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Feb. 12, 2018

Historic Idaho: Four Interesting Historic Places Around Boise

Idaho may be one of the newest states in the union (43rd state, added in July of 1890), but it has a long and storied history. In this great Gem State, we have Arco, Idaho, the first city to be completely powered by nuclear energy, and inventor, Philo Farnsworth, the father of the television set who invented the cathode ray tube just after his 21st birthday.

 

We’re no stranger to historical figures and events. But, what about our historical places? Let’s explore a few today.

 

The Idaho Black History Museum

This historic building, located near Zoo Boise in Julia Davis Park, was built in 1921 and was originally a Baptist church. This historic building is the oldest Black History museum in the Pacific Northwest, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It has great community outreach programs that are educational and family friendly. They include workshops, film viewings, and performances of historical music. This is a must see for anyone interested in the complete historical picture of Boise and the rest of Idaho.

 

The Idaho Building

The year: 1910. Chicago architect Henry Schlacks had designed this building for Walter Pierce, a prominent Idaho businessman at the time. This building was completed in the same year and was one of Idaho’s tallest buildings for many years. Standing an impressive (for the time) six stories tall, the Idaho building was the first in the state to utilize a dual elevator system, which was cutting edge technology at the time. You can still visit this beautiful building today at the corner of Eighth and Bannock.

 

The Basque Block

This area in Boise includes the Basque Museum, the Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga Boarding House, and the Fronton House. Built in 1864, the Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga Boarding House is the oldest surviving brick building in the city. The Basque Block is internationally known as one of the strongest pillars of Basque heritage in the United States. Idaho, and specifically Boise, is home to the largest concentration of Basque Americans, where approximately 15,000 Basque Americans live. Come visit the Basque Block and take a tour of the museum and make sure to pick up some delicious croquetas at Bar Gernika while you’re there!

 

The Oregon Trail

This historic wagon trail brought settlers all the way from Independence, Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, and through Idaho along the way. As you can see in the map pictured below, Idaho is a significant part of the trail’s route. Hundreds of people every year reenact the travels of early pioneers as they travel along this storied route. Pack a lunch and grab the kids for a road trip of historic proportions! You can have your own Oregon Trail adventure just a few hour’s drive outside of Boise in Glenns Ferry where you can see actual wagon trail ruts preserved in the landscape. Wherever you are in Idaho, adventure awaits around every corner.

 

Posted in Boise's Best Blog
Jan. 26, 2018

Fun Activities in Boise That Also Help The Community

Boise is filled with family-friendly activities and adventures! Having a day packed with fun things to do is always great, but it can be made even better if what you’re doing makes a real beneficial impact to your local neighbors. Make a resolution this year to do more for the community around you. Here are five exciting things you can do around Boise that are inexpensive, fun, and helpful to your fellow humans.

Discover science. Discover fun.

Photo courtesy of the Discovery center website.

If you love science and fun, the Discovery Center of Idaho is the perfect place for you. The Discovery Center has been helping Idaho’s children learn more about the STEM fields for decades. They always have exciting exhibits for kids of all ages. If you volunteer there, you will be guaranteed to have a great time and learn more about how the world around you works. Right now, they have an exhibit that’s all about water and hydro physics. According to their website, they have over a dozen unique interactive exhibits that keep water science fresh. Learn more about volunteering here and discover what you can do for Idaho.

 

The Life Aquatic.

Photo courtesy of the Boise Aquarium website

 

Boise has a great aquarium! The facility is over 10,000 square feet and boasts over 250 different species of animals. If you love animals or just want to know more about them, then volunteering at the Boise Aquarium is a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Why buy a ticket when you could spend time with the animals for free, and help them get fed, and cared for to boot! For information about volunteering, click here and fill out the form.

 

Birds of a feather have fun together (volunteering).

 

Ever wanted to learn more about the great birds of prey of Idaho? A unique opportunity awaits you at the Velma Morrison Interpretive Center. It’s an indoor/outdoor education center that seeks to preserve and foster Idaho’s great animals of the air. Volunteers can help in a variety of ways, including gift shop ambassador, tour guide, or docent. Learn more here!

 

 Go green! (For plants.)

Photo Courtesy of the Idaho Botanical Garden Website

 

If you’ve got a green thumb, or just want to know more about how to care for Idaho’s great plants, then consider spending some time volunteering at the Idaho Botanical Garden. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places in the state, it is a leading force for providing “a full garden experience for all ages that enhances community quality of life through plant collections, our education programs, and our entertainment, cultural and community events (http://idahobotanicalgarden.org/about/our-history/).” They always need volunteers and have a great sign up program found here.

