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.  A few of our agents also post personal blog posts from time to time  We hope you enjoy the content.  If you have questions or ideas on things you would like us to write about, let us know!

April 16, 2021

Home Staging and Buyer Expectations

A decade ago, home staging was still largely an excess found mostly in hard-to-sell luxury listings or high rise penthouses that needed the unique flair only a low-backed, modern, leather sectional could bring. Typical single-family residential listings were rarely decked out with borrowed furnishings. 

Time has changed things, though, and with the fast-moving, competitive nature of the market these days, the ante has been upped when it comes to prepping a listing. Buyers' expectations of how homes will look and feel have been largely based on a facade.

According to a 2021 report by the National Association of REALTORS®, 68% of buyers polled expressed dissatisfaction that properties they had viewed did not meet the expectations they'd held after watching home design shows. Many buyers, without realizing it, have developed a false sense that there is an ever-ready slew of trendy, bright homes to choose from. If not, they've believed that a total remodel will be both quick and relatively affordable. 

While real life in a home may not look quite as glamorous and decluttered as all of this, it remains the case that a clean, stylish, bright, and inviting home will appeal to buyers much more than one that isn't. It's not just that it has to look HGTV-worthy, but that it conveys livability and comfort -- creating pride of ownership before a home is even purchased. As a seller (or a seller's agent) this is the response you want: a buyer's sense that they can imagine living in your listing and their excitement over the prospect of doing just that.

The vast majority of home owners didn't purchase all of their furniture for one specific house, aiming to fit the style, color, and size just so. We often choose comfort and function over style when filling our homes. Our closets are overpacked, our pantries all amok, there are odds and ends on the countertops, stains on the mismatched throw pillows, toys strewn throughout. This is life.

As endearing and understandable as it may be, a prospective buyer wants to see themselves in your home and they want to see it in its full decorated potential. A select few can envision optimal conditions through the current state of things, but most cannot. Most won't even try. Most decide against a home within the first few seconds of entering it. 

Both due to accessibility and necessity, more buyers have been viewing properties online. Now more than ever, it is  important to have a visually stimulating listing. One representative for a growing staging company in Boise said they have experienced 60% growth in the past year and are busily working to keep up with demand. Also a factor in our area is the amount of newly-built homes hitting the market and being advertised in all their uninhabited glory. Buyers are seeing more and more prepped and staged homes and their standard is rising all the time.

Not to worry, though. The solution is quite simple. Stagers are well equipped with inventory that allows them to furnish the important rooms of your home with the appropriate items. They can choose fitting styles, sizes, colors, textures, and lighting to accentuate your home's top features. Twenty-three percent of agents say staging helped raise the dollar amount of the offers they received by 1-5%, and another 18% of agents reported a difference of 6-10%. Not only this, but staging can help reduce the time your home spends on the market and drive up activity and excitement. All of this translates to money in your pocket. Likely substantially more than it costs to have the home staged.

Talk to your agent about staging. There are many levels available, from using your existing household items and decluttering to having the entire house professionally furnished and decorated. Discuss what makes the most sense for your home and what will be most likely to give you an exciting return on your investment.

By Anne Gould

For more articles by Anne Gould, click HERE

April 14, 2021

The Great Chasm

The Great Chasm

Over Spring Break, our family took a trip to Arizona to spend time with my parents and to visit the Grand Canyon. It was the first time Luke, I, or the kids had experienced it.  What a sight! Standing at its edge, you can’t help but be in awe at its grandeur, amazed at its beauty, in wonder at the power behind its formation, and (at least for me) in fear of the dangerously steep canyon walls that jet downward for over a mile to the base.  

As we looked out over the expanse, the lyrics from the song Living Hope by Phil Wickham (a great song) kept coming to my mind.  “How great the chasm that lay between us. How high the mountain I could not climb.”  This was likely because of a powerful visual someone shared with me a while back using the Grand Canyon to help explain the separation that exists between me and God because of my sin and why only Jesus can bridge that gap.  I was going to write more about that here, but I found this video which visually shares in 2 minutes what would probably take me paragraphs to explain =-)  Please watch:

As a visual learner, the analogy pictured here combined with the experience of standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon and feeling the vast separation between me and the other side, put the reality of my state without Jesus in better perspective and reminded me again of my great need for Him.  Moreover, it caused me to rejoice in the kindness of God—a kindness I do not deserve.  “But, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of the richness of His mercy and breadth of His great love, He sent Jesus to bridge the divide and made it possible for me to cross over the vast expanse from death to life!  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).  

