Join us on the Buzz today as we talk with Michelle Guth from Diversified Mortgage about reverse mortgage's and fixed incomes. Thom and Dave are also here to give you tips and tricks to preparing your home for fall and winter, as well as talking all about kitchen counter tops!

Seg 1

Dave: This is the Idaho Real Estate Buzz, I'm Dave Burnett along with Thom Dallman of CORE Group Realty. Coregrouprealty.com that is the website where you can go to find out about all the things we're talking about today and get information on homes, and on vendors, it's a great website. Coregrouprealty.com that is the website. And Thom, it really is a wealth of information to go to the website.

Thom: I think so, I've worked really hard to make sure that there's all kinds of information there between home listings to coming soons to blogs on ideas for your home, all the way to like you mentioned service providers, and people who we trust to help you out with your home improvement items or just getting your house ready for Winter or any of that stuff.

Dave: You know, just that lone, because if you don't really know who to go to, I mean, you can go eenie meenie and just pick them out of the phone book, but it's good to go to someone that you can get a reverence from that's really kind of what it is. These are people that you have used and they have proved themselves to be trustworthy.

Thom: Exactly, people who have worked with our clients in the past and have done a great job and we've got positive feedback from. Definitely people that we can trust and we wouldn't just throw anybody's out there without having some experience with them and so forth.

Dave: So that is a positive thing because I know a lot of people that start looking around their house this time of year thinking "Oh, it's getting colder I need to do this ... well look at that, now what do I do?" So it's a reference sources for you, that of course coregrouprealty.com and on that website, several things you can find. You can find homes that are listed, the featured homes, and the Coming Soon tab where you have several new listings!

Thom: My favorite tab for people because it does kind of give you that sneak peek preview into the homes that are coming on the market that we actually have coming on the market.

Dave: That nobody else has seen yet!

Thom: Yes, exactly! Nobody has seen it out there because it's not quite on the MLS yet they're still kind of going through some final touch up stuff, staging, things like that. Getting it ready before they actually get it on the market.

Dave: What do you got?

Thom: We've got three of them! Two of them in Middleton so we'll start with those. One of them is at 523 Halverson Street in Middleton. This is a 3 bedroom 2 bath that's a nice single level so no stairs to climb. It's 1,162 square feet with a 2 car garage on .19 of an acre. It's got a family room, fully fenced, irrigation to the yard, so no heavy water bills during the Summer months. This one is actually coming on the market at $138,000.

Dave: I'm trying to remember where the county line runs. Middleton, is that Ada county or Canyon?

Thom: That is actually considered Canyon county.

Dave: So it's close but really if you have not been out that direction, I mean Star is fully developed and Middleton is now really turning into a nice community outside of the Boise area. School district is growing I know they're talking about that sports wise they might be moving up in ranking instead of 5A that it has grown enough that it really is just a booming area. A boomtown.

Thom: Yes it's a nice attractive area, especially for those people who still really kind of want to be close enough to town but want kind of that small town feel. Middleton, Star, those communities, and Kuna is another one of those that are just great communities that are expanding but still staying small enough and quaint enough for people to feel like they're in just a nice neighborhood home!

Dave: And Middleton, that also might qualify for that ...

Thom: RD, rural development. Yes, there are sections of Middleton that do apply for Rural Development.

Dave: Michelle Guth can tell you more about that!

Thom: Exactly! We've had segments about that.

Dave: Because it's a chance to really save some money.

Thom: Yeah! Because it's 100% financing so with minimal to almost nothing down for people so it's a great opportunity for people to not have to come up with a lot of money for financing.

Dave: The good news is, not one, but two homes on the Coming Soon tab in Middleton!

Thom: Yes we've got a second one that is on 1359 Raptor Drive in Middleton. This one is actually a little bit bigger. It's 2,117 square feet. It's a 4 bedroom 2.5 bath with a 3-car garage. It is a 2 story on .28 of an acre. Built in 2004, once again irrigation so you don't have to worry about those heavy water bills and save water. On a corner lot fully fenced, nice family room and a den office. This house is 2,117 square foot house is coming on at $180,000. A really good price point for a nice large house, 4 bedroom 2.5 bath.

Dave: So if you've thought about moving out towards the country or out of the city area, this is perfect opportunity to move to Middleton.

Thom: Yes, wonderful community.

Dave: Which is, if you're working in Nampa or Caldwell and we know there are so many different companies that are moving out there, there's a lot of jobs that direction, it used to be everybody commuted from Canyon County into Boise but now it is kind of going everywhere.


Thom: Yeah, Canyon county has done a really good job of developing and putting things in especially up there by the freeway and the Karcher Mall and stuff there's so many businesses and so many different spots that you can go find employment so definitely a wonderful option.

Dave: It is, and a good option. Move to Middleton work in Canyon County. What's the other the 3rd one you have listed?

