With over 20 years of experience, I have had the pleasure of helping hundreds of people find their ideal homes! From looking for their dream home to relocating and even to downsizing, I have been able to walk through and help many people with their home-buying needs. And now I get to help the next generation embark on the same journey! This blog is a compilation of helpful information that I have learned over the years that pertains to buying a home in every stage of life, and I hope that you can get some amazing value from it!
Finally, after a long winter, we got to welcome Spring back this week! And with the warm, beautiful weather upon us, many of us are trying to beautify our yards as well.
So here are 6 easy Springtime makeovers for your yard that will bring new life to your home this Spring season and boost your home's curb appeal!
6 Easy Spring Time Makeovers for Your Yard
- Spruce Up Your Front Door
A quick and easy way to elevate your yard is with your front door.
The front door can be a great focal point of a home, whether by painting it a nice accent color for a little pop or by decorating it with a beautiful Spring wreath or family ornamentation, these are great ways to increase the curb appeal of your home!
2. Spread Fresh Mulch in Your Garden
Another of our easy Springtime makeovers for your yard is to simply spread some new mulch in your garden beds.
Spreading fresh mulch each Spring adds a pop of natural and subtle color to your home that makes it look alive and ready for the warm season. It's also very good for the plants in your garden.
Did you know that mulch helps the growing conditions of plants, improves the soil texture, suppresses weeds and helps conserve water? Another great reason to spread some fresh mulch over your garden beds this year!
3. Have Potted Flowers
Planting some of your favorite, sweet-smelling flowers in pots on your front porch will not only look nice to the folks passing by, but it will also create a warm, welcoming atmosphere for visitors who come to your home. And a plus of planting flowers in pots is that they are extremely easy to take care of...just make sure they get watered and you are good to go!
4. Clean Windows and Siding
Windows and siding can get dirty easily. And after a year of pollen, dust, dirt and other natural elements leaving their calling card, pulling out your pressure washer and giving your home a good wash can do wonders for your house! A simple wash can take your home from looking shabby and unattended to looking like the nicest house on the street, and it just takes a little bit of time.
5. Upgrade Your Night Lighting
Upgrading your landscape lights is a great way to give your front yard a boost in curb appeal, both during the day and at night.
Having a fresh set of path lights along your front walk or adding some uplighting around your home can make your home look prestigious, while at the same time providing your home with a bit more security. Burglars are less likely to come up to a house that's very well lit in comparison to a poorly lit house.
So there you go...two birds with one stone.
6. Start Caring for Your Grass
Simply having nice-looking, well-cared-for grass can do wonders in the curb appeal of a home. So if anything, just start there!
Clean up any stray leaves or branches that may have accumulated in your yard over the course of the winter months. If you see grass growing in sparsely, spread some grass seed and fill in the patches. If you want to get a jump on it and treat your yard for weeds before they start to grow in.
Making sure your grass is happy and healthy is one of the best ways to keep your yard looking crisp and fresh in this new Spring season!
Moving can be one of life's most stressful events, especially if you are relocating to a different city. Between packing up everything you own, moving to a new home and new town, getting the family adjusted and maybe even starting a new job, there can be a lot of stress and a lot of unknown details.
Moving is something that most people only do every 5-10 years, so there can be a lot of questions surrounding a big relocation. We want to shed some light on 7 common relocation questions that people have.
7 Common Relocation Questions
1) What should people look for when they are considering moving to a new city?
The four key things to consider when looking at moving to a new city are the school systems, mass transit/roadways, amenities, and housing prices.
Good school systems are important, not just for those people with children, but because they are the number one indicator of a higher resale value for the area.
If the city has a good transit system, it will help you know what your commute will be like compared to another city.
A city's amenities can make or break a community. A city that has a wide variety of amenities locally might be more appealing to some buyers compared to the towns that require you to drive a decent distance to get the same amenities.
The cost of homes can vary drastically based on the above three factors as well. So make sure that you find something that fits into your price range while also meeting your other criteria.
