The purpose of our blog is to educate our readers on the current Boise Idaho real estate market, to inform potential buyers and sellers of the process of buying or selling a home in the Boise area, to provide pertinent home improvement ideas for current homeowners, and to present desired community information for Boise and the surrounding area.  We hope you enjoy the content.  If you have questions or ideas on things you would like us to write about, let us know!

Feb. 6, 2018

The Interurban Streetcar Line

It is a little known fact that the Boise area once had an electric trolley line running between Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa, Caldwell, and Middleton.  The “Interurban” streetcar line was started in 1892 and was backed by private investors.  In 1904, as people began to recognize the positive impact that linking communities had on business, use of the line greatly increased.

 

The first line to be completed headed toward Caldwell via what is now State Street and Highway 44, passing through Star, Eagle, and Middleton.  The average fare was five cents within the city and up to $1.15 for those traveling the full length from Boise to Caldwell.  Dairies, orchards, and farms utilized the line to move their freight throughout Ada and Canyon counties.

 

By the late 1920s, however, advancements in the automobile industry made it much more affordable to own a personal car.  Since automobile travel was also considerably more convenient, people across the nation began switching to this mode of transportation.  Understandably, this led to a downturn in the use of the streetcar, and investors who were no longer getting a return on their investment, began to move their money to other, more popular, travel industries.  Without the backing of these private investors, the Boise area trolley line was forced to shut down in 1928.  

 

City officials in today’s government are now looking to bring back a similar form of metro transit to our booming city.  But, the convenience of the personal car still stifles Boise residents’ desires to invest in such an endeavor.  However, if Boise continues to grow as it has, I imagine we will indeed see a need for a similar metro travel option to return.  

Posted in Local History
Feb. 6, 2018

Thinking of selling? Now is the perfect time!

 It is common knowledge that a great number of homes sell during the spring-buying season.  For that reason, many homeowners hold off on putting their homes on the market until then.  The question is whether or not that will be a good strategy this year.

 

The other listings that do come out in the spring will represent increased competition to any seller.  Do a greater number of homes actually come to the market in the spring as compared to the rest of the year?  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently revealed the months in which most people listed their homes for sale in 2017...April, May and June.

 

The three months in the second quarter of the year (represented in red) are consistently the most popular months for sellers to list their homes on the market. Last year, the number of homes available for sale in January was 1,680,000.

 

That number spiked to 1,970,000 by May! What does this mean to you?

With the national job situation improving, and mortgage interest rates projected to rise later in the year, buyers are not waiting until the spring; they are out looking for homes right now. If you are looking to sell this year, waiting until the spring to list your home means you will have the greatest competition amongst buyers.

 

Bottom Line

It may make sense to beat the rush of housing inventory that will enter the market in the spring and list your home today.

 

Content from Keeping Current Matters

 

Posted in Housing Market
Feb. 6, 2018

Boise Real Estate Market Update - December 2017

 

With only 1,391 homes for sale last month, Ada County hit another record low for inventory—down 6.6% from December last year.  Although this is a clear sign that the housing shortage continues, we are seeing steps made toward a more balanced market.  For example, although overall inventory fell, inventory of newly constructed homes is on the rise.  In fact, in a rare phenomenon, 317 more newly built homes sold in December than existing homes.  Usually, this is the other way around.  This means builders are picking up their game and helping to provide much needed homes to satisfy heavy buyer demand.  

 

There is some concern that this massive increase in new construction will lead to overbuilding, as experienced in the mid-2000s.  However, new construction today appears to be driven by actual buyer demand, resulting from more people moving into the area, than on the speculative building that occurred during the bubble.

 

Builders and existing home owners alike still have a long way to go in creating and freeing up inventory, especially in the lower price points.  This has been difficult for builders as increased costs for land, labor, and materials forced the median price for new construction up 13.5% from last year, hitting a record high of $361,030.  This price is quite high when compared with the much lower median sales price of $254,250 for existing homes in Ada County.  Thus, there is a great need for owners of existing homes to move up into higher price points and release more inventory in the lower price points for entry level buyers.    

