Get a Little Greener for the New Year

windmillsSaving money on energy costs can be one of the easiest ways to save on bills, especially during winter months. If you get into the habit of making energy saving part of your every day routine you will be surprised at how the small things can add up to bigger savings.

Here are some quick little tips to help you do just that:

Use Power Strips
Simply having an electronic device plugged in causes power use. By plugging multiple devices into a single strip you can easily switch the whole strip off, or unplug it to keep the power drain from multiplying. Great for office spaces!

Turn Off Unused Electronics
Seems simple, but it’s easy to forget too. Leave a room? Turn off that light. Going to bed? Close that laptop. If you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time you might even consider unplugging larger or lesser used appliances as well like the tv or stereo.

Unplug The Charger
Nowadays we have any number of pads, phones, or other devices that need charging, but when the device is fully charged unplug it – no need to let that power trickle away. Be sure to unplug the charging cord itself as well as they can pull small amounts of energy just being in the wall.

Use Programs
There are a number of energy use tracking programs available these days, and many appliances even have self-regulating options for power useage – so take advantage of them!

Bright Ideas
Be smart in choosing light bulbs. LED bulbs and compact fluorescents are much easier on power use; while their light may not be as complimentary they are perfect for closets and shops where the harsher light isn’t such a problem.

Cold Cold Water
Using cold water in your wash will generally keep clothes just as clean and uses less energy than hot water. Fact is, hot water can actually strip your clothes of color, so by using cold water you can solve two issues at once!

I have a passion for exceptional Idaho real estate; helping people find the homes of their dreams here throughout the Boise area. I hope you’ll enjoy reading my blog and all the great ideas shared here, as well as feel free to visit my Facebook Fan Page to stay up on the latest happenings online!

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Foreclosures, Fall, and Home Design Trends

Signs of improvement! Mortgages in foreclosure for the Boise-Nampa metro area have decreased in July from July 2011, according to a national real estate research company. CoreLogic said the Treasure Valley’s foreclosure rate was 2.42 percent in July, 0.2 percentage points lower than July 2011. It also was below the national rate of 3.25 percent but above Idaho’s statewide rate of 2.33 percent.

That’s good news! And a positive turn for the housing industry overall! Bank owned real estate in the meantime still provides some of the best deals for home buyers in Idaho also. You can view all of the available bank owned homes on my website; here are a few of the top picks.

Big Dreams, Small Houses
The trend towards smaller more tech powered living spaces continues, especially in the urban centers of the country. While some may think it gives new meaning to living in a shoebox many find these pint sized palaces perfect for their needs. Some schools of thought say as our national concept of family continues to change that there will be even more need for one, two, and three person home designs. Read More Here…

Featured Deliciousness
Fall is in the air and with the cooler temperatures soup is once again the go-to meal that keeps the frost at bay. Tested this recipe on my friends and family – it was a big success! Delicious and healthy to boot, give this one a try, you won’t be disappointed!
Read the Recipe

I’m always sharing great recipes, as well as local Boise events and info on my Facebook page! Hop over there, give the page a LIKE! Follow along, or share your favorite recipes and ideas as well – I’d love to hear from you!
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Boise Says So Long Summer!

Summer in Idaho is slowly winding down. The days are starting to get just a little shorter and there is that hint of crisp Fall air in the mornings. That doesn’t mean things aren’t still hopping here in the Treasure Valley – quite the opposite! As this season draws to a close the next is already getting started; there are tons of festivals, events, and great times ahead to look forward to!

 

 

Home Prices Climb
One thing that specifically impacts my industry is the recent increase in home prices in the greater Boise area. Studies show that the cost of a home from July 2011 to July of this year as increased as much as 10%! Comparatively home prices nationwide have also seen an increase of about 3.4% – this is a definite sign that not only is the real estate sector recovering but also that the time to get in on historically low home prices may be slipping away! Read More…

Things Happening in Boise
There’s always something happening in the City of Tree’s! In addition to great events that just happened like the 1st Anniversary Boise Food Truck Rally there are also some upcoming activities you won’t want to miss!

For members of the Crane Creek Country Club the annual hot air balloon night glow event is coming up fast – don’t miss your chance to see these magical balloons shining through the night!

Here too is a current list of great things to do in Boise this weekend! See the top 5 things to do in Boise this weekend – click here.

Great Tips for Homeowners and Buyers!
I always strive to keep my clients and friends up to date on the latest happenings in the real estate world, as well as great tips for remodeling or improving their homes. Here are a couple of my latest finds that you might enjoy:

3 Home Buying Musts That Get Overlooked

3 HOT Home Design Trends

One way you can stay up on what’s going on is to LIKE my fan page on Facebook! Frequently updated with not only real estate news but also great local info and inspirational ideas. If you are wanting to learn about the area, or find a home in Boise please visit my website search area to get started – you
can always contact me directly for help as well!

