The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Selling Homes

Are you planning to sell your home this year? Selling when the housing market prices are high can give you a large return, allowing you to use funds for a down payment on a new home. There are several mistakes people often make when they are selling a home. To avoid making common mistakes, use these tips.


Tip # 1: Ask for a Reasonable Amount

Sellers often use a strategy of listing the home for more than it is worth, so they have room to negotiate. Look at the amount of money you currently owe on the home and the current market conditions. Do not ask for too much money as it can hurt your ability to sell the home. Talk to your realtor about the asking price as they have their eyes on the market each day. A realtor will give you an idea of a valid asking price to help you obtain reasonable offers on the home.


Tip # 2: Market Appropriately

Failure to market your home can limit how many people see the home. There is more to marketing than placing a picture of your home on the Internet! Selling a home requires you to invest time into marketing the home. A realtor needs to about a month to focus on getting the right pictures and information to list on their website and other MLS sites.


Tip # 3: Hire a Realtor

You might think it is easy to sell a home, but it is harder than you believe! Schedule a free consultation with a realtor to look over the different aspects of selling your home. A professional has more connections in the real estate industry, and they can guide you through the selling process.


Tip # 4: Make Repairs

Selling a home requires a little investment. Sellers need to invest some money into the home to make it attractive. Fixing small things that are broken will make the home attractive. People love seeing the word “new” when they review a listing.


Tip # 5: Clean

What makes the home appealing to buyers? You need to clean the home! People want to walk through a clean home as it looks attractive and will give them a reason to consider making an offer. Clean the rain gutters, repair holes in the wall, and fix leaky faucets to make the home appear attractive.


Use these tips to help you create a home that is attractive and will fetch a fair asking price. Call a real estate agent to learn more about selling a home.

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A Beginner’s Guide For Home Buyers

Are you a first-time homebuyer? Ready to buy or sell a home? The housing market for 2015 is already underway, and home buyers are optimistic about their ability to buy and sell homes. Here are some tips that will help you invest in a new home:

Tips # 1: Review Your Finances

What does your financial situation say about your ability to buy a home? As you consider buying a new home consider how long you plan on living in the home, and if it is a worthwhile investment. Do you have enough money for a down payment on the home? Meet with a mortgage broker to review your finances and determine what you can afford.

Tip # 2: Determine Your Needs

How large of a home do you need? If you plan on staying in the home for several years, and you plan on having children, shop for a home that is larger than your current needs. Consider how far the home is from your work, amenities, schools, and future growth. Expand your search to a larger area to find homes that fit your needs.

Tip # 3: Know the Market

The housing market changes on a daily basis. It is important to review the current market conditions often to search for foreclosures, short sales, and new listings. Do you want to live in an established neighborhood or do you want to shop for a home in a new or growing development?

Tip # 4: Work with a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents have access to homes that most independent home buyers are unable to find on their own. An agent can help with short sales and other complicated transactions. Call a real estate agent to schedule a walk through if you find a home you are interested in seeing.

Tip # 5: Prepare a Valid Offer

If you want a legitimate chance to obtain the home of your dreams, you need to create a valid offer. Compare market conditions, interest rates, closing costs, and other factors that impact your ability to obtain a home. A good real estate agent can help you create a valid offer and will assist with the negotiation process to purchase a home.

When buying a home, the most important thing to remember is to buy based on intelligence, not on emotion!

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What is the difference between a BPO and appraisal?

First of all, what the heck is a BPO? A BPO is a “broker’s price opinion”. You might also see BOV (broker’s opinion of value) CMA (comparative market analysis) or other forms of the same basic meaning. The broker is usually simply considered a real estate professional with expertise in the area. What is an appraisal then? An appraisal is an appraiser’s opinion of value. (no, I don’t think they usually abbreviate) since we know what a broker is usually defined as, a real estate appraiser is usually defined as a professional who develops an opinion of value on a specific type of property. Sound like the same person? Yes, but it is not.

So, back to the question at hand, what is the difference?

