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Ada County housing costs hit record highs as inventory drops

For anyone looking to buy a house - first-time homebuyers and beyond - Neighborworks Boise says it's tough to find an affordable house to purchase.

BOISE -- You can see growth reflected in our tight housing market, with reports showing buyer demand vs. supply impacting prices.

Houses are getting multiple offers within hours of being listed. In Ada County, record-low inventory is leading to record-high home prices. They keep climbing - and although not rapidly - it's concerning for many.

Last month, the median sales price of a home in Ada County was nearly $300,000. Compare that to last year, when it was almost $260,000. That counts the sale of newly built houses too, which skews the median higher. Numbers tend to be higher this time of year though, because it's spring and a lot of people are buying houses right now.

For anyone looking to buy a house - first-time homebuyers and beyond - Neighborworks Boise says it's tough to find an affordable house to purchase.

"For first-time homebuyers looking for an affordable option it's a tough market right now," Anna Gamboa, with NeighborWorks Boise, said.

With record high home prices, record low inventory and tons of people moving into the area, we're seeing supply and demand in its purest form.

"It's like any commodity, the fewer they are sometimes it rises," Boise Regional Realtors 2018 President Gary Salisbury said. "Quite competitive. It would not be uncommon to be in a multiple-offer situation in many price ranges."

But keep in mind, Boise Regional Realtors says, new construction versus existing homes should be viewed as two separate markets.

"With the new construction prices its really a factor of increased land prices, labor cost and material. So that's pulling up those prices a little more than we're seeing with the existing [houses]," Boise Regional Realtors Chief Executive Officer Breanna Vanstrom said.

The difference in median sales price between existing/re-sale houses and newly constructed houses is about 34 percent.

"We do see existing a little below that, so there's some room underneath that for people looking in existing market vs. new construction."

For people looking to buy their first home, Vanstrom says they'll have to work through the struggles of low inventory with a Realtor to understand their options. But as we found, their options are limited; the majority of homes at a lower price point are going to be already-existing houses, not new construction, and those are harder to come by.

"Existing inventory is lower than new construction. We've seen that past few months because we do see people staying in their homes longer," Vanstrom said.

Realtors are optimistic, though, and say while inventory is low it's a conducive market for first-time home buyers. Vanstrom says their research shows the Boise area is still affordable.

"The research that we've done really measures the difference between median sales price, mortgage interest rates and local wages and trying to understand how affordable we are compared to the rest of the country and certainly nearby markets or markets of similar size," Vanstrom said.

"In our marketplace many resale homes have been rehabbed, they're in well-maintained condition," Salisbury said.

But know, you might not be fulfilling your entire wish list.

"I don't think buyers should be thinking they'll go out and have to sacrifice too much or do a lot of work," Vanstrom added.

Realtors say buyers should be qualified to buy, have their financial homework done and work with a solid lender. Salisbury says there are many different programs to help someone get into their first home.

"Whether it's down payment assistance, lower interest rates, those are now available to them."

If you qualify, loans are offered through the Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA) and NeighborWorks Boise.

"When you come to us our lenders are salary-based and not commission-based, which makes us a nonprofit lender and the only one in the Treasure Valley," Gamboa told KTVB.

"It's definitely really competitive and people are being priced out. So our loan program allows people - 100-percent financing - allows people to be more competitive in this market," Gamboa added.

Those who get loans must take a homebuyer education class. NeighborWorks Boise offers their course to the community, as well.

"People might be nervous to go out and buy a home so definitely a lot more people are coming to us for that education," Gamboa said. "Our homebuyer education class really gives them the tools they need to make this decision."

"We do have tools and education to help people to see if this will be a good decision for them, to be able to get in a home that is affordable but also livable and give them the tools to make it a home that they can live in for a long time," Gamboa added.

Find out more about NeighborWorks Boise's programs and assistance here.

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