New Home in Nampa Just Listed

Nampa Idaho Homes
I am EXCITED to share this one with all of you! This elegant home in Nampa Idaho comes with all of the modern amenities you demand plus rich warm interior styles you love!

Check Out These Details:
809 Augusta Drive Nampa, Idaho
4 Bedroom | 2.5 Baths | 3,041 Sq Ft

Fantastic custom built home on 1/2 acre with in ground pool and hot tub. Fully fenced yard with auto sprinklers, covered patio, storage area, and pool room. Nice flowing plan with formal living, dining, family room and office on the main level. The spacious kitchen features stainless steel appliances, large center island, hardwood floors and granite counter tops. 2 gas fireplaces and 1 pellet, 2 furnaces for temperature control. The master suite has a fireplace, coved ceiling, fan, dual vanities, jetted tub – a posh sanctuary from your busy day.

I am proud to serve the Treasure Valley with some of the best home finding services available today! Big or small I can help you find the most exceptional homes on the market in Idaho today. Visit my website to begin your Idaho home search now or contact me to get hands on help!

Are you buying the right home?

find homes in BoiseThere’s nothing that quite compares to the feeling of first stepping foot into a new home. The time and effort put in to finding the home, getting through the paper work and procedures have finally paid off and that big breath relief hits you. Ahhh!

But before that golden moment there are a lot of things to consider; as a lot of work goes into that warm happy memory, it’s important to make sure we’ve made all the right decisions along the way. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of it all but here are a few rational questions you’ll want to ask yourself before you rush into a commitment to buy.

Condition
Unless you are buying new or having your home built this is one of the big items to really take your time with. Will this home need a new roof or other major repairs soon? Will we be in a flood plain? Is the landscape something too lush and extravagant for me to handle on my own? Fixer-upper homes have tons of potential but you have to be ready to own those rough edges until you can smooth them out the way you envision.

Pricing
Even if your lender says the home of your dreams is within your reach you need to make sure you are actually comfortable with the monthly terms. The price of the house itself is not the only factor in the end cost either – don’t forget down payments, closing costs, and other fees (not to mention moving costs!) That new house “ahh moment” might not feel quite as fresh if you are living on ramen for the first year, so it’s always good to plan for more than is listed in the black and white details.

Size
Is the home you’re considering big enough for you or your family? Right combination of bedrooms and baths? Could the living room be a little bigger, or do you need a separate office? You’ll want to make sure the home you select is going to have enough growing room for your needs – in most cases you can expand later but that is often costly.

Creature Comforts
Does your potential dream home have central air conditioning or heat? Maybe you have fantasies about a heated garage floor. Will having a two level house make it difficult for visiting guests? Are there adequate bathrooms to accommodate your traditional summer time patio bbq fiesta? Make sure you give these things some thought even though in most cases adjustments can be made, there are too many great homes on the market to feel like you have to compromise.

Resale Potential
Statistics show that people move into a new home nearly every seven years on average. Life can throw some wild curve balls at us without warning; if you were forced to sell your home how easy would that task be? Having a home with high resale potential can help this item not be of concern. Whether it be the newness of the home, it’s location, or special features, generally most homes will have some element that lends them a little extra resale potential. Thinking about the future through home improvements is also a great way to not only protect but to also grow your home investment.

All of these things are good to keep in mind while you are in the home finding mode. Some buyers will fall in love with over the top amenities that often seem attractive in the showing stage but later turn into real headaches. There’s nothing wrong with shooting for the moon, your house should be as fabulous as you can imagine it, but it also never hurts too keep your feet on the ground while your head is in the clouds.

I love working with home buyers in Boise! Finding that perfect place is such an exciting time in people’s lives. I hope you will give me the opportunity to help you find the real estate you’ve been searching for – I specialize in some of the most exceptional homes in the Treasure Valley, including many great communities in East Boise. Visit my website today to get in touch or to see what’s available.

Boise Bug Blues

Summer time means a lot of things to different people. Warm afternoons shared with friends and family, swimming, fishing, barbeques… bugs. BUGS?! Yes, that’s right it’s Summer again and that means the bugs are back to pester their way into our otherwise lovely time.

From ants and wasps to the notorious mosquito, insects can be real party poopers. Here are some tips to help you control these nuisance creatures and make a more comfortable Summer!

Start from the ground up. The better you take care of your lawn, the better chance you’ll have fewer bugs. Tall grasses and unkempt flowerbeds are a haven for our pesky friends.

