West Real Estate Group Video Blog -Expert Tips for Navigating the Idaho Real Estate Market

Our mission at West Real Estate Group is to be your resource for your Real Estate needs in Idaho. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or investor, our team of professionals can answer any questions you might have about Real Estate. Watch the videos and articles below to get the latest news on local market trends and receive expert tips for buying or selling a home. Call us with any questions you may have at 208-501-8200

Dec. 15, 2016

10 Interview Questions to Ask a Realtor Before Hiring Them:

10 Questions to Ask a Realtor Before Hiring Them

10 Interview Questions to Ask a Realtor Before Hiring Them:

My mom's friend's sister is a Realtor. Should I just use her?

Maybe... maybe not.

Unfortunately, not all agents are created the same. Our advice is to ask questions, and don't just settle with someone you might know who may just have a real estate license.

Since your home purchase will be one of the largest investments you will ever make, no one should judge you or guilt you for being careful about who you choose to represent you. Asking the right questions when interviewing an agent should help you gain insight into the Realtor's competence, experience, and personality. 

The agent you choose should offer reviews from past clients who they have helped. They should also be an expert in the neighborhoods and communities you are looking to purchase in and be someone who you actually like as you will be working closely with them through the home buying process.

1. "Can I see reviews from your past clients?"  
Every agent has clients they've served well. But the best agents consistently deliver excellent service. There's a difference between reading a few hand-picked endorsements and getting the full good, bad, and ugly on your agent. We think a good agent should have nothing to hide, which is why West Real Estate Group encourages public reviews from every client we serve. While you won't find that for every real estate agency, you can use sites like Google.com to see what customer opinions pull up for an agent you're considering. If you can't find any public reviews, this may be a sign you aren't working with a professional agent.

2. "Is this your full-time job or are you a part-time agent?"  
Many agents are part time. A full-time agent is more likely to be up-to-date with the market, the laws, and have the time you'll need when searching for the right home. You will want a high protein, high energy, Realtor working for you.

3. "When am I committed to using you?"
Selecting the agent that you are going to hire is an important decision, and it's not something you can do accidentally in Idaho. Make sure you get the facts about this important step. Our agents review and discuss this with you, so you won't be misled or confused.

4. "Do you work as a solo agent or part of a team?"
These days, real estate groups are becoming more popular. Whether it's a pair of agents who share the work, a single agent with a support staff behind them, or a group of several agents all under one business name, you'll want to know with whom you'll be working with. Do they specialize in one particular area or are they jack of all trades? The more you understand who you are hiring, the better.

5. "What sets you apart from other agents?"
What you're asking them is, "why should I hire you?" This is a fair question. Don't shy away from it. You're looking for experience, not just enthusiasm. You want to see a track record, knowledge of the market, and suggestions on the best neighborhoods in the Treasure Valley. You want to see reviews from past clients, reliability, and an in-depth knowledge of any special requirements you may need to know about.

6. "What's your fee?"
The seller of the home you buy pays your agent's fees usually around 2-3% of the sales price. Since the home seller sets the commission amount and this can vary from property to property, you'll want to insist that your agent is upfront about their share. You don't want to have an agent who is pressuring you into buying a home based on a larger commission. Click here to read more about what it costs to have a Realtor help me buy a home. 

7. "What experience do you have?"
An agent's experience should be more than simply how long they've been in the business. Longevity doesn't automatically equate to expertise. You need more. Finding an agent who is an expert in a neighborhood or city you wan tot buying will be a big asset for you. A buyer's agent in Idaho who knows their stuff will take your present and future needs into account. They'll use your needs to find you the right home in the right location (e.g. if you have kids you might want a neighborhood with great schools or parks that are close by).

8. "How will you keep me informed?"
This is the area where an agent has to shine. Buyers and sellers who have an agent who doesn't communicate typically find another agent. You want to make sure you discuss expectations and preferences up front- do they text, email, call, video message, or all of the above? For the relationship to be successful, this has to be discussed at the beginning.

9. "Do you represent buyers and sellers?"
When one agent represents both the buyer and seller, this is known as "dual agency," and it's not always a good thing for home buyers. If the seller's agent is trying to get the most money for his client's home, how can he also be trying to get you the best deal? Our team has Buyer Specialists that represent you and only you as a buyer.

