Metro Boise home sales in August jumped 30.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, to 1,180 properties, amid a seller’s market. Even so, home prices continue to sag under the weight of distressed properties across the region. Short sales and bank-owned properties account for nearly half of all home sales.

At the same time, more than a third of homes with mortgages were underwater in the second quarter of 2011, according to CoreLogic, a real estate research firm.

Metro Boise home sales in August jumped 30.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, to 1,180 properties, amid a seller’s market. Even so, home prices continue to sag under the weight of distressed properties across the region. Short sales and bank-owned properties account for nearly half of all home sales.

At the same time, more than a third of homes with mortgages were underwater in the second quarter of 2011, according to CoreLogic, a real estate research firm.

This report highlights real estate market statistics and trends in the Boise metro area and includes a chart with detailed market data and commentary from local real estate professionals.

Overview

The average August sales price of an existing home in the greater Boise region fell 3.8 percent compared to a year ago, to $149,095, according to statistics from the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service.

Home prices are squeezed by a glut of distressed properties across the Treasure Valley — which includes Idaho’s two largest cities, Boise and Nampa. The result: Home values have fallen more than 36 percent since peaking in 2007, according to an August economic report by Moody’s Analytics.

Real estate experts say a below-average level of for-sale inventory has created a seller’s market. In Ada County, for example, the number of homes available for sale dropped below 2,500 for the first time since March 2006.

In a separate report, Re/Max reported that August home sales climbed 25.4 percent year over year, to 1,016 transactions, while the median sales price fell 7.3 percent from a year ago, to $125,000. However, the median price is up 4.2 percent from July.

Local data can differ because of differences in methodology, including housing types and geographic coverage. Despite the different methodologies, there often are parallels between percentage changes over time.

The Boise region is comprised of five counties and of two major and distinct housing markets: Ada County, anchored by the city of Boise; and Canyon County, whose largest city is Nampa. As the state capital and hub for commerce, the city of Boise is by far the state’s largest economic driver.

For Ada County, August existing-home sales climbed 43 percent from a year ago, to 605 transactions, according to the Ada County Association of Realtors. While the median sales price dropped 7 percent year over year in August, to $156,000, that price is the highest so far in 2011. For-sale homes spent an average of 81 days on the market in August, down from 90 days a year ago.

In Canyon County, August sales rose 11.5 percent on a year-over-year basis, to 258, according to the Intermountain MLS. The median sales price fell 13.1 percent compared to August 2010, to $76,000. For-sale homes spent an average of 78 days on the market in August 2011, up slightly from 74 during the same month last year.

"The average and median prices have started to rise while inventory continues to fall," said Greg Manship, CEO for the Intermountain MLS.

Like many fast-growing communities hit hard by the real estate downtown, a backlog of distressed properties is hampering the Boise housing market.

"We have so many of those short sales clogging up the marketplace. The short sales tend to be 10 to 25 percent less (in value)," said Darrin Jaszkowiak, owner and associate broker for Re/Max West.

On the positive side, distressed properties in Ada County made up 45 percent of total sales in August, compared with 57 percent in January.

Indeed, August foreclosure activity in Ada County tumbled 35.2 percent from a year earlier, to 628 properties in some stage of foreclosure — or 1 in every 250 housing units — RealtyTrac said. In Canyon County, foreclosures plunged 43.9 percent year over year, to 397 — or 1 in every 173 units.

Regionally, "the distressed market has fallen from a high of about 59 percent this year to about 44 percent this year," Manship said.

During the second quarter, 34.8 percent of homes with mortgages (45,278) in the Boise region were underwater, meaning the borrowers owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth, according to CoreLogic.

Another 5.7 percent, or 7,354 homes with mortgages, were near negative equity. Overall, Idaho ranked ninth nationally with 23 percent of mortgages upside down.

In 2010, lenders repossessed 11,289 homes (1 in every 21 units) in the Boise City-Nampa area, a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year and an eye-popping 108.5 percent surge from 2008, RealtyTrac reported.

