should Your Meridian Idaho Realtor Be Doing For You?

It doesn't matter whether you're buying or selling a home when you look to hire a Meridian Idaho Realtor, you want someone with local knowledge, experience, someone who is on top of their game and will serve your interests with integrity to you!

When you demand the best in a Meridian Idaho Real Estate Agent you will need to focus on who has enough experience to be a true professional and been in the business for a minimum of 5-7 years, consistently sells at least 25 properties a year and most importantly has great reviews on Google+, Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, etc.  Beware though…… some folks just fall for the agent that is the most popular or sells the most homes in an area.  That approach generally will almost always get less that you are hoping for.  Every agent only has so much time.  Most agents that sell over 40-50 properties a year are spread so thin that they do not have the time to manage all the details of your transaction, keep everything straight even with the help of associate agents as it is impossible to share all the details with your whole team

There are certain additional character traits that your agent should have to take good care of you:

A Great Communicator

The best Meridian Idaho Realtors are great communicators. It's a skill that benefits both buyers and sellers. Your Meridian Idaho Realtor should really listen to you to understand what you're looking for in a new home if you're a buyer, or to learn everything they can about your house if you're a seller. Communication isn't only about listening, though. Your agent should be responsive, and not just when you call or email. A Realtor who is a great communicator will keep you in the loop on what they're doing to find you a house or get yours sold, whether it's networking with other agents, placing ads, checking new listings, or making or answering inquiry calls. Realtor.com advises setting a communication schedule with your agent from the start, so you both agree how often he'll be checking in with updates for you. At least once a week is a reasonable expectation with additional calls or meetings if a significant issue arises.

The Buying Side

When looking for an experienced Realtor, Meridian Idaho buyers want an agent to match them with the right property, but it takes more than simply having access to the most current listings. The best Meridian Idaho Realtors have a thorough knowledge of the market, and that includes neighborhoods, taxes, issues with zoning, and trends in pricing according to Moving.com. As the buyers' agent, your Realtor can answer any questions you have. He should be able to help you find financing to get you prequalified, if you haven't already, and he can help develop a shopping strategy that takes into consideration what you want in a home, what you need, and how much you can afford to spend. Once your Meridian Idaho Realtor has helped you find the ideal house, he'll negotiate on your behalf and will be there all the way through closing, making sure all of the details are taken care of from obtaining inspections and disclosures to following up on repairs and ensuring all the closing paperwork is in order. 

Seller's Agents

The best Meridian Idaho Realtors for sellers do so much more than place a property on the multiple listing service. Main St. says that one of the first things a good listing agent will do is to take a tour of your home and provide a Comparative Market Analysis. To do that, the agent has to be an experienced Realtor in Meridian Idaho who understands home values and knows what's sold in the past few months so he can suggest a realistic price. A good Meridian Idaho Realtor will devise a marketing plan including advertising and scheduling open houses. He will help get your home ready to sell, including advising you on essential home repairs as well as cosmetic ones that will make your house more appealing to buyers. The best Meridian Idaho Realtors negotiate the best possible price for their sellers and don't disappear once an offer has been accepted. They stay until the last paper is signed at closing to ensure no details are overlooked.

Whether you're a buyer or a seller, you'll get the professional, personalized service you need at Stewart Realty. Broker Jeff Stewart and his team are experts in assisting clients in buying and selling real estate in the Boise/Meridian area. When you're looking for the best Meridian Idaho Realtors, call Jeff direct at 208-602-1993.

Posted in Buying, Selling
Dec. 22, 2017

What is Great About Living in Meridian, Idaho

There is a reason Meridian consistently shows up on "Best Places to Live" rankings, and even hit the number one spot on USA Today's list--it's because living in Meridian Idaho is a great experience! The former Boise suburb has grown to become a city in its own right, and successfully balances the elements that define the simple Idaho lifestyle with access to urban conveniences. If you are thinking about making the move and living in Meridian Idaho, consider the things you want in a hometown. Once you see that Meridian meets pretty much all of your prerequisites, you will want to start looking at the hundreds of homes for sale in Meridian Idaho.

Idyllic Location

Living in Meridian Idaho puts you in the perfect spot in the Boise Valley. It is not really a "big city" compared to metropolitan areas around the nation, so when you are shopping for homes for sale in Meridian Idaho, you will be pleased to find that most of them offer room to spread out, even those located in the more quaint neighborhoods in the city. With a population now of over 100,000, Meridian is not exactly rural any longer, but it is still conveniently close to the activities and attractions that Idaho is known for such as hiking trails, campgrounds, rivers and lakes for fishing, white water rafting and other water sports, and, of course, ski hills and cross-country trails for winter sports enthusiasts are just 45 minutes away. Yet, because Meridian is only about 11 miles from Boise, it is just a few minutes from everything the state capitol city offers, including all the sports, shopping, dining, and entertainment you could ever hope to find. Essentially, living in Meridian Idaho provides the best of both urban and suburban living.   