10. "What if I'm unhappy with your service?"
If you are in a signed sales contract, most often, the agent will get paid when you purchase a home whether you are happy with the service or not. Ask your agent if they are willing to guarantee your satisfaction, and what recourse you may have if you have a bad experience. 

At West Real Estate Group, our agents are professionals. We're experienced, knowledgeable, and we have the heart of teachers. We know the Treasure Valley, the best neighborhoods to buy in, and where you can get the best cup of coffee.

But don't just take our word for it.

We're here to listen to your wants and needs. When you connect with our team of real estate professionals in Idaho, they'll walk you through the process at your pace- not theirs. Once you have decided to hire your agent, you can move forward to the next step in your home buying process!

Dec. 15, 2016

What Does It Cost to Hire a Realtor to Help Me Buy a House in Idaho?

The cost of using a Realtor to help you buy a home

If you are considering purchasing a new home in Idaho, you may be wondering how much it may cost to hire a Realtor to help you. 

This is a common question and yet many people don't ask what an agent's services cost.

Maybe homebuyers don't inquire about this because they don't know what to ask or are too embarrassed to pop this question when interviewing an agent. 

At West Real Estate Group, we love to inform our buyers and help educate our clients about all the ins and outs of buying and selling a home in Idaho.  How a Realtor is compensated when working with a home buyer is a question that we find many people have. So how does it all work and how do we get paid for our services? 

In most cases, our services are paid for by the seller of the home you purchase making our services free to a homebuyer. 

While your agent's fees most likely will not be paid by you, we still recommend you interview agents and choose the best Realtor you can find. One that has the heart of a teacher and knows what they are doing. 

We have put together a resource to help you know what questions to ask when you interview a Realtor: 

Click here to read: 10 Questions to Ask Your Realtor Before Hiring Them

Hiring a Realtor to help you is a critical part of the home buying process and can make the difference between the process being a very exciting time in your life or one you will never want to repeat. 

Your Realtor will handle seven key roles for you:

If you are thinking about buying a home in Idaho, we would love to hear more about your goals and discuss in more detail the process of the purchase of a home so that you will be a more informed home buyer. 

Call our team at today 208-501-8200 to talk with one of our team members. 

You can also watch our home buyer video series called: 7 Steps To Home to learn more:

Click here to Watch 7 Seven Steps to Home Video Series 

Dec. 12, 2016

Idaho Home Prices: Where Will They Be in 5 Years?

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists about where they believe prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number. 

If you own a home in Idaho or are thinking of purchasing a house, this information should be very interesting to you.

The results of their latest survey:

Home values will appreciate by 4.0% over the course of 2017, 3.2% in 2018 and 3.0% the next three years (as shown below). That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.24% over the next 5 years.

The prediction for cumulative appreciation ticked up from 18.7% to 21.4% by 2021. The experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 10.2%.

Bottom Line

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe this survey is a fairer depiction of future values here in Idaho. 

Curious what your house might be worth in today's market? Get your home's value instantly: 

Yes, I would like to get my home's value now

 Have more questions? Call our team today 208-501-8200!

Dec. 5, 2016

Starting to Look For a Home? Know What You Want Vs. What You Need

Buying a home with west real estate group

In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is critical to know what you’re looking for when you start your home search.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a home of your own for some time now, you’ve probably come up with a list of things that you’d LOVE to have in your new home. Many new homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on television or Pinterest, and start looking at the many homes listed for sale with rose-colored glasses.

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the man cave of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make or break now?

The first step in your home buying process should be to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a house that is way outside of it.

The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like & to qualify them as follows:

  • ‘Must Haves’ – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t even be considered. (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms)

  • ‘Should Haves’ – if the property hits all of the musts haves and some of the should haves, it stays in contention but does not need to have all of these features.

  • ‘Absolute Wish List’ – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must haves,’ most of the ‘should haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s the winner!

We created a printable checklist for you to download and print so that you can take a moment to make this list. It will greatly help you and help your Realtor find the home that fits you best.

