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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

People coming to Boise see house prices and say, ‘Oh my goodness. I had no idea.’

These two new homes, at 6120 and 6140 W. Primrose St., are being offered for $289,900 each. They are located on the Boise Bench north of West Fairview Avenue and west of North Curtis Street. They feature two master bedrooms upstairs and another bedroom downstairs, with three bathrooms. The median sales price for the 60 homes sold on the Bench in July was $249,950. (John Sowell / Idaho Statesman)
By John Sowell Idaho Statesman

It’s beginning to feel like “Groundhog Day” whenever the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service releases its real estate sales statistics for the previous month.

In the 1993 film comedy, Bill Murray’s character, a television weatherman, covers a Groundhog Day celebration, only to be caught in a time warp where the day repeats itself again and again.

Real estate sales in Ada and Canyon counties have taken on that vibe this year: Only a small number of new and existing homes are available on the market, far too few to meet demand. Median sales prices are high, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for a market that has less than a month’s inventory of available homes at the current sales pace. Prices break records month after month as desperate buyers offer more than already high asking prices.

“The values have increased so dramatically that people coming here, who want to live in Boise or wherever because of their jobs or school, when they see the prices, they say ‘Oh my goodness, I had no idea,’” said Rick Gehrke, an agent with RE/Max Executives in Eagle.

And prices aren’t likely to become more buyer-friendly anytime soon, he said.

While the average sale price in Boise was $330,000 in July and $327,000 in Meridian, current listing prices are significantly higher, he said.

“The average list price is $414,000 in Meridian and $414,355 in Boise,” he said Monday. “That’s like $80,000 more.”

The average sales price is he sales prices of all homes divided by the number of homes sold. It is usually higher than the median price, which is the midpoint of all homes sold. That’s because high-end homes pull the average up.

The median of all Ada County homes sold in July was $319,000, according to the listing service. That is second only to the record $324,647 recorded in June. The median price rose above $300,000 for the first time in March. For new homes, the median was $379.900, down 3.5 percent from June’s record $393,705.

But for used homes, a new record was set: $300,000, up $100.

Canyon County is cheaper, as always, but no longer the bargain it once was. It set records too: The overall median was a record $229,945, up $5,045 in one month. The new-home median was also a record $269,570, up from $262,736. The used-home median was $210,750, down $250.

As for the house shortage:

The number of homes in Ada County on the market in July, 1,607, was higher than June’s, where there were 1,412 but still down 18 percent from a year ago, when the supply was already tight.

The change was even more dramatic in Canyon County, where just 518 homes were on the market, 35 percent fewer than a year ago.

“What’s driving it is that we had that terrible situation with the recession back in 2008 and 2009, and everybody quit building,” Gehrke said. “We had no inventory, whether it be existing homes or new homes, to handle this influx of people moving here.”

Construction is booming, but contractors are playing catch-up. They face rising construction costs, and the Boise Regional Realtors trade group says they’re focusing on higher-end homes with amenities more than entry-level projects to meet profit margins and consumer preferences.

Other details from the Ada County report:

▪ Highest median prices: Northeast Boise, $511,200; North Boise, $490,000; Eagle, $465,635.

▪ Lowest median prices: Kuna, $257,990; Boise Bench, $249,950; West Boise, $247,750.