Rexburg Real Estate Blog

The Rexburg real estate blog is a place for insights into real estate finance, ideas on how to sell a home in Rexburg and the surrounding communities, and looking for a house in Rexburg that fits your needs. From time to time we offer guest blogs from vendors providing home owner services from Idaho Falls to Rigby, to Rexburg, and Island park. If you are a vendor and would like to submit a guest blog, give us a call.

Sept. 28, 2016

Rexburg Airbnb Controversy

Rexburg Airbnb website screenshot

What is the controversy surrounding Rexburg Airbnb you ask? A recent town hall meeting addressed the question of whether Airbnb's should be allowed to continue in Rexburg. The topic of discussion: How do Airbnb's negatively or positively affect Rexburg real estate values, the safety, and culture of the community, city revenue, and traffic? Residents presented arguments both, for and against. In order to understand the arguments better, let's start at the beginning.

What is Airbnb and what does it have to do with Rexburg?

Air Bed and Breakfast started in San Francisco when two guys, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia couldn't afford to pay rent. So, they blew up three air mattresses in their front room to accommodate guests during a sold-out trade show. They even provided homemade breakfast in the morning. In exchange, these guest paid a reasonable fee. What began in a loft in San Francisco, has morphed into an on-line marketplace where people from around the world can find and rent a vacation home. In March 2009 the name was changed from Air Bed and Breakfast to Airbnb.  Today it is one of the largest accommodation-sharing services in the world with listings in 34,000 cities and more than 190 countries. To find a Rexburg Airbnb, you can visit their site.

Rexburg Airbnb Concerns

Currently, there are as many as 46 Rexburg Airbnb locations ranging in price from $52 to over $150 per night. Some residents believe that the Rexburg Airbnb phenomenon will decrease real estate values. The Standard Journal reported that Gerry Adair, who has worked in Rexburg real estate for nearly 50 years, said,  “If you allow this use, it would reduce the sales price (of homes) from $15,000 to $35,000, depending on how far you are away from the bed and breakfasts."  Some residents argued that Rexburg Airbnb acceptance would impact the culture of the city negatively.  Many expressed safety concerns about strangers living in their neighborhoods.

Positive Aspects of Allowing Rexburg Airbnb Locations

Some Rexburg residents have used Airbnb to rent their own home as well as find and rent a vacation home. They expressed their satisfaction with the service as well as safeguards that exist in the process.  Many argued that it brings revenue to the city that would otherwise be given to Idaho Falls or surrounding cities. They also expressed their desire to help those who may need accommodations in Rexburg during peak times.  

What is your vote on Rexburg Airbnb?

As a Rexburg Real Estate agent, I'm interested to know what you think. Should Rexburg Airbnb's be banned?

June 1, 2016

How To Find Your Dream House

Waterfront home in Rexburg

There are a lot of houses out there. Millions of them. And each house has its own unique quality and charm. So how do you find your dream house with so many options to choose from? There are so many factors to consider when you are looking for a house. What area are you going to live in? What is the style of the homes in the area? Do you want land that has to be maintained, or do you want to live in a townhouse in a metro area? The options are endless. Here are a few things to think about when you set off to find your dream home.

Know Your Budget

Leaving your home for a drive across the country with ten bucks in your pocket and a half empty gas tank isn't a good idea. Neither is starting a search for your dream home without knowing how much you have to spend. Now some people will start their search without looking at budget, and that is okay for a while. But the closer you get to actually buying a house, the more important a budget will be. Lets be honest, if you are looking in million dollar neighborhoods and your lender is only willing to give you a pre qualification letter for $400,000, all the time you are spending in that expensive neighborhood is leading nowhere fast. You might get some good decorating ideas, but that's about it. So its really important to start the process of determining a budget as quickly as you can. Take a look at this blog entry to see what you need to do first to pre qualify. Once you know your budget, you can start narrowing down your preferences, such as living in the country or the city, and what type of home you want.

