Why do listing agents always seem to attend showings here?

Crazy RealtorNotice how I worded the question above, and not “Should listing agents attend showings”. The reason is that I often hear this question from prospective buyer customers, or, customers working with another broker while I am attending a showing for one of my listings. If you only have had experience with real estate in the Jackson & Teton region (including Alpine & Star Valley) you are probably used to the fact that there will very likely be 2 agents at a home showing. The listing agent, and the agent working with the buyer. It’s a way of life out here, whether it’s a 100,000 dollar home or a 1 million dollar home.

If you are not from the area, you may have had a different experience. In the Snake River area (Idaho Falls etc.) all of the agents pay a monthly or annual fee to have “infrared key access” in the form of a card, or even a smart phone application. There might even be instructions on the listing that provides contact information to the occupant in which case the agent can call the occupant directly, whether it’s a tenant or the home owner. In areas like Malibu, it is expected that listing brokers attend showings only for higher dollar listings, but not all showings.
This can go both ways I suppose, what about buyer’s agents not attending showings, for instance – ahem – buyer’s working with an agent in another state (maybe a state just East of Idaho?) that can’t attend a showing for a home their customer wants to see on the Idaho side? Would it be acceptable to just send them over and let the list agent take care of it?
OK, so maybe the last example is clearly not the right thing to do, but there are very different ways of doing business throughout the united states, and Canada for that matter. Here, some feel that we are held to a higher standard as we are members of the same MLS as the high end Jackson listings. So… to attend, or not to attend, the pros and cons weighed below;
To attend! (pros):
From a seller representative standpoint, there are some definite pros here IF the agent is timely, knowledgeable, and helpful with important facts about the house without being overwhelming. Also,it may be that the Seller hired the list agent specifically from a trust standpoint – someone to look after the home, lock all doors, keep an eye on personal belongings, and so on. After all, a buyer’s agent on a home tour of 8 homes might have a hard time keeping track of everything.
To not attend… (cons):
Some buyers (specifically from areas where they are not used to 2 creepy real estate agents following them around) feel that it’s strange to have the listing agent present at every showing. Admittedly, it can get a bit overwhelming. “OK all, our next home we will be meeting John with ABC realty” (long introductions etc.). John goes about explaining everything I explained in the car – or here’s a good one; My customers walk in HATE the place, would prefer to walk back out but John sucks us into a long description of the home, the sellers, the neighbors, the area, where he was raised, his favorite local restaurant, 15 reasons to move to Teton Valley… you get the idea.
In the opinion of most her locally, the pros outweigh the cons, attend all showings. At the end of the day, however, it is up to the listing agent, and the seller. This is a discussion that needs to be had with the seller and the list agent. My advise? First, ask the seller what they prefer. Maybe the seller remembers the time when they were once buyers and John from ABC Realty gave them nightmares for the next 6 months. Or, maybe during their last home sale they discovered personal belongings went missing after a showing. The suggestion I make to my clients? If you would like me to attend showings, that is what I shall do. In the event I cannot (there is only one of me) allow me to put  a combination lock box on the door. This has allowed for last minute showings that have produced contracts.

Source: Teton Realty Blog

Deal of the Week

2533 Middle Teton Rd. Driggs, ID 83422

3553 Middle TetonWith lot sales on the rise, many are going to start focusing on the better inventory, this fits the bill.

Why it’s a good deal:

This lot is in a popular development (Teewinot) which is close to town, with a fantastic view and a great price. Speaking of that view, Teewinot has CC&R’s that protect you view after your home is built. No building envelope, just don’t block another’s view. Simple, and it works!

How much?

$59,000, about as cheap as it gets for a Teewinot lot.


How quick will it sell?

It should sell by the end of the Summer season.

MLS info below. Log in to save this property.

Source: Teton Realty Blog

Land Splits in Teton County, What’s Going On?

