You’ve seen the headlines. “Boise ranked No. 5 in the nation for first-time homebuyers;” “Boise one of the best, affordable places to live in the U.S. in 2019;” “Boise area has among the fastest-rising home prices in the U.S.” The Boise metropolitan area, as the epicenter of Idaho’s booming growth, finds its way to a host of lists that rank cities nationally. Sometimes this placement can seem misleading if not contradictive. How can Boise be a great, affordable place for first-time home buyers but also struggle with one of the fastest-rising home appreciation rates in the nation?
Here, 208.properties looks at a few of these national rankings to better understand how the country is viewing Boise’s contentiously hot housing market.
In a recent list published by the finance website Wallethub, Boise made number 5 on a national list of top 10 cities for first-time homebuyers. Wallethub determined this ranking using metrics for affordability, strength of the market, and quality of life. This included factors like cost of living and crime rates, where Boise consistently has an advantage, enough to outweigh even Ada County’s relatively high property taxes and disparity of median income to home prices.
In 2018, the median price of an Ada County home was $314,000, a one-year increase of 18.05%. While median income for 2018 has yet to be released by the Census Bureau, 2017’s Ada County median household income was only $60,858, a 2.81% decline from the previous year and not an ideal trend for continued affordable growth.
But the health of the housing market in Ada County remains strong. Market health indexes from Zillow research show a market worthy of investment, with booming construction and fast-selling homes. Coupled with the quality of life metrics that comprised 33.3% of Wallethub’s final ranking, it’s no wonder a city famous for the kindness of its citizens made its way to number 5.
Using similar metrics, MarketWatch ranked Boise Number 1 of their “Best, affordable places to live in the US in 2019” list. But what bumped Boise up to the top spot by their measure? Old data, most likely.
MarketWatch begins their 2019 best affordable U.S. Cities list with a claim that none of the featured municipalities has a median home value above $250,000. While the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau (one of MarketWatch’s listed sources) does in fact show a median value of $206,800 for owner-occupied housing units in Boise, that number is derived from a period lasting from 2013 to 2017. At the beginning of 2019, Zillow estimated the median value of Boise homes at $292,000, which would place Boise’s affordability $42,000 above MarketWatch’s criteria for consideration.
Then there’s the Veros Forecast, which placed 3 Idaho metropolitan areas in the top 10 in the nation for expected growth of home prices into 2020. Coeur D’Alene, Idaho Falls, and Boise-Nampa came in at 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively for anticipated appreciation of home values. Increasing population versus the housing supply is the key determiner in this prediction, with rapid growth being a state-wide challenge. However, Idaho’s construction industry is expanding in response to the demand, with new constructions sold rising 22.44% in Ada County alone in 2018.
With a healthy, competitive housing market, Boise continues to deserve the attention it receives overall. Desirability and affordability are a balancing act that for now is working out in favor of the Treasure Valley’s investor market, but with rapidly rising home prices, time will tell if Boise can continue to find its way to some of the top spots in any national real estate rankings.
In the last few years, Idaho and Boise in particular have reached an unprecedented level of national attention and coverage, but is the market really strong enough to warrant the attention? Investors, owners, and renters in the area, do you see the rising home prices as a bubble ready to burst or as a source of real value that will continue to grow for years to come? Find 208.properties on social media and share your thoughts, comments, and experiences with Boise’s blistering housing market.