A House In The Country or City

Once you have a budget, the next logical step is to narrow down where you are going to live. This is an important step. Set some priorities as soon as you can. If you like living in the country, don't spend a lot of time looking in town. You don't want to settle for second best. You are looking for your dream house. Sometimes people start out looking for an area to live in, and then find a house they like in an area that would have been low on their preference list early on. Make sure you have your priorities straight. The worst thing you can do is buy a cool house in a undesirable neighborhood. Choose the neighborhoods you want, and then find a house withing the neighborhood. And if you can't find what you are looking for, consider building or waiting. Seriously, if you like clean cut neighborhoods with sidewalks and nicely groomed yards with lots of neighbors, and you buy a farmhouse on 3 acres where the neighbor has chickens, pigs, and cows, the magic of the country may soon ware off and you will be living in a nice house in an area you don't like, spending most of your free time weeding and taking care of property. It can be a costly mistake financially and mentally. Be patient. Don't settle. 

Choosing The House

Once you know the neighborhoods you would like to live in, the next step is to evaluate what types of homes are in those neighborhoods. Do you want a single story ranch so you don't have to do stairs, do you want a basement that usually gives you more room for less money per square foot, or do you want a two story? Do you like open concept homes or do you prefer a more compartmentalized floor plan? There are many choices to sort through, but one thing is certain, the neighborhoods you choose will dictate, to some extent, what your style options will be unless you can find an empty lot to buy. And even then, you will want to be careful what you build on that lot so that it has a "good fit" with the rest of the homes. Go too fancy and you might lose money when you sell. Go too cheep and you may have a hard time selling. The key here is to know about the style you want and whether it is an open design or not. This is very important when you are looking with a co-buyer or spouse if you want both people to be happy.

Negotiate the Deal

List price is the asking price of a home, not the actual prices. Prices in a real estate market can vary widely. This is due, in part, to what sellers perceive their home is worth, what other homes have sold for, and what council a seller gets from their agent / broker. The point here is that NO price is set in stone until you have negotiated the value and the buyer and seller agree that they will both benefit in some way. In light of this, hold your horses, be patient, and don't be rash in your decisions. If a seller knows that you want their house and only their house, they are more likely to stand firm on their original price. If a buyer knows you are desperate to sell because you are leaving on vacation or need to get to your new job eight hundred miles away, they are more likely to stand firm on their lower offer. To be clear, negotiation is not bad. It is a great process that helps both the buyer and the seller establish value and what they are going to be happy with. It can be a great experience where both parties walk away from the table feeling like the achieved their goals.

These steps seem simple, but many potential home buyers fail to make a conscious effort to think through the steps and verbalize them with a co-buyer or spouse. Lack of communication can lead to misunderstanding where there doesn't need to be any. Think through what your true dream house is, write it down so it is concrete, and verbalize it with those who are involved with the decision making process. Doing so will greatly reduce your dream house search turning into a nightmare house.

May 18, 2016

First Time Home Buyers

Just because you can afford the mortgage payment doesn't mean you can afford to own a home. So... you've decided to buy a home, and you're pretty confident you can make the mortgage payment, after all it's about the same as what you're paying in rent now. It makes perfect sense, however there are a few things you may want to consider. There are costs involved in owning a home that don't apply to renting, home owners insurance, property taxes (in some states the taxes can be more than your mortgage payment), repairs, improvements and home owners association dues, not to mention yard maintenance and increased utility bills. Utility bills on a typical home are much larger than a tiny apartment. The minute your home closes you'll be responsible for hook-up fees, possibly deposits as well as trash, water, gas, electric and in some areas sewer. Before you begin looking for homes follow these steps to ensure you can make the payments and cover all the additional costs. 

  1. Check Your Credit Score - This is often over looked by first time home buyers. You should be aware of your credit score long before you start looking for a home or a loan. A bad credit score will increase your interest rate which could cost you thousands of dollars in interest or even worse you may not qualify for a loan at all.  Checking your credit score early will allow you time to clean it up if necessary.

  2. Shop For A Loan - I love to shop, but this is one thing I'm not crazy about shopping for. The process can be tedious, painstakingly detailed  and down right invasive, but the simple truth is, it has to be done, you may not buy a home without a loan, unless you're independently wealthy, so suck it up and do it. Then you can move on to the the fun part, looking for the perfect home within your financial parameters. Only smart first time home buyers do this first, dumb first time home buyers skip this step which leads to shattered dreams when they realize they can't qualify for a loan. Be smart, do first things first.