Just as words and pictures cannot capture the breadth of the beauty of the Canyon, so too, words and visuals can never capture the breadth of the beauty of this wonderful truth!  I am thankful beyond what my soul could ever express!  

By Katie Miller

For more blog posts by Katie Miller, click HERE 

Posted in Katie Miller
March 16, 2021

Could Idaho Soon See More Favorable Buying Conditions?

As most of us are well aware, the Idaho housing market became a madhouse of activity and competition over the last nine months. Driven by the powers of supply and demand and record-low interest rates, the local housing economy was able to defy broader economic uncertainty during one of the weirdest years our country has ever experienced. With several small changes occurring currently or on the horizon, what can we expect for buyers and sellers? Have we arrived at the peak?

Over the past year, sellers have had the luxury of leveraging an inventory crisis in their favor. This has resulted more often than not in bidding wars and dropped contingencies, all to the seller's benefit. Nobody would argue it hasn't been a fantastic time to list, but that only matters to those who want or need to move. Few homeowners have opted to sell and repurchase in the Treasure Valley, as they see the lack of options on the market and the intensity of the competition for listings. Casual upgrading has been less common as selling prices soar. Less Idahoans have needed to leave the area for work-related relocation during Covid-19. Those fortunate to already own in our beautiful state aren't overly anxious to give up that position, as tempting as cashing out might sound.

Buyers in turn have had to reconcile a growing urgency to own a home in Idaho with the difficulty of the market. Competing with out-of-state, cash-equipped buyers and the heavy presence of investors, many first-time home buyers or those needing financed have felt at a substantial disadvantage. Even regardless of budget or access to cash, the pickings have been slim for those needing to purchase. This has resulted in many wanting to postpone or relocate their home search in hopes of a better set of circumstances in another time or place.

As we enter spring, we are seeing a few factors coming together to create what we hope will be a more advantageous market for buyers, while undoubtedly remaining a seller's market. It could end up creating a window of opportunity for those on both ends of a transaction, where everyone can come away ahead.

Spring typically is when most people choose to list their homes. There are more buyers looking in the spring than the winter, so sellers often hold off on listing until this time. While this winter has been exceptional for activity and we have not seen the usual slow-down during the cold months, we can still expect there will be an increase in inventory in the spring and early summer. This could naturally result in less of a frenzy for each individual listing. Less immediate offers can keep prices from being bid up so high above asking price. While all indicators point to a continuation of the hot market, we hope for buyers' sake that the level of competition due to lack of inventory is alleviated at least somewhat this spring.

We are also seeing the expected, gradual rising of mortgage interest rates. This in no way means they are high, as a slight increase from the lowest in history still ends up a favorably low rate. But, the mad rush to purchase during the record-setting lows may be quieting some. Buyers who could only barely afford the payments at sub-3% rates may have to postpone their purchase. While this might seem like bad news, it could cause a calming in the housing market over time, making purchasing more feasible in other ways.

Idaho's hidden gem status has changed, whether long-time Idahoans like it or not. The attractive cost of living and purchasing a home here has definitely seen a shift with the population growth. Not many are thrilled to see that, but it can also result in a normalization of the market from what we've seen this past year. If Idaho is no longer a bargain, many buyers (particularly investors) will look elsewhere. We might see a steadier level of growth as a result, which most of us can agree would be welcomed.

