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Rising rents continue to worsen affordability problems in Boise area: report

Thornton Oliver Keller put out its annual deep dive into the state of the multi-family housing market for the Boise Metro Area. While single-family homes and new construction often drive the affordability conversation due to more readily available data, the apartment market is a major component of the overall mix.

Vacancy in Ada County remains near its lowest level this decade at 2.6%. Only 2014 vacancy rates at 2.3% were lower since 2010. In Ada County, there are more than 18,600 rental units available according to TOK. That means on average only about 483 apartment homes are vacant at any one time.

With low vacancies come higher rents – a recurring and concerning theme for affordability. But the amount an apartment can fetch threatens to far outstrip incomes, according to TOK.

[BoiseDev Project Tracker: Multifamily housing projects]

“…they may soon reach a threshold most renters can no longer afford based on the market’s median income. The current median income for Ada & Canyon Counties (combined) is $57,953.”

TOK noted that the continued boom in single-family home prices “is forcing some would-be homebuyers to remain in rental properties.”

Courtesy Thornton Oliver Keller

More supply AND more demand

In 2014, the overall rent per square foot in Ada County stood at about $0.73. Now the average rate stands at about $1.12. That’s an increase in price of 53% in just five years.

In the last five years, TOK said more than 5,600 new multifamily units opened in Ada County. Despite the new supply, vacancy rates remain tight, driven largely by the population boom in the area.

TOK noted that Canyon County needs “additional multifamily product, however construction remains low with only enough permits for 202… in 2018.” By contrast, more than 2,000 new units were permitted in Ada County in 2018. But, TOK warns, many of the newer projects in Canyon County are earmarked for residents over the age of 55, “which still leaves a housing shortage for many.”

Correction: Clarifies that the majority of Canyon County product is targeted for those 55 and up, not Ada County.

Disclosure: Thornton Oliver Keller is a BoiseDev sponsor but had no role in the selection or content of this story.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at don@boisedev.com.

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