Thom: So the 3rd one is actually in South Boise, so it's kind of back there behind the new Albertsons that took over Paul's space on Lake Hazel and 5 mile. Out that direction, this house is located at 6970 S. Southdale Avenue. It's on a nice corner lot which a canal running beside it so it's got a lot of privacy on this lot. It's a 3 bed 1 bath with 1,352 square feet on .41 of an acre so a nice larger lot. Once again, another single level. They've converted the garage into a living space so you've got a nice big family room to hang out in as well as it's got full sprinklers throughout with irrigation available for that. And this is listed at $160,000 for that 1,352-single level home. 3 bedroom 1 bath, South Boise.

Dave; Again, maybe you own a home but maybe you're thinking about an investment home to get as a rental perhaps. This would be a good one to take a look at.

Thom: This is definitely one you could consider for a rental. Like I said, nice price point with the option there for a large yard and so forth for tenants but yeah. Definitely something to consider and think about.

Dave: Now if you want to see these, they're on the Coming Soon tab there at coregrouprealty.com. They have not been shown or listed with the multiple listing yet so it's kind of your excuse to look at these homes before they go but you gotta hurry because it won't be too long before they'll be on the market for everybody. You have a featured home that you want to talk about?

Thom: Yeah! We are just listing a really amazing townhome over in Champion Park, it's actually in Champion Village which is a part of Champion Park but in that subdivision. This is a beautiful 3 bedroom 2 bath house with 1,892 square feet. It's a nice townhome they've gone completely all out with this. It's got granite, hardwood floors, they've got a conditioned crawl space just to help with your heating and cooling. He's even gone so far as to put in plantation shutters throughout the house to give it that really nice feel. It's on a huge ... not a huge lot sorry it's a .18 acre lot but it's on a corner in a cul-de-sac so it's that pie shape so the backyard is huge.

Dave: And you've got a bit of privacy that way in the cul-de-sac.

Thom: Oh yeah, for sure, and the really nice thing about this subdivision and this lot in particular is the HOA is only $500 a year, but that covers your landscaping. They take care of your landscaping throughout the year for you.


Dave: Can I adopt them into my HOA?

Thom: Right? Yeah so it's really super convenient now this house is listed at $295,000 for that 1,895 3 bedroom 2 bath townhome. Once again just a great location it's really super convenient it's right there behind the Kohl's on Ustick and Eagle Road kind of off of Ustick, kind of back there. It's back there in the middle of the subdivision.

Dave: Lowe's and such ...

Thom: Yes, back there so there's plenty of shopping, plenty of restaurants there to go to and so forth. Really super convenient to everything there on Eagle Road.

Dave: And that's on the featured listing.

Thom: That is on our featured listing, it's just listed. Once again that address is 3251 North Pankratz Way and that is p-a-n-k-r-a-t-z way.

Dave: Oh boy!

Thom: Ha yes one of those names! But really a great option for a townhome especially having a single level where you don't have to do any of the lawn maintenance and have all the upgrades!

Dave: I guess there's so many streets now you can't just name everything Smith or Jones street. I always loved it. And I live on one of those streets, I'll say the name of the street I live on and they look at me like "What? Are you going to try to spell that for me?" And even when you try to spell it out ...

Thom: They still kind of figure out a way to mess it up a little bit.

Dave: So here's my recommendation if you go buy this home, get the little pre-printed stickers and labels! All this can be found by the way at coregrouprealty.com those are the new things that are going on. There are a lot of new things going on. One thing I noticed when I came over today to CORE Group Realty to record this show I heard on the news that sales nationally are up 3% but inventory is down. Here locally it's a little opposite of that.

Thom: Yes, September was actually a little bit down, if I'm not mistaken about 1%. Which is negligible. So it's not too bad, there's still a lot of demand out there. I know October has picked up at least for us as a company there's a lot of buyers out there still looking to get into homes. We still have lots of registrations and so forth so October is picking up so I think we're going to see better numbers in October but yeah September did kind of drag behind a little bit compared to the nation.

Dave: If you want to get a hold of Thom and the folks here at CORE Group Realty 933-7777 is the phone number or coregrouprealty.com that is the website where you can find all the things we've talked about and a whole lot more. We'll continue this is the Idaho Real Estate Buzz on 580 KIDO

Seg 2

Dave: This is the Idaho Real Estate Buzz, I'm Dave Burnett and Michelle Guth joins us from Diversified Mortgage Equal Opportunity Lender. Michelle, welcome back to the show and as Thom and I always talk about, it is money that makes the whole deal work.

Thom: The most important part.

Dave: Or you don't get the home deal.

Michelle: Good day gentlemen, glad to be back.

Dave: So there's a lot of ads that you see out for different products when it comes to real estate that sometimes I just don't know. There's a guy who comes on TV all the time and I'll zip past it on the DVR but he's talking about reverse mortgages. Is a reverse mortgage, is that a good thing or is that not a good thing?