 

Choose your own adventure.

 

Look, you don’t have to go through a whole process of filling out paperwork or scheduling through an official channel to do some good in this world. The Boise Greenbelt is renowned for its beauty and serenity and is always in need of a helping hand. Grab a few friends and some trash bags and take in the glorious sights along the greenbelt as you pick up all the litter you see. As a bonus, why not pick up some hotdogs and hamburgers and have a picnic to celebrate at one of the many parks along the greenbelt when you’re done? You can give back to the community and have a lovely day taking in nature as well. Learn more about the greenbelt here.

 

Boise is a great place to have fun while also volunteering! We hope you have a great time with friends and family making the world a little bit better.

Posted in Boise's Best Blog
Nov. 11, 2014

Boise Living is Awesome

Boise_Capital

In case you missed it, here's a link to the Livability.com article about why Boise is one of the best places in the U.S. to live.

 

Money line: Livability.com often hears that engaged citizens – who are welcome to attend the mayor’s open office hours each month – are a hallmark of a Best Place to Live. Several years ago, Boise residents were surveyed about what the idea of “livability” means to them. According to Mayor Bieter, one resident summed up what makes Boise great like this: “I can get about my day with an ease that allows me to contribute to the community.”

Posted in Boise's Best Blog
Oct. 7, 2013

Is the Government Shutdown going to affect my Real Estate Transaction?

The answer is maybe. It all depends on your loan. Most banks are waiving the requirement to have the tax transcripts in hand to close a loan as long as they have a signed 4506-T form. So even though The IRS tax transcripts are required by the banks, they are going to let these go ahead if the have the signed form, so they can pull those transcripts when the government is back from this little vacation of theirs. 

While some of the areas of the government that affect government backed home loans don't get their money through appropriations, and are not affect by the shu down, some areas are. So if you have or the person buying your home has a government backed loan, you will probably experience a delay.

Of course all this uncertainty affects the market. The market has slowed a bit more than normal heading into fall. So everyone keep your fingers crossed, and hope out leaders get bacck on track.

Posted in Boise's Best Blog
Sept. 17, 2013

The New Place to be in Boise

We watched it for years. When is it going to happen? Yes there has been some growth and development in Garden City, but it has felt long in coming. Especially having the Boise river right there. The Main Street corridor died as the car dealers all moved out leaving big buildings and lots empty. Hey, the River is right there, many of us thought. It seems as though maybe things are really getting rolling. As, I said, Garden City has been remodeling, renovating and developing for some time now, but other things have started to happen on the Boise side of the River that are bringing it all together, that should make that area down by the River quite the place to be.

The Idaho Statesman just published an article detailing many of these changes (http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/09/17/2764465/the-boise-river-effect.html). Everything that is already in the works is exciting, and the possibilities are fantastic. The whitewater park has already started bringing businesses there, specifically water sport businesses. The Riverside Hotel renovated and added the Sandbar Patio Bar and Grill. Playing in the River makes you hungry and thirsty after all. When the Esther Simplot park is completed, the whitewater park will be able to host events, bringing more people into the area. Good for business and our reputation.

The 30th Street corridor, specifically where Main, Fairview and 30th (there is a map of the area involved in that Statesman article I mentioned above) all come together is getting a lot of attention. There is already development in the works with a lot more to follow. A new medical office building is already in development at Main and 30th.  St Lukes owns huge tracts of land in this area. What it all boils down to, is this won't be an area we just pass through on our way to somewhere else anymore. It'll become a destination in it's own right. Developers are envisioning small retail shops, not big box chains. The area will retain, that local Idaho "We love the outdoors" feel. 

It's all very exciting. It looks like we'll have another unique neighborhood, that will feel very much a part of us. It will host a wide range of opportunities for everyone from the personal point of view as well as the Real Estate point of view. Whether you want to open a shop there or maybe buy a condo, or just enjoy the park and the shopping that will be there, it will offer something for everyone.

Posted in Boise's Best Blog
July 23, 2013

It's a good year so far for our market.

The housing market as a whole continues to improve. That holds true in our market. June numbers are in and the market looks strong. Current prices are about the same as they were in late 2005. If you purchased your home in 2002, the market value has once again beat the 3% appreciation mark. Median prices are about $60k more than they were at the bottom of the market in 2011. June 2013 sales of 3760 are up 12% over June 2012 sales of 3344. Distressed properties have dropped to only %12 of the market (still a decent chunk) over %26 last year. Median home prices are up 21% over June 2012. The average days on market is 45 days.