Overall, these small changes over time can serve to help buyers have a more satisfying experience while looking in Idaho. There could be more to choose from and potential for an easier process to acquire it. Gradually, there could be shorter time frames again for new builds. Thankfully, none of these factors are inherently harmful to sellers. Although there are many indicators suggesting we will continue to see a hot housing market for at least the next two years, we may be inching toward a time when both sides are in a favorable position in Idaho. We are still expected to have interest rates in the 3-4% range for the foreseeable future, which is considered excellent for any time historically. Idaho remains a steady place for real estate long-term investment, and an excellent place to live, work, and play. Development continues at a staggering pace, which continues to strive to meet the demand. Continued growth is expected from out of state, leaving sellers with strong standing. In other words, this isn't likely to be the peak but the incline might become more manageable.

We are thinking positively for our beloved buyers, and joining everyone in wanting the best for our state long term. Time alone can tell for sure.

By Anne Gould

For more articles by Anne Gould, click HERE

 

March 16, 2021

Boise Housing Market Update | February 2021

As reported by Boise Regional REALTORS®, builders and prospective home sellers in the Boise housing market continue to prove unable to keep up with homebuyer demand.  BRR suggests the following factors as major contributors to the rapid influx of buyers:  

  • General population growth
  • Millennials “aging into” the traditional homeowner years
  • In-migration due to our comparative affordability (which unfortunately seems to be decreasing rapidly)
  • The ability for many to work from anywhere (and the fact that the Boise area is an attractive option=-) 

Housing supply remains tight considering the number of buyers, which of course contributes to the fast-paced and competitive market we find ourselves in today.  The average number of days on market for existing/resale homes was just 10 days last month, compared to 32 days last year.  And, it is rare to see an existing home go up for sale and not receive multiple offers with a final price well over asking.    

However, there may be signs of the market at least beginning to move toward an improved supply/demand balance.  The number of homes for sale increased by 63.1% from January to February.  And though inventory levels were a lot lower than 2019 or 2020 in the beginning weeks of 2021, last week’s inventory bumped up to nearly even with 2020 and just below 2019. 

Although no one can say for sure where the market is headed, we tend to think prices in our area will continue to rise.  But, as supply begins to catch up to demand, the rate of that increase will begin to slow.  Though, as a homeowner, I am grateful for the equity we’ve gained in our property over the past few years (Note: Per a report by CoreLogic, Idaho ranked 2nd in the nation for homeowners gaining the most equity between 2019 and 2020), I can also say I’m eager or the rate of this increase to slow down.  Rising prices continue to push people out of the market for purchasing a home.  And, I don’t want our area to experience the housing affordability crises experienced by many of the larger cities in our nation who had similar growth patterns to what we are seeing here now.  This is something I hope we can all keep our eyes on and do our part to protect, because safe, decent, affordable housing is an essential component to the well-being of all people in our community.  

For more information and specifics on the current market, please check out Boise Regional REALTORS® Market Report HERE

Posted in Housing Market
March 12, 2021

Receiving Correction

My husband, Luke, recently gave a sermon on the topic of receiving correction (which I highly recommend listening to HERE if you want to learn more).  The conversations we had as he prepared to share with our church body along with some recent personal experiences have served to illuminate more fully for me both the difficulty and the value of correction.    

I don’t think anyone gets very excited about being corrected.  And, I know I personally bristle a bit when correction first comes my way.  But, I don’t want to.  Hebrews 12: 11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  Though it can be difficult to hear, correction is ultimately for my good.  It helps reveal my bad fruit—my sin, selfishness, pride, and poor motives.  It brings those things into the light so they can be pruned and thrown away, allowing me instead to bear the peaceful and good fruit I desire.

When Luke was preparing his sermon, one of his favorite verses on the topic was Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”  Unfortunately, I am “stupid” in this way a lot, but I desire to be a lover of correction and to grow in the knowledge and joy it produces.  So, I am asking for the Lord to help me in this area—to help me not bristle and balk at reproof but rather to embrace it as His loving kindness meant to help me grow in His likeness.  The Lord is clear in His Word that He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6, Proverbs 3:11-12).  Thus, I don’t want to become weary of the reproof I receive from Him through others but rather rejoice in it—knowing that my loving Father is using it to equip me for every good work and to move me toward completeness in Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  I pray we could walk alongside each other in this challenge, sharpening one another as we learn to gently correct out of love and care and to receive correction with thankfulness and joy. “And, I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).  