Last year, Boise ranked 20th among top U.S. metro areas in foreclosure rates, while the state ranked eighth nationally.

Re/Max pegged Boise’s current active inventory in August at nearly 3,872 properties, down 65.4 percent from a year ago. In the past year, days on the market increased 6 percent compared to August 2010, to 88 days.

Intermountain MLS reported total for-sale listings in August dropped 14.7 percent year over year, to 1,674, while the average days on the market for for-sale properties dropped 4.5 percent.

"There’s a shortage of inventory. Properties that are pretty well priced can sell quickly," Jaszkowiak said. He said homeowners aren’t selling because of two factors: Either they are underwater with their mortgages or they’re skittish about the economy.

Other real estate experts cite the collapse of new-home building in the past several years. Only now is new-home construction starting to pick up.

Economists and real estate experts said they believe the local housing market will see a marked improvement as the inventory of distressed properties diminishes and the local economy recovers.

Moody’s Analytics predicts home prices will bottom out this year and then steadily rise each year, to $168,500 by 2015, a 25.4 percent increase from 2011.

"Most of the cities hit the bottom of the market in median price in April. We’ve recovered values where they are equal to January," Jaszkowiak said. "We’re confident values will rebound. But it is going to be a slow turnaround."

Known for its potatoes, picturesque rural setting and highly touted recreational activities, including skiing and whitewater rafting, Idaho has been one of the fastest-growing states in the nation in recent decades.

Indeed, the Boise region saw a 92 percent surge in population growth from 1990 to 2010. Personal incomes also doubled over that same period.

New-home "construction was fast and furious and demand was even faster. Our numbers went way up over $250,000 and that couldn’t be sustained," said Marc Lebowitz, executive director of the Ada County Association of Realtors. Communities to the west of Ada County were hurt more by the real estate downturn.

An economic rebound could be on the horizon. Boise is positioned for "slightly better than average" growth in 2012, Moody’s Analytics predicts.

"The strong performance of health care and other consumer-driven service industries will drive the near-term recovery as the drag from housing lessens. Longer term, (Boise) must transition away from tech manufacturing for stability," wrote Moody’s analyst Tim Daigle.

Over the next three years, Boise’s population is projected to reach 710,000, up 15 percent from 2010. The majority of newcomers are forecast to arrive from Southern California and the Phoenix area, experts say. In its annual rankings this summer, RelocateAmerica named Boise the eighth best U.S. city to live in.

Boise should benefit from its low cost of living and pro-business climate. An April 2011 Moody’s Analytics report lists Boise’s cost of living at 96 percent of the U.S. average, while the cost of doing business was 78 percent of the national average.

Its employment growth ranked in the top quarter of the country and is predicted to rise to 84th out of 392 U.S. regions within four years. Its per capita income ranks at 85 percent of the U.S. average.

"I see unemployment being the key factor to the (housing) recovery. We have so many people who are underemployed or worried about keeping their jobs. They are hesitant about buying," Jaszkowiak said.

Lebowitz said new leadership and strategy at the Boise Valley Economic Partnership — the region’s chief business development group — is starting to pay off. In the past, the group focused on recruiting large companies with huge payrolls. Today, officials are targeting smaller employers that could create several hundred hew jobs.

"We have pulled in two to three employers to the valley with 200 jobs," Lebowitz said. "We have passed recovery into moderate growth."

Boise metro area data

Population (2010) 616,651
Population growth (2000-10) 32.6%
Total closed sales (2010) 9,154
% change closed sales (2009-10) 11.5%
% change closed sales (August 2011 vs. August 2010) 30.7%
Sales per person (2010) 1 in 67 people
Average sales price (August 2010) $149,095
% change average sales price (August 2011 vs. August 2010) -3.8%
Foreclosure activity rate (August 2011) 1 in 220 units
% of sales distressed (2010) about 50%
% homes affordable to median-income households 82.5%
% unemployment (August 2011, not seasonally adjusted) 9.0%
Walk Score 44

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Intermountain MLS, Ada County Association of Realtors, RealtyTrac, Walk Score, National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo, U.S. Census Bureau.