    • Research First time Home Buyer Programs - Many states and some cities offer first time home buyer programs and incentives. You definitely want to find out about programs that are available in your area. You're only a first time home buyer once.

    • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has first time home buyer loan programs that are issued through qualified lenders. In plain English, that means if you want the benefits of an FHA loan you need to find a lender who is qualified to do an FHA loan. An FHA loan is a mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Some of the advantages of an FHA loan over a conventional loan are as follows:
    • The down payment on a conventional loan is typically 20%. The down payment on an FHA loan can be as little as 3%.
    • FHA loans have lower interest rates which means you pay significantly less interest over the life of your loan. 
    • Competitive rates translates into lower monthly payments. 
    • FHA loans also allow a high debt to income ratio, sometimes as high as 50%.

    These benefits allow you as a first time home buyer to qualify for a loan that is within your financial means.

  3. Get Pre-Approved not just Pre-qualified-What's the difference you ask? That's a great question. Sometimes all these financial terms can be confusing for the first time home buyer.  I'll be happy to clear up the confusion.

    Pre-qualifying is the first step in the loan process.It's simple and doesn't require too much time. You give the bank or lender some information about your financial status; how much debt you have,  what your income is and if you have any assets. The bank or lender will asses this information and give you an idea an of how much you might qualify for.  Basically it's an idea of the amount the lender might agree to lend you. Might being the key word here. This amount is not a sure thing. It's just a starting point so you can discuss with your lender mortgage options and your lender can recommend which loan would fit your particular financial situation.

    Pre-Approval is the next step in the loan process. It's much more involved and can feel a little invasive (did I just say a little? What I really meant was, it's very invasive.)  You'll fill out an official loan application (which usually requires a fee) and submit documentation that will allow the lender to perform an extensive financial background check. Yep, you give them permission to search everything related to your finances, including your current credit score. That's why check your credit score is item #1 on this post, it's very important. The lender can then tell you a specific loan amount you qualify for. This gives you buying power and the ability to move quickly when you find a home you love.

    Completing both these steps before you begin the house hunt will give you a clear picture of what you can afford. It also allows you to omit the financing contingency from your offer. The sellers will know you're serious about the house and it could give your offer more weight.  As a first time home buyer its a good idea to be prepared.

  4. Let the House Hunt begin Finally, you made it to the fun part.
May 13, 2016

Rexburg Rapids Water Park

Rexburg Rapids Water park

Everybody loves water parks and that is true with Rexburg's Rexburg Rapids water park. This is a place that the kids can take a dip in the lazy river, ride the water slides, and have a great time while mom and dad lounge at a table and chair sipping a drink and catching up on the latest book or Facebook postings. 

Opened in 2011, with a bit of controversy, the park is none the less a hit with the kids. And the park is not all play either. There are some serious swimming lessons going on all summer. For around $50 bucks you can get around four hours of private swimming lessons or join a class for anywhere between $40 to $180 depending on the type of class. They even have certified Red Cross classes.

Water Park Fees and Options

Rexburg Rapids water park offers day many options for admittance. You can do a single day, a punch pass, or buy an unlimited season pass. Of course the more you buy, the better the price. And if you buy your tickets before May 1st you can get some serious discounts.

If you don't want to swim at the water park, you also have the option of entering as a non-swimmer. The day pass for this option is only about $3 bucks a person. 

We have personally spent many hours at the water park and our kids love it.  There are water slides, a climbing wall on the edge of the pool, a lap pool, a lazy river for floating, and a water playground with water dumping bucket. Take the time to go to Rexburg Rapids water park with your kids and you have a great time. We promise.

April 29, 2016

How to find a Real Estate Agent

Realtor shaking hands with a couple

Friends or Family – Ask your friends and family if they can recommend a real estate agent who they've worked with in the past, someone who is knowledgeable, has integrity, and is dedicated to protecting and promoting your interests.

Open Houses- It's a good way to meet agents, to see how they represent the seller and interact with potential buyers. It gives you the opportunity to observe from a a distance to decide if working with them would be a good fit. 