Teton County CourthouseAlright, so we been hearing about it for months, and there are those of us that have been intimately involved in understanding the issue, and resolving it. For those of us that have not, a simplified understanding, below. ***Do not rely on this post for building eligibility matters, refer to Teton County Planning & Zoning for questions and/or accuracy, http://www.tetoncountyidaho.gov/department.php?deptID=18&menuID=1

What’s the issue?
A number of building site owners – okay, let’s not call them building sites anymore… A number of lots, vacant land, acreage (whatever) have been declined a building permit within Teton County.
Now the fun part (it’s difficult to simplify here). Teton County has zones, areas that are restricted to various types of use. Each of these zones have regulations (rules) associated to protect the development and future development of the county, & cities within. Much of the County is comprised on A (agriculture) 2.5 and A20 zoned areas. According to Teton Valley Code: Title 8 of the Teton Valley code, The purpose of these areas is “to designate and provide opportunity for development of residential land use on marginal agricultural land” or “to control development on the most productive agricultural land in the county” HOWEVER just because development is allowed in these areas (and other zones) does not mean George can split 2.5 acres off the family farm and build his dream house. That is why we have Teton Valley Code: Title 9, subdivision regulations. In the instances where a building permit was not granted, the “site” was not split properly along the way – hence the term we keep hearing, “Illegal Lot Split”.
Give me an example!
The greatest and most common example is what is called an Agricultural division” process the County had (and still has) available as a simple way to divide acreage. Agricultural exemption: A bona fide division or partition of agricultural land of agricultural purposes, which is the division of land into lots/parcels, all of which are twenty (20) acres or larger and maintained as agricultural lands. This exemption does not apply to a division for residential purposes. <— NOTE; residential purposes.
So, what’s the problem? Just follow the rules, and you have a buildable parcel, right?
Well, yeah. No. Here’s a few issues that came up:
1. A split or subdivision was applied with the County and the county accepted or “signed off” even though it did not meet underlying zoning requirements. In many of these instances the County argued that it was signed off by someone who may not have had authority to sign, and it did not meet the zone requirements. The consumer/developer argued “but the County signed off”.
2. Many people went through the process for a division (or those years before them) that did not allow a permit, yet the county provided a permit in many cases. Now that the problem exists on a higher level, the County had denied permits – not only to they neighbor with the same problem, but in some events the person who already had a home in place which meant no remodel, no addition, no new garage, etc.
How were these mistakes made?
There’s a few reasons for this, mostly (in my opinion) related to the evolution from a sleepy town of farmers to a growing resort destination. A good example of this is an amendment to the ordinance passed June 14th, 1999. Prior to this date, one could divide no less than 20 acres (through a relatively easy process with the county) and retain building rights. After June 14th, 1999, this could only be done on one occasion, called a “One Time Only Split of One Parcel of Land”. However, many kept on splitting like the good ‘ole days. No one caught on, and kept on splitting and building on. One of the big issues from the eyes of a Real Estate Professional or a Title Expert, in most cases there was no identifying information on a survey map, or more importantly a deed. Much of this information may not exist if an “agriculture only deed” was called… an agriculture deed (or some other form of identifier). If we have no indication something was split improperly 30 years ago, how do we know without an extensive search performed by the County for EVERY example that is outside a platted subdivision?
What’s the fix?
In light of all of this, the County took steps to create a resolution earlier this week (July ’16).
1. Those who went through the process and the County approved (even if it did not meet underlying zone requirements) will in most cases be approved regarTeton Valley News 7-14-16
2. Those who bought property with the expectation of building rights but later learned it was improperly split prior can, in almost every case, apply for the proper process, essentially reversing the prior split and moving forward as it should have been done from the get go. Remember, almost all of these cases are between June 14th 1999, and sometime in 2014 when the County started catching on to all of this. In addition, many of these parcels still have an availabe “One Time Only Split” that can be utilized to help remedy the situation.
You can read more about the problem in a recent amendment to Article 9, Chapter 11, Building Permit Eleigibility of Previously Created Parcels Also, see an article written by the Teton Valley News Article 7-14-16

Source: Teton Realty Blog

June ’16 Market Stats

Average sale prices continue to increase when compared to 12 months ago in almost every sector in Teton County Idaho, Wyoming, and Lincoln County Wyoming. Believe it or not, inventory is also up from last year, and up a fair percentage from last month. Number of sales have have increased from 12 months ago, but have decreased from last month. This could be an indication that listing prices have exceeded what buyers are willing to pay, though I feel this is simply a small adjustment in our evolving market, and list prices as well as average sales prices will continue to rise, specifically with lot sales.


