Aug 15 2017
By Jim Vogel of
For many Baby Boomers, home ownership is sacrosanct and a signal of security and success. However, when it comes time to downsize or head off to that retirement dream home, you may find yourself wondering if it makes more sense to rent, rather than buy. The answer to that question will be different for everyone, but there are some pros and cons to consider for either option.
The conveniences of renting a home can bring a sigh of relief to retirees who have spent decades mowing the lawn, calling the plumber, and paying for unexpected repairs. Suddenly, dealing with a leaky faucet is as simple as calling the landlord. Plus, modern apartment complexes come with a bevy of amenities from on-site gyms to club rooms, so you can keep an active lifestyle without going far.

However, living in a rental also means you won't be able to adapt your home to meet your needs. If you suffer a fall and need home modifications to get around safely, you're going to hit some roadblocks. If you have pets, your housing options will be limited and you may be faced with exorbitant pet fees.

Renting also leaves the possibility that your landlord will raise your rent, making your home suddenly unaffordable, or that the property will be sold and you'll have to find a new place to move to.
Most retirees favor buying over renting thanks to the security of knowing you'll have your home as long as you want or need it.  A home you own can be adapted to meet aging-in-place needs, and while you'll have to pay for any updates or repairs yourself, you know they'll be completed to your exact specifications.

And owning a home doesn't have to mean extensive maintenance needs. Many seniors choose condo living to minimize yard work, and paying for a landscaper or cleaning help is affordable when you opt to downsize.

However, many seniors are disappointed to discover how far the money from the sale of their previous home will go in today's market. If you've lived in your home for years without making updates, it's not going to sell for as much as your neighbor's remodeled house. So even if you're downsizing, it could be a challenge to find a home that meets your needs within your budget.

But buying a home late in life doesn't have to mean paying for it outright. While the thought of a  mortgage in retirement makes many people uneasy, it can actually be a smart financial decision. Since mortgage rates are low and you can deduct mortgage interest (along with property taxes) from your taxes, making a substantial down payment and investing the rest can leave you coming out ahead.
How to Decide?
The right choice between renting and buying will be different for everyone. To figure out what's best for you, weigh your priorities, finances (including cost for storage if you need to rent a unit as you downsize), and how long you plan to stay in the home.

If you hope to leave a home to your children, that's a big checkmark in the pro column. However, if you don't have the cash for a down payment and would need to tap into your retirement funds, buying may not be a wise financial decision. Moreover, if you don't expect to stay in your new home for at least seven years, or you're moving to a new state in retirement, it may be wise to rent until you're ready to settle.

No matter which way you're leaning, consider hiring a professional to help assess your finances and housing needs so you can make the decision that lets you make the most of your retirement.
Aug 10 2017

If you are like most homeowners, you haven't read your homeowners insurance policy cover to cover. Obviously because it's very boring and you have better things to do ... like cleaning out your junk drawer, reorganizing your closet so your clothes are in order by color, or creating a spreadsheet of all things you would rather be doing than reading your homeowners policy cover to cover. Am I right? Well lucky for you, we've compiled a list of 5 items that typically aren't covered!



On almost every homeowners policy, flood damage or other loss caused by flooding are not covered. Only if you are located in a flood zone is flood insurance required by your lender and if you don't have a mortgage, it's likely even if you are in a flood zone that you don't carry flood insurance!

Expensive Jewelry & Personal Property

Many policies will cover your personal belongings up to $1,000. Anything that is valued above that you will need to procure a separate rider to cover the rest of your items.


A standard policy typically will either limit coverage for damage caused by mold or completely exclude it! You may be able to add an endorsement to expand coverage but it comes at a cost.

Sewer backups

As our sewer lines grow older, sewage backups have become more frequent. Older pipes aren't able to handle the amount of storm water we've seen recently. Additionally, pipes can become blocked with tree roots that work their way into small cracks or joints in the piping. Consider an extra rider for sewer backups if you're at all worried about the risk.


Many policies don't cover trampolines, and many companies will cancel or issue a non-renewal if they find out you have one! If a homeowner is sued as a result of injury involving the trampoline, the insurance company would not cover these costs.

Aug 09 2017
Have you seen this kid? Joshua Emara is a 13 year-old local celebrity who is a dancing violin player. He plays (and dances) each week at the Saturday Market downtown.
Influenced by Lindsey Stirling and Madonna, Joshua entertains Boise's downtown crowd with his energetic and uplifting performances. 