 

Below are the current Ada County market statistics for December 2017 compared to December 2016:

Closed sales – 805 (up 2.0%) 

Median Sales Price (including new construction) - $277,900 (up 13.5%) 

Days on the Market - 42 (down 20.8%) 

Pending Transactions - 1,180 (up 19.9%) 

Inventory: 1,391 (down 6.6%) 

Months of Supply – 1.7 (down 5.6%)

We also wanted to show how the number of months supply of inventory fluctuates based on the price range.  The current month’s supply condition in each price range is as follows: 

$159,999 or less: 0.4 months.

$160,000 - 199,999: 0.3 months 

$200,000 - $249,499: 0.8 months

$250,000 - $299,999: 1.9 months

$300,000 - 399,999: 2.2 months

$400,000 - 499,999: 2.5 months

$500,000 - $699,999: 2.7 months

$700,000 - $999,999: 4.4 months

If you’re interested in knowing more about the current state of the market, check out these informative December 2017 Boise Regional Realtors Market Reports for both Ada and Canyon counties.

Posted in Housing Market
Jan. 6, 2018

Helping A Senior Downsize After Losing a Spouse

Helping A Senior Downsize After Losing a SpouseDownsizing is never easy; it involves a lot of work and can be painful emotionally, but many seniors find it necessary to move into a smaller home after retirement, either because of a shift in finances or because of the death of a loved one. Losing a spouse after many years is devastating, and having to go through a major life change like a move at the same time can be overwhelming. For caregivers and loved ones of seniors who are going through this difficult time, it’s important to be supportive and help the transition go as smoothly as possible. 

Helping your loved one get through this time can be an emotionally draining process for yourself, too, so be sure to practice self-care to prevent sadness and depression from setting in and ask for help when you need it. The best way to help as a caregiver is to make sure you’re in good shape physically, emotionally, and mentally. 

Here are some of the best ways to get your loved one through this difficult time.

  • Don’t push: It’s important not to push or rush your loved one, if possible. There may be circumstances where he or she needs to make a move without much time to prepare, but if you can, make sure they have adequate time to get used to the idea of this change before making plans to start packing up and getting rid of belongings. 

  • Be sensitive: Downsizing can be emotionally difficult for a senior after the loss of a spouse because it means going through memories and having to choose what to keep and what to get rid of. Be sensitive during this process and let your loved one have final say on what they want to keep. Do some research at their new home, if possible, to see what size the space is and what they’ll be able to fit. Take photos for reference; this will also help the senior get used to the idea of a move. 

  • Ask family over: It may be helpful to your loved one to have family over during the downsizing process, in part because they may want to give some possessions to children or grandchildren. Sometimes giving items to someone who will appreciate and use them is much easier than donating or throwing it away. Ask family members to come over and help with the packing, and ask your loved one to give everyone a job so that you’re not tripping over each other. Be patient and expect this process to take some time, as your loved one may want to go over each item that has sentimental value to reminisce. 

  • Be mindful of any issues: The downsizing process can be very confusing to a senior who is living with Alzheimer’s disease and can cause agitation, so handle things very carefully to help them stay calm. They may not understand why they have to get rid of their things, so it’s important to compromise when necessary. Instead of throwing things out or selling them, store them in bins at a storage unit or in the home of a family member. This will, at the very least, allow you to get the items out of the house for the selling process. 

Remember to include the senior in the downsizing and moving process as much as possible, as this can help with stress and anxiety on their part. 

Content written by Jim Vogel

 

Posted in Selling a Home, Seniors
Dec. 22, 2017

Why Christmas Lights

As I drive around Boise this most wonderful time of the year, I am impressed by the number of beautiful and complicated Christmas light displays.  This caused me to wonder why we put up Christmas lights in the first place.  The first semblance of Christmas lights appeared in Germany in the 17th century, as people began decorating the traditional Christmas tree with candles, which they attached to the branches with pins or melted wax.  In addition, European Christians would display candles in their windows to let passerbys know they were welcome to come in and worship with them during the Christmas season. 