By Katie Miller

For more blog posts by Katie Miller, click HERE 

Posted in Katie Miller
Feb. 16, 2021

How COVID-19 Changed What People Want in a Home

It's pretty amazing to think how much priorities and perceptions have changed over the last year. Most people have seen significant shifts in all the main areas of life. It's to be expected that home ownership has now been reframed, with new items topping wish lists, whether for remodeling and repurposing a home or selecting a new home altogether.

Of course, the most drastic of all of these changes has been the heightened urgency and sudden ability to move out of the city and into outlying areas for a slower-paced lifestyle. Working remotely has become much more than a temporary solution, and as companies and employees have figured out ways to make it work, many have determined it will become the new default. Without the necessity of a daily commute, many are packing up and relocating to areas they couldn't before consider. Sometimes this means the outskirts of their current city, and sometimes it means the entire country opens up as a possibility. Certainly we have seen the migration to Idaho for these reasons, and not just in Boise and Meridian, but the suburbs as well. 

In addition to picking location from a broader list, people have learned that features of a property that may have been optional before have become more essential. 

One obvious priority is to have a designated office space with the ability to be closed off from the rest of the home. Perhaps builders will start considering putting this off the primary bedroom, or with its own separate entrance from the exterior, so that business from home can be conducted in a quiet and productive setting. Similarly, having had virtual schooling for nearly a year, many families want the option of a home-learning space with built-in desks and bookshelves. This will likely be located off of the main living areas so that parents or caretakers in the home can oversee schooling and other tasks simultaneously.

Having experienced closed gyms and recreational facilities, in-home gyms have gained popularity. Even moving forward, the convenience and sanitation of working out at home has a new level of appeal. Less-used garage space may be converted into home gyms, and builders are likely to appoint entire spaces in homes to exercise in order to meet this demand. 

After the difficulty of visitor restrictions to assisted living facilities and nursing homes, homeowners are looking for options that will allow them to conduct multi-generational living if and when that need arises. Main-level home suites that include additional kitchen areas and ADA-compliant features like wider doorways and hallways, lower light switches, and accessible showers, etc. will become higher priority for buyers moving forward. 

All of us can understand why outdoor living has become front-of-mind for homeowners. People are wanting more private, spaced-out lots that allow for recreation outside, but still around the home. Covered porches, balconies, terraces, and the furnishings that equip them for comfort are high wish-list items. Built-in barbecues, retractable sun screens, fire pits, and outdoor sound systems are likely to become more common after COVID-19. It's likely that buyers, where they have the luxury to choose, will opt for neighborhoods with access to walking paths, common areas, etc. 

Smart home features and green living has been growing in demand for some time, and COVID-19 will only add to that in the future. More people are looking for interior fixtures that allow for touch-free functionality,  indoor air-quality monitoring systems, full-home filtration, UV-air treatment, and so on. 

In 2020, HOME took on a new meaning. It was the place where all areas of life needed to be conducted. Even in the worst of times, home needs to be a place of comfort and refuge, and now increased functionality as well. 

By Anne Gould

For more articles by Anne Gould, click HERE

Feb. 16, 2021

Untold Stories of a Boise Realtor: The Shih Poo

Shih Poo

Most of you know by now that I'm not really an "animal person."  I mean, some animals are cute and all... but from afar.  I'd rather they not sit on me, rub up against me, or beg me to rub their bellies.  I have learned, however, to PRETEND really well when necessary to care about the animals I encounter in my work as a real estate agent.  There are a lot!

Earlier last year, I had the immense pleasure of listing a home for a friend of mine.  This dear friend has a beloved small dog (perhaps a Shih Poo, for heaven's sake!).  We will call this dog Sally for the purpose of anonymity (and because, for the life of me, I cannot remember the dog's name).  Sally was cooped up in the laundry room while the photographer and I were working to get pictures done.  She howled and cried and barked the ENTIRE time.  Even I, who tend to show no empathy toward animals, started to feel pretty bad for her.  Once the photographer was done and gone, I let Sally out of the laundry room and she bounded out full of energy and excitement.  My work was done, so I turned out all the lights, locked up, and headed home--leaving Sally in the house where I was supposed to leave her. 