"It's never been for the money ... I perform to bring joy, happiness, and excitement to people."
He's got a lot of passion packed into a little body and he's not afraid to leave it all out on the street during his performances. It's exhilarating to watch someone with so much passion do something they love, especially one so young!
Aug 08 2017
I make my living herding Jill and sometimes it's like managing a squirrel at a rave and her tail is on fire! All kidding aside, I am the Executive Assistant and I am basically the nut that holds us all together. 
Before joining the JGA team, I was the Director of Property Management and Maintenance at a small brokerage in Meridian for almost 8 years. I was born and raised in Idaho, and my whole family is still here and we're all very close. I am happily married and we have a two-and-a-half year old daughter named Quinn. She's extremely strong-willed and loves kissing snakes in our backyard, much to my dismay ... snakes are not my favorite!  
  • What is your favorite life motto or quote? "It turns out that being an adult is mostly just googling how to do stuff." - Confucius
  • What is your favorite thing to do in Boise and why? Idaho Shakespeare Festival for sure, I just love it out there! The landscaping is amazing and I've loved every show I've gone to. My favorite was The Complete Works of Shakespeare, so funny!
  • What is your favorite place in the WORLD and why? Paradise Point camp in McCall, Idaho. I went there as a camper in the 3rd grade all the way into my early 20's as a camp counselor ... and then I got married up there! It's a stunning lake-front camp on Payette Lake with little cabins with no electricity. Campers write their names in the cabins and I can find mine in all of them starting from 3rd grade!
  • If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it? "Reason My Kid is Crying #978: A Cautionary Tale of a Broken Graham Cracker." 
  • You've been given an elephant. You can't give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant? Sounds like I'd be moving to the jungle with my new elephant! 
Aug 31 2017
Before you put your home up for sale, use the right comparable sales to find the perfect price.
A house is comparable to yours in price if it's in the same neighborhood, on a similar street, and in the same school district.
How much can you sell your home for? Probably about as much as the neighbors got, as long as the neighbors sold their house in recent memory and their home was just like your home.
Knowing how much homes similar to yours, called comparable sales (or in real estate lingo, comps), sold for gives you the best idea of the current estimated value of your home. The trick is finding sales that closely match yours.

What makes a good comparable sale?
Your best comparable sale is the same model as your house in the same subdivision - and it closed escrow last week. If you can't find that, here are other factors that count:
Location: The closer to your house the better, but don't just use any comparable sale within a mile radius. A good comparable sale is a house in your neighborhood, your subdivision, on the same type of street as your house, and in your school district.
Home type: Try to find comparable sales that are like your home in style, construction material, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, basement (having one and whether it's finished), finishes, and yard size.
Amenities and upgrades: Is the kitchen new? Does the comparable sale house have full A/C? Is there crown molding, a deck, or a pool? Does your community have the same amenities (pool, workout room, walking trails, etc.) and homeowners association fees?
Sale sweeteners: Did the comparable sale sellers give the buyers downpayment assistance, closing costs, or a free television? You have to reduce the value of any comparable sale to account for any deal sweeteners.
Agents can help adjust price based on insider insights
Even if you live in a subdivision, your home will always be different from your neighbors'. Evaluating those differences - like the fact that your home has one more bedroom than the comparables or a basement office - is one of the ways real estate agents add value.


An active agent has been inside a lot of homes in your neighborhood and knows all sorts of details about comparable sales. She has read the comments the selling agent put into the MLS, seen the ugly wallpaper, and heard what other REALTORS®, lenders, closing agents, and appraisers said about the comparable sale.
More ways to pick a home listing price
If you're still having trouble picking out a listing price for your home, look at the current competition. Ask your real estate agent to be honest about your home and the other homes on the market (and then listen to her without taking the criticism personally).
Next, put your comparable sales into two piles: more expensive and less expensive. What makes your home more valuable than the cheaper comparable sales and less valuable than the pricier comparable sales?
Are foreclosures a good comparable?

If one or more of your comparable sales was a foreclosed home or a short sale (a home that sold for less money than the owners owed on the mortgage), ask your real estate agent how to treat those comps.
A foreclosed home is usually in poor condition because owners who can't pay their mortgage can't afford to pay for upkeep. Your home is in great shape, so the foreclosure should be priced lower than your home.


So you have to rely on your REALTOR's® knowledge of the local market to use a short sale as a comparable sale.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Aug 02 2017


It's our favorite day of the year... it's National Cheesecake Day!
What better reason to celebrate and indulge in one of the tastiest treats available?
Sure it's rich, high in calories, and could increase your cholesterol, but it just tastes so good!
(Don't deny it!) Enjoy it plain or add your favorite topping. And you know summer is the perfect season for National Cheesecake Day!
Enjoy the day with a delicious piece of cheesecake with your favorite topping - you certainly deserve it!





