The Boise housing market boomed early in the pandemic. Now it is fast cooling.

Boise, Idaho – During the pandemic-fueled housing boom, Boise has emerged as one of America’s hottest “zoomtowns,” communities that have seen a population surge from an influx of remote workers.

The factors that made the Boise area so attractive, such as relative affordability and its lower epidemiological restrictions, are becoming less attractive now that prices have risen and companies have started calling workers into their offices.

“It was as if someone had just turned off the lights,” said Shauna Pendleton, Boise real estate agent for Redfin, when average mortgage rates rose more than 5% in April. “Buyers just disappeared off the face of the earth.”

housing slowdown

Price growth in Ada County, Idaho, which includes Boise, was 11.5% in June from a year earlier, but slowed from high epidemic levels as inventory grew.

Single Family Homes Existing in Ada County

Average selling price, changes from the previous year

Covid-19 announcement


Average selling price, changes from the previous year

Covid-19 announcement


Average selling price, changes from the previous year

Covid-19 announcement


Average selling price, changes from the previous year

Covid-19 announcement


Average selling price, changes from the previous year

Covid-19 announcement


Boise’s slowdown reflects what’s happening in housing markets across the US After two years of sustained demand that unleashed the biggest housing boom in 15 years, sales activity is beginning to cool and more homes are emerging on the market.

Existing US home sales have declined for five consecutive months. Consumers are concerned that mortgage rates will continue to rise, buyers’ budgets are being squeezed by inflation and the stock market is down. Federal Reserve officials have raised interest rates in their past three meetings in a desperate attempt to tame inflation, and are expected to raise rates again at their meeting this week.

Some metro areas that attracted out-of-state buyers early in the housing boom are cooling off faster. Redvin said the metro areas that saw the biggest price cuts in June after Boise were Denver, Salt Lake City and Tacoma, Washington.

The supply of homes for sale is increasing nationally, although it is still below epidemic outbreak levels. The inventory of existing single-family homes for sale in Ada County, which includes Boise, increased 179% in June from a year earlier, according to Boise Regional Realtors. In the Austin, Texas, active listings rose 218% year-over-year in June, while active inventory in the Phoenix area rose 156%, according to local real estate groups.

“A lot of buyers can’t afford to buy homes in this market,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, which ranked Boise as the least affordable housing market in the US in the first quarter. “Some markets are getting hotter than others, and I don’t think we can rule out lower prices in some of these areas.”

Nationally, Ms. Vanden Houten expects a slowdown in price growth rather than a fall in prices. Some smaller affordable markets have continued to lure home buyers in recent months, according to the Wall Street Journal/ Emerging Housing Markets Index.

Boise was the most valuable housing market in the United States in June, according to an analysis of 100 markets conducted by researchers at Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University. The analysis said home values ​​in the Boise area were 69% higher than they should be for the long-term pricing trend in Boise.

Gabriel and Brianna O’Reilly, eager to buy a home in Boise, put the search on hold.


Briana O’Reilly

Gabrielle and Brianna O’Reilly, who had been keen to buy a home in Boise for just months, put the search on hold. The couple, who live in Dayton, Ohio, submitted three failed bids for homes in Boise earlier this year. By early May, with prices still rising and borrowing rates rising rapidly, they decided to take a break. They plan to move to Boise in August, so Mr. O’Reilly could start a new job, and they expect to start looking again six to 12 months after that.

“We think the market is going to go down continually for a while here,” El-Sayed said. O’Reilly, 29, is a civil engineer.

Price growth is already slowing in the Boise area but is still strong. The median price of existing home sales in Ada County increased 11.5% in June from a year earlier, compared with 48.9% annual growth in May 2021, according to Boise Regional Realtors.

Market watchers expect Boise area selling prices to fall at least 10% from their peak. Homebuilders, who built larger luxury homes as prices rose, plan to retreat to smaller designs.

It just went too far,” said Corey Barton, president of CBH Homes, the largest homebuilder in the area. “It’s slowly returning to old Boise.”

Cory Barton, president of CBH Homes, said the Boise housing boom has gone too far.

The population of Boise in the area was growing before the pandemic. After stagnating for years after the 2007-2009 recession, home prices began to rise in 2016 as people in neighboring states realized how much they could live in Boise on the cheap. Inbound migration has been fraught with in the past two years due to remote work and pandemic-related restrictions in other states.

David Turnbull, the company’s owner, said Brighton Corp., a construction company based in nearby Meridian, closed its sales offices for about eight weeks when the pandemic hit. “When we opened it again,” he said, “we were drenched in water.” “Anything you listed for sale sold in a matter of days. You had war shows. The Boys had never seen that before. I mean, this is California stuff.”

