Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Flat Fee MLS Service for Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Rexburg and Surrounding Areas!

I am excited to be offering my flat fee MLS entry service to the Snake River MLS service area. I have recently joined that MLS service and have my first listing in the southeast part of Idaho in Victor.  A large 2 story home with full basement on 1/2 acre, listed price is $269,000.

It is rewarding to be offering my money-saving program to the areas covered by The Greater Idaho Falls Association of Realtors, The Greater Blackfoot Association of Realtors and The Upper Valley Association of Realtors. Many members of the Pocatello association area are also members of the Snake River MLS.

I plan on expanding to northern Idaho as well in the near future. So if you, or someone you know, has real estate needs in any of these areas I can save you a ton of money while providing massive exposure. Give me a call or send me a e-mail. Shoot, you can even text me if you want!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Welcome Summer...we sure did miss you.

An informative post from Marc Lebowitz of the Ada County Association of Realtors.

"June sales were 623 in Ada County, a decrease of 6% compared to sales in June 2010.

Historically, May sales increase somewhere between 1% and 6%.  June 2011 had 4% more sales than May 2011.

Year-to-date 2011 sales are within 3% of YTD 2010. As of the end of June we are within 100 units of YTD sales this time on 2010.

Of our total sales in June… 47% were distressed….down 6% from May 2011. (Short sales 15% and REO’s 31%). Distressed sales continue to dominate the market...but have now fallen below a “majority” of sales for the first time in 2011!

Pending sales at the end of June were 957; and decrease of 5% from the end of May. On average, pending sales at the end of May are the highest of the year.  In 2010 pending sales slipped by 20% from the end of May to the end of June. The percentage of pending sales in distress were essentially unchanged from May, totaling 44% overall. We are now at three consecutive months below 50%.

The number of houses available for sale at the end of June fell below 2,600 for the first time in years to 2,575.  This is down 3% from May and 33% less than last year at this time. Currently available inventory compares to early 2006.

At the same time, the percentage of active inventory that is distressed dropped almost 2% from May to 34%.  This is the fourth consecutive monthly decline and keeps us below the 40% levels set last spring....when we were on the increase.

In Ada County we have 4 months of inventory on hand…historically this number defines a strong “seller’s market”.  The price category in shortest supply is <$100,000 with 2.6 months available. This is closely followed by the $100,000 to $120,000 with 2.5 months and $120,000 to $159,000 with 4.2 months. These are the lowest numbers in more than a year!

There is also positive news on some of the higher priced inventory; $500,000 to $699,999 inventory dropped for a second month in a row to 8.3!

June median home price jumped $10,500 to $153,500; down 5% from June 2010. This is the highest median price we’ve had so far this year. It’s also the closest we’ve been to 2010 prices all year.

New Homes median price for June 2011 was $241,900, an increase of almost 48% from June 2010.

We continue to “benefit” from inventory levels much lower than national average.

Unfortunately, despite half a year gone and all evidence to the contrary, many “experts” will be telling us in the next few weeks that June was just a “blip” and that things will be getting worse…not better.

I was a guest at a recent presentation by the Chief Economist for a leading title company. He forecast doom and gloom for the rest of this year and much of next.  It was very frustrating to hear him talk about the importance of looking at micro market data and then to turn right around and lump Ada County numbers with Canyon county; and conclude the worst is yet to come.

One questioner asked: “Well you’ve got me good and scared, so what’s the answer?”  Sadly his answer was that Congress needs to do a better job.  Fat chance that’s going to happen anytime soon.

This speaker went on to talk about the financial Armageddon that will occur when Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling and we default on our loans.

Today on NPR the interviewer talked about one of our Congressmen stating that he would only vote to raise the ceiling if it was accompanied by a constitutional amendment for a balanced Federal budget…to use a very popular and often appropriate response to other inanities…”Really?”

There will be a last minute compromise and the debt ceiling will be raised for the 118th time since it was created in 1917.

There are those among us who think that now is the time to arm ourselves and hunker down to prepare for the worst.

