Selkirk REALTORS® Protect Quality of Life in Bonners Ferry

The scenic city of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, is taking careful steps to avoid becoming a victim of its own success. To preserve the high quality of life that attracts many visitors and would-be residents, it has spent several years developing a Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Plan that will foster the compact growth of its community, while encouraging walking and biking in and around town. Coming to the table with Smart Growth Action Grants, together with considerable knowledge and understanding of its own, the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® has become an important partner in the creation of a robust pedestrian/bicycle mobility plan for the area.

The plan, explains Stephanie Rief, Association Executive of the 246-member association, is for a pedestrian/bicycle network providing safe and convenient routes that both meet current demand and encourage even more usage. Idaho Smart Growth was the organization commissioned to create the plan, which integrates walking and biking routes into the master plan for roadway transportation. “The walk/bike plan includes routes in all parts of town, connections and safe crossings and access to destinations, as well as clear network branding and directional signage,” says Rief. “This will improve access to active transportation options, and help stimulate economic development related to bike tourism,” she adds. “By increasing the walkability and bike-ability within Bonners Ferry, we are also creating opportunity and purpose for improved housing in the city.”

The Selkirk Association of REALTORS® has actually received three Smart Growth Action Grants for the complex project, one for each of the three preparatory phases of the plan. The first two grants supported initial planning, drafting, and a site visit. This most recent grant helped to fund Phase 3, which included branding, wrap-up, and a kick-off, seeing the plan through initial stages of implementation. Although Rief has completed many grant applications on behalf of her association, she reached out to the state association, Idaho REALTORS®, for guidance applying for the grant: “Because of its importance, and because it was the first large Smart Growth grant our association had applied for, I felt that it would be nice to have that added expertise of their staff grant writer,” she explains. “The application process was actually fairly simple,” she notes, adding that the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® encourages its fellow small associations to take advantage of the REALTOR® Party’s grant programs. “The support of the REALTOR® Party has helped us to build the relationships that build our community!”

REALTOR® members were actively involved at many levels of the plan’s development, from being interviewed about existing conditions, to attending public meetings, to serving on a pedestrian bicycle advisory group.

“Being a part of this project has helped the REALTOR® community establish itself as a trusted, knowledgeable, and caring partner,” says Rief. “It’s allowed us to work more closely with the Mayor of Bonners Ferry, the City Administrator, and the Boundary County Economic Developer. They are all grateful for the help of the National Association of REALTORS®, as well as the Selkirk Association of REALTORS®, towards this amazing accomplishment. REALTORS® are now often involved in city and county economic projects that they wouldn’t necessarily have been invited to engage in before. It has been a turning point for everyone involved and we look forward to future civic collaboration.”

To learn more about how the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® is making sure walking and biking is built into the fabric of the Bonners Ferry community, contact Association Executive Stephanie Rief at 208-265-2227.


Placemaking Grant from the REALTOR® Party Helps the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® Support Development of an ADA-Compliant Trail

It’s not hard to find the natural beauty in northern Idaho, but the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® understands that it’s not necessarily easy for all members of the public to access the area’s phenomenal outdoor attractions.  So, early in 2019, when the Kanisku Land Trust acquired 180 acres to be preserved as a community forest, the REALTORS® stepped up as partners in the creation of an ADA-compliant gathering place and trail that became an instant popular success.

The REALTORS® had worked closely with the Kaniksu Land Trust (KLT) in the past, so this was a natural collaboration, explains Stephanie Rief, Association Executive of the 338-member board.  Over the years, the REALTORS® have helped the Trust with fundraising, while the Trust teaches the Conservation Easement segment of the association’s in-depth Water and Land Use course.

Once KLT acquired Pine Street Woods, as the mountain-side property near the town of Sandpoint is known, the REALTORS® wanted to make sure its benefits were accessible to everyone.  “We have a diverse demographic here, and that includes a lot of active seniors and people with physical disabilities,” says Rief.  “Despite our abundance of public lands, much of it is difficult to access, with steep trails requiring a high degree of mobility and fitness.  So, supporting the construction of a trail and gathering place that’s accessible to all, regardless of fitness or ability, was a priority, especially given what we know about how a connection with nature benefits mental and physical health.”

Along the half-mile ADA-compliant loop, part of an extensive trail system throughout Pine Street Woods, are four handsome benches that the REALTORS® funded with a Placemaking Grant from the REALTOR® Party.  Commissioned from a local craftsman and made from locally harvested timber, each one bears a plaque engraved with the name of the Selkirk Association of REALTORS®.  The benches were delivered and installed by REALTOR® volunteers.

“There’s been overwhelming community support for Pine Street Woods, and this trail in particular,” reports Rief, who notes that in addition to serving the mobility-impaired, the year-round trail is used by a local Nordic club and more than one cycling club.  “Even snow-shoeing enthusiasts are enjoying the trail,” she adds.  The association’s MLS board also contributed funding for doggie waste-stations on the trail, and the REALTORS® provide scholarship support for a popular week-long day camp at held at Pine Street Woods.

The REALTORS®’ ongoing association with the Kaniksu Land Trust and Pine Street Woods includes plans for an arboretum project that will identify many of the plant and tree species with special signage.  Thanks to a subsequent Placemaking Grant from the REALTOR® Party, they’ll be teaming up with a local cycling club to create a connecting trail between the Pine Street Woods and a trail system on the other side of the mountain: the REALTORS®’ support will fund a map kiosk, a bike rack, and another bench.

“Our members are so happy to be a part of these projects,” says Rief.  “They know from their own lives how much these trails enhance the local lifestyle, and of course, that’s a big selling point here.  The open space is what attracts folks to our area, so we do all we can to maintain it, improve it, and make it accessible.  We’re so grateful for these grants that help us to do that.”

To learn more about how the Selkirk Association of REALTORS® is making it easier for all to enjoy the great outdoors in the Sandpoint, Idaho area, contact Association Executive Stephanie Rief at or 208.265.2227.


The Art of Art in Home Staginghomestaging

Editing, adding, re-arranging, grouping and re-hanging art is something that happens at almost every home that I stage, as it plays a big part in how the home is experienced by prospec-tive buyers.Because it is something that tends to intimidate many, I would like to share some tips on using art to best advantage in a home for sale.
First, how much should there be?  Some homes have none. Some have photos on every available patch of wall. Generally, less is more.  A home can look a little stark with nothing on the walls, but too much starts to distract from the home’s selling features. 1 or 2 pieces per room is the happy medium.
Choose pieces that have colors that relate in some way to other colors in the room.
In a home for sale, an at-mosphere of relaxation is ideal.  I choose art that features nature scenes, foliage, flowers, or animals. I ask sellers to pack family photos, and pieces that have religious or political themes.
Smaller pictures, grouped 2” apart, can read as one larger piece. This works better than small pieces spread around, which can look busy and cluttered.
It looks best when the size of the piece, or grouping, is about 2/3 the size of the wall space. Or, about 2/3 of the width of a sofa or table that sits below it.
How high to hang it? Usually, the center of the piece should be at eye level, or about 63” from the floor.  If it is hanging above a sofa, allow 6-8” between the top of the cushions and the bottom of the art frame.

“Upscale Vacation Rental”This is the visual that I use to best describe to a seller the look to aim for.  A place that is sparkling clean, ready to welcome guests- fluffy towels, fresh linens and flowers, some well chosen neutral décor. If you would like help getting your listing to this point- please call me!