BOISE — Boise’s hot real estate market is an inescapable topic these days. No matter if you are looking to purchase your first home, searching for an affordable apartment or just looking at your property tax bill, skyrocketing real estate prices have likely made an impact on your bottom line.
At a Citizens Planning Academy discussion hosted by the nonprofit Idaho Smart Growth, more than a dozen attendees bandied about topics related to rising rent and home prices.
Capital City Development Corporation Real Estate Development Manager Shellan Rodriguez said Boise’s real estate market is currently squeezed by an influx of people and not enough housing for everyone, which has created rising prices across the spectrum.
She said currently, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city is $899, with even higher prices for two- and three-bedroom apartments. At the same time, while rents have risen 20 percent over the last year, wages for the service industry, paramedics, or childcare workers remain stagnant, putting housing out of reach for a growing portion of Boise’s workforce.
To accommodate the additional 50,000 new residents projected to come to Boise in the next 20 years, Rodriguez told the audience that the market needs an additional 1,000 units a year to keep up with the demand. While this benchmark has been met so far, she said it is all marketed for higher price points because of high building costs.
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As a solution, she suggested the construction of more dense housing developments, incentivizing diverse housing projects for students and seniors or cooperatives to meet a wider variety of needs and a greater desire of residents to agree to development in their neighborhoods.
“If you’re going to create more supply in your housing, you have to have people saying yes it can be near me,” she said. “That’s a tough one.”
Erik Kingston, housing resources coordinator for the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, said the nationwide market is being affected by a huge influx of investment from overseas, largely from China. That means investors are buying up real estate in historic quantities and renovating it to be at higher price points, owning it just for storage purposes and money laundering or using it as short-term rental units instead of for residents to live in.
He echoed Rodriguez and called for the construction of more housing units, especially for the middle class, to increase market supply and bring prices down for everyone. Kingston also shared several concepts such as cooperatives and other housing projects that have been developed in Europe and in cities like Portland, Oregon, that bring costs down for people willing to live in smaller, shared spaces as a solution to the problem.
Margaret Carmel covers the city of Boise. Follow her on Twitter @mlcarmel or reach her by phone at 757-705-8066.