Interview Agents – Interview several agents before making a decision about which one would represent you in a professional manner.  These are a few essential questions you might want to ask.

  1. How long does it usually take your average client to sell their home?
  2. Do you sell real estate full time?
  3. Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors?
  4. How do you market real estate?

Internet - Internet marketing through websites, and social media is critical in a technology driven world.  A real estate agent with access to the Multiple Listing Service, a website for showcasing homes, a Facebook page for real estate and a web presence is essential when buying or selling a home. Many experienced Realtors also maintain Pinterest pages to help their clients with ideas.

Research – Do your research before you choose an agent, even if the agent was recommended by a friend. The right agent for one person may not be the right agent for you.  The internet is super helpful in this regard. Many sites will post reviews and comments that may help you make a decision.

April 29, 2016

Realtors vs Real Estate Agents


Realtors vs Real Estate Agents

Before I became involved in real estate I often wondered about the difference between realtors vs real estate agents.  It's a little confusing, so let me do my best to clarify.

Realtors -  A real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is licensed to use the Realtor logo and has received training beyond state requirements for becoming a sales agent. As a member of NAR a Realtor pledges to adhere to a strict code of ethics, which includes, but is not limited to, acting at all times with honesty and integrity. Realtors make a commitment to refrain from misrepresentation, exaggeration, and concealment of the facts, and to treat all parties with respect.

Real Estate Agent - As a prerequisite for selling or buying real estate on behalf of a customer, a person must be licensed as a real estate agent and work under a broker.  Requirements vary by state, but essentially a person must complete a certain number of educational hours in addition to passing a national and state test to become a real estate agent. In the state of Idaho all real estate agents and brokers must be registered with Idaho Real Estate Commission or IREC. You can look up a real estate agent or broker on the Idaho Real Estate Commission License Lookup system.

April 21, 2016

Why Do I Need A Real Estate Agent - Three Reasons

Young Couple with Real Estate Agent asking why they should work with a real estate agent

Asking "Why Do I Need A Real Estate Agent?"

With all of the online options for real estate emerging over the last two decades, some people are asking the question, "why do I need a real estate agent anymore?" This is actually a really good question that demands an answer. And there are some very compelling answers. The bottom line is that online real estate solves the problem of finding and marketing property, but does little for buyer or seller after a subject property is discovered. There are many aspects of a real estate transaction beyond finding and marketing where an experienced real estate agent will bring incredible value to the transaction. Here are three of them.


  1. Negotiation- Negotiation is probably the greatest benefit of a real estate agent. Your Real Estate Agent will negotiate on your behalf with your best interest in mind. Whether you're buying or selling, they represent you, and only you in all aspects of the real estate process. They can offer creative solutions and negotiation tactics, write up counter or contingency offers and walk you through the whole process. They can help you wade through inspection reports and then negotiate with the seller, buyer or contractor on items that need to be fixed prior to closing, and who will pay for them. Negotiations can be difficult, so sit back and let your real estate agent handle it using years of experience.

  2. Market Data -Get the most recent up-to-date data, including new property listings, comparisons and  benchmarks. A Real Estate Agent has access to the MLS or Multiple Listing Service which provides the most accurate and comprehensive information on each property.  For example, days on the market; listing history and how a home compares to other homes in the same neighborhood are vital pieces of information accessed through the MLS that can help in setting prices and making offers.

  3. Resources- Real Estate agents have a wealth of knowledge and resources to help you buy or sell a home. They know contractors, inspectors, appraisers, cleaning services, plumbers, title companies, and professionals who have a good reputation in the community. Other resources that may be available to you as a client include website and social media marketing and professional photos to accompany your listing, as well as open house services. 

These are just a few of the reasons why using a real estate agent can positively impact a real estate transaction both psychologically and financially. Statistics help to uncover just how important real estate agents are. A recent national poll uncovered that 92% of all for sale by owner properties eventually become listed by a real estate agent before they are sold. 


April 9, 2016

Hurry, The Idaho Homeowners Exemption Deadline Is Coming

Frustrated woman with her hands on the side of her head

Idaho Homeowners Exemption Property Tax Reduction

If you are reading this before the middle of April, and you recently purchased a home in Idaho that is your primary residence, don't click away. It could mean money in your pocket.

