Is Your Home Watertight? 9 Tips for Preventing Water Damage

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Boise River Community, Buying Boise Homes, Home Knowledge, New Home Maintenance

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” –Lao Tzu

As nature shows us—in the dramatically formed glacial valleys and deeply carved canyons throughout the world—water carries with it life, beauty, and renewal; but also a strength more powerful than stone.

And anyone who has experienced losses to home or property due to water damage will agree: H20 is a force to be reckoned with, due to the severity of and the expenses related to such a loss.

In addition to the water damage itself, even a tiny leak means water bill spikes (a single faucet that drips once per minute wastes up to 34 gallons per year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey), and potential for dangerous mold growth.

And this is a common problem. According to some estimates, 98 percent of basements in the U.S. will suffer from some type of water damage during their lifetime. (See infographic below.)

The Insurance Information Institute also cites “water damage and freezing” as the third most common cause of homeowner loss/property damage in the U.S. during a five-year period from 2009 to 2013, and claims related to “water damage and freezing” were the second most frequent to be filed with insurance companies.

Unfortunately, however, many standard home insurance (also called fire insurance) policies don’t provide coverage for damage caused by water-related events (flooding, overflowing sewer lines, etc.).* While the Treasure Valley rarely experiences widespread flooding, even localized water losses (pipe bursts, leaks, etc.) are often not covered. And flood insurance policies are often very expensive. So what’s a homeowner to do?

For starters, many types of water damage are preventable. We recommend taking the following steps to protect your home and property.

Watertight to-dos:

  • Keep an eye on your water bill. Sudden increases may indicate a water leak.
  • Seal foundation cracks.
  • Check coal shoots (in older homes) for standing water.
  • Caulk around tubs, sinks, and linoleum on bathroom and kitchen floors.
  • Put a pan under your hot water heater and outlet pipe.
  • Consider purchasing a water alarm, which is designed to detect leaks before costly water damage occurs.
  • Check the water supply line to your refrigerator for leaks. (This is a very common cause of water damage, as these leaks often go undetected for days, weeks, or longer.)
  • Consider turning off your water before going on vacation.
  • Check under your sinks regularly, running water for several minutes into each drain, then feeling the pipes beneath sinks for leaks.

*Note: We recommend contacting your licensed insurance agent to see a standard exclusion, such as flooding and infiltration due to rain/weather or even overflowing sewer lines.

Image courtesy of waterdamagedefense.com

Sincerely,

Your local Boise real estate resources

To Sell it Yourself . . .or Not

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Buying Boise Homes, Home Knowledge, Housing Market, Real Estate, Real Estate & Housing, Selling Boise Homes, Selling Homes

Selling Your Home on Your Own. . . To “DIY or Die Trying”?

“We thought we didn’t need realtors to help sell our house because we found our own buyer. Now, after listening to you go over our contract to purchase, we don’t feel like we protected ourselves on our sale. I guess we didn’t realize that was an important part of the process, and now, we wish we had hired an agent to protect us as sellers.” —Phil and Kelly Owens, For-Sale-By-Owners sellers turned Buy-Boise represented buyers.

There are homeowners who decide they’re ready to try buying or selling on their own. We recommend evaluating all the pros and cons of such a significant decision first. Confidence may be brought by increased access to information offered by the internet, or the “seller’s market” we’re in.

Do-it-yourself or DIY sellers would be right to declare that it’s not rocket science and no single step is too large to tackle. In a seller’s market, there also may be more room for error (assuming more sellers than buyers go off on their own).

 Some of these stories unfold with success, and some with the worst kind of losses (or the best, depending on how you look at it)… the unknown losses.

 There’s also more to a deal than the average person knows, if they’ve worked with agents in the past. Every deal includes a variety of terms and deadlines that experienced agents should have down pat, based on  sheer number of deals completed, continuous education and their consistent immersion in the intricacies of the market.

 I’m in the service industry and identify myself as a representative of and advocate for my client and not a commission-chaser, so this topic is a tricky one for me to try tackle, yet an irresponsible one for me to ignore. I’ve seen successful realtor-free transactions, but then hid my cringe at some of the terms in other seemingly “successful” transactions. The lesson here – sometimes it works. With my clients, it’s my job and responsibility to ensure that its’ not only going to work, but also work well, and in the best interest of my client. I also strive to make sure we’re worth our weight in gold, in terms of the value we provide.

