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Boise home prices rising faster than salaries

In a report from Zillow, 38 major metropolitan areas were studied; among those, home value growth exceeded the median salaries in 25 of those cities including Boise.

BOISE, Idaho — A new report from Zillow found home prices are rising faster than salaries in housing markets across the country, including Boise.

That report looked at 38 major metropolitan areas and among those, the online real estate marketplace found home value growth in 25 of those cities exceeded the median salaries in 2021.

Priced out of the Idaho housing market, we hear the stories on a daily basis, especially now, as the median sales price of an Ada County home stands at nearly 550-thousand dollars.

The report is now underscoring the growing pains many Idahoans have already been feeling.

"The typical home value increased more in 2021 than the typical worker's pre-taxed income," said Jeff Tucker, a senior economist at Zillow.

According to Tucker, that increase includes the Boise housing market.

"It was about two and half times as much as the typical home value in Boise went up about 125-thousand dollars last year and the typical worker's income was really close to about 50-thousand dollars so that's the kind of gap we're talking about," Tucker said.

"Wages are a sticky thing and when we say sticky it means they don't move as fast as other things might like the loaf of bread on your shelf," said Jan Roeser, a labor economist with the Idaho Department of Labor.

Roeser said part of the reason wages take longer is because of the process involved. In the past, the state typically sees two to three percent growth year over year for wages and compared to the housing market--which has grown exponentially-- Idaho wages can't catch up.

"Our minimum wage hasn't changed since 2009 it's still at 7.25 an hour," Roeser said. "Even if we move from 10 dollars an hour to 13, it's still nothing like our appreciation for houses."

For perspective, she says the median household income in Ada County is $77,000. For the state, it's $58,000. So what does that mean for Idahoans?

"It means that homeownership has gotten much further out of reach for potential first-time home buyers, it's much harder much more expensive to buy a home in Boise than it was even a year ago, especially even two years ago," Roeser said. 

If you're hoping to buy a home, Roeser recommends looking at your skillset and seeing if you have the type of job that pays enough to support that goal. If not, maybe go back to school or take a class.

"There are so many opportunities out there so if you're really at a point where you can't advance in your career anymore, you need to think about upskilling," Roeser said. "We don't know what's going to happen going forward, and as far as a big increase in wages, I think that's happening and that has to happen and I think there's some public policy in the governor's office to provide more affordable housing."

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