BOISE, Idaho — We're now a week into spring, the hottest time for buying and selling homes. Spring is also a time for rebirth. Many of you are hoping for the rebirth of an affordable housing market. We're in a bit of housing price dip right now. But will that last, or are we done with the dip?
To start this spring real estate season, we're seeing some good signs. In February, the median sales price for Ada County homes was $492,115. That's still up there, but down 10.5% compared to February of last year, and the fourth consecutive month of annual decline in price. And while in Ada, it was still a small increase compared to last month, that's not the case in Canyon County. In Canyon, the median sales price was down 10.3% year-over-year and down 1.4% month over month, sitting at $389,945.
So, I asked the president-elect of Boise Regional Realtors, Elizabeth Hume, if these downward trends toward affordability will continue.
"Justin, I wish I had that crystal ball that you're looking for," she said.
Darn. Well, even without a crystal ball, Hume can make some educated predictions. First, on the dip in prices, she said, "I believe the dip is not sustainable."
So, the prices are likely to go back up. Why?
"Housing is all supply and demand," Hume said. "We've just got too much growth. There's a gap between the people who need housing and the available units for them."
As we talked about last week, home builders can't keep up with demand. Also, a lot fewer people are selling than they were a year ago. In fact, the housing inventory for Ada County is at 1.4 months. That means it would only take about six weeks for all the homes for sale right now to get bought up at the current pace. We had a half-month supply last year in January, so that's gotten a little better. But Hume says a three- or four-month supply is healthy. We're still less than half that.
Some potential home buyers have been waiting years for a big enough price dip to break into the market. So, if this is not that dip, what options do those folks have? Fixer-uppers, Hume said.
I did a story a few months ago on how hard those are to find, but, Hume said, they are out there.
"Is it where you want to live? Is it in the heart of Eagle? No. Is it a little further out? Yes, is it but they're out there," Hume said. "I find it's when local buyers purchase with a little bit more open mind. So they're willing to get into that first home first, and they're willing to put a little sweat equity, it's not going to look like an HGTV moment when they buy the house."
And if prices are going to go up again, Hume said, the time to buy something, anything, is now.
"Traditionally, in the three years prior to 2020, prices were going up 10% a year," according to Hume. "So, if you can just get into a house that you can live in for a couple years, you'll get that equity. It's getting into the game. And so if it means you live in a smaller home, in a part of town you don't love, you're in the game. And that's the most important part."
And while it is still a seller's market with relatively high prices, Hume said sellers are having to work harder to get homes sold. Besides the price dip, which again, likely won't last, she said sellers are having to stage their homes — or at least vacuum and clean the dishes.
That was not the case just a few years ago, when people need only stick a for sale sign in the lawn and wait a couple hours for huge offers.
This article is part of an ongoing "Growing Idaho" series focusing on issues of transportation and housing in southwest Idaho by Justin Corr, co-anchor of "Wake Up Idaho" on KTVB.
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