While any old real estate agent can compare recent sales (often called comps or comparables) and develop an opinion of value for someone, it usually cannot be used by a bank or lender to verify a property is worth or what someone is willing to pay for it. In fact, most real estate agents are not even allowed to be compensated for a BPO, usually only the responsible broker of an office can be compensated. However, most good brokerages will provide market analysis and opinions of value for free. (ahem).

On the other hand, a real estate appraiser is obligated by federal law to be state licensed or certified. That involves acting as a trainee for a certain number of hours, (yes, appraisers must train their own future competition) becoming a licensed appraiser, and becoming certified for specific applications. Just like a real estate agent, appraisers are required to complete many hours of education and continuing education for their profession. An appraiser is an unrelated party to a real estate loan, usually in place to protect the lender.
So, can a real estate agent performance appraisal? No! Unless that real estate agent is a licensed appraiser. Can a real estate agent give you an opinion of value for your property? Sure! But it cannot be considered an appraisal.

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Home Maintenance in Driggs ID

I had a question on home maintenance, and although I am not a handyman or a builder, I do have a good understanding of maintenance issues specific to our area here in Teton Valley, Idaho.

The question I was asked was pertaining to termites, fortunately termites aren’t the big problem in our area. Though they are found in most every state in the US (except Alaska), our Valley is not really an ideal climate. So, what are some maintenance areas, pests, rodents, or otherwise that we should keep our eyes open for?

To answer that question, I looked back on previous showings, home inspections, and issues with rental homes that have been problematic. I will touch on a few issues that always seems to be a concern below:

Moisture. Even though we live in a dry climate, it doesn’t mean that moisture can’t cause problems with homes in this area. A few examples would be runoff, snow, ice, wind driven moisture, and so on. Keep your eyes peeled for moisture in your crawl space or basement, and any place where snow builds up or sits for too long. An example would be a deck against a log home. I see so many log homes where the bottom log which sits on a foundation, actually acts as a wick, and absorbs moisture. It becomes obvious when the wood is discolored or deteriorates.

Ants. As I mentioned above, termites are not a huge problem in the area, though carpenter ants can be just as bad. A couple of tips, if you see one ant, you can bet there are thousands. Another tall tale sign is little bits of sawdust, ants will actually eat their way through the inside of the timbers and logs in your home, and leave a small amounts of powdery sawdust behind on your floors and furniture. Do some research for mitigation, some people are uncomfortable with poisons available for fear of consumption by their pets. If you aren’t concerned about it, an application around your foundation twice a year can really do wonders.

The Sun. As with many areas, southern sun exposure can really eat away at siding. Keep a fresh coat of stain on your home, and if you are running short on time, at least do the south side. Once the siding starts to warp, peel, and curl, it’s really hard to save. Preventive maintenance can save you thousands when it becomes something that must be repaired.

Obviously, this is more construction related than real estate related, but when it comes to your home inspection when you have a contract on your home, a clean bill of health can really make things easier when you’re trying to buy or sell your home. That being said, take a few minutes out of your day and do a quick 360 degree inspection of your home. you might not be a handyman or a carpenter, but it’s pretty easy to tell when something isn’t right. If you’re not sure, we’re fortunate to live in an area with plenty of skilled tradesman who would be happy to help!

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Tax Consequences of Renting Your Vacation Home