What's it all mean? Well, I think we've hit a sweet spot. There is good financing, but it's not reckless. Prices are not too high, and not too low. There is inventory, but it is moving rather quickly. Buyers are getting what they need and Sellers are getting what they need in a timely manner. If these factors all hold, the market should stay nice and strong.

Posted in Boise's Best Blog
July 15, 2013

Having Trouble selling your Home? Here are some simple tips to help.

So, your home has been sitting on the market longer than you expected, and you are having trouble figuring out why.  There are things you may not know, or misconceptions that may have led you down the wrong path. Here are a few issues and solutions to help you out.

1. Let the Professionals do their job. Find a listing agent that you can trust. One that will be brutally honest with you. Trust me, no one wants to tell you that you have poor taste in paint color, but you want some one who will do just that if you want your home to sell quickly for the highest amount. Even if you are selling your home by yourself, get someone to come in, take a look, and give you some advice. Don't ever assume that a buyer can see past the flaws. Subconsciously at the very least, those flaws are registering with them, and when they go into the house down the street that fixed all their flaws, you lose. 

2. Price it right. Never, ever price a home high. Some people will price a home high thinking that it gives them room to negotiate. The fact is you are drastically reducing the number of people that will look at your house. The first criteria buyers and agents put into their searches is price. Even if your home comes up in their search, why would they come and look at your home when a simliar home close by is less. When you have to drop your price, people will wonder what's wrong with it. It is better to price your home low and draw many people, and an auction atmosphere will develop, driving the price up. Your home will sell for more and sell quick if you price it right (low), than if you price it high and drop it as time goes on.

3. Mix it up. Try something fresh. If you have been doing the same thing for a while, yet nothing has come of it. Try something new. For example, take out a big newspaper ad. Leave out the specifics of the property, but give them interesting bullet points. It will catch peoples eye, and create curiosity. Or, do the tried and true open house, but maybe rent a bouncy house for the kids.

4. Rennovations are not the end all be all. It is important to talk with your trusted agent, or someone who can advise you on whether or not renovation is important to sell your home, and if it is cost effective. Price is what drives the market. Yes some rennovations can help make the property more marketable, and help with the sales price, but be smart. It is pointless to do $10,000 of renovation so you can raise your price by $10,000. It is more important to make sure the house is clean, well staged and priced right.

5. Lastly, Don't fight the market. If the market is not moving in your area, or prices haven't reached the point where you need them to be, there is nothing you can do about it. It may be better to wait for a while and not stress over it that try and wish it into happening.

Posted in Boise's Best Blog
July 1, 2013

6 Must-Have Safety Items For Your Home

It's something most of us fail to do, plan for emergencies big or small. Sure we have some band-aids in the medicine cabinet. We might have even purchased a fire exinguisher at some point, but probably don't know where exactly it is or if it is still charged and usuable. However, every year Americans get caught in emergency situations with out the basic items essential to survival. So here is a short list of things every house should have to ensure small emergencies don't become tragedies. 

 

1. Smoke and carbon monoxide dectors- We all know how important they are, yet ever year people lose their lives because they don't have them or they weren't maintained. Interconnected dectors are great because if one goes off then the all do and you can be assured that everyone in the house will here it. Maintainance is as important, as purchase. Change the batteries every 6 months, and perform tests every month. Make sure everyone in the house knows what the alarm sounds like. It is also important to remember that some detectors lose sensitivity as times goes on, so they may need to be replaced every 10 years or so.

2. Fire Extinguishers- Many or most people don't even think to have one of them in their home, yet a fire extinguisher could make all the difference in stopping a minor issue from turning into a major tragedy. Each household should have one or more A-B-C in easily accesible locations. Make sure you know how to use it. Fire extinguishers lose their charge over time so check the pressure gage on them every quarter.

3. First Aid Kit- Sorry a box of band-aids don't cut it. You need to purchase one or make one. It should include basic wound dressing, essential medications for your family, and quantities should reflect the size of your family. Rotate stock of medications to ensure that they aren't out fo date. You should also make sure that at least one adult is first-aid and CPR certified.

4. Flashlights, Radio, and extra batteries- Power outages usually don't happen in the best of times, so it's important be ready. Keep a flashlight and radio with your emergency kit, and also more flashlights where they can be found easily when needed. It wouldn't hurt to get some of the crank/wind up flashlights/radios.