The buying frenzy drove the median sales price of existing single-family homes in Ada County to a peak of $586,750 in May — a 79% increase from three years prior, and 44% higher than the national equivalent figure. Idaho had the strongest home price growth of any state last year, according to mortgage lender Freddie Mac..

Ada County and neighboring Canyon County grew 7.8% between 2020 and 2022 to about 782,000 residents, according to estimates by the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho. Three suburbs of Boise City — Meridian, Caldwell and Nampa — ranked among the 15 fastest growing large US cities in the year ending July 2021, according to the Census Bureau.

Clay Carly, real estate developer and fifth-generation Boisean, noted that Boise was so quiet that residents in the 1980s wore T-shirts featuring a black rectangle that read “Boise at Night.” Now locals complain about overcrowding and lack of parking.

“It was a secret that no one knew, but everyone knows now,” said Laura McGeorge, a physician in Boise. She said it was hard to get into a restaurant, and she no longer saw familiar faces on the street downtown. She is also concerned about how much home prices are accelerating beyond local wages.

“My daughter will be a teacher and has always wanted to come back here, and I don’t think she will be able to afford that,” she said.

Deep Sea Diver performs in front of a large crowd at an event in downtown Boise.

Floating the Boise River is a popular way to relax in the summer.

About 26% of new and existing homes sold in the Metro Boise area were affordable to families bringing the median household income in the area to $87,500 in the first quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders. This is down from 80% of homes sold in the first quarter of 2012. The estimate assumes a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and a 10% down payment.

Real estate agents say the decline in affordability and general economic uncertainty has pushed many buyers to the sidelines. Meanwhile, sellers are listing their homes to take advantage of the higher prices before it’s too late.

Real estate said some people who moved to Boise in recent years are now turning back because they need to get back to personal work, want to be closer to family or just don’t like the outdoor lifestyle as they expected. Agent Sheila Smith. Some old residents who don’t like how much Boise has grown are moving to more affordable places. Investors withdraw money.

“It is a reflection of the impact of Covid,” said Ms. Smith said.

Ms. McGeorge and her husband, Frank Minnaar, put their Boise home on the market at the beginning of June. A few buyers toured the house but none made an offer. The neighboring houses were also sold. The couple, who hope to scale back to a smaller niche in the region, cut the price to $1.58 million from $1.68 million.

Laura McGeorge and her husband lowered the price of their Boise home by $100,000 after buyers proved scarce.

“I feel like I have to walk around and be patient,” McGeorge said. “As a selfish seller, I want to sell my house, but I think it’s good for the community to make some correction here.”

Eric Allen, senior vice president of consulting at housing market research firm Zonda, said home builders in the Boise area have started building on fewer homes than last year, and some are lowering prices and offering incentives to attract buyers.

The average sale price of CBH Homes was about $500,000 last year, up from about $350,000 before the pandemic. the master. Barton said he expects to return to pre-pandemic prices to better match domestic income.

“We’ve kind of run out of people who were really serious about moving” because of the pandemic, he said. “We’ll have to safely get back to $300,000.”

Many Boise residents, including real estate agents, welcome the slowdown. About 82% of residents of Greater Boise, known as Treasure Valley, said the area was growing very quickly in a survey conducted by Boise State University in November, up from about 45% in 2016. People who have lived in Idaho for more than A decade would likely say that Treasure Valley was growing very fast.

Samia Islam, an economics professor at Boise State, said Boise employers are having a hard time bringing in workers because they can’t afford housing. Some homeowners have seen their property taxes rise along with home values. Some feel stuck in their homes, and fear that if they sell, they won’t be able to buy an equivalent home at current prices.

“As for the stability of the local economy, I feel that some correction would not necessarily be a bad thing,” said the lady. Islam said. “In fact, I feel it is very much needed.”

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Tanya Savage, 44, who is self-employed, began shopping for her first home in February with a budget of $400,000. She’s spent years saving money and improving her credit score, and she’s tired of her landlord raising the rent.

Ms. Savage didn’t have much money to compete in bidding wars. But by May, the market had calmed down enough that the seller of a two-bedroom home near the Boise River Greenbelt kissed Mrs. Savage offered his asking price of $395,000 and agreed to pay $10,000 for closing costs.

Still, miss. Savage’s mortgage rate rose from 3% when she started shopping to more than 5% by the time she closed the purchase in June, pushing her monthly payments higher than expected.

“I feel like I really bought at the height of the market here in Boise, so there were fewer people fishing because of that,” she said. “But I had to pay more than I really wanted to.”

Tanya Savage, a local first-time buyer, received a credit of $10,000 in closing costs from the seller.

write to Nicole Friedman at

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