As you can imagine, attaching burning candles to fire’s favorite fuel was not a good idea.  But, people couldn’t part with the beauty of a lit tree. So, ideas for safer options were sought. In 1880, Thomas Edison created the first electric Christmas lights. He displayed them outside his laboratory in Menlo Park, California, so passengers on the nearby railway could enjoy them each evening.  This was the first outside lights display, separate from decorating the Christmas tree.  Two years later, under the supervision of Edison, Edward Johnson invented the first string of Christmas lights, made out of 80 small electric light bulbs.

 In 1890, the string of lights was mass-produced and began being sold in department stores.  The White House sported Christmas lights for the first time in 1895.  But, it remained a tradition for the wealthy, as electric lights cost $12 per single strand ($300 in today’s currency.)  In 1925, NOMA Electric Corp was formed and became the largest Christmas light manufacturer in the world. Demand for lights was high enough that the company was even able to survive the Great Depression with their sales. In the 1940s and 1950s, NOMA and other competitors were able to produce lights for less money, allowing for more and more people to afford decorating their homes and trees.  By the 1960s, putting Christmas lights on houses became a fully fledged American tradition.

For a century, incandescent bulbs were used until the creation of the more energy efficient LED lights that we have today.  Christmas lights, no matter the source, have always served to brighten the dark days of December, display beauty, bring cheer, and convey the warmth and joy of the Christmas season.

 If you’re looking to see some elaborate light displays in our area this year, HERE is a list of some of the most noteworthy attractions for your Christmas light tour!

 

Posted in Boise Events
Dec. 20, 2017

Boise Real Estate Market Update - November 2017

This year, the total dollar volume for home sales in Ada County will pass the $3 BILLION mark for the first time!  Total dollar volume has been increasing since 2009, with the previous peak at $2.7 billion in 2006.  Nearly 10,000 homes have sold this year to date, up 2.6% from last year.  Although the number of existing home sales is nearly identical to last year’s numbers, the total dollar volume for sold properties in this category increased by 9.2%. This increase in dollar volume, despite an unchanged number of sales, is indicative of the higher prices being spurred on by buyer competition over limited inventory.  The number of existing homes for sale is down 13.2% from last year.  Inventory for new construction, however, is up 1% from 2016, and home sales in this category are up 10.9%.  Builder production is helping to ease the squeeze of our low inventory situation.  But, even with this help, prices on new homes are also continuing to increase due to buyer demand and higher costs for land, materials, and labor.  

Here is a historic view of dollar volumes sold each year since 2005:

Although fewer buyers are looking in the winter months, there are usually even fewer listings.  This is great for sellers because they can sell with less competition from other listings while still having a good chance of  getting a strong offer from buyers competing for what few homes are available. If you want to know more about the today’s market conditions, get an idea of what your home is currently worth, or discuss options for buying in the winter, please contact us!  We would love to meet with you in person or chat on the phone!  

 

 

Below are the current Ada County market statistics for November 2017 compared to November 2016:

  • Closed sales – 839 (down o.7%) 
  • Median Sales Price (including new construction) - $269,900 (up 10.2%) 
  • Days on the Market - 38 (down 17.4%) 
  • Pending Transactions - 1,383 (up 18.4%) 
  • Inventory: 1,623 (down 6.2%) 
  • Months of Supply – 1.8 (down 10%)

We also wanted to show how the number of months supply of inventory fluctuates based on the price range.  The current month’s supply condition in each price range is as follows: 

  • $159,999 or less: 0.4 months.
  • $160,000 - 199,999: 0.4 months 
  • $200,000 - $249,499: 0.9 months
  • $250,000 - $299,999: 2.1 months
  • $300,000 - 399,999: 2.4 months
  • $400,000 - 499,999: 2.5 months
  • $500,000 - $699,999: 7.3 months
  • $700,000 - $999,999: 7.3 months

If you’re interested in knowing more about the current state of the market, check out these informative November 2017 Boise Regional Realtors Market Reports  for both Ada and Canyon counties.