Jul 26 2017
This is probably the question I get asked the most. The question I ask in response is, "Do you mean the national or the local market?" If they say the local market, I then ask, "Which city?" When they tell me, I ask, "Which neighborhood?" When they answer, I next ask, "Is it new construction or an existing home and what is the price range?" As you can tell by my questions, a lot depends on where the property is located, the type of property, and its price range.  
One of the physical characteristics of real estate is immobility. Because property cannot be moved around to satisfy demand in different areas, the real estate market is very local in character. Markets may differ among different parts of the country, different cities, or even different sections or neighborhoods within the same city. Because of this, each local market must be considered separately. In addition to being localized, the real estate market may be segmented. Market segmentation may occur in several different ways and some of these factors may include the type of property you're selling and its price range.
Ada County is different from Canyon County, Boise is different from Star, the North End is different from West Boise, and even parts of the North End are different from each other. And, if you have a house that's priced at the very low end, you're going to have better luck selling it than a property at the very high end. Because of market localization and market segmentation, the above question is not exactly easy to answer -- which is why the media often doesn't do that great of a job of it!
This is why it is important - if you are thinking about selling your home - to talk to an agent who will do her homework to help you determine the best price for your home in order to get it sold for the most amount of money in the least amount of time!
If you'd like to know how our market is, give us a call! We'd love to chat about your specific situation and provide a home valuation  208-327-2127.
Jul 26 2017
Believe it or not, water is undervalued in many parts of the country. In fact, about 30 percent of all water utilities operate at a loss or a deficit. So where does all your money go? The money you pay toward your water bill is stretched many different ways by utilities.
Water utilities, like any business, need to pay for operating expenses such as electricity, treatment chemicals, maintenance, and employee wages. On average, about 70 percent of your water bill goes to your water utility's operating expenses.
As they work to collect sufficient revenue to ensure the availability of clean and safe water, municipalities and water managers try to keep their rates affordable. Even so, the cost of water and wastewater varies, and the factors that ultimately set the price differ from community to community. Many private water utilities serving smaller communities lack commercial and industrial customers that help keep costs to residents low. These utilities are sometimes forced to charge residents nearly double the national average to recoup operating expenses. In these communities, investing in water efficiency makes twice as much sense.
That only makes up part of your water utility's financial needs. Many water utilities need money to pay for improvement projects to upgrade infrastructure or increase capacity - meaning the ability to provide water to an expanding number of customers -and they might also need to pay down debt just like the rest of us. In fact, EPA studies estimate that updating aging water and wastewater infrastructure could cost more than $500 billion over the next two decades. While many of the pipes that deliver water to American homes are relatively new, some pipes are more than 80 years old and well overdue for replacement. And this $500 billion does not include the funds that are needed to build new infrastructure to meet the demands of a growing population!
The good news is that there is something both utilities and consumers can do to delay these major investments and save money. WaterSense makes fiscal sense, both from a utility standpoint, and to consumers' wallets. Many water utilities are promoting WaterSense-labeled products to help their customers save on water bills and to delay the utilities' need for expensive projects to increase capacity.
So if you're looking for new ways to pinch pennies as a household, consider this: the average household can reduce its water bills by as much as 30 percent by installing water-efficient plumbing fixtures such as WaterSense labeled toilets and faucets and ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances. Replacing older, inefficient toilets alone could save a family of four some $90 per year. These savings, coupled with potential rebates in your area, mean your bathroom makeover could pay for itself in no time-and pay the savings forward in your community for years to come.


Jul 20 2017
This week around the office we're celebrating 'Embrace Your Geekness Day.'
A geek is often referred to as an individual who is highly intelligent and technically oriented. You might often find a geek associated with computers.
Some might use the word in a negative connotation, but most of those people would also admit they are jealous. 
On this day, let all your intelligence pour out and let your inner geek shine. Embrace the technical side of things and spend some of the day with your lovely computer. Maybe even take the time to polish some technical skills or learn something new. I'm sure you all have a little 'geek' within you? 
Remember - it's not a crime to be brilliant and gifted!
Jul 14 2017
JGA Sign
Some people think it doesn't matter who you hire to sell your home. All agents have to do is stick a sign in the yard or a picture in the newspaper and your home will sell itself right? Well, not exactly. Jill Giese & Associates has recently sold homes previously listed by other agents because those agents didn't sell the home within the sellers' desired time frame.
So what separates a great listing agent from the average agent and what difference does it make to you?
The Key Difference
The key difference is that a great agent will sell your home faster, for more money, and with fewer hassles for you than other agents! So how do we do this? We care enough about you and your goals to provide you with the very best each step of the way!
Perfect Pricing
First, we meet with you to determine the perfect price for your home. The key is to price it so it's listed within the range of buyers who are looking for homes like yours. If you have a 2-bedroom, 1-bath home that is 1,000 square feet and you price it in the range where all the other homes are 3-bedroom, 2-bath, and 2,000 square feet, your home is not going to be competitive and no one will come to look at it.  