I got about a block away when I realized I had forgotten something in the house.  I turned around and headed back.  Without even thinking, I opened up the door to run inside.  Well, Sally was very anxiously waiting at the door for someone to set her free and BOLTED out the door as soon as it was opened.  "Oh my word," I thought, "I'm going to have to chase this dog, aren't I?"  So I dropped my stuff and took off after her.  Two things that are important to know.  1) I am not a runner!  I forged a letter from my parents in the 6th grade excusing me from running the mile for the physical fitness test.  2) You already know, I am not a dog whisperer.  I don't know the tricks in talking to dogs or luring them back home.  

So I started chasing after this small Shih Poo in my professional attire and shoes.  She would pause, and I would get close and say the things to her I thought a person should say to a small dog they are wanting to come to them.  Then she would take one look at me and take off again.  I ran after her, calling her name, all over the neighborhood.  People stared, some laughed, some even slowed down in their cars to consider helping me (but none actually helped).  I thought I would die before catching this dog.  Somehow, though, by the grace of God, after about 20-30 minutes, Sally got distracted by something in someone's yard and stopped long enough for me to grab her.  I couldn't believe I finally had her.  So, I carried her all the way back home, at arm's length so as not to get any dog hair on me, and placed her back inside the house.  I've never been more out of breath in my life.  Oh, Sally!  You little rascal!

Written by Becka Marston

See more posts by Becka Marston HERE!

Posted in Becka Marston
Feb. 13, 2021

Boise Housing Market Update | January 2021

The fast pace of the Boise housing market over the last several months continues into 2021 and shows no sign of letting up soon.  Low inventory, faster market times, and continued low mortgage rates (averaging 2.73% in January 2021 for a 30-year fixed mortgage) have all contributed to increasing home values, resulting in yet another record setting median sales price in January of $454,000.

If we remove new construction and only look at existing sales, the median sales price was $443,500, which was also record setting and represented a 30.4% increase in value from the same month last year.  This large increase in equity is a big positive for   many owners, as it can afford them the opportunity to purchase another home, fund a business, send a child to college, or finance other endeavors.  However, for those who don’t currently own real estate, this can understandably cause concern.   Homes are becoming less and less affordable to purchase and the fear of increased rents looms large.       

Though this market can be discouraging for any buyer, the resources and strategies we have learned this past year have allowed us to experience some great wins for our clients.  The process is difficult but certainly not impossible.  And, we would love the opportunity to come alongside you to help attain your real estate goals.  Purchasing a home or rental property remains one of the best investments for building long term wealth and continues to be a worthwhile financial pursuit.  Whether buying or selling or both, please give us a call to talk more about your specific needs and concerns, and let us use our expertise to direct your next steps.    

For more information and specifics on the current market, please check out Boise Regional REALTORS® Market Report HERE

Boise Housing Market January 2021

Posted in Housing Market
Feb. 13, 2021

Black History, Racism, & Our Hope for Racial Reconciliation

February is Black History Month, or more appropriately, African American History Month.  Although African American history IS American history and, as such, should be honored, considered, and studied all year, our family wanted to take the opportunity this month to focus in, with greater intentionality, on this specific piece of our nation’s story.  The topic of race and racial reconciliation in our country has been on our minds for quite some time.  But, becoming parents who wanted to cultivate a love, appreciation, and value for all races in our children, adopting Brooks (who’s paternal side is African American), learning more about the housing disparity among minorities as a real estate agent,  and witnessing the heightened visible racial tension over this past year, have all served to deepen our desire to better understand the story of racial division in our nation’s past and become bridge builders for racial reconciliation in our nation’s present and future. 

This desire moved us to purchase and begin working through the book The Gospel in Color as a family.  The book delves into the very real, complex, painful, and challenging issue of racism and helps kids and parents engage in honest conversations about race, the division and suffering around race, and how the good news of Jesus provides the healing power we need to experience racial reconciliation.

