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The median Ada County house now costs almost $300,000. Chances are you can’t afford it

This three-bedroom home at 1927 N. Raymond St., off West Fairview Avenue, was one of only two Boise homes listed for sale Wednesday for less than $200,000. The median price for homes that sold in Ada County in February was $297,500, which set a record.
This three-bedroom home at 1927 N. Raymond St., off West Fairview Avenue, was one of only two Boise homes listed for sale Wednesday for less than $200,000. The median price for homes that sold in Ada County in February was $297,500, which set a record. jsowell@idahostatesman.com

Affordable houses in Boise and Meridian seem to be fading into history. It’s getting tougher for average buyers elsewhere in the Treasure Valley, too.

The median price of an Ada County house is almost $300,000 today, according to Boise Regional Realtors. In Canyon County, it’s almost $200,000. Both prices are record highs.

Boise had just two homes listed on the local multiple-listing service Wednesday for less than $200,000, according to Scott Barbee, an agent for Gold Key Real Estate who checked the listings for the Statesman. Both were used homes.

“There’s just very few listings out there in that price range,” Barbee said.

The two counties combined had just 65 houses for sale for less than $200,000. Many were in Nampa and Caldwell. There were only a handful in Ada County, mostly in Kuna and Star.

Yet $200,000 is roughly what a median-income Ada County family can afford.

The median family income in Ada County is $58,099, according to the Census Bureau. The median house price is $297,500.

A Boise buyer with that income and good credit who can put $26,000 toward a down payment and closing costs, who has $400 in monthly debt payments, and who still wants money left for food, entertainment and vacations, can afford a $215,787 home with a 30-year mortgage at a 4.72 percent loan rate, with a monthly payment of $1,458, including taxes and insurance, according to Nerdwallet, a financial advice website.

(The $26,000 would cover $18,000 for the down payment — the median national down payment in the most recent quarter, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a housing-data company — plus closing costs that Nerdwallet estimates at about $8,000.)

The median family income in Canyon County is $44,860. The median house price is $195,990.

A Nampa buyer with that income and good credit who can put $18,000 toward a down payment plus $7,000 toward closing costs, who has $300 in monthly debt payments, and who still wants money left for food, entertainment and vacations, can afford a $170,945 house with a 30-year mortgage at a 4.72 percent loan rate, with a monthly payment of $1,135, including taxes and insurance, Nerdwallet says.

Yet prices keep going nowhere but up. The supply of local homes for sale remains extremely tight as people who might have sold their home stay put and remodel instead. Multiple offers remain common.

Last week, Barbee found a listing for a house in Southwest Boise with an asking price of $223,000. He called the listing agent and was told there were already seven offers. Two of the potential buyers were offering cash.

That kind of competition leads other sellers to raise their asking prices. Ada County purchase prices for February were 16.7 percent higher than in February 2017. They were up 15.4 percent in Canyon County.

The housing inventory in Ada County in February was big enough to last just 1.8 months at the current pace of sales, down from 2.6 months a year earlier. In Canyon County, it was only slightly better, at 2.1 months. A balanced market — where neither buyers nor sellers are favored — typically has four to six months of supply, agents say.

Here are the February median prices by city from highest to lowest (the median is the midpoint between highest and lowest):

▪  Eagle: $479,043

▪  Star: $311,953

▪  Meridian: $301,154

▪  Boise: $268,590

▪  Garden City: $253,852

▪  Kuna: $233,451

▪  Nampa: $197,180

▪  Caldwell: $183,230

Within Boise, the least expensive homes are on the Boise Bench, with a median price of $221,000; and West Boise, at $224,450. Within Meridian, the least-costly homes are in the northwest, at $246,900.

And those two Boise houses? They are both ranch-style homes built in the early 1970s, each with three bedrooms and one bathroom, and each with just over 1,000 square feet.

One, located at 1927 N. Raymond St. just north of Fairview Avenue, is listed for $189,900. The other, at 10068 Fox Brush Drive near South Five Mile and East Columbia roads, is listed for $165,900.

Looking for an inexpensive house? Good luck. You’ll need it.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @JohnWSowell

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