The rapidly escalating costs of Treasure Valley housing brought great news in 2018 to home builders, sellers and their agents, but caused serious problems for young people and others seeking to buy or rent places to live — including people who might want to move up from the current homes but can’t afford move-up home prices.
This selection of 10 stories captures the news that stunned longtime Valley residents, examined the human impact and explored some solutions.
Affordable houses in Boise and Meridian seem to be fading into history. Ada and Canyon counties combined had just 65 houses for sale for less than $200,000 on a day we checked. Yet $200,000 is roughly what a median-income Ada County family can afford.
Everyone has a tale of woe: The agent who wrote nine offers for three buyers but only one was accepted. The downsizing homeowner who sold his house and can’t find another to save his life.
Persistent trends — the shortage of used-home listings and high demand — sped up the sales pace.
As the year dragged on, it began to feel like “Groundhog Day” whenever the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service released 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. An agent in August reported average list prices topping $400,000 in Boise and Meridian.
It’s hard to miss the panic in Facebook posts, Craigslist ads, letters to the editor: “I can’t find an apartment to save my life. Can you help me? Please?”
Says one local housing official: “I’m hearing an increasing amount of despair in the voices that I talk to, people that are losing their housing, they’ve got nowhere to go, some of them are seniors.”
Its latest: the Cottonwoods Apartments in the River Run area of Southeast Boise, east of Parkcenter Boulevard.
Or they might have, had the Garden City Council not rejected a request to rezone a State Street parcel to allow the pocket neighborhood development. Council members responded to safety concerns raised by neighbors.
This new Boise company says its container homes offer one answer to the affordable-housing problem, with dwellings that are attractive, comfortable and trendy.
“I think we’re at a unique point in the developing of Boise housing when we can create these kinds of housing options before a housing crisis slaps us in the face.”