Meridian Blog

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

Sept. 19, 2019

Renovations for Meridian Homes: Making it Profitable!

Home renovation in Meridian IdahoVery rarely do homeowners set out to sell a house and only break even. The name of the game, whether you’re selling a home you’ve lived in for years or are flipping a house, is to make a profit. That’s where home renovation ideas come in. Performing low cost renovations is an investment tactic that can make a house appealing to buyers while making the sale of the home profitable for you. The possibility of making tens of thousands of dollars in profit is an exciting prospect, but experienced real estate agents and home flippers alike caution against getting carried away with your remodeling ideas. Keep it simple, don’t overlook necessary repairs, and above all: stick to your budget.

Make a Financial Plan

Before you even start formulating home renovation ideas, you need to create a budget, and that involves more than simply deciding you’re only going to invest in low cost renovations. Bob Vila says the first step in remodel budgeting is to do the homework. You’ll need to know what comparable properties in Meridian have been selling for. Pay particular attention to the ones that sold quickly and what features they had. Next, get a home inspection or perform the equivalent to identify any potential hidden repair issues that may need addressing before the house can sell. Finally, make a list of remodeling ideas for each room, starting with repair necessities but also including things you’d like to do.

Next, set your budget. Looking at your target sales price, how much you paid for the house, and what your home renovation ideas will cost, you should have a good idea of how much you can spend renovating the house and still make it worth your time. Don’t get carried away with creating your dream house. Stick to the budget you set and be satisfied to offer a house any buyer could see as their home.

Home Renovation Ideas for the Rooms That Sell the House

If there’s room in your budget for some significant remodeling, put the extra money into the kitchen and the bathrooms. According to RehabFinancial, those are the two rooms that sell a house, and improvements in both are the secret to making your home renovation ideas profitable. That doesn’t necessarily mean gutting those rooms for total makeovers. In many cases, all that’s needed are some low cost renovations that will update them. Remodeling ideas like painting cabinets instead of replacing them, updating appliances, fixtures and hardware, and addressing safety issues, if any, are affordable projects that pay for themselves.

Remember the Exterior

A big mistake some homeowners make when remodeling is underestimating the value of curb appeal. Don’t ignore your house’s exterior in favor of interior home renovation ideas. Do things like:

  • fertilize and mow the lawn
  • trim the hedges
  • paint the front door and the trim
  • install a new mailbox and/or house numbers
  • update the outdoor lighting
  • install a new doorknob, knocker, and other exterior hardware

All of these are low cost renovation ideas that will give the house a facelift that will, in turn, make a great first impression.  Just look for things that stick out to you and others and resolve them.

Know Your Product

There’s something to be said for living in a house while you’re renovating it. HGTV highly recommends it as a way to ensure your remodeling ideas are ones that are functional. If you’re redoing a house you already live in you’ll soon learn how valuable that experience can be. Moving into a house you’ve purchased for the purpose of flipping can save money on living expenses—you won’t have two mortgages or rent on top of a mortgage—while giving you the chance to experience firsthand the practicality of the improvements you make. Even if you don’t live in the house before you sell it, it’s still a good idea to “test-drive” your home renovation ideas, considering them from the buyer’s prospective.

If you’re renovating a house to sell or are in the market for a flipping project, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call. Jeff is a former appraiser and home flipper and has some terrific remodeling ideas and experience with low cost renovations. He can tell you more about Meridian or the rest of Southwestern Idaho as well as give you a personal tour of the area and some great homes that fit your style and budget.

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner, Stewart Realty, LLC, Direct: 208-602-1993
http://StewartRealtyllc.com or http://HomesInMeridian.com

Posted in Buying, Selling
July 19, 2019

Meridian Idaho Rivers are Fun All Year

Meridian Idaho, Rivers are Fun All YearIdaho may officially be the Gem State, but it’s also unofficially known as the Whitewater State. There are loads of fun things to do in Idaho but, with close to 150 rivers running inside its borders, Idaho river recreation is one of the top draws to the state. Those living in the Meridian and Boise area are especially fortunate, as they have easy access to the awesome Boise River for safe family recreation. A tributary of the mighty Snake, the Boise River ambles through 102 miles of southern Idaho terrain, with many opportunities for waterfront property. It flows right through the state’s capital, offering a variety of fun and exciting Idaho water sports all year long.  However, the Payette River just North of Boise about 45 minutes has great Class 3-5 water.