Collar the canines. It doesn’t have to be the traditional collar really, there are a multitude of great products that will help keep your hound flea free – making you both much more comfortable!

Standing water. Empty an standing water than you can, don’t leave empty containers out gathering the rain as shallow warm waters are a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Have bird baths or kiddie pools? Change the water out at least once a week; this will cut down on pests.

Oil change! Get natural. Bug repellent doesn’t have to be stinky or chemical based. There are a number of plant oils that bugs hate! Mix distilled water, spearmint, and orange oil then spray your arms, legs, and other exposed areas to help keep biters at bay.

Old reliable. Fly-tape. It’s not pretty at all but it will do the job to keep flies on the patio down or even to help round the up if they get in the house. It’s a last ditch suggestion but they can work!

Redneck TV. Your good ole bug zapper. This handy device is best used at night but will work all hours helping keep all kind of flying insect populations down; depending on the company you keep may very well be the most entertaining part of your next get together.

Lets not get kill crazy. Bugs can serve a real purpose in the magical circle of life…but that doesn’t mean you want them dive bombing your Aunt Tilda’s potato salad this weekend. I hope these tips will help keep the bugs from bugging you!

Got your own bug solutions? Ever tried the pennies in a zip-loc to keep flies away (does that work?!) ? Tell me about them here on this blog or visit my Facebook fan page to leave your ideas!

By the way, if you are looking for the best homes in Boise you don’t have to search very far. Visit my Integrity Group Real Estate to start finding the homes you’ve been looking for!

This can save you thousands of dollars but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret…

Have you ever dared to look at the total amount of interest you’d pay if your mortgage went to a typical 30 year term?  Yikes!  Want a few simple ways to cut that interest down to size? Found this great article written by Barbara Bayer that I thought some of you might enjoy.

Send in extra money to pay down principal 

In the mid-1970s, Marc Eisenson coined the term “banker’s secret,” which promoted a cost-saving idea: Pay more than required on your monthly mortgage, and you’ll save a pile of money. Eisenson says, “It was a secret that bankers knew, but didn’t share with their customers.”

Here’s how it works. If you take out a $200,000 30-year mortgage at an interest rate of 6%, and hold it to term, you’ll pay a total of $382,537.97 for your home, including interest of $182,537.97. However, if you send in just $100 each month in additional principal, you’ll save more than $49,000 in interest over the term of the loan.

There’s another huge perk: You’ll pay off the loan five years and five months ahead of schedule. This strategy puts you in total control of the restructuring process, and there are no fees involved.

Another way to pay off your loan early is to use a bi-weekly payment plan. Banks and third-party companies can implement this plan for you, but they’ll charge hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees. We don’t recommend you pay for the service unless you lack the self-discipline to make the payments yourself.

With this strategy, you make half your monthly mortgage payment every two weeks, which equals 13 payments a year instead of 12. With bi-weekly payments on a 30-year $200,000 loan, you’ll save more than $49,000 in interest over the course of the loan, and pay it off approximately five years earlier.

Other ways to easily do it yourself:

  • Make one additional mortgage payment per year at any time.
  • Divide your monthly payment by 12, and add that extra amount each month when you pay your mortgage.

Recast mortgage for lower payments

If you want to lower your monthly payment and have at least $5,000 to contribute, you can request a mortgage recast. In this scenario, you don’t change the interest rate or term of your mortgage, you change the principal balance, and the term begins anew.

Here’s how it works: After 10 years of paying your 30-year mortgage with a 6% interest rate and a monthly payment of $1,432.86, your balance is $200,000. With a mortgage recast, you contribute an additional $20,000, and have a new principal amount of $180,000, with the same remaining 20 years to pay it off at 6%. However, your new monthly payment is $1,289.58, for a savings of $143.28 per month.

There’s a small fee for this service — approximately $250. The bank gets nothing out of this except retaining your loyalty, so they don’t promote it. It’s up to the lender whether it’ll do it, so all you can do is ask. It’s also likely to be a lengthy process. You have nothing to lose, however, except a higher monthly payment.

Refinance your loan

The most common way to restructure your loan is with a mortgage refinance, where you replace your current mortgage with a new one at a lower interest rate. If you took that same $200,000 balance on your 6% mortgage and refinanced into one with a 5% interest rate, you’d reduce your monthly payment from $1,199 to $1,074, saving $125 monthly.

Refinancing may be challenging to get approved for in a tight lending environment, where you need stellar credit scores and a steady job history. You’ll also need to pay closing costs, which can run 3% to 6% of the loan amount.

These tips are appropriate if you’re current on your mortgage and have extra money. Struggling home owners should consider the government-sponsored Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) for mortgage restructuring.