Michelle: A reverse mortgage can be an incredible product dependent upon each consumer's specific situation. I'm glad you bring it up because there are so many misconceptions about the program when it rolled out decades ago there were not the number of safe guards in place that are not surrounding a reverse mortgage with respect to the government rules surrounding it.

Dave: Before we get in to it, explain what a reverse mortgage is.

Michelle: OK so a reverse mortgage is intended for a homeowner that is age 62 or older, you do have to have a large amount of equity in your home and the benefit of it, unlike a standard mortgage which is considered a forward mortgage, a reverse mortgage works just the opposite. What that means is that on a traditional mortgage you're making payments every single month and you're slowly watching that mortgage balance decrease. On a reverse mortgage, you do not make a mortgage payment. So over time, your mortgage is going in reverse, it is growing in size but you're not required to make a mortgage payment so it can be life altering for many people on a fixed income or people that even want to maximize one of their biggest assets which is their equity in the home which is not performing for them.

Dave: Is this something that somebody who ... let me ask a question then you can clean it up for me. If you don't have kids, it's a good idea but if you have kids and you want to leave something to your kids, that wouldn't be the choice then, right?

Michelle: Yes and no. Again, good comment. So most of the consumers that I have worked with, their children are the ones saying "You need to go talk to a reverse mortgage specialist." So yes you do lose some equity in the home but there is a flip side to a reverse mortgage, another misconception which is that the bank owns the home once you get a reverse mortgage. It's no different than a traditional mortgage. The bank has an interest in the property but it's still your property. It's vested in your name. So for the heirs, for example let's say we had a consumer that was in a reverse mortgage for 40 years and they exceeded the value of the home and were in a negative equity position. The heirs have the benefit of stating that we have elected not to retain the property. They call the servicer and can state "Go ahead and foreclose upon the property, we do not want to retain it." It does not go against the asset value of the estate. So the heirs have no legal responsibility to take over that debt and have to cover any negative deficiency in the equity. Now on the flip side, if the individual passed and the heirs wanted to pull that equity they still have the capability of selling the home and pulling out any remaining equity for the estate. So best of both worlds.

Dave: So they just subtract what has been paid back.

Michelle: Just like a traditional mortgage, exactly.

Dave: Alright, OK so that kind of makes sense then. So I guess for Diversified Mortgage, if somebody is interested, you've gotta be over 62, you probably need what percentage should be in equity then?

Michelle: It depends on the age, there are several variables. We need to actually put it into a calculation system to determine that. Rule of thumb probably 40-50% equity in a home for us to be able to make the numbers work. Now as they grow in age, it is a product that is based off life expectancy so you need less equity if you're an older consumer wanting to get a reverse mortgage.

Dave: So probably a vampire shouldn't really look into it.

Michelle: No, they're the first that probably should because they could live there forever and not have to worry about it!

Dave: Happy Halloween. So I guess, you know, because you see the ads for them all the time. And I've often wondered whether this is something that should really be looked into or not. But if you're on a fixed income, you're older, you're on a fixed income and suddenly you're just not making it and there's no other way for you to make money, it's a good way for you to eliminate that house payment and be able to continue to live in the house and just have more money to live on.

Michelle: Oh it can be life altering. I can honestly say every program I've ever done has been life altering for my client because they are on such a limited fixed income. We touched on it in past segments but one scenario I love to talk about is a gal that had built her dream home with her husband. He passed away unexpectedly and when he passed, she lost a good portion of their benefits, their monthly income source. So as a result she couldn't carry the mortgage payment any longer. As a result with that reverse mortgage she was able to pay off the reverse mortgage, decrease that expense monthly and the amount of money she had coming in, she could live comfortably because she could completely wipe out that mortgage debt and retain the property.

Thom: That's great.

Dave: So is this something that if somebody is in a position and they don't know what to do that they can come in and counsel with you and see if this is something that is an option for them?

Michelle: Absolutely. And the other thing I love about the reverse mortgage is that it is a program that does require that they go through housing counseling so there again are protections in place for the consumer. They have to sit through an hour counseling course to make sure they have a clear understanding of the product to make sure their best interest is at heart.

Dave: Anything else that can be done with reverse mortgages?

Michelle: Oh the options are endless. So, again, I'm glad you asked Dave!

Dave: OK, we'll touch on it!

Michelle: So again, not only can it be used as a tool to pay off a mortgage to decrease their monthly debt, it can also be used as an income stream. So there are different things they can do. They can do a fixed rate option where they will do a full disbursement of the lending limit that's available on the home.

Dave: What does that mean in English?

Michelle: OK so for example just for argument's sake, let's say the house was worth $200,000 and based on age we determined their lending limit was $105,000. That $105,000 minus expenses would be fully dispersed to the consumer in total at any given time.