…CONTINUED

Q-and-A

Inman News asked some area real estate professionals to comment on the latest market trends in the Boise metro housing market.

Q: What types of properties are selling fastest and slowest in your market area?

Laurie Barrera
President
Ada County Association of Realtors
"Those properties that buyers perceive as good values are the fastest sellers. Key factors are: price point; area of town; condition of property; and then specific, desirable neighborhoods."

Chase Craig
Agent
Keller Williams Realty Boise
"The properties selling the fastest are the ones that are priced right. Ada County inventory levels have been consistently decreasing over the last eight or nine months to the point where our supply for certain price points and areas is as little as two months.

"So as long as you aren’t overpricing your property, it is getting sold. We have been seeing less and less bank-owned (inventory) come on the market, which has assisted in the decline of home inventory."

Kit Fitzgerald
Director of sales
Red Barn Real Estate
"Right now it appears that we are more seasonally driven than ever. In the spring and summer our larger homes all started selling like crazy, probably due to families trying to move prior to school starting in the fall. We are seeing a bunch of the empty nesters coming back out and looking for the single-level homes.

"The bank-owned homes are probably selling the fastest, but mostly because they are artificially low in price. The slowest sales are the homes priced over $500,000. However, they are moving now, whereas a few months ago we had a large amount of inventory in this category on the market."

Darrin Jaszkowiak
owner and associate broker
Re/Max West
"The fastest would be starter homes $170,000 and below. The slowest would be the opposite end of the market, in the $1 million range."

Eric Jensen
Broker-owner
Idaho Smart Agents
"In Ada County, the sub-$250,000 market is hot, with just under a 3.5-month supply of inventory. Condition and location are just as important as ever, but, for properties under $100,000, those factors seem to be taking a backseat to price and being gobbled up by investors and first-time homebuyers.

"The luxury-home market has taken a beating ($700,000-plus), although there is a small niche of higher-end horse properties that seems to be gaining some momentum."

Phil Mount
Agent
Keller Williams Realty Boise
"In Ada County we continue to move from a ‘balanced’ market … back to a seller’s market. Our inventory today of single-family homes is 2,019 listings, compared (with) 2,588 in June, 2,674 in January and 3,527 in September 2010. Most local buyers are surprised to learn that particularly for homes under $175,000, there simply is not much inventory to choose from.

"Well-priced, clean homes are usually under contract within a couple weeks of hitting the market. Buyers of foreclosed homes need to be ready to make an offer within a day or two of the property hitting the market, or lose out.

"In several cases this summer, my clients have found themselves in a bidding situation for clean foreclosures, and must pay full listing price or above."

Katrina Ralston
Associate broker
Hughes Real Estate Group
The single-family homes priced between $120,000 and $160,000 are selling the fastest. These are properties that fit first-time homebuyer needs and qualifications.

Through August we had 992 units sold and closed just in this price range — this is the greatest amount of units in all the price points sold. For obvious reasons (namely, the economy), the luxury-home market (anything over $700,000) is the slowest moving in our area.

Q: Is anything changing about the demographics of buyers and sellers in your market area?

BARRERA: There continues to be a lot of first-time homebuyers taking advantage of low interest rates, and there are a large number of investors buying now. Although there are still a significant number of short-sale listings, there are a growing number of sellers with equity positions.

CRAIG: With interest rates where they are and rental rates increasing, we are seeing a lot of renters deciding to purchase homes in the area, as they can typically get a larger home for the same monthly payment or less.

I have also noticed a number of investors coming back into the market to take advantage of low pricing and interest rates.

FITZGERALD: I’m finding that the influx of empty nesters moving here from out of the area has increased quite a bit over the last year or so.

Many of the clientele I see are moving here to be closer to family, children and grandchildren, and/or retire. They tell me that the reasonable prices and nice weather (300 days of sunshine a year) make our area an attractive place to come.