2) Are there any helpful tips that people need to know before relocating across a long distance?
Having the help of a relocation company can relieve a lot of stress during a long-distance move.
According to Bill Mulholland, the CEO of American Relocation Connections, says, "Relocation companies were created to act as a single point of contact that can bring all of the various service providers together under one platform that an individual will need to work with when moving long distances.
"The other large advantage that relocation companies can offer to clients is to act as an advocate by leveraging their collective volume to offer clients discounts on pricing through the service providers. Last but certainly not least, the relocation company can offer benchmarking and industry best practices as someone who relocates people every day (as the average American only moves once every seven years)."
3) How does someone go about selling a house and buying a house simultaneously during a long-distance move?
If a seller has to sell their home in order to buy a new one, it's better for that person to not schedule a house hunting trip or to make any offers to purchase a new home until their original home is under contract.
Once the original home is under contract, then you can schedule a house hunting trip and to make any offers contingent on the successful closing of your own house. This way if the contract on the original house were to be canceled for any reason, you, in turn, have the right to terminate the contract at the new home without penalty.
If you are comfortable not waiting to sell your home in order to purchase a new one, make sure with the mortgage loan officer that you qualify to be approved for a loan while owning both homes.
4) What do you need to do to prepare for moving day?
Whether you have hired a moving company or are transporting your belongings yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, keep your personal effects that aren't going on the vehicle clearly designated or placed together in a room in order to avoid accidentally putting them on the truck. This would be things like a few pairs of clothing, toiletries or any valuables that you don't want to potentially get lost in the move.
Second, make sure you have removed all chemicals, cleaning compounds, perishable foods, liquid food items, flammable items, aerosols, combustible items from the items to ship. Some of these can pose a safety hazard while others are just a nasty mess to clean up later. Either way, these types of things are easily replaceable once you have settled into your new home.
5) What can you do to help your family adjust during the moving process?
The process of relocating can be stressful for families, and particularly on children. Parents should be hypervigilant when it comes to helping their children get through this moving process as easy as possible.
Relocating was named the third most stressful life event by The National Insitute of Health, right behind divorce and death, and relocating can be even more stressful on children. Children have no form of control in a major move like this, and the unknowns of the place they are moving to can be scary for them.
A few good ways to help children cope with a big move like this are to let them map out where the furniture will go in their new room, tell them about all of the fun kid-centered activities that they will be near, and giving them postcards that they can send back to their friends they left behind.
6) Are any relocation costs tax-deductible?
Yes, some relocation costs are tax-deductible. The transportation of household goods and the final travel costs are something that can be deducted from one's taxed, but it’s always best to consult a tax adviser who is familiar with IRS restrictions and guidelines before you claim any moving cost as a tax deduction.
7) Are there special considerations to make when relocating internationally?
There are many things to consider and be aware of when relocating internationally. Some things that you will need to take into account are visas (timeline restrictions, costs, requirements, restrictions), foreign law (what is and isn't allowed), tax implications, and current industry trends (foreign economies, gas prices, issues at port, civil unrest, etc.).
These are just a few of the top things to consider when considering an international relocation.
Looking for some fun activities to do in Boise this March? Whether you are heading out for a night on the town or want a fun place to take the family, there is something going on in Boise this month that is perfect for you!
What's Going On in Boise?
Jimmy Buffett in Concert at the Taco Bell Arena -- March 13
Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band is returning to the Taco Bell Arena for one night only with the Son Of A Son Of A Sailor Tour on Wednesday, March 13 at 8:00 PM.
You can purchase tickets online via ticketmaster.com, over the phone (208) 426-1766 or in-person at the Box Office. A service charge is added to each ticket. There is an 8 ticket limit per customer.
Zoo Boise--Animals in Action--Spring Break Day Camp -- March 18-22
Come and help to keep Zoo Boise animals in tip-top shape! Investigate how and why animals act the way they do and learn how zookeepers use enrichment to keep our animals thinking and moving.