Dave: A lump sum of money.

Michelle: A lump sum of money. The nice thing with it, another change is does that impact my social security or Medicare? If it is Medicare of social security it has no impact on your benefits whatsoever. It is not considered an income stream for social security and Medicare purposes.

Dave: So when they give you that lump sum so are you free to invest or do with it what you need to or want to?

Michelle: It's your funds to do with as you choose, absolutely. So, the other option I love is in many cases we pay off the mortgage and if there's remaining equity they can take that equity and leave it in the form of a line of credit so they can access that line of credit if and when they need the funds. The line of credit on this product, unlike a traditional home equity line of credit, is that it has a growth potential. So over time, that line of credit is increasing so they can advance those funds down the road if they need it. So they have income potential growth on that line of credit to advance those funds down the road.

Dave: Well that really works for a lot of seniors who may be in a situation where we talk healthcare, not to talk politics but we talk healthcare and that there may be something that might arise that they're not covered for but if they had that lump sum of money there that they could access it whether or not it's for a care facility or whether it's for some sort of procedure that amount of money is there and accessible to them to take care of that.

Michelle: Correct. So one thing in bringing that up, is it does have to be retained as their primary residence. So for example if they were going in to a long term facility that loan is called due but they do work with the consumer to give them time to sell and liquidate the property. Where I think it's an added value is even if there's not a mortgage in place they have the ability to set up a line of credit or they could do a monthly income stream. So I have a consumer right now that is doing this product for the reason you mentioned which is excess medical costs. He has a prescription that costs upwards of $700 a month which is eating up the bulk of their social security. It's just a travesty what so many seniors are having to pay on these medical expenses on a fixed income so we've set this individual up to have an income stream where it is a line of credit. They can advance it there is a hardship or something that pops up they need to advance the funds but for now we're just doing a monthly distribution of $700 a month because there isn't an immediate need for those assets. As a result, I don't want them to take a lump sum and have the interest accrue if they're not using those funds but it's there and available if they need it.

Dave: Michelle Guth with us with Diversified Mortgage and Thom if I might say, hopefully she's not listening, she's really smart!

Thom: Yes, she knows her stuff for sure!

Dave: And I'll say this, for those without the video portion of today's show, you have no notes on this. You're just reeling this out of your mind. It just amazes me! Because I've never heard of these things, as far as how this works so I'm impressed.

Michelle: Keep talking Dave, I like it!

Thom: This is the reason why she's one of our preferred lenders because of the wealth of knowledge that she has and her team all are so knowledgeable and helpful with everybody. It's a huge benefit too.

Dave: By the way, if you'd like to talk to Michelle and her team, what's the phone number to call?

Michelle: 853-7878.

Dave: Of course, you can always find it listed on coregrouprealty.com because you may be driving and not remember that, but you might be saying "Shut up Dave and give us the phone number so we can call" because I just see a wealth of opportunities for seniors who might be in a situation where they need some cash and they're thinking "Uh oh, we're going to have to go hit the kids up for a loan" or "We're going to have to do this." That is an option for them to remain independent.

Michelle: Absolutely.

Dave: And to be able to keep living a good lifestyle.

Michelle: Well and like we talked about, it is one of the biggest assets that many of our consumers have and it's a non-performing asset. It's great to have the peace of mind that if you have a home free and clear that you don't have that monthly payment but if you're still strapped on a monthly basis why not have that asset work for you knowing you have those benefits with the ability to pay it off, sell the home and then the heirs can still get the remaining equity. 

Dave: Well let me ask you this question. If let's say you outlive let's say you loaned a big lump sum of money and you outlive that expectancy and you go past it, they're not going to kick you out of your home. That's always something that people say "Well they'll kick you out of your home!"

Michelle: Correct, absolutely not. That's where I was saying you absolutely cannot outlive the mortgage. So if you far surpass the equity in that property, you live in there for perpetuity. Until you vacate the home, you stay there with no expectation of re-payment on that loan until you vacate the home.

Dave: So the lender in a sense is taking a gamble saying "Odds are, you will live this long."

Michelle: Correct.

Dave: If you do it, you beat the odds and the lender is taking that, they're taking the stance that this is the time frame that this works in so they're kind of taking that risk.

Michelle: Correct, and that is why the program I'm referring to is a government insured product because under the FHA program the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. They are paying a funding fee just like you would under a standard FHA mortgage and that's an insurance for the government in the event they do have to pay off that mortgage that's why you're paying that up front funding fee so it's a pretty small price to pay knowing that you have that flexibility and the peace of mind knowing that if you are in a negative equity position your heirs aren't having to worry about paying that deficit.

Dave: Michelle, if somebody wants to get a hold of you again at Diversified, what's the phone number?

Michelle: 853-7878.

Dave: And your website!

Michelle: dmgloans.com!