Affordable Cost of Living

It is usually the small towns that get credit for low living costs but, considering everything it has to offer, living in Meridian Idaho is quite affordable. It gets an "A" from Area Vibes since Meridian's cost of living is 2 percent lower than the national average. There are several factors that go into determining how affordable it is to live in any city, but the low state income tax and 6% sales tax plays a part. Other notable aspects are the cost of groceries, which are 11 percent lower than the national average, and low transportation costs including the price of gasoline that is about 13 percent lower than the national median price.

The housing numbers seem a bit high for the Meridian area, but a closer look at homes for sale in Meridian Idaho show a decent selection of houses that are priced at or below the national median price of $253,500 as of August, 2017. That is a result of the healthy housing market in the Boise/Meridian area and lots of new supply on the way. New construction is alive and well in both cities, which provides the opportunity for home-seekers to find their dream home in an existing house or to build one to fit their picture of the perfect home at an affordable price.

Amenities Galore

Although living in Meridian Idaho puts you close to the amenities of Boise, Meridian itself has plenty of everything to offer residents. Wherever you settle in Meridian, you will be close to grocery stores, parks, libraries, fitness facilities, and restaurants.  And, the city of Meridian is currently in talks with Costco to open a store in North Meridian near Ten Mile Rd and Chinden.  With those necessities nearby, you won't have to make the roughly 20-minute drive to the larger city, unless you want to. Meridian boasts more than grocery stores for shopping, though it is notable to mention that there is a selection of different types of grocers in Meridian including specialty markets like the Boise Co-Op and other health food stores in addition to traditional grocery stores. If you find yourself in need of other items such as clothing, housewares, antiques, and even party supplies, you will find them all without leaving the city. Also, DIY-ers won't have to go far to get the home makeover and remodeling supplies they need for those little projects around the house, as Meridian has several home improvement-type stores like Home Depot and Lowes and specialty stores including tile and granite supply, cabinetry crafters, paint and wallpaper stores, and flooring and interior specialists.

One of the Safest Cities in the State

For single folks and families alike, living in a safe city is high on the priority list, and you can't do much better than living in Meridian Idaho. Not only is it one of the safest cities in the Gem State, but it is safer than almost three-quarters of cities in the whole country. While crime rates are going up in many parts of the U.S., it is actually dropping in Meridian, with the year-over-year number having decreased by 14 percent. Of course, any crime at all is a cause for concern, but SpotCrime.com reveals that most of the crimes in Meridian aren't violent ones, the majority being burglary or theft.

Education Gets High Marks

With about 20 public schools in the city plus a few private, charter, and magnet schools, many of the homes for sale in Meridian Idaho are close to quality education parents want for their children. Student to teacher ratios are fairly low, so whatever school your children attend, they will have access to individualized attention if they need it. Additionally, specialized tutoring programs such as the Tutoring Club, LearningRx Center, and the Mathnasium of Meridian can provide additional help or offer a challenge for kids who excel academically. All of these elements have worked together to skyrocket the average school test scores in Meridian to 13 percent above the national average.

A bonus for parents and teens living in Meridian Idaho is its proximity to the Capitol, the home of Boise State University. Overall, BSU is ranked high for schools in the West, but U.S. News and World Report puts the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University on its list of the best business schools. Additionally, with the great run the Broncos have had over the years, BSU is the place football players want to go for higher education.  Idaho State University has also opened and is currently expanding its Meridian campus which specializes in medical arts.

Four Gorgeous Seasons

People who have always lived in climates that see the same type of weather year-round don't appreciate the variety of seasons in the Northwest. Most Idahoans would likely agree that they would miss spring changing to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter, and winter to spring. The nice thing about living in Meridian Idaho is that it is in the Boise Valley, at a low elevation of about 2600 ft. above sea level and consequently an area where the weather tends to be a bit milder than the rest of the state. That means people looking for homes for sale in Meridian Idaho will be able to enjoy all four seasons without extreme weather for the most part. You'll still get beautiful blooms in spring, warm, lazy days in summer, stunning autumn colors in the fall, and enough snow in the winter to ski on just 16 miles outside of Boise at Bogus Basin Ski Resort, without having to endure major earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, or massive wide-spread flooding the rest of the country experiences on a regular basis.