I can only say “Thank You” to the moderate business leaders in our community that reject that attitude and are driving our recovery forward."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Little Saigon Restaurant in downtown Nampa

After taking a pass on this place once because not a single customer was visible inside, we decided to try it recently. Again not another diner was there, but we went ahead and took the plunge!  We enjoyed the fried egg rolls served with ample lettuce, cucumber and cilantro. We will try the fresh spring rolls next time. After the rolls we welcomed the hot and sour shrimp soup, may have been a bit sweet and lacking a touch of the sour to which we are accustomed, but still quite tasty. Finally we shared a pork noodle bowl, which is char broiled pork atop cold noodles, lettuce and bean sprouts with fish sauce on the side as the dressing. We were already getting full so we brought most of the bowl home. I was excited to finish the rest for lunch the next day. We will be back, even if we are the lone diners again, grateful we don't have to drive to Boise to get delicious Vietnamese cuisine.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Boost resale value by accessorizing existing home features

(ARA) - Resale value matters, whether your home is on the market now or your plans to sell are several years in the future. Whenever you make improvements to your home, you should keep the resale value of those improvements in mind, real estate experts advise.

Accessorizing existing features can be a more cost-effective alternative to making major improvements when your home is on the market. Whether it's adding window box planters to the facade, or either manual or automated blinds to a skylight, accessorizing is a great way to increase the value of existing home features.

If you're willing to spend a little money in order to (hopefully) make more money, here are some ideas for enhancing your home's existing selling points by adding some great accessories:

Dashing decks

Great outdoor spaces are attractive to buyers. But if your deck or patio is drab or in need of repair, what should be a selling point can turn into a detriment in the eyes of potential buyers. Sprucing up outdoor spaces is a low-cost way to make the most of this key selling point.

After you've given everything a thorough cleaning, look at cosmetic fixes and accessories that will make the space look more appealing. Built-in seating and planters are among the hottest deck trends this summer, and adding a few to your deck will cost a lot less than building a new one. A collapsible awning is another accessory that can make a deck more appealing - and help potential buyers envision themselves enjoying the shaded deck in the heat of summer.

Spectacular skylights

Today's no-leak skylights can be a strong selling point for your home. Skylights provide natural light without compromising privacy, can help with ventilation, and help reduce dependency on artificial lighting sources. If you already have a skylight - in the bathroom, kitchen or elsewhere in your home - accessories can help boost its appeal for buyers.

Whether your skylight is fixed or venting, here are some accessories that can enhance its value:

  • Blinds - Virtually every type of blind is now available for skylights, including Venetian, blackout and roller blinds. Blinds can allow you to better control the flow of light and heat into your home through the skylight.

  • Remote controls - If you have a fixed skylight, replacing it with a manual venting or electric venting model provides a chimney effect making it easy to vent stale air and humidity. You can also use the same remote to control your electric skylight and blinds.

  • A home automation interface - Home automation systems control alarm systems, blinds and lighting throughout a house. You can interface your skylight and accessories into a home automation system.

  • Moisture sensors - These special sensors detect precipitation and automatically close an electric venting skylight when the weather turns wet.

You can learn more about skylight accessories at www.veluxusa.com.

Fantastic fireplaces

A fireplace can be an asset - if it inspires potential buyers to envision themselves curled up in front of it with a steaming mug of tea on a wintry night. But if your fireplace is more likely to make buyers think of cleaning and renovation, you're not getting the full value out of this much-desired home feature.

Start by making sure your fireplace is clean, whether it's wood-burning or gas-powered. For gas-powered fireplaces, installing a blower that directs heat into the room can greatly enhance the unit's effectiveness and appeal. Next, consider the cosmetics. For wood-burning units, you might add an attractive (and functional) screen, decorative andirons or a fireback, and shiny new tools. Gas units can get a boost that's both practical and luxurious by creating a new mantel or improving an existing one, and adding a remote control.

Accessorizing can help you make the most of features your home already has - and ensure both you and your potential buyers fully appreciate all your home's assets.

Courtesy of ARAcontent


Monday, July 11, 2011

Tale of Two Cities, Boise and Marsing

My own tale of two cities, three counties and a lot of scenery. My tale and trip began Friday in the north highlands area of Boise showing some folks a townhouse overlooking Crane Creek golf course. With a view of the foothills and Bogus Basin it was a nice quiet location.

Immediately following that showing I had scheduled another showing south of Marsing. From there I drove through Boise to get back on I-84, through Meridian and Nampa and then headed west on highway 55. I enjoyed the trip through rural Canyon County with the spacious fields of corn, alfalfa, beans and breathed in the fresh smell of mint.