You get to create and design enrichment items for the animals and then observe how animals use their minds and bodies when they receive their special treats.
What a great outing for the whole family!
Treefort Music Fest -- March 20-24 -- Downtown Boise
Treefort Music Fest began back in 2012 and has grown to be a multi-venue music festival that draws hundreds of artists from across the globe.
If you want to indulge in music, getting your festival wristband is the best way to do that. You'll have access to all the music and other events. Tickets start at $125.00. But remember, wristbands are limited! Get yours now!
St. Patrick's Day Celebrations
Of course, we could not leave out St. Patty's Day in the month of March, so here are some great ways to get your leprechaun on!
If you're part of the 21-and-older crowd, head over to Saint Party's Day at Liquid. The event begins with live music by Beltane and Bamboo Spork at 7:30 p.m., followed by sets from DJs Just Some Clown and Wolfman Fever until the wee hours.
Enjoy St. Patrick's Day drink specials like green beer, Irish car bombs, and Guinness.
For the family-friendly folks, check out the second annual Celebration of Irish Culture in the Treasure Valley at the Linen Building Friday, March 15.
Catch performances by the Giant Leprechauns, Deviant Kin, Nebeula and Celtic Wimmen while doing a jig on the dance floor. At the end of the night, everybody will join in on a traditional Irish dance called a ceili.
The party starts at 7:30 p.m. and costs $7 per person or $20 per family. Full bar available with ID.
Some other great resources to see what's going on in Boise and the surrounding Treasure Valley are the Boise Live Music Calendar, the Go Out Local Calendar, and the Boise Events Calendar!
"What's Going On In Boise?" March Market Statistics
Click below for an in-depth look at the Treasure Valley Home Market Statistics for March 2019! You can always find the most up-to-date information that you need to know on the #KelleySimonSays blog!
Buying your first home can be an exciting and daunting experience all at the same time. You want to make sure that you are as prepared for the process as you can be, so here are 15 tips for first-time homebuyers to help get you smoothly through the process.
15 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers
1) Figure out How Much House You Can Afford
Before you got out and get emotionally attached to a house, you need to first determine how much you can afford to spend on a home. Your new mortgage payment (including home insurance and property taxes) should be no more than 25% of your take-home pay to ensure that you don't jump into a situation where you are house-poor. Your new home should be a blessing and not a financial burden. Also, make sure to leave room in your budget for the other monthly housing costs that come with owning a home.
2) Pay Off Other Debts and Build Up an Emergency Fund First
Owning a home is expensive. When you own a home versus renting a home, even if you are paying a similar amount each month, you are responsible for all of the upkeep and maintenance that a house needs. Making sure that you have an emergency fund of 3-6 months saved up gives you the peace of mind to know that you don't have to stress or worry if something big comes up. The cash is already there for you.
Making sure your debt is all paid off before buying a house will also give you financial peace as you move into home ownership. Instead of having a bunch of payments that you have to make and then adding a house payment on top of that, pay off your other debts. It will give you peace, financial wiggle room, and it will help you in the mortgage process to not have a high debt-to-income ratio.
3) Save Up for the Down Payment and Closing Costs
Work to save a down payment of at least 20% of the cost of the homes that you are looking at. Here's why...
If your down payment is less than 20%, the mortgage company will charge you for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is insurance that protects the bank should you stop making payments and go into foreclosure. They add this cost into your monthly payment, and it can get expensive.
Putting 20% down also means that you are borrowing less money and will pay much less interest over the life of your loan than you would have if you chose to put less than 20% of the cost down.
While most mortgage companies accept down payments as low as 10% of the home cost, it will save you a lot of money, in the long run, to have 20% up front.
Also, make sure to save money for the closing costs. This is something that can sneak up on first-time home buyers and take them by surprise. Be prepared for your home purchase by saving money specifically for your closing costs. Plan on having to save anywhere from $5000-$7000 to cover all of the closing costs.