Do you have a vacation home in the Teton Valley area? You can easily earn some extra money from the property when you are not using it. Generating income from the property does require you to file correct tax documents. The amount of time you spend using the rental property will determine how many deductions you can claim against the property.
Is the Property a Rental?
How often do you visit your vacation home in the Teton Valley area? If you plan on using it as a full time vacation home, you must check with a realtor to find out what tax advantages are available. To claim the property as a full time rental, you need to use the vacation home for less than 14 days a year, or 10 percent of the total amount of time it is rented.
Since the Teton Valley area is one of the top-vacation destinations for many people, homeowners have the potential to earn a large income from the property. Some homeowners can net upwards of $28,000 each year in rental income.
What is Passive Activity?
If you have a piece of property that ends up costing you more to maintain than you earn, you could be dealing with rental losses known as passive activity. Meeting with an accountant that specializes in rental income is the best way to understand what you can deduct from the home, and how to avoid problems with the IRS.
Partial Rental Advantages
The Teton Valley area is beautiful to visit or live in. If you have a piece of property you want to enjoy, use it as a second-home retreat. You can rent the property for part of the year, and use the other half for your personal use. The tax rules will change if you plan on doing this, requiring exact documentation of how long renters are in the home, and how often you are using the home. You can receive tax-free rentals if you rent the home for 14 days or less. Special events are an ideal time to consider renting out your home if you want to capitalize on high-demand rental needs.
State and Local Taxes
The state and local tax obligations are another element to consider when renting your Teton Valley home. A short-term rental is called a transient rental, where the home is rented for a weekend or a few days. This short-term rental does have a tax obligation homeowners must meet or there are tax penalties.
If you plan on renting your vacation home in Teton Valley, work with our specialized team of realtors to find rental tenants for your property. Contact Teton Valley Realty today to view available properties in the area.

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Water rights, how do they work?

Water rights are an important part of any real property with rights in Idaho. They are not insured by a standard title insurance policy, so it’s important that you have an understanding of your property’s rights. I am not going to focus too much on how to obtain a water right, (it’s a complex process) but rather a general scope of the types, and uses for these rights. To start, I will describe what a water right is.


A water right is basically a “right” to divert water for a beneficial use, such as irrigation, domestic, or commercial use. The diversion is what is used to obtain the water, in the form of a head gate and ditch, well, irrigation pump, etc.


Next, the types of water rights, there are 2 main types – Surface rights, and Ground rights. Surface rights are the rights we see, such as ditches, diversions from creeks, runoffs, springs, and so on. Irrigation ditches carry water for the benefit of the rights owner. Ground water rights are not naturally present at the surface of the ground. Ground rights include drilled wells. Irrigation wells are currently under a moratorium in some areas of the state, in those areas, only rights dating back prior to the moratorium exist. This is because the ground rights users were using the available water for the end users with senior rights. If you do not have Ground rights, however, you can still have a well such as a domestic or culinary well, limited to 13,000 gallons per day and .5 acres of yard irrigation. Other noteworthy “types” would be water you receive from an irrigation district or utility company, and stock water use, Cattle/stock owners are not restricted on use of existing streams on their land for stock water purposes. You should also know that Idaho does not recognize riparian rights, in which the owner of and has the right to make reasonable use of the water under or on their land. Waters in Idaho are considered public waters.


Dates, appropriation, and how rights are established are an important aspect of the above rights. Idaho’s rights to use water when there is a shortage is determined by priority dates, or when the right was established. Prior to 1971, a user could simply divert surface water, and apply it to a beneficial use. These rights must have documentation of when they were first used, which determines their priority date. Ground water could be obtained the same way prior to 1963. These rights are called “beneficial” or “historic” use rights. These rights have now been recorded with the Idaho Department of Water Resources, or IDWR. Rights are now established by an application/permit/license procedure with the IDWR, and that process is contingent on available water and approval.


You can research whether or not you own water rights (water rights in Idaho are privately owned and are considered real property rights, much like property rights in land) with the IDWR, and their interactive website. There are 4 regional offices (N, E, S & Western) all of Teton County is in the Eastern Regional Office. Remember that if you receive your water from an irrigation district or utility, that right will be owned by, and listed under that “company” or owner.


***Source: Idaho Department of Water Resources

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3 Great Winter Activities in Victor, Idaho

Victor, Idaho is a popular vacation spot due to its rugged beauty and abundance of activities for outdoor lovers. While the summers in Victor offer glorious vistas framed by the Teton mountain range, the winter season provides some great activities as well.