Then topping the crest of a slight hill I found myself overlooking the gorgeous Snake River valley, with the meandering river, lush farm ground and Owyhee mountains in the distance. Continued past the abundant orchards and verdant vineyards of the Sunnyslope area.

Then crossed the bridge into the small rural town of Marsing, population 800 and something. This small farming community has little in common with city of Boise that I just had left. I drove on winding through the surrounding fields to the location of this 60 year old home on about 5 acres.

The home portrayed better days with it's hardwood floors and coved ceilings, now exhibiting signs of neglect and water intrusion. But outside one's eyes beheld beautiful valley and mountain views.

It struck me how so very far apart these two houses and locations are in many ways, and yet both provided me with a sense of peace and serenity.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July buying advice: Before you shop, line up a loan!

While you're at it, make sure you understand the difference between prequalified and preapproved.

By Melinda Fulmer of MSN Real Estate

July buying advice: Before you shop, line up a loan (© Jose Luis Pelaez/Getty Images)

The thought of shopping for a home loan can be daunting, especially when news stories talk about how tight credit is and how perfect yourFICO score must be for lenders to even consider you.

In this month's Buying Advice, we'll look at how and when you should seek approval for a loan — and what documents the banks likely need to give your funding the green light.

We'll also check in with the latest market information; look at what's happening with the spooky, so-called "shadow inventory"; and consider what you should do when that property you've made an offer on hits appraisal problems.

Finding a home loan
Before you start looking at houses, it's a good idea to know how much you can afford. To get a rough idea, you can get a lender prequalification, a quick process that can tell you roughly how much home you can afford. This does not, however, mean you have secured financing, and it in no way obligates you to use that lender.

  • Preapproval is the next step and is generally more involved, requiring documentation of your income and assets. This tells you how much a lender is willing to lend you and at what rate, which you must know when you're ready to make offers.

Here's what you should count on getting together for this process, according to Erin Lantz, director of Zillow's Mortgage Marketplace:

  • Two months of pay stubs.

  • Two months of bank statements: That means checking, savings, brokerage and retirement accounts. Be sure to include all pages, not just the summary page.

  • Two years of W-2s if you are a salaried employee.

  • Two years of tax returns if you are self-employed.

  • Rental history for the last two years if applicable.

Be prepared to show any other sources of income, such as child support, rental income, retirement income or commission, and bonuses for a period of two years, Lantz says. You might even bring along a copy of your divorce decree if it helps show when you and your ex's money or expenses parted ways.

'The lender wants to get a sense of your full financial picture," Lantz says.

That also means pulling a copy of your credit report. People with the best scores will have access to the best rates. But, even these days, you don't need a credit score of 700 to get a loan, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of mortgage research firm HSH.

"There is an erroneous belief that you cannot get a loan if you are not perfect," Gumbinger says. In reality, he says, those with scores above 580 still have access to credit.

And qualified borrowers without much of a down payment can still get a Federal Housing Administration loan that requires just 3.5% down. They will have to pay additional fees, as well as annual mortgage insurance, something folks with a traditional loan can cancel in as little as two years. Buyers with less than a 20% down payment are generally required to pay mortgage insurance.

Yes, it is more restrictive than it was a few years ago, when anyone who breathed could get a home loan. But it's not impossible.

And these days, Gumbinger says, it really pays to shop around.

"The availability of credit and the price of that credit is highly variable from one side of town to the other," he says. "You'll have lenders who are actively interested in getting your business and those that price themselves defensively" to avoid it.

Gumbinger says he recommends starting the preapproval process early and including some small to midsize lenders that do business in your area.

"They probably have more intimate knowledge of what's going on in your market," he says.

Before you start shopping, it's also a good idea to bone up on your mortgage knowledge. A survey released last month by Zillow showed that homebuyers answered basic questions about mortgages wrong about half (46%) of the time on Zillow's Mortgage IQ Quiz.
Find out everything you need to know about points, fees and ARMs before you commit to a loan. It's a sad fact, Lantz says, that most buyers spend just five hours researching their huge mortgage decision but spend 10 hours researching a car purchase.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

(Boise did you catch?)Top 5 Real Estate Headlines in the 1st Half of 2011

Top 5 Real Estate Headlines in the 1st Half of 2011.We have reached the midway point of the year. Today, we want to look back over the first six months and give you what we believe were the five items that have had the biggest impact on the real estate industry so far this year.