Plenty of Things to do in Meridian Idaho

It's true that Meridian is close enough to Boise that residents can enjoy all the sports and entertainment the state capitol has to offer, but there are loads of things to do in Meridian Idaho. There are lots of parks, game and entertainment centers, bowling alleys, movie theaters, a water park, and brewery tours. The Village at Meridian offers a shopping experience to rival any big city, with retailers, restaurants, and fun events throughout the year including wintertime ice skating and concerts during the summer. There is a pumpkin patch and corn maze at Linder Farms, and Meridian has its own speedway, adding to the warm-weather things to do in Meridian Idaho. Naturally, because Idaho is one of the wilderness states, you don't have to go very far from Meridian to enjoy the outdoors. There are outfitters right in Meridian who can hook you up with the perfect camping/fishing/hunting trip, and some specialize in private tours for those who prefer a personalized experience. With so many things to do in Meridian Idaho, one thing is for sure: you'll never be bored.

If you like the idea of living in Meridian Idaho and getting the best of both worlds, you'll be looking for homes for sale in Meridian, Idaho, and Stewart Realty can help. Jeff Stewart has been in the real estate business for nearly 15 years, having worked in construction and as an appraiser before becoming a Realtor and a Broker. Jeff's extensive experience gives his clients an edge that other agents can't offer. When you are looking for the perfect home in the Meridian area, Jeff and the team at Stewart Realty will help you find it. To learn 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
Nov. 15, 2017

What is the Best Time of Year to Sell Your Home in Boise, Idaho?

Conventional wisdom says that spring is the best time to list a house for sale. The winter is over, spring-cleaning has taken place, and the weather allows for you to complete those improvements you've been meaning to get to such as painting the trim and freshening the landscaping. When looking at housing trends, however, you have to keep in mind that the numbers that show spring as the best time to sell a house are averaged nationwide, meaning that spring isn't necessarily the best time for selling your home in Boise. You need to consider a few issues that hit close to home here in the Gem State to determine the best time to sell in Boise Idaho.

The Logic Behind Spring Sales

Winter is notoriously the worst time to sell a home almost anywhere in the country, but it's an especially undesirable time to be buying or selling in Boise. Idaho winter weather is cold and wet. Buyers don't enjoy trudging from one house to another through snow, ice and slush when looking at Boise Idaho homes for sale and, as a seller, you won't enjoy cleaning up everything potential buyers track into the house and then moving yourself in the same season. Busy with winter holidays, most buyers don't have the time to look at houses until after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's are over unless circumstances force them to. Also, money tends to be tighter at the end of the year.  January tends to be the toughest time to sell a home as it is the coldest time of the year and many are recovering financially from the holidays.

Parents with kids in school typically like to get everyone moved in and settled before the school year starts in the fall, so a lot of potential buyers do start looking in the spring. It's true that late spring/early summer months are a good time to display your home in the best light. HGTV points out that freshly blooming gardens and landscaping that's just been revitalized after a long winter's nap give a house vital curb appeal that hook buyers at first sight. Additionally, home buyers receive tax refunds during the time between March to early June. With that additional money in their pockets, they're better equipped to put a down payment on a house. However, March and April are when loads of houses get put on the market, so there is more for buyers to choose from. Purposely waiting for a later listing date when there aren't as many Boise homes for sale could make selling your home in Boise easier with higher seller to buyer ratios. If you absolutely must sell in the spring, ABC News recommends holding off listing for a couple of weeks after the first big flood of spring listings hits the market.

The Best Time to Sell in Boise, Idaho

When SmartZip analyzed monthly selling trends and other home sales data state by state, they also found that January is the worst time to sell a home in Idaho. That news isn't so surprising, but what is surprising is that the numbers showed that October is actually the best time to sell in Boise Idaho. Because there are fewer homes on the market in the fall, you'll be more likely to get your full asking price, or at least not have to discount the price by much because buyers will be competing over the smaller inventory of Boise Idaho homes for sale--especially if they've been looking since spring. What's more, you will have had all summer to get your house ready to showcase, and the gorgeous fall foliage will make your house just as appealing, if not more, than springtime blooms.

The bottom line, however, when determining the best time for selling your home in Boise is that there are a lot of different factors to consider, and market trends fluctuate. Your best bet when trying to decide the best time to sell in Boise Idaho is to team up with a real estate agent who knows the local market and can advise you with good data on the current trends. Jeff Stewart is just the Realtor you're looking for. With over a decade of experience in the Boise/Meridian area, Jeff analyzes the different aspects that can affect the sale of your house and can advise you on when to list your Boise Idaho homes for sale. When selling a home in Boise, get the expert help you need from Stewart Realty. Call or email Jeff today: 208-602-1993 or jeff@stewartrealtyllc.com

Posted in Selling