June '16 Market Stats

Source: Teton Realty Blog

Our Neighbor, Idaho Falls! by Jacob Grant Property Management

Idaho Falls is a hidden gem tucked away in the southeast corner of Idaho. Sitting on the edge of the Snake River plain, the city serves as a natural gateway to the Grand Tetons and world-renowned Yellowstone National Park. 


Combine a friendly culture and growing economy with some of the best outdoor recreation in the country, and it comes as no surprise that Idaho Falls has been ranked one of the top small cities to move to in the United States.

The city’s reputation can be attributed to a number of favorable social and economic factors, including:

12.89% YoY increase in per capita income
4.5% unemployment rate (25% below the national average)
Cost of housing 27% below the national average
The Idaho Falls real estate market has seen steady improvement from the economic recession, with the average home value rising 5.8% in 2015. The rental market remains affordable, hovering around $710/month. Today, 1 in 3 people in Idaho Falls are renters. 
Positive social and economic trends look set to continue into 2016.
To illustrate this, the team at Jacob Grant Property Management have put together the infographic shown below. It takes a closer look at the numbers surrounding housing, employment, cost of living and education in the Idaho Falls area. Some statistics might surprise you.

CC&R’s, what you need to know

CC&R’s, short for covenants, conditions, and restrictions are basically written and recorded rules of the neighborhood or subdivision. It’s important that these rules be recorded to make them binding and enforceable. They should also conform to all laws as well as local government regulations and requirements. When it comes down to a dispute with a lot or homeowner, it’s important for the subdivision to have CC&R’s that have been written and recorded correctly.

The purpose for these restrictions is to ensure conformity in a subdivision. Most of the rules are just long winded ways of saying that you have to keep your lawn mowed and weed free. Some developments have stricter rules than others. Some require certain design aspects when constructing a new home, where you can and can’t park a trailer, and so on. For the most part however, the rules are considered to be for the good of the neighborhood.

When working with Buyers, I often have requests to spefically look at lots without these restrictions. Sometimes it’s only because they want to build a house smaller than what they assume most developments would allow. However, based on that example, there are a number of developments that require a minimum of only 900 square feet, which is pretty minimal. Some developments are even along Ski Hill Road surprisingly. When searching for a home or a piece of land based on your special needs prohibited by most restrictions, it’s important to remember that all CC&R’s are not the same. Some are only a few pages long, with very few restrictions. All of the above considered, don’t rule out being in a subdivision if you can help it. Consult with your agent, most experienced agents have an understanding of the general rules in each development. Another way to explore subdivision opportunities is to take a drive around the development. Usually, if all of the homes have trailers on the side of the house or in the driveway, trailers are allowed. If all of the homes have metal roofs, you might find out if a comp shingle roof can be used. Use caution however, this is not a guaranteed way of understanding what is or isn’t allowed.

You might ask yourself how or who to contact with some of these questions. Our brokerage can usually get you an electronic copy of the CC&Rs for free, any time. If we have it on file, we can also send you contact information for the homeowner’s association (HOA) who would ultimately be responsible for enforcing the restrictions.

To conclude, be advised that CC&R’s are not the only way to restrict uses or enforce rules with a property. Even a piece of land or a home that is not located within a subdivision can still carry deed restrictions which works similarly, though I will cover those in another Ask The Expert” column!