JASZKOWIAK: Yes, the (demographics) fit two criteria: first-time buyers and retirees, and those with substantial equity. The upper-middle-income buyers have been hit hard, with lower equities locking them in to their current home until equity or incomes improve.

JENSEN: The investor is back with a vengeance. We are back to a market where properties’ cash flow and acquisition costs are extremely low. Couple that with historically low vacancy rates and you have a perfect market for the savvy investor.

Today’s seller is more often than not being forced to sell rather than choosing to. The typical move-up buyer is now struggling with negative equity almost across the board due to the receding home values over the last several years. This fact, I believe, is the biggest cause to the soft market in the $250,000-plus range.

MOUNT: As prices in Boise softened in the last three years, buyers have found that closer-in homes are more affordable. Buyers who once looked to outlying Canyon County (Nampa and Caldwell), Kuna or Star and Middleton have found they can buy in closer-in areas such as Meridian or southwest Boise and reduce their commute time and costs.

RALSTON: The first-time homebuyer has really gained more opportunity to purchase a home. With the dramatic drop in prices over the last few years and amazing interest rates the momentum for these buyers has propelled forward. I have also spoken with a lot of people this year looking at Boise as a future retirement location.

We have a great and mild four-season climate. Plus the location seems to fit for people who have family spread out — it ends up being the middle ground and hence a desired location for retirees.

The sellers are unfortunately in the same boat as most of the country, meaning their home values have dropped so unless they have been in their home for 15 or more years and did not take out a second, they have no equity. Consequently we have an extremely low inventory of available homes.

Q: What are recent trends with prices, sales and inventory?

BARRERA: Properties at entry-level price points, such as $200,000 and under, are experiencing multiple offers and those offers occur in a week or less of the initial list date. Above that $200,000 price point, the buyer interest varies by area, location and condition.

In the $300,000 to $400,000 price point, the market is unbalanced. We see a buyer’s and seller’s market, depending on location and price. Properties selling for $400,000 and over are seeing some neighborhoods with just 30 days of inventory. Once you reach the $600,000-and-over price point, the inventory levels are low but the sales are fewer and less frequent.

CRAIG: Prices have been increasing over the year — the number is very minor though. This is nothing to shake a stick at, though. There were many people not too long ago who were stating that pricing would continue to fall well into 2012 and 2013, but we have already seen the median home pricing for the year increase, which is very good news.

Sales have increased year over year. At the end of August 2011 we were 245 units ahead of the end of August 2010. That is absolutely staggering considering that in 2010 we had an amazing tax incentive for purchasers and investors.

Inventory has continued to decrease the entire year. We have 34 percent fewer homes on the market today than we did this same time last year. That is great news for sellers looking to take advantage of the market.

FITZGERALD: Inventory is way down from last year and appears to be holding steady. We have about four months of supply in Ada County (Boise, Meridian, Kuna and Star). Prices and sales continue to stay steady — no major swings, however, we are up overall for the year. We surpassed last year’s total sales at the end of July, and our trend has basically stayed up month over month all year.

JASZKOWIAK: Inventory is 31 percent below what it was last year and that was the lowest it has been in five years. This (is occurring) in many price ranges. The flip side is that where this is most prevalent (homes priced at $170,000 and below) we are seeing small price increases.

MOUNT: I believe the decline in REOs has helped with a stabilization of prices. The Ada County market really has very distinct submarkets (the North End, Foothills, southeast Boise, Bench, southwest Boise, Meridian and Eagle), each with their own dynamics.

But in general, home prices have been stable this summer, and some areas (the North End, East Boise and Eagle) have seen some modest price appreciation. Areas that have seen some decline are outlying areas such as Star and Kuna that are a further commute to major employers and the city center.

RALSTON: Prices have finally leveled out. August’s median home price increased 2.5 percent from July to $156,000. This is the highest median price we have had all year long.

