Boise-area home market eases up on owners

Rebounding values help some sellers who were trapped as well as some looking for a profit

zkyle@idahostatesman.comJuly 29, 2013 

Call it patience, or call it being forced to wait by a depressed market. Either way, Treasure Valley homeowners who held onto their homes during the last three years are being rewarded by selling now.

Bryan Bumgarner wanted to sell in 2011, when the birth of his daughter made his small North End home seem even smaller. Bumgarner, who works as a social worker at the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center, didn’t bother appraising his house because he knew it would sell only at a loss.

Today, Bumgarner is listing his house for $30,000 more than he bought it for in 2009. He expects it will sell quickly, thanks to the lack of inventory in the Boise housing market.

“We would have been lucky to break even early last year, and the year before there certainly would have been no way to come out ahead,” Bumgarner said. “We would have had to bring some money to the table at that point.”

Home prices have climbed steadily in Ada and Canyon counties. The median home price in June in Ada County was $212,000, up 21.6 percent from June 2012, according to the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service. The median in Canyon County was $131,550, up 25.4 percent. Sales rose, too, with 1,112 homes sold in the Valley in June, up 18.3 percent from June 2012.

Many owners who wanted to sell during the recession held off because their homes had lost 30 or 40 percent of their values, said Greg Manship, CEO of the listing service.

“People are starting to come off the fence and list, because prices are back to a level where they can at least recoup what they put into a home,” Manship said.

Nina Cadwell, a real estate agent at Group One in Boise, said she has seen a dramatic shift in the attitudes of home sellers.

Selling homes was a depressing prospect for homeowners after the housing market crashed in 2008, Cadwell said. Many homeowners took big losses when they were forced into short sales — selling for less than they owed on their mortgages. Others lost homes through foreclosures because they couldn’t keep up with payments.

Cadwell said she commonly saw sellers bringing cash to closings to pay off their mortgages, pay other fees and pay agent commissions. That’s happening less now, she said.

“There’s a lot of pent-up frustration from people who bought at the peak of the market,” Cadwell said. “Now, people feel like they can make a move. There’s a sense of relief and hope and freedom to start (selling) like they want to.”

“Every (market segment) is better, and listings under $300,000 are really quite busy,” Cadwell said.

Keller Williams Realty Boise agent Janet Parsons said she has three clients who are having an easier time selling than in past attempts.

“Agents are getting back in touch with clients who tried to sell a couple years ago and couldn’t, and now they’re able to,” Parsons said. “Usually, it’s at the same price they tried before and maybe a little higher.”

While some homeowners bought their homes before the market crashed, others who bought at the low-water mark are looking to cash in now.

In 2011, Becky Hoth-Sievers saw an investment opportunity in the short-sale market, buying her four-bedroom, three-bathroom in Northwest Boise for $283,000. Hoth-Sievers, who works as a research and development project and program manager at Hewlett-Packard, tried to sell the home for $349,000 last year, which she felt was a fair price after she installed new flooring and painted the interior and exterior. Then she dropped the price to $329,000. It still didn’t sell.

She relisted the home in July for $369,000 and said she has received lots of interest this time around.

“The days-on-market is much lower now,” Hoth-Sievers said. “In theory, I’ll make a profit. That would be the hope.”

Zach Kyle: 377-6464

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