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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4 Tips to Stage Your Home for a Quick Sale

Selling a home can be stressful. Selling your home quickly is the best way to relieve that stress. The following tips provide simple and easy ways to make your home desirable to prospective buyers for a quick and easy sale.


Clean, Clean, Clean!

This is perhaps the most important item on the list. Don’t assume that if your home is clean enough for you that it is clean enough for everyone. In fact, you should assume that your buyers’ standards are impossibly high – because they are. Nothing turns off potential buyers like someone else’s dirt. Scour every surface in your home until it shines.


Remove Personal Items

While you may absolutely adore that novelty “gone fishing” plaque that your uncle Morris bought you for Christmas last year, your buyers won’t. In order for them to see themselves living in your home, they must be able to picture their own things there, not yours. Remove personal items such as family pictures, knickknacks, and other décor that is expressive of your tastes and personality. Hang tasteful but generic art prints on the walls and place neutral decorations in place of your own.



Remove items from closets and cupboards that you won’t use in the next few months. Empty your closets of as many clothing items as possible. When prospective buyers look at your home, they will check these areas to see how much storage space is available. Crowded countertops and storages spaces packed with your stuff will make buyers think that there is limited space. Clearing out closets and cupboards will give the impression that there is more than enough storage space in your home.


Rework Your Furniture Layout

Examine objectively how your furniture is arranged. Does the living room invite cozy conversation? Is there enough room for people to move freely around the furniture in the dining room? Do the bedrooms feel relaxed and comfortable? Remove any furniture that makes your home feel crowded. Again, buyers want to be able to picture their own furniture in your home, so make it easy for them to do so.


For more tips on staging your home for a quick sale, contact Teton Valley Realty today. Our expert realtors can help take the worry out of selling your home.

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Can Social Media Really Help You Sell Your Home?

Having trouble selling your home? Have you considered using social media to help you do so? Here are three easy tips that will make selling your home using social media a breeze.


  1. Start early. You don’t have to wait until your home has been listed to start putting out feelers. Generating interest early by putting up notices and pictures on social media sites might just garner you a list of eager buyers when you finally put it up for sale. Use Facebook to promote your house and ask friends to share it. This is a great way to spread the word.


  1. Tweet about your area. One Seattle woman followed #movingtoseattle on Twitter and responded by tweeting a link to the site with her home’s listing. When a woman tweeted about wanting to visit the best local restaurants in Seattle before her move, this smart seller provided the link to a Seattle restaurant blog. Another man selling a home in Arizona used the winter season in his favor. He tweeted about the 70 degree weather in December and got an immediate increase in interest for his home. Be proactive and creative. You never know who is looking.


  1. Use high quality photos and video. Take pictures that showcase the best features of your home. Try to do it at a time of year when the landscaping is green and colorful. Take a room by room video with commentary about the great features of each area of the house. Talk about what you love about it and why. Post your pictures and videos on multiple sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Home buyers love to see lots of visuals. Clean up your yard and your house before taking pictures or video. Even a little bit of clutter will be an eyesore.


Just a small effort on social media sites can have a surprising effect on how quickly you sell your home. Getting the word out to family and friends through social media makes it easy for them to share with their friends, which will get your message out farther and faster.

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CC&R’s, what you need to know

CC&R’s, short for covenants, conditions, and restrictions are basically written and recorded rules of the neighborhood or subdivision. It’s important that these rules be recorded to make them binding and enforceable. They should also conform to all laws as well as local government regulations and requirements. When it comes down to a dispute with a lot or homeowner, it’s important for the subdivision to have CC&R’s that have been written and recorded correctly.

The purpose for these restrictions is to ensure conformity in a subdivision. Most of the rules are just long winded ways of saying that you have to keep your lawn mowed and weed free. Some developments have stricter rules than others. Some require certain design aspects when constructing a new home, where you can and can’t park a trailer, and so on. For the most part however, the rules are considered to be for the good of the neighborhood.

When working with Buyers, I often have requests to spefically look at lots without these restrictions. Sometimes it’s only because they want to build a house smaller than what they assume most developments would allow. However, based on that example, there are a number of developments that require a minimum of only 900 square feet, which is pretty minimal. Some developments are even along Ski Hill Road surprisingly. When searching for a home or a piece of land based on your special needs prohibited by most restrictions, it’s important to remember that all CC&R’s are not the same. Some are only a few pages long, with very few restrictions. All of the above considered, don’t rule out being in a subdivision if you can help it. Consult with your agent, most experienced agents have an understanding of the general rules in each development. Another way to explore subdivision opportunities is to take a drive around the development. Usually, if all of the homes have trailers on the side of the house or in the driveway, trailers are allowed. If all of the homes have metal roofs, you might find out if a comp shingle roof can be used. Use caution however, this is not a guaranteed way of understanding what is or isn’t allowed.

You might ask yourself how or who to contact with some of these questions. Our brokerage can usually get you an electronic copy of the CC&Rs for free, any time. If we have it on file, we can also send you contact information for the homeowner’s association (HOA) who would ultimately be responsible for enforcing the restrictions.

To conclude, be advised that CC&R’s are not the only way to restrict uses or enforce rules with a property. Even a piece of land or a home that is not located within a subdivision can still carry deed restrictions which works similarly, though I will cover those in another Ask The Expert” column!

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