Dave: Fascinating. Reverse mortgages. Now when I see the ads, I'll know well, maybe that's a good thing. You can talk to Michelle and the crew at Diversified to find out more about that. We'll continue on the other side, this is the Idaho Real Estate Buzz here on 580 KIDO.

Seg 3

Dave: This is the Idaho Real Estate Buzz, I'm Dave Burnett along with Thom Dallman of CORE Group Realty. CORE with a "C," coregrouprealty.com or you can call 933-7777 and Thom, there's a customer service agent standing by to answer those phone calls.

Thom: We always have someone on the phones ready to answer, you get a live person every time you call so definitely someone there to answer whatever question you have. Anything real estate related, some things not so much real estate related we get every once in a while.

Dave: The nice thing is, and I guess I say this, I guess it's a nice thing, they are not a real estate agent, they are not licensed so they are not going to sell you a home and some people don't want that pressure. It's like "Uuuugh I really don't want to talk to a real estate agent, he's going to make me do something" but they're there to help negotiate the website, answer any questions you have about CORE Group or to get you in touch with Thom or any of the other great agents here at CORE Group Realty.

Thom: Yeah we are just here to guide you in whatever way you need to go in process and where you're at; determining what's the best for you, even if you’re just calling to find out what's the best service provider for something. We have that availability too.

Dave: And I say this and I can say this because I am not part of CORE Group Realty, but there are some real estate agents out there, where they're going to pressure hand the contract to sign a 6-month deal where "We'll sell your house and you're committed to us for 6 months" but you know, I know with CORE a) there's not that pressure and b) if you're not happy with the job CORE is doing ...

Thom: Let us know. We're not going to hold you to a contract if you're unhappy with any of our services. We'd rather let you go and let you find someone that might be a better fit if that's possible. I feel like we're a really good fit for almost everybody but...

Dave: No, you do encourage people to come interview, find out what it is that CORE offers, what you want as far as social media for advertising that home, whether it's traditional media or whether it's like on this program. We had three Coming Soons earlier in the show, that's advertising for these people that you get from CORE that's just part of the service, part of the deal.

Thom: Free advertising!

Dave: I would encourage you if you are thinking about selling your home or thinking about buying, to call CORE. Interview them, talk to the folks here and see what they have to offer.

Thom: For sure, I think it's so important especially for a major investment like this to find that perfect person, that perfect fit just like you would if you were an employer looking for an employee to work for you. You want to interview multiple people and find that right fit for that person that is going to work for you. There's a lot of agents out there to pick from and just, once again, not everybody fits the mold, not everybody has the same availability of tools and resources to advertise your home so it's important to ask that.

Dave: Well and I would think when it comes to buying and selling a home, even within the company, you may not personality wise hit it off with the person that you first talk. You might be like "Oh my gosh they drive me crazy" and there might be a better fit and that's where you come in and talk to them and say "This person may be a better fit for you, they just fit your personality better and there's no feelings hurt."

Thom: I've had those phone calls! We've chatted with agents and said it's just not quite the right fit, let's move it over to another agent within the company that might be a little bit better of a fit. It happens!

Dave: So that is my recommendation for CORE. You don't have to sign a deal, but come at least interview and talk and find out what they have to offer for you in buying and selling a home.

Thom: Exactly.

Dave: Some of the things that are going on this fall, it's that time of year, I know at my house we turned the furnace on for the first time last week.

Thom: Just happened this last week, turned it on and got that little burning smell of all the dust and stuff that's accumulated in the furnace.

Dave: It is important, and I would imagine CORE can recommend somebody to, if you need maintenance done, even if it's just vacuuming out, changing the filters, if you don't feel comfortable doing that yourself, you have somebody that can take care of that.

Thom: Yeah our service providers over at Advanced Heating and Cooling do an amazing job. They are affordable, they come out, they get your furnace kind of kicked up and raring ready to go, make sure there's no issues. Now's the time of year that you can have little issues for example house fires and stuff like that.

Dave: That's not a little issue!

Thom: Yeah! It can be a little issue, it can be a big issue, depends on how far it gets! But yeah I mean, you're kicking on the furnace for the first time, furnaces usually have flames in it, if the coil is off, if the filter is not in the right spot, what not, anything could conceivably happen so you just really want to always make sure that you're home when you're turning on your furnace for the first time that you're keeping an eye on the furnace to make sure there's nothing wrong or nothing kicks in or happens.

Dave: Well you know, you don't think about your furnace until you need it, and it's a big deal and we had, maybe 4 years ago now, turned the furnace on for the first time it fired up, a gas furnace you know, went out into flames, everything looks good, the fan's running alright, I come back in and after a little bit, the house is just sweltering hot. It wasn't turning off. Yeah a little problem ... it was like "OK it's like 80 degrees in this house" and it's just humming along out there so we had to have it serviced and fortunately it was mid-October when we did it so we did get it serviced but you need to do that. Fire is a concern and not to quote somebody from the Wizard of Oz, but you know, here my little pretty! It's a scary thing for a homeowner.