How Property Tax Works

by Tayson Rockefeller

Trying to figure out how property tax and levies are created can be daunting, even for a real estate agent! Property tax can be defined as the primary source of revenue for the local governments that serve and protect the community, such as school districts, ambulance, fire, and so on.
First, we should understand how your property values are assessed. Basically, the assessor’s office identifies and values all the taxable property in the county.  They use recent sales data, estimated construction costs, and other data to estimate the value of each property. All valuations are monitored by the state tax commission to ensure accuracy and compliance with state laws. The letters that you receive asking about sale data after you purchase a property are used to help value your property. Note*** Idaho is a nondisclosure state, and you are not required to submit this document. Weigh the pros and cons of giving this information to the County.
Next, we need to understand how the levy (imposed tax) is calculated. This job is handled by the County Clerk. The simplest answer is the rate is calculated by dividing the amount of property tax needed by the total taxable value of all the properties. The long answer is not quite that simple, but it uses the same method. This method is used by 14 districts within the county that create their own budget, and calculate a tax rate for that specific district. District 1, the City of Driggs has a slightly different tax rate and budget than District 2, in the City of Victor. So, each district divides their budget by the taxable value of the properties within that district to come up with the tax rate for that district.
Now that we have the tax rate for your district, and your assessed value, all each district has to do is multiply the value of your property by the tax rate to come up with your property tax amount. So, this is the final step before you receive your bill. It’s important to understand that each budget is created at the end of the year, and therefore your taxes are assessed for the prior year. The taxes are paid in two halves for each year. The first half of each year becomes due December 20th and the second half of that year is due the following year on June 20th. State law limits budget increases as a whole (not on an individual basis) to 3%.
Understanding that this is a very brief description of how the system works, coming from someone who does not work for the County with only a limited understanding, there are a few other points to be made here. One question you might ask yourself is, how can I reduce the amount I pay in property taxes? There are a few things to keep your eye on. First, if the property is your primary residence, make sure that you have applied for the homeowners exemption. This must be filed with the assessor’s office by April 15th. Second, always review your annual assessment notice, and call the assessor’s office if things seem out of line.  Idaho Code states that any claim for tax reduction shall be filed with the assessor’s office between January 1st and April 15th of each year.

Water rights, how do they work?

Water rights are an important part of any real property with rights in Idaho. They are not insured by a standard title insurance policy, so it’s important that you have an understanding of your property’s rights. I am not going to focus too much on how to obtain a water right, (it’s a complex process) but rather a general scope of the types, and uses for these rights. To start, I will describe what a water right is.


A water right is basically a “right” to divert water for a beneficial use, such as irrigation, domestic, or commercial use. The diversion is what is used to obtain the water, in the form of a head gate and ditch, well, irrigation pump, etc.


Next, the types of water rights, there are 2 main types – Surface rights, and Ground rights. Surface rights are the rights we see, such as ditches, diversions from creeks, runoffs, springs, and so on. Irrigation ditches carry water for the benefit of the rights owner. Ground water rights are not naturally present at the surface of the ground. Ground rights include drilled wells. Irrigation wells are currently under a moratorium in some areas of the state, in those areas, only rights dating back prior to the moratorium exist. This is because the ground rights users were using the available water for the end users with senior rights. If you do not have Ground rights, however, you can still have a well such as a domestic or culinary well, limited to 13,000 gallons per day and .5 acres of yard irrigation. Other noteworthy “types” would be water you receive from an irrigation district or utility company, and stock water use, Cattle/stock owners are not restricted on use of existing streams on their land for stock water purposes. You should also know that Idaho does not recognize riparian rights, in which the owner of and has the right to make reasonable use of the water under or on their land. Waters in Idaho are considered public waters.


Dates, appropriation, and how rights are established are an important aspect of the above rights. Idaho’s rights to use water when there is a shortage is determined by priority dates, or when the right was established. Prior to 1971, a user could simply divert surface water, and apply it to a beneficial use. These rights must have documentation of when they were first used, which determines their priority date. Ground water could be obtained the same way prior to 1963. These rights are called “beneficial” or “historic” use rights. These rights have now been recorded with the Idaho Department of Water Resources, or IDWR. Rights are now established by an application/permit/license procedure with the IDWR, and that process is contingent on available water and approval.