Here are a ten reminders of what we do, with worthwhile considerations if you’re contemplating going at it alone on one of the biggest transactions life tends to bring:

  1. Value. We provide service in a way that it brings as much value to the client as possible. In some cases we simply try to earn it, in other scenarios, our service pays for itself. We’re skilled, conscientious and working hard on your behalf. We’re also well aware that not all Realtors can say the same and that’s disappointing.
  2. Zillow data is not known for accuracy.  Sites like Zillow and trulia are helpful for buyers to online shop, but fall short in terms of accuracy, because the information is derived purely from public records, like your tax assessment, because that information is made available for free, compared to a paid-for membership site like the invaluable offering that agents participate in, that is the multiple listing service.  Zillow’s prized ’Zestimate’ is based  soley on a flat formula (an algorithm) that does not take into account the how the desirability of certain parts of town or highly sought-after school districts substantially impact property value. If it were that easy to price property or determine value, tax assessed values would measure more closely to market values, and they don’t. Sure, give it a look, knowing it’s not your substitute for real-time MLS updates on market activity, agent-provided analysis, and the specific knowledge of an industry expert who can point out these subjective factors that impact pricing in the marketplace.
  3. Price isn’t the only term in a contract. It can be nice to have someone on your side, who has expertise at screening offers, avoiding unfavorable terms and helping you land as closely as possible to your target (with less trial and error). That said, hopefully a realtor helps you get the full fair market value.
  4. Not all buyers are equal. At one glance at a contract, an experienced agent can see a story starting to unfold, and help you respond or negotiate accordingly.
  5. Finding a Buyer isn’t the Hardest Part - it is one item, of many important things to take care of in the sale.
  6. A good deal is a good deal for everyone. Agents are obligated by ethics to play nicely and Sherri and I take that obligation seriously. We act in the best interest of our client to get them a good deal, without alienating the other party, or making them feel like they are not getting a good deal.
  7. Knowledge first. Negotiations second. We know the market, the contracts, the ins and outs, what’s fair and what’s attainable and can counsel clients on the pros and cons of aggressive versus attractive pricing. We help sellers choose a price that will set them up for success.  We’ll advise on practical preparations and have saved many clients from spending too much money on unnecessary home repairs (carpet cleaning versus carpet replacement). We’ve also saved clients from putting their house on the market before it was ready to attract the most amount of attention possible.
  8. Recommendations. If you’ve worked with us, you’ve heard me discuss the value of a home inspection, the importance of a quality, local lender who can get us to the closing table on time and reminded about items worth of discussion with an accountant, attorney or the county (e.g. the homeowners exemption office). You’ve also likely been provided the names of providers we trust from experience.
  9. Connections. This includes, but is not limited to the 3,000 realtors exposed to listings on the MLS.
  10. Ease. We watch the contingencies, manage the deadlines and escort you all the way to the closing table. 

Thanks for reading! As always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have!

Sincerely,

Shana Moore, Your Local Boise Real Estate Professional and source of real estate market trends in Boise IdahoSherri Battazzo Signature

Shana Moore & Sherri B

Your Boise Market Trend Experts

 

 

Unlocking Tax Tips for Homeowners

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Home Knowledge, Local Boise Price Charts, Real Estate, Real Estate & Housing, Selling Boise Homes, Selling Homes, Tax Tips

Maximize Your Tax Deductions!

Who doesn’t love to save money when possible, or get hard-earned money back at the end of the year, as the case may be at tax time? This article is meant to help homeowners maximize their returns by offering tips worthy of talking through with an accountant or tax attorney. I’m neither an accountant nor equip to give tax advice, but here’s what I have learned . . .

Real estate write offs and tax deductions

Mortgage Interest Paid– Mortgage interest is deductible on first homes, second homes and even equity lines of credit (if and only if that equity line was indeed used to improve the home). $1 million loan limit applies plus $100 thousand limit for home equity debt).

For new homeowners, the mortgage interest tax break will be larger, since the ratio of interest to principal paid is heavier in the early years of a loan. See below.

Example scenario:

$112,000 Loan at 4.25% interest
Principal and interest payment: $550
Around $50 per month more goes toward principal in year 5 than in year 1 (that’s nearly 10% in this example).
$1,700 in principal was paid the first year and $2300 will be paid in the fifth year.

 

Taxes –Local and state taxes can be deducted on our Federal Taxes. If these are paid through escrow, keep in mind it’s only the actual disbursement that is deductible (not the amount pulled into your escrow account).

Home office deduction – This applies only to the square footage that is used specifically and only for business or business-related storage. Your home office can be your only office and cannot be combined with another office deduction outside of the home. My accountant has advised diligence in these details, as it’s an area the IRS could be inclined to watch more closely.

Selling costs – If you sold a home in the 2014, the selling costs can be deducted from the gain from sale.  Examples include repairs, title insurance, advertising expenses, real estate broker’s commissions, and inspection fees. Repairs need to have been made within 90 days of the sale and clearly for the intent of marketing the property.

Capital gains taxand the two out of five rule. If your home is your primary residence for two of the last five years, up to $500,000 in profit from the sale of a home may be tax-free (if married/filing jointly). A new purchase is NOT needed to claim this tax benefit! You can also claim certain repairs to reduce your capital gains on the sale, if  they were made within 90 days of the sale and clearly made for the intent of marketing the property.