Idaho Water Sports: Kayaking

Kayaking is one of the top Idaho water sports. Though the kayaking season is busiest during the hot summer months, it’s still one of the fun things to do in Idaho any time of year. Even when snowdrifts line the banks of the Boise River, diehard kayakers still take to the icy waters to brave the rapids. The only thing that keeps them away is when the river ices entirely over. As Idaho water sports go, however, kayaking in winter is pretty extreme. Unless you’re very experienced and don’t mind taking a dip in freezing water, kayaking on the Boise is one of those fun things to do in Idaho you might want to save for summer.

Year-Round Fishing

Fishing season lasts all year long in the Whitewater State, making it one of those Idaho water sports you can enjoy year-round. According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Boise River near Meridian is one of the top 20 fishing destinations in Idaho. It’s chock-full of trout, including brown and rainbow varieties. The state’s Fish and Game hatchery also transports in steelhead right before the winter season hits, and they report that fishermen continue to hook them through spring. Anglers out for Boise Idaho river recreation also have a chance of landing good-sized mountain whitefish, some as long as 18 inches and weighing up to 5 pounds. 

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting is one of the most fun things to do in Idaho—you’re in the Whitewater State, after all! The local Parks and Recreation Department recently undertook a project to create a whitewater park of sorts that offers top-notch Idaho river recreation all year long. Naturally, kayakers and fishermen, along with Idaho water sports enthusiasts of all sorts love the upgrades and restoration work the department has done, but none more than the people whose Idaho river recreation activity of choice is whitewater rafting.

Just as with kayaking, whitewater rafting picks up in late spring and is in full-swing during summer. Still, if you’re careful, you can take to the Boise River for some exhilarating whitewater rafting any time of year. That includes winter, as long as the ice is minimal, and you’re accompanied by an expert whitewater guide.  

Don’t Forget the Greenbelt!

Not everyone is into Idaho water sports, and that’s OK. There are still fun things to do in Idaho that incorporate Idaho river recreation without requiring you get in it or cast a line on it. The perfect example is the Boise River Greenbelt. It’s a 25-mile path that follows alongside the river through some of the most beautiful parts of the city. It offers the ideal opportunity to experience the Boise River at a fairly close proximity, enjoying its extraordinary beauty. Whether you stroll along the footpath, ride along it on your bike, or venture a few feet closer to the river’s edge for a picnic, the Greenbelt should not be overlooked as top-quality Idaho river recreation.

If you end up liking the Boise Area so much that you want to move here 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 see some great homes that fit your style and budget.

Jeff Stewart - Broker / OwnerJeff Stewart, Broker/Owner, Stewart Realty, LLC,
Direct: 208-602-1993, Office: 208-887-5445

Compose Your MLS Search at: https://StewartRealtyllc.com
Or https://HomesInMeridian.com

Posted in Buying
July 5, 2019

How Great Landscaping Can Help Sell Your Home in Meridian Idaho

How Great Landscaping Can Help Sell Your Home in Meridian IdahoIt shouldn’t be surpizing that great landscaping is one of the significant ways you can improve your home’s curb appeal and sales price, but depending on the size of the project you are considering, it can be a daunting project both physically and financially for those who lack conditioning, experience or who don’t have the right equipment to make it easier.

The truth is, however, that yard landscaping can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. A few landscaping tips are all that's needed to demystify the task of improving your home and make it easy for practically anyone.

Basic Landscaping Tips

Installing edgings and borders are some of the simplest ways to clean up your yard and begin with yard landscaping. Working with bricks and stones make up four of the five landscaping tips HouseLogic offers up for enhancing your yard. Bricks, flagstones and other types of rocks can be stacked or otherwise assembled to create flowerbed edgings, walls for raised planting beds, charming pathways, and surrounds at the bases of trees.