Many people that purchase a home in Idaho as their primary residence don't realize that they are eligible for a property tax reduction under the Idaho Homeowners Exemption. Sadly, even fewer people realize that this tax reduction is not automatic. You have to apply for it. It is not hard to do, but you have to do it before April 15th or you have to wait till the following year. This could mean big money in your pockets.  Sometimes hundreds of dollars.

You can read about this tax exemption on your local county website. For residents of Rexburg and Madison County, you can find the form here.

You can also read more details about Property Tax in Idaho.

The exemption filing date can vary based on holidays. Please check your county for the deadline date during the year you will file.

March 31, 2016

Covering the Basics of Homeowners Insurance

Home with fallen tree in front of it

Your home and belongings can be protected with reliable homeowners insurance.

Homeowners insurance is something that most people don’t even want to think about until they need it the most. But, understanding what is and isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance policy can mean the difference in being able to rebuild your home and replace your belongings.

A standard homeowners insurance policy should include these four types of coverage:

  • Coverage for the structure of the home: This part of a policy pays to repair or rebuild a home if it’s damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning, or other listed peril in the policy. It won’t pay for damage caused by a flood, earthquake – but these two policies can be purchased separately.

  • Coverage for personal belongings: Everything from furniture to clothes to sports equipment and other personal items are covered if they’re stolen or destroyed by a disaster. Trees, plants, and shrubs are also covered under standard homeowners insurance should they face fire, lightning, explosion, vandalism, and even falling aircraft. Personal items of high value are often excluded from this coverage (such as jewelry, furs, silverware), and will need a rider to protect their entire worth.

  • Liability protection: Liability covers against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that policyholders or family members cause to other people. It can pay for the cost of defending the policyholder in court, up to the policy limit. An umbrella insurance policy provides broader coverage, including claims for libel and slander, as well as higher liability limits.

  • Additional living expenses: This pays the additional costs of living away from home while it is being repaired due to a fire, storm, or listed disaster. This coverage can foot the bill of hotel rooms, restaurant meals, and other living expenses associated while the home is uninhabitable.

Are you ready to receive quality homeowners insurance that protects your house and belongings? Contact Bell Black Insurance to protect your home year-round in Oakley, Idaho Falls, Island Park, Driggs, Victor, Swan Valley, Ashton, Jackson, and Star Valley in Idaho!

March 17, 2016

Rexburg Home Appraisal

Rexburg Home Appraisal with money

Understanding real estate terms like home appraisal and home inspection can get a little confusing at times. They are very different in their approach and what they are used for in real estate. We hope that if you need a Rexburg home appraisal in the future, this information will help you understand what it is.

What Is A Home Appraisal

Unlike a home inspection, which is usually ordered by a home buyer to protect against costly maintenance and defect mediation, a home appraisal is ordered by lenders. When a bank considers giving you a loan, they want to know the value of the property you are going to buy with their money. It is only natural that the bank would want to make sure that you aren't paying someone $200,000 for a property that only has a value of $100,000. Why? Because the loan is secured with the property as collateral, meaning if at some point you default on the loan, the bank can sell the property to recoup their money. The house is held as collateral against the loan.

What Is An Appraiser

Lenders need a way of coming up with a value for a property so they can determine how much money they will loan. Since most of the decision makers for lending are usually far from the properties they are lending money for, they need local people who are trained in real estate appraisal to go out and create an appraisal for them. In most cases today, lenders will contact an appraisal management company who will then send out an independent appraiser. Lenders used to contact the appraisers directly, but due to new laws, lenders are prohibited to contact appraisers directly in most cases. This is a much contested process, but for the time being, anybody that want to work with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac lenders must play by the rules.

After the Appraisal

You can sit back and relax on this one. This is all in the hands of the lender you choose for your loan. They will order the appraisal, evaluate your financial strength, and then determine how much they are willing to loan you to purchase the property. If the appraisal comes in at or near the offer price of the house, most likely your deal is going to go through and you will be a happy home owner. On the other hand, sometimes the appraisal comes in lower than the offered price. In this case, the seller either needs to lower the price or you will need to come up with a larger down payment to make up the difference.