BOISE, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
Up a winding, tree-lined road in the Boise foothills, real estate agent Patti Cole’s For Sale sign sat in front of a $3.3 million home.
In the past few years, expensive, multi-million dollar luxury homes are becoming more and more common in Ada County as the local housing market rages. Since October in Boise and Eagle, 11 homes worth $3 million or more have sold or are pending and around 35 homes over $2 million have sold or are pending.
“I think that it’s been coming for a while,” said Cole, an associate broker with Group One Sotheby’s International Realty. “We get so many people from Southern California and they want palatial spreads. That is the key and that’s the one thing that Boise City is missing and Eagle has. So having something like this in Boise is a big deal.”
On Wednesday, the real estate website Zillow showed 27 listings for homes above $2 million in Ada County, including 10 above $3 million.
In 2016, just one home in Eagle sold for over $2 million, Cole said. The Eagle home was one of five sold for more than $2 million statewide.
No homes in Ada County sold for over $3 million in 2016.
Also in 2016, there were 38 homes sold for $1 million or more in Ada County, according to previous reporting from the Idaho Press. In 2020, that number was up to 314. In August 2021, there had already been 362 million-dollar homes sold.
“I think the people that are moving here, a lot of them are remote workers, there are a lot of people that want to retire from the communities that they’re in,” Cole said. “They’re normally a little more affluent. They’re not necessarily coming here for a deal. They’re coming here for the lifestyle. So they’re not afraid.”
Cole’s $3.3 million listing in the Quail Ridge area of the foothills centers around a grand spiral staircase with a carved banister. In total, the home has five hand-carved marble fireplaces. From the windows of the family room, the first room off to the left, visitors can see sweeping views of the Treasure Valley.
The backyard is accessible from a door in the casual eating area, next to the family room of the six bedroom, five bath, 6,835 square foot luxury home.
“You can see the Owyhees and I mean, we’ve got a little bit of inversion, but you can actually see out … you can see the city. We’ve got Boise over here,” Cole said, pointing into the distance. “Here you can see all the way to Star.”
But the views aren’t the only amenity. Cole pointed out a pool — heated to 80 degrees year-round. The house boasts a hot tub as well, an upper viewing deck, a home movie theater and a dedicated game room. The sinks in one of the bathrooms have a gold inlay.
Houses like this have everything, Cole said, which is a more recent phenomenon for the Treasure Valley. When she moved to the area in 1990, places like Eagle were mostly farmland with a much smaller population.
“There’s views in every direction. And it’s not often that you can find houses that have views in every direction,” Cole said.
But despite the number of people moving in from out of state, Cole said, the buyer of this house could be in the Treasure Valley. Many had bought houses at around $700,000 but because of the market, have seen their homes now worth over $1 million.
“If you have a house that’s suddenly worth three times or two times more, then you have some cash to move up in this direction,” Cole said. “So it actually allows local people to purchase their dream homes.”
The market is unlikely to stop, Cole said. However, it’s unlikely to keep increasing at the same sky-high rate of the past few years.
Home prices are increasing because the whole market is shifting upward, Boise Regional Realtors President Becky Enrico-Crum.
The cost of land has gone up, the cost of supplies has gone up and there’s a labor shortage, Enrico-Crum said, which has increased prices in all categories.
“Just because the market has risen recently, we weren’t as used to seeing price tags that had a million dollars,” Enrico-Crum said. “Now we’re seeing those because the market has pushed everything up.”
Boise is a feeder market, said Brett Hughes, broker and owner of Boise Premier Real Estate. The area gets a lot of migration from the West Coast.
“Because their markets have been so strong, they’re bringing strong assets from their real estate that they’ve sold or from the stock market, and they’re buying for our quality of life,” Hughes said. “It’s simply just bidding up prices quicker than we would have ever imagined.”
Hughes grew up in the area and went to Boise High School and Boise State University. He’s been in real estate since 2001 and has seen the “fascinating” growth in multi-million dollar homes.
Intermountain Multiple Listing Service data showed around 1,000 Ada County homes worth more than $1 million pending and sold in the last 12 months, Hughes said. Of those 1,000, 94 are pending or sold for over $2 million.
“We never ever saw $2 million homes in the Treasure Valley and that wasn’t even that long ago. That was 2016, 2017,” Hughes said. “Your mind was just blown. How is it possible? And now we’re starting to see it on more of a regularity.”
Hughes said the trend is likely to continue.
Eric DeBord, broker at Red Pheasant Realty, also believes the trend is likely to continue.
“The rate of growth may slow a little bit but people have decided they want to be here and as long as they have the money to come they’re going to come,” DeBord said. “Our problem here is that we can’t develop fast enough.”
DeBord currently has a listing for a $7.75 million home in the Boise foothills. The home sits on 60 acres of land.
The quantity of homes over $2 million has “ballooned,” DeBord said.
“When our market values have shot up as much as they have in the last few years, certainly at some level, that’s to be expected. But the amount of growth we’ve seen in development of high-value areas has also increased,” DeBord said. “More foothills development, more planned communities that are focused on higher-end products.”
But the lack of home inventory in the Treasure Valley will keep pushing prices up as growth outpaces construction. The only way people will stop coming is if they don’t have the money to, so barring a major economic meltdown, DeBord said, things aren’t likely to change.
“Unfortunately at some level, it’s going to eat up our farmland and the sprawl is going to be kind of an issue,” DeBord said. “But when it comes to these multi-million dollar properties, those people have the money to find some acreage and get some elbow room.”
This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.
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