Click this link to download the What You Want Vs. What You Need Checklist

Bottom Line

Having this list flushed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration, while also letting your agent know what features are most important to you before starting to show you houses in your desired area.

Call our team today to take the next step, or you can start browsing for homes right now by clicking the link below:

Yes, I would like to start looking at homes for sale now

Contact us with your questions: 208-501-8200. We would love to hear from you! 




Dec. 2, 2016

New Home Sales Race to Keep Up with Demand

New Home Sales in Idaho Infographic

Some Highlights:

  • Many buyers who are searching for their dream homes are turning to new home construction after 10% of all new home buyers sighted a lack of inventory of existing homes as their reason for purchase.
  • The median home price decreased slightly from September’s high of $314,100 to $304,500 in October.
  • The West saw the largest month over month jump in sales at 28.7%.

    If you have questions about buying or selling a home, give our team a call at (208) 501-8200. We would love to discuss your real estate goals with you! 

Take Action: 

Curious about the value of current home? Get an Instant Value Check by clicking the link below:

Yes, I would like to get my home’s value now 

Curious about what homes are currently available on the market now? Go see new homes: 

 Yes, I would like to start browsing homes for sale in Idaho now!

Nov. 30, 2016

Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult?

At West Real Estate Group, we get asked this question all the time, "Is getting a home loan still difficult?"

There is no doubt that mortgage credit availability is expanding, meaning it is easier to finance a home today than it was last year. However, the mortgage market is still much tighter than it was prior to the housing boom and bust experienced between 2003 - 2006.

The Housing Financing Policy Center at the Urban Institute just released data revealing two reasons for the current exceptionally high credit standards:

1. Additional restrictions lenders put on borrowing because of concerns that they will be forced to repurchase failed loans from the government-sponsored enterprises or Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

2. The concern about potential litigation for imperfect loans.

What has been the result of these concerns?

6.3 Million Less Mortgages

The Policy Center report went on to say:

“It was so hard to get a mortgage in 2015 that lenders failed to make about 1.1 million mortgages that they would have made if reasonable lending standards had been in place. From 2009 to 2014, lenders failed to make about 5.2 million mortgages thanks to overly tight credit. In total, lenders would have issued 6.3 million additional mortgages between 2009 and 2015 if lending standards had been more reasonable.”

In an interview with DSNews, Laurie Goodman and Alanna McCargo of the Policy Center further explained:

“Our Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI)* measures the probability that mortgage borrowers will become delinquent on that mortgage for 90 or more days, which we refer to as the default risk. This measure indicates that the probability of default rose from 12 percent in 2001 to a peak of 16.5 percent at the end of 2005/beginning of 2006, before declining to the current level of 5 percent. Stated differently, lenders are currently taking less than half the credit risk they were taking in 2001, a period of reasonable credit standards.”

The cost to the economy if we’re writing fewer loans…

Goodman and McCargo put it best:

“…fewer households will become homeowners at exactly the point in the economic cycle when it is most advantageous to do so… [They] will continue to miss this wealth-building opportunity. The median family wealth for homeowners is $195,400, with their home the most valuable asset for most; the median family wealth for renters is $5,400… Fewer potential homebuyers means the housing market will continue to recover more slowly. At the same time, fewer buyers create a strain on other benefits to the economy which homebuying brings such as spending on home goods and an increase in construction jobs.”

Bottom Line

The housing market boom and bust caused many mortgage providers and lenders to tighten their lending standards in an effort not to repeat the recent past. This paired with many homebuyers disqualifying themselves before they even apply for a loan, due to the fear of rejection, has led to many households not yet becoming homeowners.

If you have been thinking of buying your first home or even buying a home that better fits your needs, give us a call. We would be happy to sit down with you and explain your many options. 

Call our team at 208-501-8200 today. 

You can also start browsing homes for sale now by clicking the link below:

Yes, I would like to start looking for homes now!

Nov. 29, 2016

Mortgage Interest Rates Just Went Up… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Along with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some Idaho home purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate less than 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago; a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago. Our advice is don’t wait.

Click here to start looking for that new home.

Call us with any questions at 208-501-8200 you may have. 

Sept. 1, 2016

What is Happening in the Treasure Valley Real Estate Market?