4) Get Preapproved
Once you've saved enough for your down payment and closing costs, now it's time to get preapproved for your loan.
Having a pre-approval letter in hand is a great way to show sellers that you are a serious buyer and can help give you the competitive edge if it comes down to a bidding war with another buyer.
5) Create a Home Wishlist
Create a home wishlist with all of the things that are most important to you in a home. You can even add a point system to indicate which items on your list have the most priority. This will help you be able to not only focus on the important things when you are searching for a home, but it will also help you compare homes as you are shopping to find the best fit for you.
6) Research Neighborhoods to Find Your Perfect Fit
Make sure you don't base your decision solely on a home that you like. Research the neighborhoods that you are looking at and find one that fits your needs. Make sure to research the crime rates and the quality of nearby schools. Factor in things like commute time, as well.
Did you know that according to a NAR survey, 78% of home buyers believe neighborhood quality is more important than the size of a home? And 57% of buyers would choose a shorter commute over a larger yard. Make sure you take the most important neighborhood factors into consideration and choose a neighborhood that you and your family are comfortable with.
7) Be Prepared for the Closing Process
We talked about making sure that you save money for closing costs, but also be prepared for the process itself. Once your offer on a home is accepted by the seller, the closing process will begin, and you can keep things running smoothly by knowing what to expect.
The average closing process takes about 40 days, so this will give you plenty of time to tackle all of the closing items. Before this process starts, talk to your realtor and ask them any questions that you may have. Make sure that you fully understand the process and don't have any unanswered questions about how it is going to go.
8) Attend Open Houses and Think Long-Term
Once you have narrowed down the neighborhoods that you want to look in, go and check out some open houses. Even if the house doesn't fit your criteria, this is a great way to get a feel for the area; and when you do eventually find a house that you like and fits what you want, you will have examples to compare it to.
Another good thing to keep in mind is to find the most affordable home in the neighborhood. This is a great way to build home value for yourself. For example, if you find a good home in your ideal neighborhood that doesn't have wood floors and granite countertops, but it is less expensive than surrounding homes and you have the ability to make those upgrades, buy it! It will add a lot more value to your home from the price where you purchased it.
9) Find a Home For Sale in Your Price Range
According to data reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 51% of buyers either found their home online, and 31% found their home through a real estate agent.
These are great ways to set yourself up for success when it comes to finding a home in your price range.
This is where your wishlist and budget have to go hand-in-hand. Establishing your price range based on your budget ahead of time is so important--many people fall into the trap of focusing on their wishlist and end up buying a house that they fell in love with but that was way out of their price range. Utilize tools like the MLS and a realtor to help you find what you want while also keeping your focused on the important things.
10) Don't Settle
With all of this said, don't settle for a home that you are going to end up hating. Make sure to have an abundance of patience as you are looking for your home and wait until that perfect home for you comes up.
You don't want to rush into a home just because it's a good deal and then realize that it was actually too small for your family; and on the flip side, you don't want to splurge on a house that has everything you wanted but was just out of your price range, only to have your new home become a financial burden.
Be patient and wait for the right house for you. You will thank yourself in the end.
11) Consider Life After Buying Your First Home
While you are looking at a home, consider how life is going to be after you live there, in a functional and financial sense.
Imagine how the house will really fit you and your family. Imagine living your lifestyle in this home: for instance, if you entertain a lot, is there room in this home for that?
Also consider the normal, everyday costs and upkeep of the home. That beautiful privacy fence in the backyard will need repairing at some point someday, and the luscious green grass on your side of the fence is going to have to be mowed. Make sure that you aren't looking at the home through rose-tinted glasses and play out life in your head there.
12) Timing is Everything, So Don't Hesitate
A lot of these points may seem contradictory when they are actually just a careful balance. You don't want to settle for a less-than-perfect house, you don't want to rush into a home that isn't right for you, but when you do find that house that is perfect, you don't want to hesitate.