Elk Tours at Bagley’s Teton Mountain Ranch

269 W. 800 S. Victor, Idaho


Bagley’s Teton Mountain Ranch offers winter sleigh rides through the snow in Caribou Targhee National Forest. The elk in the area are very friendly and will get right up close to the sleigh to get a good look at you while you take amazing close up photographs. Sometimes they will even let you scratch their ears! The sleigh rides last approximately an hour: plenty of time for numerous elk sightings.


Grand Teton Brewing Company

430 Old Jackson Highway

Victor, Idaho


If you are a beer connoisseur, or just like beer in general, a visit to the Grand Teton Brewing Company is well worth your time. They offer tours of their amazing facility and conduct daily tastings of their finished beer. Their beers are made from fresh glacial run-off that has been filtered for over 300 years by Teton Mountain granite and limestone.  The water is gathered from a spring only half a mile from the brewery.  Come taste the finest handcrafted beer in the Tetons.


Kotler Ice Arena

South Baseline Road

Victor, Idaho


Victor’s own beautiful, outdoor covered ice skating rink is a great way to spend some fun and quality time with family and friends. They boast a number of weekday and weekend activities. They also have a warming hut where you can enjoy hot cocoa and change your skates, concessions, and a venue for private functions such as family gatherings, birthdays, and pick-up hockey games. And on Friday evenings from 7:00 to 10:00 pm there is an open skating session with deejayed music that is great for families and abilities of all ages.


If you are considering a winter vacation in Victor, don’t forget to check out these great winter stomping grounds for a fun-filled and memory making experience.

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4 Reasons to Buy Property in Victor, Idaho

Paradise in the Mountains

Victor, Idaho is nothing short of a sportsman’s paradise. With its close proximity to Jackson Hole, Teton National Park, and Yellowstone, there is no limit to outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, skiing, mountain biking, and much, much more.


Breathtaking Scenery

Set at the foot of the beautiful Teton mountain range and nestled among forests of fir, pine and quaking aspens, the breathtaking scenery that surrounds Victor and the Teton Valley keeps visitors coming back year after year. Waking up and looking out your window at that view every morning would be truly incredible.


Small Town Charm

The charm of quiet, small town life still lives in Victor. Established in the 1800s, this quaint, winsome city retains the inviting spirit of an earlier time. But it still has plenty of business, restaurants, and entertainment to keep you and your family occupied. In addition to a bustling downtown, the city is dotted with multiple parks and biking trails, including cross country skiing courses that start within the city limits. And with an average of 216 days of sunshine every year, enjoying those parks and trails can be a year round adventure.


Property in Abundance

While Victor continues to grow, there is still a variety of different properties available that will suit every situation and need. Unlike many larger cities, Victor is surrounded by rural areas with plenty of land available for purchase. It is a great place to go if you want to buy some property to build your dream home, raise horses and livestock, or just have room to roam.


The Teton Valley is one of the few hidden property gems that still exists in America. Set in the foothills of the Teton Mountains, Victor is a city with unlimited potential and beauty. Call Teton Valley Realty today for more information on our listings in Victor and the surrounding areas.

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Tips and tricks for selling your home during the winter season:

I didn’t have any requests or questions this week, but with winter approaching, I thought this might be a good opportunity to share some tips for marketing your home this winter.
First and foremost, you are probably asking yourself, or asking your agent if you should even keep your home on the market through the winter at all. This has to be answered only by you, though in my opinion, if you are not planning on traveling to Arizona for the winter, why not? Sure, I understand a winter sale and moving in the winter can be a hassle, but do know that most buyers probably feel the same way. There’s always a good chance a leaseback could be negotiated easier than you might think. If you are planning on packing up to a warmer climate this winter, what are the expenses of keeping your home operational, such as keeping the driveway cleared of snow and heating expenses? This is where a very serious conversation with your realtor might be a good idea – if you are maintaining a quarter mile of road all winter for the purpose of helping to bring a sale, that could get expensive. On a final note, we all know the inventory reduces substantially during the winter months. It certainly won’t hurt to use that lack of inventory to your advantage, with less competing listings on the market. Believe it or not, homes do still sell in the winter months. In the summer of 2013 from June to October the county absorbed about 94 home sales. Last winter, from that November through the end of May there were about 131 sales according to the Teton Multiple List Service! Now that I have you convinced, check out a few tips and tricks for winter marketing below.