Shrubs and trees are other basic yard landscaping essentials. Many times people envision a yard jam-packed with colorful flowers and plants when they think "landscaping," but the right mix of trees and shrubs can really make an impact, according to Better Homes and Gardens. Choose bushes and trees with vivid shades of foliage to add multicolored dimension to your yard. If you have an artistic flair, try your hand at some creative pruning. Don't be afraid to mix textures, either. Depending on the look you're going for, you may be surprised at how striking a yucca plant is placed near a spruce tree.

Among other landscaping tips is the advice to mix it up when it comes to heights and shapes of plants and flowers. Tall, upright flowers and plants add height and contrast to shorter flowering flora and creeping ground cover. 

Landscaping in Meridian

Everyone has a different objective for yard landscaping, but one strategy saves time and money and still results in an attractive yard that looks professionally landscaped. Unless you thrive on the challenge of trying to keep tropical plants alive in your Southwestern Idaho yard, landscaping with native and cold hearty plants is the way to go. Not only do they need less water and maintenance, Money Crashers points out that indigenous plants are adapted to grow well in the arid Idaho climate, they'll attract native birds, butterflies, and other pollinating creatures, and they're eco-friendly because they don't need all the fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that non-native plants require to stay healthy.

When landscaping in Meridian, Idaho or the surrounding area, idahonativeplants.org is a valuable reference for choosing native plants for yard landscaping. It offers a comprehensive list of indigenous trees and tall shrubs, low to medium-sized shrubs, grasses, and forbs, otherwise known as flowering herbaceous plants that aren't considered grasses. If you've ever taken a walk through any of the wilderness areas in Southwest Idaho, you know how beautiful Idaho wildflowers, or forbs, are in their natural setting alongside other native plants, and why they're all delightful choices for natural landscaping in Meridian.

Of course, yard landscaping is just one way to enhance curb appeal when you're selling a house in Meridian, Idaho. For help with selling your home, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call. Jeff and his team have the experience you need to price your home properly to maximize your profit and to help you attract buyers and close the sale.

Jeff StewartJeff Stewart
Broker/Owner, Stewart Realty, LLC,
Direct: 208-602-1993, Office: 208-887-5445

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

Posted in Selling
June 21, 2019

Is Low Housing Inventory in Meridian, Idaho Good or Bad?

Low Housing Inventory in Meridian, IdahoSo, you have probably heard about Meridian Idaho’s annual accolades as being one of the best places in the country to live and raise a family.  Great Schools, low crime, parks everywhere, outdoor recreational options everywhere and reasonable housing and living costs just to get us started.  So, you might be wondering what effect all that good stuff that Meridian offers is having on the local housing market?  Well, we’ll try to explain:

Average or below average supply and increased demand for home sales in Meridian, Idaho has created low inventory levels in the Idaho housing market. Whether or not you've paid much attention to home sales in Idaho in the past, low inventory levels will play an essential role if you decide to buy and/or sell a home now or in the near future. Although new construction has kicked into gear, Meridian and the surrounding area continues to have record low inventory levels, prompting buyers and sellers alike to wonder if that's a good or bad thing.

Sellers: Low Inventory Levels Can Go Either Way

When there are low inventory levels, it's also known as a seller's market. That's because when there's more demand for homes in Idaho than there are homes for sale, two or more buyers can end up competing to buy one home, giving the advantage to the seller. He can essentially write his own ticket, putting any price tag on his home, as long as the appraisal can back it up. What's more, he's likely to get his asking price or very close to it, and sell the home quickly because, whatever the price, homes don't spend a lot of time on the Idaho housing market when there aren't many to choose from.

Those "pros" might sound great to anyone who is planning on selling their home, but MarketWatch points out that low inventory levels can be a two-edged sword. You may be able to sell your house quickly and get top dollar for it but, if you want to move to another home in the same Idaho housing market, you might be facing the same issues that your buyer did. You'll be competing with other buyers for the few houses that are for sale, and the rise in prices for smaller homes could mean all the money you made on the sale of your house could end up going toward a much smaller one.  In an upward trending market like Meridian’s you definitely don’t want to sit on the sidelines very long!