In this video, Realtor John West, answers a common question we have heard a lot lately, "What is going on with the real estate market in the Treasure Valley?" 

Houses are selling fast, rents are at all-time highs, and real estate is a hot topic again, but are we headed towards another housing bubble? 

At West Real Estate Group, we believe in offering Better Education and More Communication to our clients. Here is a short video to explain our current housing market here in the Treasure Valley: 

What Is My House Worth?

Find Your New Dream Home

In Boise, Idaho and surrounding areas, four main factors are affecting our market: 

1. High Demand
No one will argue that the Treasure Valley is a great place to live. We are consistently ranked in the top spots for best places to move to, and our secret is out. People are flooding into the Treasure Valley from all over the nation, and this relocation activity is part of why we see such high demand for housing. 

2. Low Inventory
After our market crashed in 2007, builders stopped building homes and apartments. This gap in the construction of new construction caused us to be behind in meeting the growing housing needs of our area. Home builders are quickly trying to meet the demand of our current market. However, they are still behind. 

3. High Rents
Because of the demand for housing, the significant amount of growth in our area, and the lack of available homes for sale, landlords have been able to charge higher monthly rents. If you can't find the house to buy that fits your needs or have 6-10 months to wait for a new house to be built, you may have to rent and pay a premium to do so.  

4. Low Mortgage Rates 
As the market continues to see strong improvement, lenders have been offering low mortgage rates to keep home buying affordable and attractive. We often find that many of our buyers are paying less for their mortgage payment on their home than they were paying in rent. This factor is also causing some of the high demand for housing. 

With all this demand for housing, some fear that we might be heading for another crash, however, evidence that economists see in this market is much different than the factors that caused the crash nearly ten years ago. Some of the reasons for that crash were high speculation, loose mortgage loan approval standards, and other factors that were not based on healthy and sustainable conditions.

Bottom Line
In summary, the current housing market in the Treasure Valley is alive and well. It is still a very good time to take advantage of low housing innovatory and sell your home or buy a new home before prices rise further. Our team would love to help answer any questions you may have. 

Give us a call at (208) 501-8200 today!

Buying a home? Click here to perform a full home search

Selling a home? Click here for an INSTANT Home Price Evaluation 

 Call us at (208) 501-8200 for a FREE home buying or selling consultation

July 7, 2016

2 Tips For Getting The Most Money When Selling Your House in Idaho

2 tips for getting the most money when selling your house in Idaho

Every homeowner wants to make sure they get the best price when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? We at West Real Estate Group help people get their home sold every day. Here are two keys we have learned to ensure you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

2 Tips For Getting The Most Money When Selling Your House | Simplifying The Market

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. In that way, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price, but instead will have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com, gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This too may seem counter intuitive. The seller may think they would net more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

Research posted by the Economists’ Outlook Blog revealed that:

“The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $151,900. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $249,000 – nearly $40,000 more for the typical home sale.”

2 Tips For Getting The Most Money When Selling Your House | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. That will guarantee you maximize the price you get for your house. We can help you learn about the market, discuss a pricing strategy, and help you get it SOLD! 

If you are thinking of selling your home, try our automated value check and get your home's estimated value INSTANTLY.  
Yes, I would like to get my home's value now!

Posted in Selling a Home
July 7, 2016

4 Reasons to Buy This Summer in Idaho!

4 Reasons to Buy This Summer with West Real Estate Group

Summer is here in Idaho! The temperature isn't the only thing heating up right now, so too is the housing market in many areas of the country! Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 5.9% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.3% over the next year. The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects home values to appreciate by more than 3.2% a year for the next 5 years.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase 

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4%. Most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. TheMortgage Bankers AssociationFreddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home. 

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings. We can help!

You can use our website to start browsing for home now by clicking this link. We update our website every minute with ALL homes for sale in Idaho so you can be sure you are seeing everything available. 

Yes, I want to start browsing for homes now!

If you have a home that you need to sell, you may be surprised how much it's worth. Use our INSTANT value check tool and learn what your home may sell for in today's market:

Yes, I want to get my INSTANT value check!

Still have questions, we would love to hear from you. Call us at 208-501-8200.