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Real estate market activity is booming in the Boise area and we want you to be ready for it! Whether you plan to stay in your home for a long time or are preparing your home to list and sell, these tips will maximize your investment and keep your home beautiful and safe. Here are 10 timeless tips to homeowners:
1. Mark your calendars for regular spring and fall HVAC service. Change filters regularly and have dryer ducts inspected and cleaned at least once a year.
2. Replace batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Upgrade to new models every couple of years. Did you know that the local fire department will come out to your home free of charge to help with installations?
3. Take advantage of Idaho’s Homeowner's Exemption up to a limit of $100,000 for owner-occupied homes. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to file your one-time Homeowner's Exemption form with the Ada County Assessor’s office (208-287-7262). The deadline is April 15th each year for this to be effective by the next calendar year. See our blog post on Property Taxes for more details.
4. Fix that plumbing leak. Surprisingly, even a small amount of water, left unchecked, can cause a lot of damage.
5. Hire a professional electrician to check non-working outlets and switches for possible loose wiring or reversed polarization.
6. Take a peek in your crawl space and attic. Give it the sniff test. The keyword is "D-R-Y". You want these spaces to be well-sealed, but with appropriate controlled ventilation. Any evidence of mold should be professionally remediated.
7. Keep up with low cost home maintenance that beautifies and protects your home like painting and caulking. Replace those weeds with colorful flower beds and mulch.
8. Declutter! Less is almost always more. A few well-placed pieces can make your rooms appear larger and more up-to-date.
9. Periodically deep clean your home until it sparkles and shines. Pay attention to the details like smudges on the doorknobs and light switches, slow draining sinks, filmy windows and dust build-up on baseboards, blinds, light fixtures and air returns.
10. If your home has a septic system, be sure to have it pumped and inspected every two to three years. Low-cost additives (available from local septic service providers) can be added monthly to maintain a healthy septic system.
It is a common misconception that property taxes are directly tied to property values. However, most Idaho residents would be surprised to learn that is not the case. Idaho's property tax system is budget driven. The budgets that affect property taxes for your home originate within a group of taxing districts associated with your particular address. Some examples of taxing districts are local fire and police departments, College of Western Idaho, Mosquito Abatement, road maintenance, etc. So, you might ask, what is to stop taxing districts from setting excessive budgets in order to increase their coffers? Fortunately that's not possible because state law generally limits taxing districts' authority to increase their budgets. In Idaho, the maximum amount budgets can be increased in a given year is 3%, plus a growth factor which captures new development. This restriction prevents taxing districts from realizing excessive inflow of money during periods of market appreciation. Conversely, this limit also preserves the consistent delivery of property tax funded services, eg, law enforcement, fire protection, emergency services, road maintenance, and other essential services, during periods of market decline. When the taxing districts finalize their budgets each year, property tax levy rates are then calculated and certified by the Idaho State Tax Commission. These levy rates are then multiplied by the assessed value of each property to determine property tax amounts. The Ada County Treasurer's office has the unpopular job of sending out the property tax bills each year in November. If you have an issue with your tax bill, you may be inclined to call the Treasurer. However, a better idea would be to find the contact information for the taxing districts located on your tax bill and give them a call to talk about their budgets.