Buyers: Keep an Eye Out

There will always be homes selling in Idaho, even when there are low inventory levels. People need a place to live and, much of the time, waiting out a seller's market isn't an option. Although there may not be many homes to choose from and there won't be much room for negotiating a price, it's still possible to find a house you like. You'll have to keep an eye out and move fast, and having an experienced real estate agent can help. He'll be able to set you up a custom search on the Intermountain MLS which can notify you about homes that fit your criterion immediately after they hit the Idaho housing market, and he can also write up an offer on the spot when you find a house you want.

U.S. News and World Report offers other tips for buyers in a seller's market such as assuming you'll only have one chance to make an offer, so making your best offer initially could be crucial!  And recognizing that the seller may not be as negotiable on repairs after your inspection might also come into play.  However, if the issues are serious enough the seller would likely have to fix them for any buyer, especially if a loan will be part of the deal. Also, be willing to consider homes that may not have impressed you in photographs. At least walk through the houses that fit your budget and your needs. You may find that the pictures don't do them justice, but an in-person visit will give you a feel for the house and whether or not it could be your home.

To find out more about having full client representation on your next home sale or purchase, specifically in Meridian, Idaho or the rest of Southwestern Idaho, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call. Buyer or seller, he can help you navigate low inventory levels and the Idaho housing market.

Jeff StewartJeff Stewart
Broker/Owner, Stewart Realty, LLC,
Direct: 208-602-1993, Office: 208-887-5445

Posted in Buying, Selling
June 3, 2019

Building Your Next Home in Meridian Idaho

When it's time to move, there are many reasons to consider home construction over purchasing an existing house. One is getting everything that you want! At the time of writing this article, Housing Inventory in Meridian Idaho is very low and there are not a lot of good options to choose from. By building your home, you'll get all-new everything, so you won't be buying into someone else's problem plumbing, heating, or deteriorating roof. You will have input into the design to create your dream house instead of having to compromise with a floor plan that is almost what you want. Plus, everything will be done, so there won't be any remodeling or upgrading to do once you move in. While real estate construction can be the best solution for many people, it's not a walk in the park. There will be concerns throughout the project, from breaking ground through the final walk-through before you move in.  If you build a custom home and are allowed to make all the interior finish decisions you and your spouse will have hundreds of decisions to make.  Sometimes that is stressful and sometimes can be contentious if you don’t agree well on things.  Find out all you can about the home construction in the area, especially locations and developments and their different amenities before you even start looking at floor plans, so you know what to expect.

Buying Land for Real Estate Construction

If you're seeking the perfect house on acreage outside the city limits, home construction is a good choice for you. It frees you up to look for the right piece of land and build the house to your specifications. You'll need to look into the local regulations on home construction, however, to ensure you won't be restricted on land use or the size of home you want to build. Find out if power and natural gas are available on the property. According to Building Advisor, you may have to pay by the foot to have utilities brought to the site if existing lines are a long distance away. You'll also want to know about water rights and whether the land already has a well and septic system or if you'll need to install them before building your home. On the other hand, if you're buying a lot in a development, the developer typically takes care of those issues and will be able to fill you in on what's done and what isn't. Be a smart buyer, though, and don't assume anything. Always ask the developer what things are included in the cost of your lot and get it all in writing, so there are no surprises later.  Of course having your own Realtor that is experienced in Meridian to represent you and help you review your contracts with the builder as you go down this road is the optimum situation!

Finding a Contractor

When building your home, it's important to work with a contractor who is reputable and that you're comfortable with, so it's equally as important to shop around instead of selecting one randomly. Find out which real estate construction contractors build the new homes you really love. A Realtor who specializes in build jobs and has worked with a number of builders in the past can be a great resource for recommendations. They can also help get you more reasonable pricing in some cases. Also, if friends or family have recent experience with home construction, ask them who built their houses and whether they would work with them again. Make a short list of contractors you're considering and contact the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses to find out if complaints or grievances have been filed against them.

