The Path to Successful Financing
October 10, 2018 by Lynn Vaughan
Financial considerations and preparations are central to any home purchase. The most important first step for a buyer is determining how you will finance your new home. In addition to helping you make better decisions about how much you can afford to pay for a home, getting preapproved for a mortgage loan puts you in a better negotiating position when it's time to make an offer on your dream home. When selecting a lender, your goal is to obtain a mortgage loan with terms that are most favorable to your situation. In order to find the best home loan that meets your needs, contact several lenders to discuss what types of loans they offer, their interest rates, closing costs, and other fees. Look for these characteristics when partnering with a lender:
1. Accountability: Your lender should be able and willing to invest time helping you prepare for the loan application process, take the time to explain what you need to do to ensure your loan is approved, and pre-approve you prior to beginning your home search.
2. Communication: You should get regular updates from your lender. Figure out what communication methods will work most effectively so that you can have clear, consistent ways to reach each other.
3. Product Offerings: Conventional? FHA? Reverse Mortgage? Make sure the lender you work with has a diverse product offering and can explain terms and programs thoroughly.
4. Experience: Go with someone who has a proven track record. Ask your agent if you need lender resources to explore.
5. Compatibility: Some buyers prefer mortgage brokers and others prefer bank lenders. Decide which type of lender you feel would best meet your needs. Mortgage brokers have access to multiple loan companies and can shop around to get their client the best loan package. Bank lenders finance their own loans so their selection is more limited. However, some borrowers prefer to do their mortgage business where their have their other bank accounts, both for convenience and because they have an established relationship with the bank. In addition, the bank may offer the best loan program to fit the borrower's needs.
6. Location: Look for a lender who is local to the area where the purchase is taking place. Local lenders understand the title and other fees in the local area so they provide a more accurate good faith estimate. They also are more motivated to maintain a good reputation in the local community so you will generally get more timely dependable and efficient service beginning with the loan application all the way through to closing.
7. In House Underwriting: The lender should have an underwriter in the same office as your loan officer. Completion of the loan processing is more streamlined and there is a faster response time to close the loan.
Ten Tips to Spruce Up Your Home
September 5, 2018 by Alison Hawes & Lynn Vaughan
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.
The 411 on Property Tax Calculations
September 1, 2018 by Lynn Vaughan
It is a common misconception that property taxes are directly tied to property values. Most Idaho residents would be surprised to learn that property values are only one of the factors used in the property tax formula. Idaho's property tax system is primarily budget driven.
The budgets that affect property taxes for your home originate within a group of taxing districts associated with your particular address. These taxing districts and their respective budgets form the basis for property taxation in the state of Idaho. 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 task 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.