There’s no question that America’s history reveals a very dark and sinful past when it comes to racism and injustices done to people of color.  We want our kids to know and learn from the past but also to trust in and move toward our future hope.  We have seen the outworking of this hope as movement over the years, albeit often small and slow, has been made in exposing racial injustices and working to correct past wrongs.  More importantly, we have confidence in a future end to racism, as promised through the gospel of Jesus.  Galatians 1:4 says, “Jesus gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”  Racism is a detestable work of the devil and a very real part of this present evil age.  It is the will of our God and Father to see all sin destroyed, including racism.  Jesus came and died to do exactly that! God wins, and we have a sure hope in His victory!  In light of that future victory, we don’t want to be a family who waits idly by, but rather, by God’s grace, we want to be encouraged forward in a daily pursuit of racial reconciliation—a pursuit marked by the bringing of past injustices to light, repenting, seeking and granting forgiveness, healing, growing in God’s love and value of all people, rejoicing in the beauty of God’s diversity, deepening our relationships with those who may be different from us, and relying on His Spirit to make us more like Him and what He’s about.

If you have any resources or movies you’ve watched recently that have informed you on African American history or inspired you toward racial reconciliation and healing, I would love if you would share them.  This past week we watched Remember the Titans as a family, and Luke and I watched a good documentary called Long Time Coming.  Both of these movies emphasize the beauty and healing God has to offer when we demonstrate His heart by getting to know, love, value, and grow in relationship with all members of the human race—each of whom is created in God’s image to uniquely reflect the vastness of His beauty, goodness, and glory! 

By Katie Miller

For more blog posts by Katie Miller, click HERE 

Posted in Katie Miller
Jan. 21, 2021

What About Pre-Foreclosures?

What About Pre-Foreclosures

A client of ours was asking about pre-foreclosures and foreclosures this week, so we figured we'd share a few thoughts about these properties.

When searching properties online, you may find properties on Zillow or other sites listed as a "pre-foreclosure."  Basically, what this means is the owners have missed a few payments and have been notified by the bank that they need to pay in order to keep the foreclosure process from starting. At this point, the house is not for sale nor may the owners have any intent of listing it for sale in the near future. As agents, there’s very little we can do in a pre-foreclosure other than hunt down the owner’s information, call them up, and ask them if they want to sell their house.  However, inquiries of this type often result in upsetting and frustrating the owner rather than a conversation about a possible sale. Most owners in this situation find a way to make their payments so they don’t lose their house. Or, if they really can’t catch up, they may reach out to an agent to sell their home and pay off their debt. If they’re unable to make their payments or sell the home for more than what they owe, then the property will likely go into foreclosure. Just as during pre-foreclosure, there is very little we can do as agents during the actual foreclosure process.  We can find out which bank is foreclosing, but trying to track down someone at the bank who can actually negotiate a sale in the middle of the foreclosure process is very difficult, if not impossible. 

Near the end of the foreclosure process, the home may go to auction to be sold. Most houses sold in foreclosure auctions need to be bought with cash, due in full at the time of the auction.  Additionally, there is usually no opportunity to view the interior of the property or perform any type of inspection. Buyers who try to purchase homes through foreclosure auctions take on much greater risk then those who purchase homes through the regular process and often find they are competing with investors who do this for a living. It’s a challenging pursuit to say the least!   

If the property doesn’t sell at the auction, the bank takes back the home and does the work necessary to list the property with a real estate agent.  It’s important to note that the time it takes a property to move through the foreclosure process isn’t quick.  Going from pre-foreclosure to the home actually being foreclosed on and then listed by an agent can sometimes take 2-3 years.  This is why, for serious buyers, we would say homes that are in pre-foreclosure or in the middle of the foreclosure process are likely not worth the wait. Instead, focus on regular sales or foreclosed homes that have already made it through the process and are now listed by an agent on the MLS.  Once listed, foreclosed homes can be pursued by buyers much like any other listing.  Buyers are able to view the home, make an offer, get a loan for the purchase, close within a reasonable amount of time, have a home inspection, and take other necessary steps to limit risk and insure a solid investment.  

For more information about foreclosures or to see foreclosure listings, click HERE!

By Benj Foreman & Katie Miller

For more blog posts by Benj Foreman, click HERE