Posted in Housing Market
Nov. 25, 2017

Seller's Market: How To Know When To Drop the Price

High demand and low supply have made it a seller's market pretty much all over the country, and especially for lower-priced homes.  That does not mean every house will sell or sell quickly.  Price is still important, especially as some markets begin to overheat.

The low number of listings has made the market more competitive, pushing prices higher at a fast clip.  Nationally, prices are up about 7% from a year ago, and in the hottest markets they are up double digits.  Still, a house can be overpriced, and today's savvy house hunters can smell an overpriced house a mile away.  If a listing is overpriced and sits on the market for too long, it gets stale.  Potential buyers will see the time on market and click past your listing, often without even looking at it.  That is why it is best to lower your asking price before your listing hits the stale stage.

So when is that?  "I typically drop the price after the second week on the market," said Laura Barnett, a real estate agent with RE/MAX DFW Associates in the Dallas area.  "But I may be more aggressive than most.  Usually just in $5,000 to $10,000 reductions for the most part."  Barnett said she rarely had to drop prices in the last few years because the Dallas market was just that hot.  Instead, the norm was multiple offers and sale prices above asking.  "But there is a strange change that is in the air, and sellers are starting to have to humble a bit.  I would not say it is a buyer's market, but a new balance between buyers and sellers has been hitting us since August," Barnett said.

That may be because home prices have hit a tipping point in affordability.  There is only so much buyers can handle after a multiyear run-up in prices.  Of course, every market is different, and some markets may have overheated, while others are still competitive.  The average time on the market for all homes nationally was 34 days in September, according to the National Association of Realtors.  That is down from 39 days in September 2016.  But markets like Seattle and Denver are still seeing homes sell in just a few weeks.  It would be easy to say that all you need to do is price your house correctly and competitively in the first place, and then you won't have any problems, but there are several schools of thought on when to be competitive and when to test the market.  "I don't believe in 'testing the market,' but … if we enter the market that might be pushing the top of the range, we can easily gauge response within seven to 10 days," said Dana Rice, a real estate agent with Compass in the Washington, D.C., area.  "It's almost a certainty that if we don't get an offer within that first 10-day period, then we've missed the mark," she added.

If the home doesn't sell in two weeks, Rice said, she then considers a price cut.  "And we've had a lot of success doing a rapid price adjustment and bringing those same buyers back — the ones who liked the property in the first place who will view the price adjustment as 'the seller is listening to me,' and most buyers want to feel that the seller is listening to them," she said.  It can also be beneficial to reach out to people who may have toured the home first and let them know that there may be a price cut coming.  The buyer may make an offer that is slightly above your intended cut.

What sellers should do: If you and/or your agent are considering a price cut, first research your neighborhood, right down to the ZIP code, to see how long it takes most homes to sell.  Then look at homes that sold after a price cut.  "From your research, calculate the average price reduction of pending sales in your ZIP code over the previous three to six months.  Get a rough idea of how much you will have to lower your price," advises Steve Coo, editor of Real Estate Economy Watch.  "Then compare your rough final price with current listings in your market.  Find the average of those homes and reduce your rough price by the list-to-price ratio to get a price that will beat the competition," he said.  Once a price is reduced, all listing websites will be able to see that, and some will send an alert to buyers.  Real estate agents will also market a price reduction, both on the front-yard sign and the online listing.  While a price drop can bring in more buyers, it can also turn off some buyers who might have been on the fence, fearing that the home is not as desirable as they thought.  Cook recommends that if you don't need to sell quickly, you might consider taking the home off the market for a few months and then relisting at a lower price.  "Your listing will look like a new listing and you will avoid the stigma of the price reduction."

Content from USA Today

 

Posted in Selling a Home
Nov. 25, 2017

Boise Real Estate Market Update - October 2017

We have seen three full years of falling inventory in Ada County.  It is interesting to consider some of the factors that have been working together to cause this, especially in the $250,000 and under price range. 

1.      Increased Demand: Our local population is growing which is increasing demand for housing. 

2.     Rental Cost Is Outpacing Mortgage Cost:  There is a high demand/low supply issue in the rental market as well, which has caused rental costs to become increasingly expensive.  With our still historically low interest rates and tax incentives for homeownership, it is usually less expensive to buy than to rent.  Thus, many people pursue this option—increasing demand in the housing market even further.