- As mentioned above, snow removal is key. Not very often, but I have been in the position where a buyer simply wouldn’t look at a house because of the amount of snow they would have to track through to get to the property. A little bit of ice melt or sand on the steps doesn’t hurt either.
- Heat, buyers don’t want to spend too much time in a house that isn’t very warm. Programmable thermostats can be a wonderful thing. You’re probably already used to turning your heating system down while you are away, simply program the thermostat to warm things up 30 minutes prior to your showing time. If you are an absentee owner, consider a smart thermostat you can turn up remotely. This is also a great way to monitor the temperature of your home without being there as well.
-Use holiday decorating to your advantage. Don’t overdo it, but tasteful decorations can create a comfortable atmosphere for most buyers.
-Utilize timers, it’s a great way to create a welcoming and cozy feel. Just like using your thermostat for your fireplace or furnace, it’s a great way to have a crock pot come on before a showing. Don’t overload those timers though, they can only handle so many things at once safely.
-Open those heavy shades. Many of us use heavy curtains or shades to act as an insulator in the winter time. If you have a showing though, it doesn’t hurt to leave them open for the day. Winter is already dark, let some light into your house.
-Clean up the yard. Winter brings a white blanket of snow that creates a very clean look throughout the valley floor. However, it shows, how do I say stains – very easily. We all know about that yellow snow that our pets make for us in our yards.

Here’s to a busy winter season!

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Radon – what is it, how serious, and what can I do?

Disclaimer: Please perform your own research in regards to the health risks of radon, and the benefits of radon mitigation systems.

Radon is a radioactive odorless gas. It is caused by the breakdown of uranium in the Earth’s soil underground, and permeates into homes, offices – anywhere it can be contained. The greatest risk for exposure is in the home, where most people spend the majority of their time. Because radon is gaseous, it is easily inhaled, therefore the biggest health risk associated with the gas is lung cancer. That risk has been known to be amplified with those who smoke. Radon can also be present in water. The greatest risk associated is the release of radon as water temperature increases, such as during your shower. Mosts tests show that the risk of lung cancer due to the gas being inhaled is far greater than health risks during consumption. According to the EPA, radon causes more deaths than drunk driving per year.

Now that I have panicked my readers – radon has been known to be found all over the United States, not just locally. Fortunately, it can be tested for, and mitigated with relative ease. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter, or pCi/L. Radon can be tested with both short-term and long-term testing. Radon levels fluctuate with the season, the EPA recommends testing both short and long term, and considers 4 pCi/L or lower “safe(er) levels”. Test kits can be purchased from your local building inspector, or online. Radon monitors are also available.

Now, the “what can I do part” You can start by being proactive, and ventilating your home as much as possible, within reason. Keep in mind that the air we breathe outside can even have a small amount of radon. If your home is on a crawl space, keep the vents open when you can to create a cross ventilation below the living area of your home. This alone can dramatically decrease radon levels. Obviously, not all homes are constructed with a crawl space. Basements can be notorious for higher radon levels, as well as homes with a slab on grade type construction. Second, look into a radon mitigation system. There are several types of mitigation systems. All of them can be very effective, and dramatically, (almost entirely) mitigate the gas. Usually, it’s a form of depressurization or suction – in other words a fan that creates a draw beneath the slab or floor system of your home that pumps the gas outside. Homes recently constructed will likely even have built-in radon resistant features, where a fan can be added to further reduce the levels the radon in your home. Either way, a radon mitigation system can be added to any home, whether or not pre-existing features exist.

One time use tests can be as little as $20.00, and mitigation systems can range from 500 to $3000.00 depending on the application. Feel free to email me for more information!

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