Thom: Yeah it is! It can be so damaging and cause so much havoc throughout the house. Even a small fire as we learned from one of our service providers over at Surf Pro, the toxic fumes that come along with the fires that we don't think about, even a small fire can spread throughout the house, those fumes and stuff. They can be detrimental to your health, so it's important to make sure that you're being safe and thinking of those safety things. It's the season! Decorations.

Dave: Yes and this time of year, there's other things too.

Thom: Yes we're in Halloween right now, so we've got the pumpkins being set out with the candles in them, and as those pumpkins dry, they become somewhat flammable with live flames in them. Decorations, light fixtures, the light bulbs the string lights that you put for decoration and stuff and then you put these cobwebs, those fake cobwebs ... there's potential for some hazard there. Definitely want to make sure that you're keeping an eye on anything like that.

Dave: Yes and if you have children, especially little boys, we're fascinated with fire. For the ladies listening right now. Let me go ahead and give you this tip. There's something about a 10-year-old boy and fire, that I don't think there's a 10-year-old boy in the world that hasn't been fascinated by fire. It just happens so just be aware that with kids there is that fascination. You get your corn stalks and your hay and stuff, make sure that is all away from the flames and that everything is supervised.

Thom: Yeah it's so easy to just get a little bit carried away when you're putting up decorations and get like you said that cornstalk a little too close to the stove and next thing you know you're cooking dinner and something's on fire!

Dave: Yeah that is not good! The other thing that kind of happens this time of year, sometimes people start using candles more for decorations and just for ambiance in the house.

Thom: For ambiance, for some people actually use the candles, because you know we keep our doors closed in the Winter time, so the houses tend to get a little bit musky and what not so candles help to kind of scent up the rooms and stuff. So yeah candle safety is huge, especially if you're putting candles on low coffee tables, low end tables and stuff like that, that can be easily knocked over by little kids or by animals. I know my dog has a habit we're trying to break him of jumping on our coffee tables. So yeah you just never know what could knock over a candle so yeah just making sure your candles are in a safe secure spot.

Dave: And be mindful, I have a daughter that lit a candle here a couple weeks ago it was in the bathroom and left. She got about 4-5 blocks away and went "Uh oh!" turned around and put it out. Fortunately remembered, but just be mindful of what you're doing and it does pose a hazard.

Thom: Yep I've had a candle where I've lit a candle before I left for work and forgot about it and came home at the end of the day and it shattered because it got to hot and wax everywhere! Luckily it did not cause a fire or anything.

Dave: That was the worst of it.

Thom: Yes it was just wax but it could have been a lot worse of an issue.

Dave: Another thing to do if you did not do it recently, I always try to do this when seasons change and it officially goes from Summer to Fall, is to check the batteries in your smoke detector.

Thom: Oh yes very important. We talked about this a little bit and some house maintenance on a blog that we just did recently but yes going through and checking all your smoke detectors is a huge issue or important part of keeping up your house and so forth. There's actually a report out there that shows that 60% and this is kind of macabre a little bit but 60% of the home deaths that happen because of fire happen because of ineffective fire alarms or batteries dead in fire alarms so 60% of the deaths that happen in home fires is because the smoke detectors are not working. Huge, huge important part of your home ownership is making sure your fire detectors and that the batteries are replaced and so forth. Yeah, huge.

Dave: So make sure that you take care of all of these.

Thom: Yeah and it's also the time of season where people are starting up their fireplaces. It's one thing that I keep throwing out there that people don't think about is having that fireplace or chimney cleaned out. Make sure there's no soot or creosote stuck up in there that can catch on fire.

Dave: Bird nests.

Thom: Yeah, bird nests, you never know what happens during the Summer what can build in there and making sure that's cleaned out is a huge important necessary step when you're going into the fall and starting up your fireplaces.

Dave: One other thing to check, and this just dawned on me because we're talking about fireplaces, but we have a gas fireplace in our house which never is a problem, it ventilates on the side. But I had some people do some work around the house recently and they stacked some stuff up next to that vent.

Thom: Oh yes make sure those vents are cleared out!

Dave: If you don't get along the side of your house to see that, make sure that's checked and there's nothing leaned up against it.

Thom: Yeah and especially if you have kind of an older house those vents can come unhooked and so forth and animals or birds of squirrels like you said can get up in there and build nests in the Summertime. Make sure they're clear of debris and that no animal has been able to make any nests in there.

Dave: So if you celebrate Halloween, enjoy the season but make sure that you stay safe. You might want to consider using little LED lights instead of flames inside of your decorations. I think a lot of people are switching over to that which is a good idea. Enjoy the season coming up and stay safe, make sure that your furnace gets cleaned out whether you do it or you hire somebody to do it, make sure it gets vacuumed out, filters changed, and it is ready to go for the heating season ahead. We'll continue this is the Idaho Real Estate Buzz here on 580 KIDO.