 

Real Estate Caital Gains Tax Chart

Homeownership has tax advantages. Particularly if you’re selling a home you’ve lived in for 2 of the last five years. The next best scenario is to hold it for at least one year for long-term capital gains taxes.

Points – If you pay points on a loan, these are deductible as the IRS sees them as “prepaid mortgage interest.”

PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) is deductible.Moving Costs – If you had to find a new home because of a new job that is located more than 50 miles away from your old home, you may be able to deduct your reasonable moving expenses.

Casualty Losses – If losses are large enough (more than 10% of your income), the portion not covered by insurance could be a deduction. Documentation in the form of photos, videos or receipts can be key in times of loss, both for insurance and tax purposes.

Documentation reminder at tax time – Smart phones and tablets make it easier than ever to document the contents or condition of your home. This can help in times of loss.

The benefits of homeownership carry through to tax season. So do the benefits of having a good accountant on your side, who reminds you to track all of these deductions.  Hopefully, a good realtor also is a part of your household’s team and hopefully I have been, or will be that resource for you.

If you know anyone who is ready to sell their home, I would much rather work for them, than work on my taxes, so please, have them give me a call!

Sincerely,

Shana Moore, Your Local Boise Real Estate Professional and source of real estate market trends in Boise Idaho

 

 

Shana Foster Moore

Your Boise real estate resource

 

Boise Real Estate Market Trends Update

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Bank Owned homes, Financing, Home Knowledge, Local Boise Price Charts, Market Trends, Market Updates, Real Estate, Selling Boise Homes

A Wavy Market

The local market trends I’m seeing on a micro scale are a series of small ups and downs, acting like waves. These waves flow within an upward marcro trend that we’ve been examining in our most recent blogs about rent and interest rates.

What it Means for Sellers

When it comes to pricing homes for sale in Boise, the ups and downs create a need for careful calculations aimed at a moving target. My partner Sheri B. and I have been using each other to cross-check our price point calculations and incorporate additional expertise into the prices we set. (We call that “twice the service.”)

Source: Ada County Association of Realtors

What it Means for Buyers

In terms of buying a house in Boise, I continue to maintain that any home that has been on the market for longer than a couple of weeks is fair game for an offer below the asking price. Practical advice here includes expanding your price-range at least 10% higher than desired, and offering 10% under asking for homes you’d like to call your own.

Engineers and data lovers

The latest data from the Ada County Association of Realtors sheds a data-based spotlight on these small waves of ups and downs in Boise’s real estate market trends, offering news considered good, bad and neutral.

Homes are increasing in price. Year-to-date sales are up and dollar volume is up.  Inventory is a challenge with seasonal decreases in effect, but is better than last year. Boise maintains its “better-than-average recovery pace.”

This inventory chart sheds light on the overall local Boise real estate market trends.

Source: Ada County Association of Realtors


December is predicted to be unpredictable, as anything goes, however it’s poised to lead us toward a 13% overall increase in sales for the year. For two months, local real estate sales have been down compared to last year’s sales in October and November. Single family home sales in November 2013 were 548 in Ada County, a decrease of 3.3% compared to November 2012.

 Average news

“The median price in November was $205,700, an increase of 16% from last year and above the national average of  $199,500 according to NAR’s most recent report,” reports Mark Lebowitz of the Ada County Association of Realtors.

Source: Ada County Association of Realtors

Median prices have sat above 200,000 for five consecutive months. New homes are up in price by 10%, putting the new home median at $274,171. Existing homes were up 15% compared to last year at this time, bringing their median to $185,000.

When compared to the median family income of $67,519, our median home pricing is considered affordable. The same cannot be said for the rental market pricing, as we examined in our recent rental market blog.

 

Here’s our monthly up and down update, depicting Boise’s real estate market trends:

Up

  • Year-to-date sales are 7,385; up 14% over 2012 YTD sales of 6,471.
  • Dollar volume for the month (131 million) and year $1.7 billion
  • Median prices are up compared to national median prices and last year.
  • New home sales are up compared to last month, but down 14% compared to November 2012.
  • REO or bank owned sales were higher than short sales for the first time this year, and total distressed properties crept up over 10%, barely.
  • Homes priced between $120,000 to $160,000 were up by 16 homes, where all other inventory was down.

 Down

  • The number of houses available for sale is down for the third month in a row, but still up from last year at this time by 21%.
  • Single family home sales this November was down 3.3% compared to Nov 2012.
  • Sales decreased 11% from October (which is 2 points more than historically average decreases).
  • Pending sales this month (831) were down compared to last month and last year.

Static

  • Days on market in November averaged at 52, compared to 51 for the year.
  • Market influencers in Boise, such as job creation, population growth and quality of life maintain their influence on our above-average recovery.

Let me know how if you’d like to talk about how today’s market supports your real estate ideas and goals.

Sincerely,
Providing you real estate market trends
ShanaFosterMoore@gmail.com
Your Local Boise Real Estate Professional