Perfect pricing is critical and we do this together with you. We don't "tell you" the price - our job is to provide you the information you need for us to collaboratively decide the best price for your home! Sometimes people say, "Well I'm not in a hurry so I can price a little higher." Unfortunately, the price is the price is the price - buyers will pay what buyers will pay and that doesn't change significantly within the time frame most sellers want to sell.
So if that's the case, faster is better right? So either price perfectly and sell quickly, sometimes with multiple offers which can create an auction-like environment, or price high, wait several months, then reduce the price to where it should've been in the first place, and then get an offer. All the while keeping your house spotlessly clean every minute and pretending you don't live there!
clean 2
Precise Preparation
We take numerous steps up front to help you prepare your home so it's in its best possible condition so you receive the highest price it will bear.  
We provide you with a 1-1/2 hour consultation with a staging expert, professional and accurate measurements and a floor plan so buyers knows exactly how your home is laid out, and the best professional photographs in the business - regardless of the price of your home! We also help with recommendations for amazing professional landscapers, house cleaners, handymen, and more - all of whom work for a reasonable price.
We want your home to have that "TA DA!" moment when it's launched on the MLS because it's reached its version of perfection.
Persistent Prospecting
Before your home is even listed on the MLS, we are prospecting for buyers who may be interested in your home! Every morning from 9:00-11:00, we call our vast network of past clients, potential buyers, and other realtors we've cultivated relationships with who may be interested in a home just like yours. This is how we're able to average 13 days on the market for homes we've sold within the last year! 
How many realtors do you know who spend this kind of energy working to sell your home? Do they call each day? Or do they put a picture in the newspaper or stick a sign in the yard and wait for someone to call them?   
Making an Excellent Deal!
When an offer comes in on your home, we have the confidence, knowledge, and ability to negotiate an agreement that brings you top dollar for your home - no small feat with the amount of things we evaluate to ensure it's the best offer for your goals!  
For example, our "top ten":
  1. What is the offer price?
  2. What is the proposed closing date? Does this fit with your goals for closing on your new home?
  3. What are the terms, who pays for what?
  4. Is the buyer really qualified to buy your home? Do they have an approval letter?
  5. Is the buyer's lender reputable? Or do they produce approval letters and then decline the buyer far along in the process?
  6. Does the buyer's agent have the experience needed to manage the transaction? Or did they write a sloppy offer which may indicate their ability to get the transaction closed?
  7. What is the inspection time frame? Does this fit with your goals and does this make the proposed closing date realistic?
  8. What are the lesser time frames within the contract and are they realistic or do they put you at jeopardy by letting more time go by before the transaction has 'firmed up'?
  9. What is the buyer's financing? How "solid" is it?
  10. Is this offer overall in your best interest? What is the big picture?  
We make sure your best interests are being served by this offer at this time - we want this to be the best opportunity for you! And if there are multiple offers, we want to ensure you can intelligently choose the best offer for you.
Getting to the Finish Line!
Recently I had the pleasure of working with a fellow realtor on the sale of his Boise home. Priced perfectly and looking amazing, it received a great offer quickly. 
sold 3
As we discussed his good fortune, I reminded him, "As you know, getting the offer and getting under contract is only half the battle!" And he replied with the benefit of 20+ years in real estate, "Actually, I know it's really only one-third of the battle!"

Getting to closing and getting there smoothly is not always easy. And on our team, facilitating this process is someone's full-time focus! 
We carefully guide your transaction from contract to close and beyond. What good does it do you to get an offer quickly if all the Ts aren't crossed and the Is aren't dotted and your transaction falls apart? Or if you spend thousands of dollars unnecessarily because a detail was missed in an addendum or on a closing statement? Our job is to ensure this doesn't happen!

The Recap
We hope this helps you understand the difference between an average agent and a great real estate team! We care enough about you and your goals to provide you the very best real estate experience.