Meridian Blog

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

Sept. 12, 2017

What a Good Realtor Can Do For You

The financial bottom line is important in real estate. Sellers want to get the most when selling their homes and buyers want to find the perfect house at the best possible price. That's why some choose to jump into the real estate game without an Idaho Realtor. Saving the cost of the agent's fee is small potatoes (no pun intended), however, compared to what a good Realtor can do for you. Whether you're a buyer or a seller, a professional, experienced agent will put in the time it takes, applying unique knowledge and expertise to provide many invaluable services.

Difference Between an Idaho Realtor and a Real Estate Agent

According to the Idaho Real Estate Commission, you must be licensed to sell real estate for someone other than yourself in the state of Idaho.  This includes land and any improvements attached to the land. Getting a real estate license entails taking pre-licensing classes and passing state and national exams and clearing an FBI Background Check. Additionally, agents and brokers have to take 16 hours of continuing education classes and 2 Core Courses every two years to maintain their licenses. Initial licensing and continuing education ensures agents are up-to-date on Idaho Real Estate laws and best practices. That foundation gives them the necessary education to get started but it takes several years of hard work and many transactions to learn the tribal knowledge to become proficient, effective at negotiation and accurate with value estimates.

You've probably heard real estate professionals called "agents" and "Realtors," but technically those aren't interchangeable designations. An Idaho Realtor has not only met the state licensing requirements but has gone a few steps above. They are also members of the National Association of Realtors, an organization that sets its standards and ethics above state and even national expectations. Realtors not only continue their education as required by the state but they also routinely attend ethics courses. When you opt for an Idaho Realtor instead of a real estate agent, you know you're getting a professional who you can expect to be honest and provide a higher-than-normal level of service. 

What a Realtor Can Do For You

Because Idaho Realtors and real estate agents typically work for the same fee structure you get more for your money with a Realtor. If you're wondering what that entails and what a Realtor can do for you, financial website theBalance.com has a whole list to answer that question.

Realtors run interference for their clients, sifting through listings and inquiries, so buyers don't end up looking at homes that don't fit their budget or needs, and sellers don't have to deal with curious people walking through their homes who have no intention of making an offer. Realtors have the experience to offer valuable advice on listing prices, and they know the neighborhoods well, both issues that concern buyers and sellers. Realtors have the contacts and the online marketing networks to effectively market your home.  So find one that works the area where you are looking to live as finding a Realtor that is very familiar with the area is very important for educating you properly, especially if you are from out of town. A good local Idaho Realtor will be there before, during, and even after closing to help handle the reams of paperwork involved in a real estate transaction and answer any questions you have.

Buyer Beware

Buyer beware! If you're wondering what a Realtor can do for you and why you need your own agent, Realtor.com explains that your Realtor will look out for your best interests. Financially speaking, that means your Idaho Realtor will look at the house you're interested in with a critical eye, and point out anything of concern. He'll also negotiate a fair price that fits your budget, and can even help find financing if necessary--and that's all in addition to the other basic services he provides.

Once you know what a Realtor can do for you and need a good, caring Meridian Idaho Realtor, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call. He promises that he will set a new level of expectation for you not only in professional skills but in honesty and integrity.  Jeff will be happy to give you a personal tour of the area and show you some great homes that fit your style and budget.

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

Posted in Buying, Selling
July 24, 2017

Homeowners Associations: What You Need to Know

HOA

If you've never lived in a condominium complex or other housing situation that is typically set up as a Common Interest Community, you may not know what an HOA is or how it can affect you. HOAs exist in every state, and the homeowners associations in Idaho are essentially very similar. That's on a basic level, though, as each state's laws vary, and so do the way those laws affect communities and the homeowners associations in them. 

What Are Homeowners Associations?

 An HOA is a governing body with a board of directors that oversees a specific community, such as an apartment or condo complex or a particular neighborhood. Planned communities and gated neighborhoods usually have homeowners associations, but the houses don't all have to be alike and there doesn't have to be a wall around the neighborhood for the community to adopt HOA management. Just like all HOAs, after a developer has finished building out the development, the  homeowners associations in Idaho are funded and run by the residents, and they're set up to ensure the community maintains a certain level of cleanliness, repair, consistency and decorum. There are pros and cons to homeowners associations, so it's important to find out all you can before buying into a neighborhood or housing complex that has one.

What Will Homeowners Associations in Idaho Do For You?

