Summit reports economic growth will continue in Valley

November 19, 2013 

Continued, but not speedy, economic growth is on the horizon for the Treasure Valley, local experts in various sectors said at the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Economic Summit Tuesday.

After years in doldrums, the residential real estate market is on the rise, said Marc Lebowitz, CEO of the Ada County Association of Realtors. November sales are on track to outpace November 2012 by 5 to 7 percent, he said, saying October, with sales lower than the previous year’s, was “an aberration” partly attributable to the partial government shutdown.

The number of homes for sale has dropped — around 1,600 now compared to a staggering 5,200 in the summer of 2007 — and prices have risen, with the median price now about $275,000, he said. Median home prices are forecast to rise from 5 to 9 percent in the next year across Idaho, with Ada County’s increase likely to be in the double digits, he said.

“We must continue to add a much more significant number of new homes in order to sustain this recovery,” Lebowitz said.

One positive sign, he said, is a dramatic decrease in the number of the available homes categorized as “distressed” — short sales or bank-owned properties. A year and a half ago, about 60 percent of the available home inventory fell into that category, he said, but “now it’s 10 percent or less.”

Rebecca Hupp, director of the Boise Airport, said the airport has fewer airlines — six — and nonstop destinations — 17 — than six years ago, when eight airlines flew nonstop to 20 destinations. But after a fairly flat year for passenger numbers she anticipates more seats on flights and more passengers for those seats in 2014. One key goal for the airport, she said, is to gain nonstop access to an East Coast hub.

Jim Giuffre, president and chief operating officer of Boise-based Healthwise Inc., said he is very encouraged by the efforts of the Idaho Workgroup on Medicaid Expansion which, if approved, would save more money than it would cost, extend care to those who need it most and create some 16,000 new jobs over the next decade.

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