This is why doing your research and being prepared ahead of time is so important! Making sure you have all of your ducks in a row--like the things we've talked about in this article--will ensure that when you find the right house for you, you can make a fast, educated and sure decision before someone else buys it.
13) Make a Competetive Offer Within Your Budget
So you've found the home that you want and you're ready to make an offer!!! This is exciting, but also can be nerve-wracking. And this is where the expertise of your realtor comes into play.
They can help you make a competitive offer that is within your budget and the home's value. Also, including a personal letter to the seller can give you the edge over other competing offers.
14) Don't Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve
While this is much easier said than done, try not to get emotional in the home-buying process. Letting your emotions cloud your judgment can lead to huge mistakes that you will regret. Make sure that you are wearing your poker face.
Having a realtor can also be a huge asset in this arena because, while they are there to help you, they are not emotionally invested in this home and can help keep an even-keel atmosphere in the negotiations.
15) Choose a Reputable Home Inspector
Choosing a reputable home inspector is almost as important as choosing a good real estate agent, and it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Get recommendations from friends and family about good home inspectors or talk to your realtor about it. They most likely will know a reliable and knowledgeable home inspector who can check out your prospective home for you and let you know if there are any issues that you need to be aware of.
Looking for somewhere to take the family this weekend that's fresh and new but not too far away?
There are some beautiful local day trips near Boise that are close enough that it makes for an easy drive but far enough out to feel like you've gotten out of the city and even into a different world, in some cases.
5 Local Day Trips Near Boise
1) McCall, Idaho
The first of our highlighted local day trips near Boise is McCall, Idaho.
McCall is a beautiful small town about 2 hours north of Boise that is a destination hotspot for Idahoans and a place that some lucky people get to call home.
With activities ranging from skiing, snowboarding, Nordic, snowshoeing, golf, hiking, biking, camping, river rafting, kayaking, fishing, boating, jet skiing, sunbathing, wildlife, natural hot springs, and Payette Lake, McCall is a beautiful place to live and enjoy. And to top it all off, McCall is surrounded by rugged, beautiful mountains, lending the peace of nature to everything you do!
2) Bogus Basin
Just a short 40-minute drive north of Boise is Bogus Basin, a ski resort right on the doorstep of the city.
The people of Boise can take a short drive and head over for some recreational skiing and snow tubing in the winter time.
And in the summer when the temperatures in the city can be high, Bogus Basin is a great escape from the heat and a favorite with hikers and campers who are looking to cool down while still enjoying the outdoors in Idaho.
3) Craters of the Moon
The craters of the moon make you feel like you aren't even on Earth anymore.
Found east of Boise, this is a protected area of basalt lava fields that stretches for 600 square miles across the Idaho landscape, making it a very "otherworldly" feeling place.
Massive black lava spills have wound their way over the contours of the land, forming craters and covering hills to create a surreal and strangely beautiful scene.
4) Silver City
If you like exploring ghost towns, then Silver City just might be your perfect day trip.
Silver City grew up during the gold rush days and had a population in the thousands. This was short-lived though.
The city was mostly abandoned shortly after the mining industry in Idaho collapsed.
A few hardcore residents persevered on this historic site, and a few of their descendants still continue to live here amongst the abandoned businesses, mines, and houses. Silver City is definitely a great place to have a day trip!
5) Twin Falls
The city of Twin Falls is the gateway to the canyons and waterfalls of the southeast. Just a few miles outside of the city is the largest waterfall that can be seen here...Shoshone Falls.
Known as the ‘Niagara Falls of the West,’ it is, in fact, higher than Niagara Falls.
It's a monumental and impressive waterfall if you get the chance to see it firsthand.
These are not the only local day trips near Boise, but they are some amazing ones! Just hop online and find a great place that you or your family can go this weekend to enjoy the outdoors, history, and all of the other wonderful things that Idaho has to offer!
Kel & Company
Silvercreek Realty Group