 All homeowners associations have Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, hence the acronym CC&R’s.  HOA management--the board of directors--enforces these rules and are in charge of creating new ones as the need arises.  These rules must be adopted and voted on by a certain number of households, enough to form a quorum. These rules vary from one HOA to the next, partially based on the type of community. Regulations would obviously be different for an apartment building in New York City than it would be for homeowners associations in a single family residence in most Idaho neighborhoods. Some of the positive covenants and conditions homeowners associations in Idaho might enforce: 

keeping front yards green, maintained, and neat

require house exteriors to be painted if fading and can restrict your color choices

restrict noise levels 

limit number of vehicles that can be parked on the street  

 Conditions like those can benefit you because everyone in the neighborhood must comply, creating a peaceful, orderly, and attractive environment to live in. Additionally many homeowners associations provide amenities you might not otherwise be able to afford and maintain, such as a community park, swimming pool, tennis courts, rec room, health club, and even accommodations for business meetings.

 However, covenants and conditions might restrict what kind or how many pets you have, and even what size they can be. The rules could limit what kind of exterior improvements you can make on your home or what kind of landscaping you can do. That can include preventing you from installing solar panels and limiting how big your flower and/or vegetable gardens can be.

 It Comes at a Cost

Belonging to homeowners associations depending on the amenities and number of residents, comes at a cost.  HOA dues can be billed frequently as monthly in condominium developments  to yearly in single family developments.  HOA Dues go toward installation and maintenance of common areas which could encompass lawns, sidewalks, outdoor lighting, clubhouses, and swimming pools, depending on what your community includes. You will need to take those fees into consideration before buying a house in an HOA community, because your mortgage lender certainly will. Plus, according to Kiplinger, the HOA management board can vote to levy a special assessment and charge each member extra money if a large, unexpected repair needs to be done.  Costs are typically shared equally between property owners.  In Idaho we hear stories of associations in other states where HOA dues seem to increase uncontrollably, however, that is not typical in Idaho.  For instance, Baldwin Park HOA in Idaho where the Broker of Stewart Realty, LLC resides has only raised their dues once in the 14 years he and his family have resided there.  And that increase was only from $400 to $435/year.  So, when responsible homeowners manage HOA’s and the members stay involved, it can be a very good arrangement.

The covenants and conditions might restrict what kind or how many pets you have, and even what size they can be. The rules could limit what kind of exterior improvements you can make on your home or what kind of landscaping you can do. That can include preventing you from installing solar panels and limiting how big your flower and/or vegetable gardens can be. 

Find Out First

If you fall in love with a house that has an HOA, your agent should provide you a copy of the CC&R’s prior to making an offer to make sure they don't include anything you can't live with. Also, any MLS Listing sheet provided by a good Meridian Realtor should disclose what the HOA fees are and how often they are paid. You can also go the extra mile if you like and get a copy of the minutes from the most recent board meeting, or arrange to sit in on one to see what type of conflicts are typical and how the board responds to them. Plus, remember that any resident can serve on the board so if you want to help make changes or improve conditions, you could make a difference. 

Whether you want to avoid homeowners associations in Idaho or are looking to specifically buy in a community with CC&R’s to protect your investment, give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call for a personal tour of the Meridian 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
March 14, 2017

The Kitchen - the Room that Sells the House

The heart of any home is the kitchen, so it's no surprise that it is the room that sells the house, according to Forbes. It is where families spend most of their time, cooking, eating, and entertaining. Generations upon generations of kids have done their homework at kitchen tables, and many people appreciate a kitchen with a built-in because it is the place they prefer working on everything from the household finances to correspondence.

Experienced Realtors will tell you that your kitchen can make or break a sale, so it is vital to pay a little extra attention to this very important room when going over your home selling checklist. Even before putting your house on the market, it is a good idea to research kitchen ideas in Idaho and consider some upgrades or possibly a modest remodel. How far you go with a kitchen makeover depends on how old your kitchen is, but a lot of the time a coat of paint and some new hardware is sufficient to spruce up the room.  Of course, you don’t want to over-remodel the kitchen to the point that it is out of phase with the rest of the home either.  Naturally, you will want to make sure the entire house is clean, uncluttered, and in good condition when you are selling a home, but put a good effort into the room that sells the house.

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Posted in Selling
Feb. 28, 2017

7 Reasons Why Meridian is the Absolute Best Family City in Idaho

Best family city in IdahoIt's said that people come to Idaho for the wilderness and stay for the lifestyle, but there are so many terrific cities in the Gem State, you might find it difficult to decide which one will become your new hometown. If you are looking for a place to raise a family, the decision is simple. Meridian is the best family city in Idaho, and there are plenty of reasons why that is a fact. Though each family has a list of priorities that are important to them, there are six main concerns that all parents share when raising a family: access to good educational, prospects for income and employment, an affordable cost of living, low crime rates, and short commutes. When comparing places to move, USA Today gave Meridian Idaho best city status, putting it at number one because it meets all those criteria and more. 