3.     Increased Building Cost: Our local builders were hit hard by the housing bubble bursting in 2008.  They are trying to rebound, but land and materials are more expensive now.  Also, labor is challenging because there are fewer local trade workers available.  This makes it difficult for builders to meet the demand for lower to mid-priced housing. 

4.     Overloaded Approval Process: City planning, zoning, and permit departments are receiving more local project requests than they can manage.  Although there are housing projects in the pipeline they want to approve, the entire process has been slowed by the volume of paperwork. 

5.     People Aren’t Moving Up As Often: In the past, the trend has been for people to move from starter homes to larger homes as their families or their incomes grow.  In 2012, the average time a person lived in a house before moving up was six years. Today, that timeframe is ten years, which results in less entry level housing coming available. 

6.     Investor Impact: Investors are able to outbid the average buyer on lower-priced homes and either flip them into a higher price points or turn them into rental properties.

Returning to a more balanced market by seeking to minimize these factors would benefit our economy. But, it is difficult to achieve and requires realtors, builders, investors, and homeowners to work together toward a common goal.   As realtors, we are seeking to educate homeowners on the current market conditions and help those who have owned their properties for awhile realize their equity positions and options for moving up may be much more positive than they had assumed.  As people move up or purchase new construction, we hope to see the inventory of existing homes increase.

If you’d like to talk more about the market conditions and how they could personally affect you and your home investment decisions, please don’t hesitate to call us.  We’d be happy to meet with you!

Posted in Housing Market
Nov. 25, 2017

Hiring a Realtor May Not Cost You a Penny

 

There is no doubt that it is easier to sell your house when using the services of a local real estate professional. The agent will provide:

  • Greater exposure to more buyers
  • The skills of a professional negotiator
  • A layer of protection from possible legal liabilities
  • Professional guidance in navigating any pitfalls that may arise
  • A level of safety while showing the home

There is no doubt that these services are valuable to any family that decides to sell. The only question is – how valuable? One of the main reasons For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) don’t use a real estate agent is because they believe these services are not worth the fee an agent charges. But, what if those services didn’t cost the seller a penny?

study by Collateral Analytics, however, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything and, in some cases, may be costing themselves more by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)

Why would FSBOs net less money on their own than if they used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids on with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
  • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale” which could bring more money for the home.
  • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.” If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Three conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%.
  3. The sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, FSBOing may end up costing you money instead of saving you money.

Content from Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Selling a Home
Nov. 25, 2017

The Bown House

The Bown House, located in front of Riverside Elementary, is an Idaho landmark I pass almost everyday.  This past week, my oldest daughter, Hadley, was able to visit for a field trip and share what she learned about this unique property.

In 1841, at the age of 12, Joseph Bown immigrated with his family to America from England.  He grew up in Illinois, married Temperance Hall, and moved to Iowa to start a farm and a family.  In 1862, Joseph  took a wagon train west and ended up with a gold claim in Idaho City.  When his efforts at gold mining failed, he moved to Boise and spent the next few years establishing one of the first ranches in the Boise Valley.  As soon as he was able, he moved his wife and seven children to Idaho as well.  They lived in a log cabin, farmed their ranch, and saved their money until they were able to build a new house in 1879.  The large and luxurious home, known as the “block house,” was built from local sandstone and was set on the highest site in the area, providing sweeping views of their 240 acre ranch.

In addition to raising their family there, the Bowns also used their home as a school when a nearby school burned down.  Many parties and dances were held there.  In 1893, the Bowns moved to a new farm.  The house transferred ownership a few times until 1987, when the Independent School District of Boise purchased it to use as office space.  In 1991, the school district entered into a stewardship agreement with Preservation Idaho to restore the house and make it the centerpiece of the heritage education program.  The house remains as such today.  It is open for tours the first Saturday of each month from 1pm-4pm and is the namesake of the mixed-use Bown Crossing neighborhood.  

Posted in Local History