These are national headlines as chosen by the KCM crew.

The Government Wants Out of the Mortgage Business

From the original outline of the Dodd-Frank regulations to the talk of closing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the proposed Quality Residential Mortgage (QRM) guidelines, the government has made it very clear that they want to dramatically limit their involvement in the mortgage industry. What will come of this? Will private industry step up and fill the void created? What will be the increased cost to the consumer? Only time will tell.


Despite Early Headlines, Sales are Increasing

Headlines earlier in the year announced the total collapse of the housing market. To those in the know, it was obvious that comparing sales numbers in the first four months of this year to the same period last year made absolutely no sense. The largest tax credit ever given to home buyers expired on April 30, 2010. Large numbers of transactions were dragged forward last year so buyers could take advantage of the credit. Pending home sales (transactions going into contract) on the other hand havedone quite nicely and many institutions (ex. Fannie MaeFreddie MacNAR and Moody’s Analytics) are projecting good sales numbers throughout the rest of the year.

Amid Warnings of a ‘Double-Dip’, Prices Began to Stabilize

Prices continued to retreat for the first few months of the year and brought the bears out. Some called for another major fall in prices (15-20%) and almost all recalculated their projections to show continued depreciation. Just as these new projections were made available, some pricing indices announced that values actually increased (though by a rather minimal percentage). Again, those with the best understanding of the market were quick to explain…

Foreclosures Were Delayed Longer Than Originally Projected

Distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) have a major impact on the values of all properties in an area. Because of paperwork challenges, the flow of these properties to the market was virtually shut off. At the beginning of the year, most experts believed the banks would correct these challenges by the end of the first quarter. That didn’t happen and therefore many of these properties were delayed coming to the market. This is a major reason why prices seemed to recover: there were fewer discounted properties available for sale. Most now believe that the banks are within 60-90 days of releasing this inventory and that prices will again begin to soften.

Main Stream Media Begins to Announce “Now Is the Time to Buy!”

With prices and interest rates at historic lows and the chance that mortgages will become more costly as the private sector steps in, many in the main stream media are announcing that buying a home now makes sense. In the last 45 days, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, National Public Radio (NPR) and CBS Money Watch have all ran articles calling for the readership to consider buying now!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Sushi in Nampa! I LOVE IT! (And I Don't Even Like Fish)

After picking up a coupon on Groupon or somewhere, my wife and I decided to try Simple Sushi in downtown Nampa,  a fairly new establishment  that features sustainable sushi. They even managed to pull an honorable mention in the best of Treasure Valley feature last week.

First, some background, after several years of encouragement our children have succeeded in getting us hooked on sushi. When we tried it the first couple of times at sushi restaurants I thought it was okay but I could not figure out why the kids loved it so much. Although I was surprised I did not hate it because I am not a big fish fan. If it tastes much like fish I do not like it. For example, take a nice grilled salmon, unless I have a pile of fruit salsa or something to mask the flavor, I can't get it down.

Now on the other hand my wife's catfish tacos are to die for! Now Costco has discontinued carrying catfish, what are we going to do?! But that is another story, back to the sushi.

So Simple Sushi was fine, everything tasted fresh,  quality appeared high, presentation was lovely, service was generally good. But overall, how do I say this?  I found the rolls sort of boring. I suppose the problem is we have gotten accustomed to the specialty rolls (they describe these as sushi rolls on "crack!") at IOU Sushi. (Also an honorable mention for best sushi, I guess I need to try the winner.) IOU which has been located in Boise, has also opened a Nampa location. They have a lot of sauces and flavors,  a wide variety and are great.  AND they offer "All You Can Eat," which in sushi is a good thing, at least to me.

[The above photo looks a lot like the tray I get at IOU] IOU serves the traditional Japanese cuisine with what they describe as an "island twist." Will keep on twisting because I love it!

Sushi is never inexpensive, and I like to have a nice variety and be satisfied when I am finished. With the all you can eat option I can enjoy both some specialty rolls along with some nigiri.

But the best part of all this is, Nampa now at least two excellent choices for sushi!  Maybe it should be sushi tonight!