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Posted in Buying
Feb. 5, 2017

Why Are Homebuyers Choosing Meridian Idaho Schools?

When it comes to home buying and schools, for a long time the typical practice was to find a house you love close to at least one parent's place of employment and just send the kids to the nearest school. Over the last few years, however, there has been a shift toward families setting a priority on finding the best schools for their kids and working back from there. That change has caused many homebuyers to start shopping for homes in the best Meridian, ID neighborhoods. With Meridian Schools getting high marks from many sources, finding a Meridian, ID home with good schools is pretty easy, no matter what age your children are.  

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Posted in Buying
Jan. 23, 2017

Your Neighbors' Effect on Your Home Value

Real Estate in Meridian Idaho is like real estate anywhere else, is always an investment, whether you purchase a house knowing that you're going to resell it within a few years or you intend on own it for the rest of your life. Either way, ownership almost always adds to your personal net worth as there's a much better chance than not that you will make a profit on it. 

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Posted in Buying, Selling
Jan. 16, 2017

What You Have to Disclose as a Seller

Part of selling a home includes ensuring the buyer knows what he is getting. That's why all states have laws stipulating that sellers are upfront with buyers about current or past problems with the home and/or property. State to state, most of the requirements are similar, but seller disclosures in Idaho have some specific informational requirements. The form used for disclosure is unique, to Idaho and it becomes an official part of the contract package and is required by law when a Real Estate Professional is involved.

Most people think the disclosure statement exclusively protects the rights of a homebuyer, so they don't unknowingly purchase a property that has unknown defects. However, the disclosure statement also protects the seller because there is a written record of what was disclosed to the buyer.  Obviously, if you sell a property without being honest about the condition, you could be become a party to a lawsuit against you and liable for damages when something you did know or should have known becomes evident after the sale.

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Posted in Selling
Dec. 19, 2016

How Increasing Interest Rates Reduce Your Purchasing Power

If you've been looking at Homes for Sale in Meridian, Idaho, or anywhere in the state, it's getting to be time to make a decision. That's because mortgage interest rates are on the rise and are expected to keep heading up over the next year, and with each percentage point increase, your purchasing power on Meridian Real Estate goes down exponentially. If you haven't yet taken advantage of historically low home interest rates, now is the time.

Although mortgage rates have gone up a bit over the last few weeks, the upward trend is likely to continue; meaning you probably won't get a better rate than what is available now.  In fact Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen just yesterday, (December 14, 2016) raised rates .5% saying that the economy was continuing to strengthen and that inflation was beginning to rise.

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Posted in Buying
May 7, 2016

Finding a Great Meridian Idaho Realtor to Represent You

finding a great real estate agentThe best Meridian Idaho Realtors to help people buy and sell homes in southwest Idaho are not easy to find. Just because an agent has a license, doesn't mean that you will get the best service from them, regardless of how much experience they have or how many designations they have achieved. The number of Realtor horror stories is proof that, if you want to know how to find one of the better Meridian, Idaho Realtors, you are going to have to do some work investigating.

One seller tells the story of a real estate agent who pressured him to take the first offer that came along--a low-ball amount that was $9,000 less than the asking price and included a stipulation that the sellers cover $6,000 of the buyer’s closing costs. Not only did the seller’s agent insist that the seller take the offer, but he did it in front of the buyer's agent. The best Meridian ID Realtors keep the best interests of the clients in mind. They would be not be the kind to insist that the first offer be accepted or that such a low offer that included a demand for a significant amount of the closing costs was acceptable.  The client’s best interest should always be in the forefront of the agents mind, not their commission! Though, there are always exceptions with overpriced or hard-to-sell homes or in tough markets, but with a good, experienced Meridian Idaho Realtor they will guide you properly and will be upfront with you about what you should do and explain why and would absolutely never discuss any terms in front of the opposing party.

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Posted in Buying, Selling
April 20, 2016

Which Home Repairs Are Most Important?

home repairsAll homeowners have to deal with home repairs before listing their home and selling a home in Meridian, Idaho is no different.  In many cases the reality is that cost, busy schedules, and outright procrastination often cause home renovation projects and even regular maintenance to be perpetually put on the back burner. However, when it comes time to sell your house you have to face the reality that most, if not all of those repairs will need to be completed before closing and, in most cases, should be completed before you put your home on the market.

Potential buyers should be able to assume that the structure is sound and the basic systems are in working order and if they find too much during the inspection, most will walk! As a seller, prioritizing which home repairs are needed most and completing them prior to listing will reduce both the chances that you will lose your buyer after the property inspection and/or have to make price concessions for repairs that the buyer will need to complete after closing of escrow.

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Posted in Buying, Selling