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Sidestep Pricey, Overhyped Attractions to Find More Authentic Local Value
Sidestep Pricey, Overhyped Attractions to Find More Authentic Local Value
The Tourist Traps


Wherever there is a coastline, people will head to the beach. And because it’s such a huge draw, beach-town visitors are susceptible to overpriced food, events, and souvenirs. Thankfully, you and your family can avoid the hype and enjoy a meaningful vacation that won’t zap your wallet. Here’s how.


In beach towns, there’s typically a main drag, the one or two streets where you’ll find the crowds and the most concentrated attempts to grab your attention and money. Of course, you should explore this street to see why people flock there. But when you’ve had your fill of hawkers and gawkers, veer off this path and explore the neighborhoods just a couple streets over. At the very least, you’ll avoid the crowds. At best, you may find a hidden gem in a cozy restaurant or a locally owned retail shop that’s worth checking out.


Every beach hotel has that one corner. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the one loaded with all the pamphlets, shopping guides, and discount-ticket flyers. On your next beach trip, skip this corner. Instead, fish for some quarters in your purse or pockets and hunt down the local newspaper vending machine. Look in the lifestyle or entertainment sections. You might find a review of a local restaurant or event listings for nearby museums, theaters, and parks. Skim for upcoming sporting events and then join the locals to root for the hometown team.


If you scanned the newspaper and found a great event to attend, then you’ll probably be mixing and mingling with townies. Take advantage of the chance to chat with people who call the city you’re visiting home. Ask them for restaurant recommendations and get their advice on which touristy events are worth the price and which should be avoided. The service professionals you encounter on your trip are another great resource for local information. A casual conversation with waitstaff or retail shop workers can often lead to budget-friendly dining or entertainment recommendations.


Your beach town lodging options are no longer limited to hotels, motels, and campgrounds. There are many online marketplaces where people place short-term rental listings. These rentals include spare rooms, mother-in-law units, apartments, or even entire homes. Some rentals are on the main drag, but more affordable options can be found farther inland. This is an especially good option if your vacation destination has good public transportation or plentiful public parking. If the rental has a kitchen, a few home-cooked meals and snacks can cut the costs of eating out. These lodgings also provide another chance to chat with locals. Rental owners are often full-time residents who are familiar with the town.


Shot glasses, magnets, and t-shirts are the stock in trade of the neon-lit souvenir shops that line Main Street in most beach towns. Rather than choosing a cheap bauble, look instead for more meaningful purchases. Resort towns often attract artists. If a painting, print, or craft like pottery speaks to you, invest in one significant item. Or, pick up a piece of well-crafted jewelry that will remind you of the trip every time you wear it.


Is the resort town you’re visiting in another country where you don’t speak the language? Or is it a place you may visit infrequently, like Hawaii, Alaska, or Australia? Consider hiring a guide for part or all of these once-in-a-lifetime trips. A knowledgeable guide can save you money by ensuring your time is well spent. Local guides can help you become acclimated to the city and transportation options. Often, they know how to bypass long lines and crowds at the most popular attractions. Websites like and help you find local guides. goes one step further, connecting you with local guides who offer city-specific experiences like food or photography tours.


You know your family best. If snapping a picture in front of the “World’s Largest Ball of Yarn” is a can’t-miss experience, then do it. There’s nothing wrong with visiting and enjoying tourist hotspots. For some towns, that’s part of the charm and something you shouldn’t miss. Above all, focus on the experience. It will be the memories that stay with you long after ticket stubs and tchotchkes have made their way to the dustbin. Written by Ronda Swaney. Photography provided by (from top) ©, Comstock/Stockbyte/

Is Now The Time To Buy?

You've likely heard by now that we're in the middle of what industry experts like to call a "sellers market", and while it's very much true that right now is a great time to sell your home there are a number of reasons why it's also an amazing time to buy!

How can it be both? Granted, sellers are especially motivated right now because of low inventory and high demand - which almost guarantees a better return on their investment - but even with prices likely being higher there are still some great benefits to buyers.

It's About Timing
Compared to last year home buyers are more ready to buy now. With the cold Winter months and the uncertainty of the elections out of the way many people are feeling more comfortable with finances.

Supply Vs Demand
Home inventory is low right now; even if there wasn't a rush on listings their general scarcity adds a sense of urgency to the market. What if the home you want gets a better offer? This drives a lot of potential buyers off the fence and to the signing table much faster.

The Sky Is Falling
Many would be mover-uppers and potential home buyers are motivated right now because they're afraid the mortgage rates are going to go up - and they likely should be. How does that aid in making this a buyers market within a sellers market? Because RIGHT NOW the rates are still low!

Price Check
Of course money is always a factor, but with inventory being low and demand for homes being high it's almost a certainty that home prices will also be going up. For the savvy home buyer this is a sure sign that if you're thinking of buying any time this year it's likely the sooner the better.

Are you considering buying a home and just having a terrible time finding the right one? Your dream home is out there and we can help you find it! Contact us or use our website to search for the current available homes today!

Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic!