Seg 4

Dave: This is the Idaho Real Estate Buzz, I'm Dave Burnett along with Thom Dallman of CORE Group Realty.  Coregrouprealty.com that is the website to go to. If you'd like to call 933-7777 if you want to go the old fashioned way and stop on by here on Emerald just up from the Boise Towne Square Mall off of Milwaukee so you can swing on by on the South side of the street.

Thom: Yes, please do, we're here 8-5 Monday through Friday, always have someone on duty if you have any real estate questions we have an agent here available to help if you don't want to talk to an agent, you just want to ask questions about anything else, we're here to help for that as well.

Dave: As a matter of fact, one of the agents that you have, custom builders Heather was in I think last week or two weeks ago to talk about the Parade of Homes which has just wrapped up.

Thom: Just wrapped up, yep! It was a really good season this year for the Fall parade. We had a lot of people come through, a lot of potential home buyers, a lot of people looking for new ideas for their home remodels and things like that. Definitely a lot of opportunity there, a lot of visibility out there for the builders and so forth.

Dave: Well I know one of the things that really can change the look of a house and again, the kitchen is so huge and so important for a home but one of the things that can really change the look of a home and make people happy and that is counter tops.

Thom: Counter tops, there's so many different kinds of counter tops right now!

Dave: You don't hear many people going into Home Depot and going "What's the latest in Formica?" You just don't hear that very much, but there are a lot of choices when it comes to what kind of counter tops to use.

Thom: Exactly, and the price ranges vary depending on materials and so forth but that's one of the nice things about the Parade of Homes is that you get to see all those different materials and different ways of using that stuff and the colors they come in and so forth. Everything from your laminates, granites, quartz services, all the way up to some of the newer trends in concrete counter tops and stainless steel counter tops as well.

Dave: Let's talk a little bit about those, you come in and say "Well it was a stone counter top" but that could mean a number of different things.

Thom: Oh yeah, because there are so many different kinds of stone, like are you talking about quartz? Are you talking about marble? Are you talking about ... I know that they have soapstone out there as well, that's one of those surfaces and stuff like that so there's definitely a wide variety of choices when it comes to stone.

Dave: Would you say when it comes to counter tops is granite probably the most popular or the most common?

Thom: Oh yes, granite is one of the most popular counter top choices because of the fact that it comes in such a wide range of colors and looks and edgings and stuff like that. Laminate and granite are really the top two sales for counter tops I would have to say that you see the most of.

Dave: Yeah and when it comes to granite, they're very functional but a couple of things to remember, they do need maintenance, they do have to be sealed and I recently heard somebody talk about this going "Well it's shiny" well no, that's polished. Polished is different than granite as far as sealing because though you can't see it, the granite does have little spaces of air in it and stuff can get trapped down in there and you can put a sealer in that hopefully I pronounce this right, micro-biological so it seals it to keep that stuff from getting in there. Polish does not mean sealed. So it does need a little bit of maintenance.

Thom: Yeah there's maintenance to it, but on the reverse side of it, the durability of granite is so much more. You can put your hot pans granite without causing any damage to it and stuff so that's the flip side of it is you got the durability and so forth but the con is that you do have to maintain it.

Dave: And I would imagine for you as a real estate agent and you show them a kitchen that's got granite in it, the comment I would assume is "Ooh, granite counter tops!"

Thom: Yeah, people like their granite counter tops that's for sure. It's definitely an upgrade in a house. Depending on the material that you choose, minimal cost, it is obviously a little more than laminate but they're so efficient right now and cost efficient. It's really a great choice and popular.

Dave: What are some of the other advantages say in quartz?

Thom: Quartz, sure! So quartz is similar to granite where it's kind of that resin and material that they put together to make the surfacing and it's an engineered stone so it's got the same pros as other engineered products where it's durability and long lasting and so forth. But on the con side of that, it is rather pricy, the durability only lasts as long as you maintain it and so forth, so there's more maintenance to quartz. But quartz can come in another wide variety of colors and be just as beautiful as granite.

Dave: I would imagine it has a different look than granite, most quartz is ... I don't want to say a little more "opaque" but you know, you can see through the stone more than you can granite. So it does have a unique look to it. You know and I kind of mocked it at the beginning but it is still a counter top that is used and that is Formica or a laminate of some sort put down which is the economical way to go but the days have changed a lot since mom and dad's Formica.

Thom: Well there are so many choices in those laminates and stuff you can use for your counter tops and get such a variety of looks from those different materials. Definitely laminates are way more advanced than what they used to be.