You can research whether or not you own water rights (water rights in Idaho are privately owned and are considered real property rights, much like property rights in land) with the IDWR, and their interactive website. There are 4 regional offices (N, E, S & Western) all of Teton County is in the Eastern Regional Office. Remember that if you receive your water from an irrigation district or utility, that right will be owned by, and listed under that “company” or owner.


***Source: Idaho Department of Water Resources

What is the difference between a BPO and appraisal?

First of all, what the heck is a BPO? A BPO is a “broker’s price opinion”. You might also see BOV (broker’s opinion of value) CMA (comparative market analysis) or other forms of the same basic meaning. The broker is usually simply considered a real estate professional with expertise in the area. What is an appraisal then? An appraisal is an appraiser’s opinion of value. (no, I don’t think they usually abbreviate) since we know what a broker is usually defined as, a real estate appraiser is usually defined as a professional who develops an opinion of value on a specific type of property. Sound like the same person? Yes, but it is not.

So, back to the question at hand, what is the difference?

While any old real estate agent can compare recent sales (often called comps or comparables) and develop an opinion of value for someone, it usually cannot be used by a bank or lender to verify a property is worth or what someone is willing to pay for it. In fact, most real estate agents are not even allowed to be compensated for a BPO, usually only the responsible broker of an office can be compensated. However, most good brokerages will provide market analysis and opinions of value for free. (ahem).

On the other hand, a real estate appraiser is obligated by federal law to be state licensed or certified. That involves acting as a trainee for a certain number of hours, (yes, appraisers must train their own future competition) becoming a licensed appraiser, and becoming certified for specific applications. Just like a real estate agent, appraisers are required to complete many hours of education and continuing education for their profession. An appraiser is an unrelated party to a real estate loan, usually in place to protect the lender.
So, can a real estate agent performance appraisal? No! Unless that real estate agent is a licensed appraiser. Can a real estate agent give you an opinion of value for your property? Sure! But it cannot be considered an appraisal.

Who are the Friends of the Teton River?

Who are the Friends of the Teton River, and what do they do?

Teton Valley is fortunate to have a number of organizations and non profits who’s sole interest is for the good of our community. Perhaps I will describe some of these other organizations in future columns.

I decided to run this week’s ask the expert about this organization, because they were recently able to help me. I had a question regarding community water systems, and after trying to find the right person to contact with in the Idaho Department of Water Resources, I discovered that FTR knew the answer, and was actually drafting a document to help others with the same question. I met with the organization to get a better understanding of what else they do.

My initial expectation was that everything would be directly related to the Teton River (hence the name). As I listened in during my meeting, I discovered that is mostly true, but the responsibilities of the organization extends far past the River itself.

Some of the main points are stream and fishery restorations, drinking water protection and work related to flood plains and ways.

Some of the areas I wasn’t expecting to see such great effort was related to water rights, and the FTR’s ability to work with other similar organizations to optimize donations made to these organizations collectively. For example, I learned that FTR works closely with the Teton Regional Land Trust. In circumstances where land is donated or otherwise, they are able to work together to make sure that any water rights pertinent to that property are used to the best possible advantage of our streams and waterways. They also work with individual water rights owners for the benefit of both the owner and the organization. There are circumstances where water rights owners want to retain the water right, but need to put the right to good use, which is where FTR can help to ensure that the right is not only being used, but again benefiting our waterways.

Another great resource this organization offers is education. I mentioned above that they were able to help me with something that I was otherwise having difficulty trying to understand. FTR can be used as an excellent resource as a “one stop shop” for anything related to streams, rivers, floodplains, or otherwise. The nice thing is that they always seem to know who to contact and in what department. Nobody has a good understanding of all of these departments such as FEMA, IDWR, DEQ, and more, like they do.

I was of course also interested in how they are funded. They are funded by local donations and organizations, federal and state grants, as well as private, public, and family based foundations.

Friends of the Teton River has so much more to offer than just the above points, and we all benefit from their services in one way or another. I would urge all of you to visit their website at tetonwater.org, and of course make a donation!