BOISE, Idaho — Last month, the median sale price of a home in Ada County reached $595 thousand. A record high, and a nearly 24% increase from this time last year.
For decades, houses in Boise and the rest of the Treasure Valley were considered affordable. Many Idahoans can recall a time, not that long ago, when an affordable house could be bought for around $150 thousand, which got us thinking, how far from Boise would someone have to travel to find a house for that price?
“We probably haven't seen that price point since 2012,” said Becky Enrico Crum, the president of Boise Regional Realtors.
Crum said finding a single-family home at that price point in Treasure Valley is no longer realistic. In fact, on May 5, there were zero listings for single-family homes available on the Intermountain MLS within hours of Boise.
Overall, in Idaho, we found: one home listed at $140 thousand in Kamiah, a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Boise; another in Cottonwood, also four hours away; and a few listings in Twin Falls and Hagerman, which are a little closer.
The closest listings for that price point were in Ontario. For just under $150 thousand there are two houses in Ontario, both complete with two bedrooms, one bath, and less than 900 square feet. Both are less than an hour away from Boise.
Crum said if we bumped up the price to $200 thousand, we could find a handful of properties. But again, not in Boise.
“The closest I could find to Boise was Mountain Home for 199,” Crum said. “And then you start stretching out to like Kamiah, Idaho and Twin Falls, Idaho and you have to kind of start stretching out.”
And if someone does find a home in the Treasure Valley at that price point, it likely will not be the single-family home most people envision, but instead a manufactured home or mobile home. However, then the family would not own the land their home is on.
“The housing market in the housing crisis has pushed military families out,” said Vanessa Zink, a real estate agent whose husband is on active duty in the military.
When Zink and her husband moved to Mountain Home less than a year ago, they lived in an RV off base, something she says a lot of military families are doing because it’s an affordable way to live.
Now, her family is living on the base in Mountain Home, something a number of her clients are also doing, and those who are not living on the base, they are moving farther out so they can afford a place of their own.
“Going further out to Glenns Ferry, or Twin Falls, that's costing money and gas. So it's kind of like you're trying to figure out the lesser of two evils,” Zink said. “There really is no options. I mean, the options are where the housing is, right? So, I mean, if you need to buy a house and that’s the price point, you're really going to have to just look at the options that are available to you no matter where they are, because we can't just magically, you know, make those price points appear.”
KTVB reached out to several real estate agents, all of which suggested increasing the search price to $250 thousand, but they said even that might not be enough.
“To be in Boise, I think you're gonna get closer to 299, for that to be more reasonable,” Crum said. “And at that price, you can get into a two-bedroom, one bath, and you can be in Boise, and it might be a condo or a townhouse.”
So then just how close to Boise can someone get for $250 thousand? Well, it depends on the type of home they are looking for. If we focus specifically on single-family homes, condos, and townhomes, there are options, but not a lot.
A person looking to buy a house under $250 thousand could find a 600 square foot home in Nampa, Emmett, Ontario, and Wilder.
“As long as we have a low supply, you know, and we have this high demand, it's just going to be something that's going to continue,” Crum said.
As people move farther and farther from Boise to obtain the American dream of owning a house, Crum wants them to think about the long-term picture.
“If they can find a house that they can get in the market right now, it would be a good idea even if it's not in the ideal location because at least they can start building equity. And this you know, know that it's not a forever home, but at least they've got a house.” Crum said.
Then later down the road the new homeowner can sell that house and use that equity to move. As for Zink and her family, they're weighing their options right now.
“We're going to retire. So, we're not sure if we're gonna stay here or not,” Zink said.
Because she says this area is just not affordable.
For those at this price point who cannot find anything, Crum recommends waiting and saving more money to put towards a down payment so that they might be able to step up in price. Right now, there are about three weeks of inventory, and she says it's going to take about a year and a half to get enough inventory to sell so this challenge will continue for a while.
Additionally, Idaho Governor Brad Little has also created a tax-free savings plan for first-time home buyers.
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