Dave: But the thing is, whatever you choose to do with your sink whether it's granite or stone, you're going to find there is a price to pay for it. It does get a little expensive. Now I know there are some manufactured counter tops that look like I guess you'd call them a faux granite that look a lot like it that you can feel along hte edge and feel that they're not really stone but they really give that appearance as well so that's something you can talk to your builder about as well.

Thom: Oh yeah, I would definitely suggest if you're looking for new counter tops, just go visit some of these counter top stores, some of the tile stores, some of the quartz, granite, Corian, solid surface places. There's such a variety out there and there are just so many different price ranges depending on your budget and stuff and just go in there with your budget in mind and tell them "This is what I need to stick to" and see what's available in that range. Those solid surface counter tops that are available as well, those made of acrylics and polyesters and so forth that really kind of give a new look for it especially if you're going for that modern contemporary look it can give you some really good variety there as well.

Dave: Another option we did not talk about yet, and that is ceramic tile and that is something you can do as well. A couple of things to think of on this and I'm speaking from experience, we have ceramic tiles and ours kind of an Italian look for ceramic tiles. You need to be careful with your grout, it needs to be I think there's several brands out there, one is a fusion which is permanently treated with a sealant. You need to make sure those stay sealed so they don't stain, they don't discolor.

Thom: Avoid lighter grouts because that can lean towards staining really easily or looking very dirty and so forth.

Dave: I've got my hand raised, we found that out, so you may have to re-grout and re-seal and do that so be aware of that. And there are several products out there than can put a nice good shine on it as well as a finish on it to seal that when it comes to your ceramic tiles.

Thom: Yeah tile counter tops are a great way to go, once again, if you're looking at granite but maybe you can't quite afford a solid granite counter top, they do have granite tiles that are really  popular as well to do, but yeah making sure those grout lines are as small as possible and as dark as possible and sealed as well as making sure that whoever lays that tile down is really proficient at keeping them level because there's nothing worse than having tiles that are kind of uneven and then you're tipping over your glass as you're trying to slide them across the counter top. Some things to keep in mind if you're doing tile, making sure that stuff is level.

Dave: So if you're, I don't think there's too many people installing granite themselves, but so make sure you check with your installer, your professionals on that and if you want to talk to Thom or any of the folks here at CORE Group Realty, they can help make some recommendations for you too as far as where to go but it really can make a difference in your home whether you're living in it, or you want to prepare it to sell it. That "wow" factor, it is huge.

Thom: Yeah and there are some new materials coming out too, concrete's becoming a really popular way to do your counter tops. Making a form and actually having concrete counter top.

Dave: But don't think of your sidewalk when you think, this is a polished concrete.

Thom: This is a polished concrete and they usually stain it and give it some really beautiful colors and textures to it, really kind of a fun way to go in a different look that really kind of creates a different look for your kitchen. Do you really want it to be set apart from other kitchens?

Dave: And then one you mentioned as well that I'll mention, if you're somebody that considers yourself quite the cook, chef as it were, stainless steel counter top, that's what they do in restaurants, something you might want to consider.

Thom: Yes stainless steel is one of my favorites, I actually have a stainless steel counter top in our house and absolutely love it. It's so durable, it's so easy to cook on and to use without having to worry about damaging it too much, it's a great material. Ours we decided ... you have a couple choices to either have it buffered with decorative scratches in it so it looks like it's on purpose, or we decided to leave it plain and as the years have kind of progressed, now all the scratches, we scratch it up ourselves and we have little spots where we know "Oh this is where we scratched it doing this event" and this and that. It really kind of has created kind of a centerpiece in our kitchen with those circular marks and scratches and stuff like that. I know it sounds kind of weird, but really ...

Dave: Well I mean, conversation piece, "How did that happen?" "Oh well we had that Thanksgiving dinner that one time, there was that one time the dog was jumping up on the coffee table?"

Thom: But I don't want to make it sound like this stainless steel flat surface with just a couple spots here and there, the whole surface is pretty much where the scratches have created a really unique pattern and it looks really neat.

Dave: Well, you can pay to have them put in there or you can just put them there naturally.

Thom: Exactly, that's what we chose

Dave: So a few ideas for you if you're looking to sell your home or looking to live in it and make a chance, you can really put the wow factor in it whether it's granite, whether it's a manufactured laminate or stainless steel, what a way to go. This is the Idaho Real Estate Buzz, we get together each and every Saturday to do this at 2:00 and we'll do it again next Saturday but we want to thank you. You can always listen back to the programs if you just caught part of it or didn't understand what he was talking about or we didn't make sense, you can listen back online at coregrouprealty.com those will get posted here not too far off in the near future and you can check that back. And if ever you have a question, you can always call 933-7777. Thom, thank you so much again!

Thom: Thank you!

Dave: We'll do it next Saturday, it is the Idaho Real Estate Buzz here on 580 KIDO.


Michelle Guth
Diversified Mortgage


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