Choose a Floor Plan, Estimate the Costs

House Designers advises that you keep things simple when choosing a floor plan and deciding on upgrades if the house you're building won't be the last home you own. Designing and building your home with features that would appeal to a widespread buyer’s base will help with resale down the road.

Your contractor may have a selection of house plans you can choose from but, if you have a very specific and unique floor plan in mind, you'll probably want to work with an architect to draft the blueprints to your specifications. An architect will know about the trends in home construction and design and can offer advice on technical issues, although FreshHome points out that you know your family and your needs best, and advises against letting anyone including an architect or the builder tell you what you do or don't need.  Alternatively, you may find home design software more affordable, even if you only use it once, and the program won't exert its taste and preferences on your floor plan.

Once you have the plans, then you can begin estimating the costs. The Nest recommends working closely with your contractor to get a realistic idea of what your new house will cost. If you've included all the "wants" from your wish list along with all the "needs," you might have to make some compromises to make the total cost fit your budget. According to Good Financial Cents doing some of the work yourself is one way to afford a few more of those "wants," but only if you truly have the skills to do a quality job. Otherwise, you'll spend more money in the end to have a professional fix your mistakes. If you have the skills, though, saving money on the labor to paint the walls, tile the bathroom, or install kitchen cabinets can free up funds to pay for some of the high-end amenities you have your heart set on.

One more thing: real estate construction rarely goes off without a hitch. It's a good idea to pad the estimated costs by 25 percent to cover unforeseen issues like increased material costs or the extra expenses that can arise if the weather doesn't cooperate with your construction project.

Get a Home Construction Loan

If you have cash on hand, a mortgage won't be an issue. However, if you'll need a loan for building your home, you should pre-qualify for a home construction loan early on. This step can be taken care of any time, but once you have the land, builder, and floor plans, and have estimated the costs for building your home, nothing can go forward until you have the financing lined up.  Bankrate says that lenders view home construction loans as a little risky, so you could have a hard time getting a loan for more than 80 percent of the value of the home. If you own the land you'll be building on, though, it can be considered as equity and can count toward the 20 percent you would otherwise have to come up with.

A construction loan has two phases: home construction, when you're building your home, and completion, after the house is built. During the building phase of real estate construction, the loan will be considered short-term, giving you about a year to complete your house. The interest rate will likely be variable and higher than a permanent home loan, and the interest is all that is typically paid during the building phase. The loan proceeds are usually put into an account, and a schedule is determined so that the contractor can receive payments at regular stages of the home construction. The lender keeps tabs on the progress to ensure the house is coming along as scheduled and the funds are being spent as agreed.

After the home is completed, if you've made arrangements with your lender for a construction-to-permanent loan, the financing will get converted to a standard mortgage with a locked interest rate. The nice thing about a real estate construction-to-permanent loan is that you'll only pay closing costs once, instead of for the construction loan and again for the permanent mortgage.

Plan Ahead

As previously mentioned, even the best-planned home construction typically has its share of problems. The weather can interfere with the progress--it's not a good idea to pour concrete in the rain or if temperatures will drop below freezing in the next couple of days--which can cause delays, as can an issue with material availability. There are ways to deal with predicaments like those, such as using chemicals to stabilize the concrete in adverse weather, or buying alternate, more expensive materials. Both solutions cost money, and that's why it's wise to account for extra in your cost estimates, but you should also add in additional time to the timeline to ensure you stay on schedule and meet the milestones the lender will want to see. You won't be caught off guard or short on funds if you plan ahead for worst-case scenarios. You'll be that much ahead of the game if your home construction finishes under budget and ahead of schedule.
 
Another thing to plan ahead for when building your home is that there still may be work to do once you reach the final phase. A punch list will be created to itemize the things that still need to be done, such as replacing any glass window panes that are cracked, touching up the paint over thin spots, installing closet rods, or hooking up the microwave exhaust in the kitchen. This is one of those issues where it's useful to have a real estate agent on your side because he can go through the house with an unbiased eye to spot and make note of flaws. Sometimes, the flaws are minor and won't affect the quality of your home, but there are usually some items on the punch list that will affect the quality. Even if the home is completed enough to obtain a certificate of occupancy, money from the construction loan should be put into an escrow earmarked for completing the items on the punch list.  