There are many perks when you buy a Boise home and the spectacular Spirit of Boise Hot Air Balloon Festival is one of them.  The beauty of this festival is not just in the majesty of the colorful plumes created by dozens of hot air balloons that create a kaleidoscope over the late summer Boise sky, it's also because of how inclusive and accessible this no cost spectacle is to everybody who invests in Boise real estate.

Spirit Of Boise Balloon Classic - Kids Day

The pageantry of this five day festival plays out over the Labor Day weekend starting with a "Kids Day" in Ann Morrison Park and ending with a grand finale called The Great Launch consisting of fifty plus balloons launching over the Boise front, one after the other in a two minute window, until the sky is filled with the glorious colors of a mind bending rainbow.

Kids Day kicks off the event with about fifteen balloons safely tethered to terra firma in beautiful Ann Morrision Park, allowing children to get a close and personal hot air balloon experience by asking questions and enjoying a short tethered ride up into the morning sky.

Another highlight to the festival is "Nite Glow", another family friendly celebration starring acres of illuminated hot air balloons that create one hundred foot tall lanterns throughout Ann Morrision Park.  Although the glowing lanterns are the featured attraction, the limelight also shines on local eateries and musicians who provide treats of another sort, making this occasion a multi-sensory overload of amusement and fun.

Whether you enjoy the Spirit of Boise Hot Air Balloon Classic in Ann Morrision Park or from the many elevated vantage points Boise Bench homes and neighborhoods offer, you are ensured to take away a small slice of heaven that serves to affirm your decision to relocate to Boise Idaho was a winner.  

The Emmett Cherry Festival

As I was driving to my next Boise real estate appointment last week I saw the first fresh cherry stand of the season alongside the road and knew that the annual "world famous" Emmett Cherry Festival was just around the corner.   The cherry festival has been gracing the fertile Treasure Valley since the 1930's, always celebrated the second full week of June.  In addition to sampling the succulent tree ripened cherries, the festival celebrates with lively and diverse events throughout the week.  

Most of us who grew up in the Treasure Valley enjoy a favorite childhood "U-Pick" orchard story, whether it's on all fours picking strawberries or standing on  a ladder, stretching their arms to grasp the perfect apple.  There is something very special about experiencing fruit as nature intended, fully ripened on the stem.  When fruit naturally ripens on the stem, the natural sugars are maximized thus creating a magical aroma and mind blowing taste experience that store bought fruit can't begin to touch.

So mark your calendars for the upcoming 2015 annual Emmett Cherry Festival and enjoy not only mouth watering cherries and other local fruits of many varieties, but also the many events that are scheduled throughout each day.  This festival offers something for everybody and every age:  parades, an old fashioned bake-off, car show, quilting and art shows, rodeo, carnival rides and of course a pie eating contest.  After you gorge yourself with every kind of treat imaginable, don't forget the annual Kiwanis Fun Run/Walk!

Is Your Credit Report Ready For A Selfie?

Every Boise home buyer needs a great local loan officer to provide expert assistance throughout the process of buying Boise real estate. Just like receiving maximum value with the home you purchase, you want to be sure that you get the very best value for the loan itself, with the lowest interest rate and loan costs and the best terms that will fit your individual needs.
Part of the process of purchasing a home is preparing to qualify for a home loan. The majority of home buyers, and especially first time home buyers will find that they need to do a little bit of financial house cleaning in order to qualify for their home loan.

As they say, first things first, so you will want to initiate the process of preparing for a Boise home loan by reviewing your credit report. There are many sources available to pull your credit report, some of them are even free, but to ensure that your credit is pulled from all credit reporting agencies you are best served by contacting a home loan officer who will know everything that you don't know about analyzing your credit history and preparing to qualify for a Boise home loan.

The best time to start thinking about your ability to qualify for a home loan is before you find the perfect home because the last thing you would want to happen is to let your Boise dream home slip through your fingers because you were caught off guard by unknown issues lurking within your credit history.

The most typical problem encountered when reviewing credit is to find inaccuracies on the report, such as somebody else's bad credit or mistakes creditors may make when reporting information from the credit provided them. Over 75% off all credit reports contain errors and these inaccuracies alone could disqualify you for your home loan because it often takes more time to correct the credit record than you will have during the course of a typical real estate transaction. Once you discover improperly reported credit data you will have to gather proof and evidence to substantiate your claim of the inaccuracies and then write a letter to all credit reporting agencies and creditors, and then follow up with them every 30 days (follow up is essential) because the process often runs at the speed of a snail.

If you have a trusted professional loan officer like Julie Gould with Prospect Mortgage to lead you through the process, and assist you as necessary, you will be assured the issues will be resolved in a much shorter period of time. Julie Gould is in the business of helping home buyers achieve their goal of home ownership, whether they are Boise first time home buyers or have been around the real estate block before. Within the course of a 15 minute telephone conversation, Julie can get the proverbial ball rolling for you and the best thing about her excellent service is that it is at no cost to you, so call her today at (208).377.7243 and get the ball rolling!