Q: Are you seeing changes in the market share of short sales and real estate owned (REO) properties?

BARRERA: The inventory levels seem to be diminishing. More homes with equity positions are coming on to the market lately.

CRAIG: Short-sale properties have been holding relatively steady over the last six months, without any major increases or decreases. My personal opinion is that both the banks and sellers realize that short sales are much easier to do today than they were a few years ago, and banks are eager to perform a short sale over a foreclosure because it saves them a lot of money in the long run.

They have streamlined the process with programs like Equator, which make communication much easier between the banks, Realtors and sellers.

FITZGERALD: The distressed properties are decreasing in total available inventory and sales at a fairly steady rate — slow, but steady.

Short sales are becoming a much smaller piece of the distressed property market, but as I said before, the REO properties are being priced really low, so if anything, they are keeping our pricing for all homes lower than they probably need to be.

The REO homes are selling in a matter of days vs. a typical time on the market of about 75 days.

JASZKOWIAK: Short sales continue to gain ground as services face increased foreclosure costs and they improve the processing of short sales.

JENSEN: Yes, the market share for distressed properties has steadily declined since January, when 57 percent of all transactions were either short sales or foreclosures. Today, that number has dropped to a low of 45 percent.

Another interesting trend in the market is the ratio between short-sale and foreclosure properties. At the peak it was over a 70/30 split, in favor of REOs. The most recent numbers we have indicate a nearly 60/40 split, (which suggests that) banks are increasing short-sale approvals instead of foreclosing.

MOUNT: The number of REOs has declined dramatically this summer, from 38 percent of the market in June to 22 percent of the market in July and August, and month-to-date for September is about 19 percent.

The "shadow inventory" of foreclosed homes we keep hearing about just is not hitting the market here.

RALSTON: The percentage of active inventory that is distressed increased almost 2 percent from June, to 35 percent. Although, this seems bad to have all this distressed property, we have buyers.

If the banks could keep up with our demand and get their "shadow" inventory listed we could put together more contracts. There were about 2,463 available homes for sale (as of August) compared with 3,616 units at the same time a year ago. Looking all the way back to 2007, there were 5,198 available units for sale.

Q: What worries you most about the current state of the market, and what represents a sign of optimism and opportunity for the real estate market?

BARRERA: What worries us is getting your buyer in the door before a multiple-offer situation occurs. This lack of inventory is leading to a price-leveling period, which should serve to alleviate the negative mood of the past market.

CRAIG: What worries me most about the current state of the market is that buyers and sellers are going to think this is normal, when, in fact, an opportunity like the one we have in front of us will likely not present itself again for a long, long time.

I just had a buyer close on their home that received a 30-year fixed loan with an interest rate of 3.75 percent.
I am afraid that a few years from now everyone is going to be discussing around the watercooler, "Remember when you used to be able to borrow money at 3.75 percent for 30 years? Yeah, those were the days."

FITZGERALD: I think I’m most concerned about buyers and sellers having a good experience in purchasing/selling a home. I’m just starting to notice that buyers are struggling to find homes that they like due to our low inventory, but then when they do find them they are still making low offers and negotiating themselves out of a home.

The sellers are at the point where they don’t want to go any lower. They are setting their prices realistically, and when the buyers coming in make incredibly low offers the sellers are starting to walk away, not moving much on pricing, and everyone ends up unhappy.

On that same note, I think that the low interest rates are encouraging a bunch of people to come into the market to buy, and that creates energy and momentum.

JASZKOWIAK: What worries me most is unemployment and underemployment. What I do like seeing is the conservative nature of many purchases — by that I mean people are keeping more reserves at hand and buying less than the maximum they can qualify for.

JENSEN: My biggest concern for our market right now is the increasing number of strategic defaulters I am seeing.

With the growing frustration of many about their inability to move up, they are opting to move up via default and become renters. Without any option I fear more people will choose this path, prolonging the distressed inventory situation.

The positive side to this is that in three to five years there will be a large number of buyers coming back into the market.