Give Stewart Realty a call if you're considering home construction in Idaho. Jeff Stewart and his team can help you with every step along the way when building your home, from buying the land to finding a contractor to negotiating a construction loan. Jeff is not only a Realtor and Broker, but he has also worked in real estate construction and as an appraiser. His extensive experience gives Stewart Realty clients an advantage other Realtors can't offer when it comes time to do walk-throughs and complete punch lists. To find out more about home construction in 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 advice on building your home to fit your style and budget.

Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner, Stewart Realty, LLC,
Direct: 208-602-1993, Office: 208-887-5445

Compose Your MLS Search at: http://StewartRealtyllc.com or http://HomesInMeridian.com

Posted in Buying
May 22, 2019

How to Get the Best Deal on Meridian Real Estate

It might be nice if money were no object, but even if you had unlimited funds, you'd still want to get the best deal on Meridian real estate. There's nothing like the feeling of having equity in a home the day you move in or getting a lot of house without spending a lot of money. "Flippers" are legendary for paying pennies on the dollar for houses and turning them around and selling for nice profit.  But even if you are looking for a house to make your home with no intention of selling in the near future, I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t want a good deal on their new home.

Consider Foreclosures and Auction Properties

There's always a slight chance that you'll stumble onto that beautiful home in pristine condition that, for whatever reason, is selling below market value. It's OK to keep an eye out for those, but you're more likely to find a good deal on Meridian Idaho Real Estate if you look at foreclosures and auction properties. FortuneBuilders puts them at the top of the list when bargain shopping for real estate, along with bank-owned houses (REOs). Rather than paying market-value, you'll likely be able to purchase property for at or below the amount of existing mortgage balances. Plus, in the case of REOs, repairs and tax liens are often taken care of already, and some mortgagors offer good deals on terms, too, when they're trying to sell an REO. If you want to see a current list of Bank Owned or Short Sale properties in Meridian Idaho, submit your information on our home page and Jeff or Sheri will reach out to you soon.

Meridian Real Estate That's Been on the Market Awhile

When you're shopping the MLS for Meridian Idaho homes for sale, pay extra attention to the houses that have been on the market for awhile. According to Entrepreneur, the longer a homeowner has to hold onto a house, the more willing they might be to bargain. That's logical reasoning; if someone has been paying two mortgages for any amount of time, they're likely to entertain any reasonable offer, even if they've already dropped their original listing price once or twice. This is more likely to happen when real estate is seasonally slow, typically during the winter in northern climates like Idaho.

Money Talks

If you have the resources, making a cash offer will make sellers give you serious consideration, even if your offer is substantially less than their listing price. Most buyers will make an offer and then begin the arduous process of getting a mortgage to pay for the house, but everyone gets to pass "Go" and skip directly to closing by cutting out the mortgagor middleman. If cash isn't an option, at least get pre-qualified with a mortgage lender. Sellers like to hear that a buyer has been prequalified because that will reduce the amount of time between making an offer and closing and they know that there will be no surprises on the loan side, because there isn’t one.

Get Help from a Professional

Even those who have experience with real estate benefit from working with a real estate agent who knows the current market and can help you negotiate the best deals on real estate in Meridian, Idaho.

The Washington Post points out that local Realtors can help you analyze the numbers to ensure that something that looks like a great deal really is one. Whether you're looking at a home or Meridian land for sale, a real estate agent's experience is invaluable for performing the market analysis, negotiating a price, and helping with the paperwork from contract to closing, plus they know when new homes are listed and know which areas in Meridian Idaho you may want to stay away from and also homes for sale have been on the market the longest.

For help getting the best deal on Meridian Idaho real estate or anywhere else in Southwestern Idaho, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call for an assessment of your goals, a personal tour of the area and some great home options that fit your needs and budget.

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

Posted in Buying
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