5. Food and Water supplies- you should have enough food, and water (1 gallon per person per day) for at least three days. If you have pets, don't forget their food and water. Food should be canned or other non-perishable form. Don't forget the manual can opener. Keep your emergency stach in a cool dry place. Check it every six months for expired items an replace. A good time to do it is when you are replacing the dector batteries.

6. Have a plan- You need to have a plan for whatever situation you may find yourself in. Fire is a concern for all of us, and some folks have issues with flooding, or tornados. It is important to have a plan and make sure everyone in the family knows what that plan is. Practice the plan together. You are less likely to panic and make a mistake if you have a plan and have practiced it.

These are all simple and easy things we can all do that could make all the difference when it comes to an emergency.

Posted in Boise's Best Blog
May 16, 2013

Preparing Credit for Home buying

Pay the right things off - and take care not to pay off accounts you need to show your responsible use of credit. A few things that most lenders will demand you settle, bring current or pay off entirely before you can buy a home:

  • accounts in collections
  • state and federal tax liens
  • past home loans or lines of credit in default that were not extinguished through foreclosure or short sale (e.g., second loans, home equity lines of credit, etc.)
  • defaulted federal student loans (for FHA loan applicants).

If you do have to negotiate with any such creditors for settlements or repayment plans, consider including the way they report the account as one of the negotiables in your settlement deal.  Consult with your mortgage professional about how you should ask the creditor to report the resolution as part of the settlement - you might not get it, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.
Your mortgage pro can also help you understand how you should sequence and prioritize the various items on this little laundry list. For example, some lenders might allow you to simply extinguish a tax lien at closing, while most FHA loans won’t allow for a credit pre-approval while you have a defaulted federal student loan on your report.
But do exercise some caution when you start paying off debt in preparation for home buying. Some house hunters take the opportunity to pay all their debt off and close out old, unused accounts, thinking it will document their readiness for the financial responsibilities of homeownership.  Not so: credit scores are optimized when they show that you (a) have credit available to you, and (b) are responsible in how you use it.  The ideal for the FICO score calculations is to be using roughly 30 percent of the credit available to you on your accounts.  So don’t pay them entirely off, and whatever you do, don’t close accounts that are open and/or current. 
That said, don’t go out charging up a storm trying to bring zero balance accounts up to 30 percent credit limit usage.  A flurry of new charges can upset your debt-to-income ratio and be seen by the FICO calculating robots as a sign of potential financial distress

Posted in Boise's Best Blog
May 10, 2013

Principal Reduction...Really

Many of our clients have found themselves struggling in the housing market in recent years and have even been forced to short sale or worse yet lose their homes to foreclosure.  We have seen many try to attempt the supposed "fix" for the situation by applying for a loan modification just to be rejected.  Unfortunately, to even apply for the loan mod one of the requirements is that they be delinquent on payments.  So they are forced to put themselves behind on payments even to be considered for a loan modification and then are turned down.  Now all that has been accomplished is that they are in a position where they will never catch up on payments and are essentially forced into a short sale or foreclosure...something is wrong with this picture.

I ran into the article below and thought that I would share it with you just to give you something to think about and a bit of discussion content.

 

 

According to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are responsible for “nearly 13 percent” of underwater borrowers in the country. This does not mean that they caused the underwater situation, but that they hold the loans that are presently in negative equity. The CBO report directly addresses controversial suggestions that Fannie and Freddie modify loans by reducing principal, something that acting Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) director Edward DeMarco has steadfastly refused to entertain. According to the CBO report, reducing principal on underwater GSE loans via the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) would not only result in “small savings to the government” and “slightly reduce mortgage foreclosures and delinquency rates,” but it would also “slightly boost overall economic growth”[1]. The report also suggests offering principal forgiveness only to borrowers who are already behind on payments when the principal forgiveness program goes into effect, thereby eliminating strategic defaulters who might stop paying their mortgages later in order to get a better rate[2].

The CBO estimates that about 610,000 borrowers qualify for HAMP assistance at this point in time, but also suggests modifications to the program to bring in an additional 550,000 borrowers. The report also suggests that principal forgiveness might be balanced out by borrowers agreeing to grant the lender the right to future increases in home value. The CBO report provided some congressional representatives for grounds for some strong words for the GSEs’ slow implementation of the HAMP program, saying that “rather than implement these programs years ago when their benefits were obvious, ideologues ignored…evidence and harmed our nation as a result.”

(Source...Bryan Ellis Investing Letter)

Posted in Short Sale