MOUNT: I am still seeing a traditional mix of first-time buyers, move-up buyers and relocation buyers. Boise is still growing in population and employers such as Micron Technology have been adding new high-value jobs.

We are seeing more investors in the market since the spring. Low interest rates and good values are providing very attractive investment opportunities, and where a year ago investors were holding back, this summer they have been entering the market.

RALSTON: I don’t really have any worries right now. I feel like we have been through the worst of it. Yes, it’s not over, but the shock is gone. Now it’s all about working harder and more efficiently. If Boise had some large employers coming to town I would feel a lot better. We need some employment opportunities to start growing again.

Q: Where are sellers moving to, and where are the buyers moving from in your market area? Does this represent a change?

BARRERA: We are seeing buyers relocating for jobs, retirement or to be near family. First-time local homebuyers are getting into the market because of the low interest rates. "Boomer-rangers," or people moving back to the valley they grew up in, are another factor because they miss Boise, with its great reputation for lifestyle and environment.

CRAIG: I personally have been working with a lot of first-time homebuyers from the area. However, recently I have been having a lot of people sign up on my website from out of state in areas such as Alaska, Oregon, Utah, California and even North Dakota — all in the last month. They have all been interested in moving to Idaho — some to retire and some for work.

FITZGERALD: I haven’t seen a ton of movement out of the area, just a few here and there. Mostly I see people coming here from out of state. I would say that approximately 60 percent of my buyers and the buyers purchasing my sellers’ homes are coming from out of state. Many are coming for jobs — not in any one particular industry — and the rest are coming to retire.

JASZKOWIAK: Sellers are moving to employment centers for their field, but I am seeing more people moving in from California who are retired or have small businesses. Also, we are seeing medical professionals move in from all areas of the country. Does this represent a change? The only change is that people who just want to move, say, out of California, cannot if their house is underwater.

JENSEN: Growth has begun again in earnest in the western cities of Ada County. Meridian is seeing several large-scale developments, both in residential planned communities as well as large retail and commercial projects.

Several major government roadway projects have increased accessibility to these areas. The valley as a whole continues to draw people from all across the country based on the desirable lifestyle and cost of living.

RALSTON: We still have out-of-state buyers relocating to our market, but honestly the majority is moving from local apartments and rental homes. The first-time homebuyer is such a large portion of our sales. This is certainly a change from the past, when it was very difficult for the average person to buy a home they could afford.

Q: How have you changed your business to mirror the market and to capitalize on market trends?

BARRERA: My business partner, Helen Law, helps homeowners, some in difficult situations, to strategically plan the sale of their home. When a short sale is an option, Helen offers an initial free consultation with her team of professionals, who consist of financial advisers, an attorney if necessary, and other support staff to assist in the process.

Our business opportunities have expanded to include listing REO properties as well as equity sales. I have an ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) designation, and with my skills helping buyers navigate through this complicated market, our combined business has more than doubled.

CRAIG: I have spent a lot of time optimizing my website and getting it out in front of people. With almost 90 percent of real estate purchasers starting their house hunt on the Web, I’ve realized that you have to find a way to get in front of them. I focus the rest of the time I have on taking care of my clients and past clients. Nothing beats great customer service.

FITZGERALD: I’ve worked very hard to have a much higher Web presence than before, and worked to market to all different demographics. In addition, I’ve worked harder than ever to establish myself as a true friend in the real estate industry.

I believe that if we as Realtors can do our best to work well together, we have a much better shot at ensuring our customers have a good experience. Additionally, I’m fortunate because I sell a lot of new construction, and my builders are able to adapt and build what the customer wants, as well. This is very helpful as our buyer profile changes, and our buyers, who are more discerning that ever, are looking for just the right fit. 

JASZKOWIAK: We work with a lot of distressed home sellers and are prepared to counsel people on local market trends to aid them in the buying process.

JENSEN: I have created strategic partnerships with property management companies. Through these relationships I am able to get and refer leads for investors as well as prospective tenants who will either be buying shortly or are past clients who have become renters due to market conditions.

