Boise home prices at records, no end in sight, apartment rents zooming – but cost of living still lower than average


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The cost to own or rent a home in Boise continues to increase, according to a BoiseDev analysis of the latest data points. But, the Boise area, for now, continues to see a lower overall cost of living.

‘New Norm:’ Boise home sales shifting

The median price of a house in Ada County zoomed up nearly $46,000 in just one year. That 14.5% increase, according to the Boise Regional Realtors factors in continued high demand and low inventory.

[Oh hey, Boise’s on another list. Why isn’t this exciting anymore?]

The real estate agents’ trade group tracks sales data each month.

The median sale price of a house stood at $363,000 in January according to BRR. That means half the homes sold fetched more than that, and half sold for less. The stat is a new record high for Ada Co.

The realtors said the sale of newly-built homes helped push the median up. Calling it a “new norm,” new construction made up 40.2% of all single-family homes sold in the area in January – up 8.2% from January of 2019.

“New homes are typically priced higher primarily due to increasing cost of land, labor, and materials,” BRR wrote in its report. “In January 2020, the median sales price for new construction was at $419,440 — up 12.2% from the same month last year.”

[Amazon rises: Large warehouse for retail giant starts to take shape along I-84]

Even screening out new construction, the median price for homes resold also remained high – up 18.7% to $340,000.

Inventory in the Boise market remains low, with 361 homes available to buy at the end of the month. That’s a big drop from a year ago – with 28% fewer houses for sale.

Values more than doubled in eight years, more growth coming

Zillow Home Value Index

Zillow, which uses a different data method than the BRR and measures the broader Boise metro area, shows home values in Boise bottomed out at $148,000 in February 2012. In the eight years since, values have more than doubled – up 123% to $331,000 as of this month.

Idaho continues to struggle with a shortage of housing units, with a gap of 23,000 affordable homes statewide, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.’s 2020 Housing Forecast predicts home prices in Boise will increase 8.1%, the highest jump by far of any of the 100 markets it surveyed. The next closest area, Colorado Springs, CO should see a 6.3% increase this year, with the greater Norwalk, CT area in third place at just a 4.8% predicted growth rate.

[New data: Growth a top concern; Many newcomers from California, but they’re like existing residents]

Idaho a top destination

United Van Lines said Idaho is the moving company’s top destination for inbound moves. wrote up the state and tightly illustrated why folks are making the switch for the Gem State:

“The median home list price in Idaho is $359,950—more than a third less than California’s median price of $575,050. So retirees can sell their Golden State homes for a bundle, buy an Idaho home for a fraction of that price, and use the leftover money to beef up their nest eggs. The moving company also saw a lot of folks from Colorado, where the median home price was $475,000, head to Idaho.”

[‘City at a crossroads:’ Brookings says Boise’s prosperity is fleeting, bold action needed]

Renters also feeling the pinch

People looking to rent an apartment also continue to face rising rents. RentCafe said the average apartment fetched $1,185 per month as of December. That’s an increase of 6% from the prior year. A whopping 59% of all apartments for rent in Boise saw prices in the $1,001 to $1,500 range. The second-largest category at 29% is apartments renting from $701-$1000 per month. Just 2% of apartments went for $501-$700.

RentCafe apartment rent data

RentCafe said renters occupied 42% of all housing units in the Boise market, with 57% of people owning.

According to RentCafe, average rent in Boise remains lower than Meridian, Kuna, Garden City, and Eagle. The Caldwell market saw prices spike 18% from the prior year — while apartments in Eagle now cost a whopping 44% more than a year ago, on average.

Still a lower cost of living

While the housing markets continue to see a significant increase, the cost of living in Boise remains slightly lower than the national average. January 2020 Data from shows the overall cost of living is 1.2% lower than the national average. Top factors include the cost of food – which stands 36.6% lower than the national average and energy at 11% lower. cost of living data notes the overall cost of housing is still 23.5% lower than the rest of the nation’s average.

But it says the auto-centric nature of the area puts the cost of transportation 16.6% above average. Healthcare is also slightly more expensive at 1.7%.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
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 [email protected].

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