MOUNT: I became a Realtor in August 2009 after being laid off from Hewlett-Packard after 25 years as a marketing professional. In my first year in the business I achieved the "Circle of Excellence" award for sales, being among the top 20 percent of Realtors in Ada County.

I have embraced the market with its short sales and foreclosures, while many Realtors I know refuse to deal at all with a short-sale transaction. I have found education to be key, and I take advantage of continuing-education opportunities that give me an edge over other Realtors in the valley.

I am one exam away from receiving my broker’s license. I am also active in two committees at the Ada County Association of Realtors. Being active, informed and involved has helped me navigate the market for my clients and prospect to grow my business. 

RALSTON: I wouldn’t say I have done anything to mirror the market, but I have had to make changes. My license plates say "LUV2GLF," (but) they should say "LUV2WRK." I have to work harder and longer hours in order to make a portion of the income I was making at the height.

I don’t mind working harder, but I just wish we had more products available to show buyers. It’s hard to explain to buyers that there is a limited amount of homes available to see, and when they find the right one they better make a good offer or they won’t get it.

Chances will be that they will be competing with someone else who thinks it’s the best house for sale as well. This seems to be contradictory to all the press real estate is getting in our area, which leads buyers to think they can come in and write a low offer and get the steal of the century.

What they are missing is that the home is already priced as the steal of the century and they should jump.

Q: What are some overall economic trends you are seeing in your market area that will guide the real estate market?

BARRERA: The Boise Valley Economic Partnership is continually working on its long-term mission of creating jobs, encouraging investment in the community, and maintaining a balanced quality of life. BVEP is actively involved in the economic vitality of the Boise Valley and has been successful in bringing the sort of entrepreneurs that bring vitality to the Treasure Valley.

CRAIG: There has been great growth in many local businesses. You don’t have to go too far to see that Micron, one of the largest private employers in Idaho, is constructing a new building. BodyBuilding.com is another great success story and seems to continue to grow each and every day.

We also keep our ears attune to what Clark Krause with the Boise Valley Economic Partnership has to say. Recently, he discussed a new call center, bringing 200 new jobs to the Boise area. So long as we can continue to keep the jobs we have here, and add a few jobs to it, we should be able to get through this.

FITZGERALD: I still see consumer spending staying strong. We continue to have new developments in retail, restaurants and other businesses popping up everywhere, and in most cases they appear to be doing very well.

In addition, we have corporations that are moving here or opening up new branches in our city. This helps get people back to work and also brings new people to town. And because we are so anchored in Boise by the university, state government and health care, we continue to have growth in those sectors, which maintains and creates jobs.

All of these things are positive signs that our real estate market will continue to recover nicely. The next few years should be good, solid years for home sales, and I expect we will begin to see an increase in our prices at a healthy appreciation rate.

JENSEN: I see new construction becoming a larger part of the market over the next year. I see the need increasing as the levels of good, sellable inventory declines and as more buyers come back into the market. This will help the economy by adding back jobs in the construction industry that were lost due to the downturn.

MOUNT: New construction is another improving sector. The builders that have survived the last couple of years are building more spec homes. In many new communities in East Boise, Meridian and Eagle, (homebuilders constructing) $200,000 to $350,000 homes are finding their inventory sell out very quickly.

I don’t track new construction specifically; anecdotally, my colleagues representing builders (say the builders claim) their models sell … quickly. And we are seeing the need to break ground to expand developments that have been stalled for the last few years. Good building lots are increasingly hard to find.

RALSTON: Employment will definitely have a determining factor on how quickly our market will bounce back. Although most people think of Idaho as being an agricultural state, we have a lot of technology in our valley. So if the tech industry takes off we will be doing well also.

Gilbert Mohtes-Chan is a freelance writer in California.

Agent Reboot, a one-day conference that features a tech tuneup for real estate professionals, is coming to Boise on Oct. 18, 2011. More info.

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