'Don't count Mountain Home out:' Idaho's housing crunch extends past Boise

Mountain Home Growth
Posted at 1:22 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 15:35:05-04

BOISE. IDAHO — The Boise area housing market has gained national headlines as one of the hottest markets in the United States. Idaho News 6 has covered the factors that make up our housing market such as the extreme demand overwhelmingly exceeding the supply and the increase of lumber prices for new homes.

Is explosive growth happening outside of the Boise Metro too?

The City of Mountain Home is not seeing the growth like the rest of the Treasure Valley is currently seeing, but many believe it is just around the corner.

Elmore Co. Real estate statistics May 2021
Average price of home in Elmore county and market statistics

"Mountain Home is at the very first stages of exponential growth. I think very close to what other communities like Kuna, Nampa, Boise, Meridian what they have been currently living through. I think we are about to go through those gates," said Brock Cherry, Community Development Director for the City of Mountain Home.

With overwhelming growth just 50 miles away, the area is having trouble with finding crews to finish new builds in a timely manner.

"It's an issue over the entire Treasure Valley. Our workforce is spread very thin, right now there aren't people to drywall, there are no electricians, no plumbers in the Treasure Valley or in Mountain Home," said Cherry.

The City of Mountain Home isn't waiting to change that issue. The city has begun the processes of bringing a trade school there which they expect to be open next year.

The City of Boise has been struggling when it comes to affordable housing. So, what is Mountain Home doing about it?

"Right now, we're in the perfect storm when it comes to affordable housing. With lumber cost going up, not having workforce. It seems like a hopeless fight for a lot of municipalities. Stuff we have done to be more proactive is we understand that we can't keep building the typical single-family home subdivision and think that things will get cheaper because it doesn't," Cherry answered.

Mountain Home is also watching for disparities.

"Probably one of the biggest tragedies that happens with any growth is that unfortunately gentrification if want to call it that, happens and sometimes people get pushed out, and I believe what makes Idaho special is we want to retain our most valuable precious export ever...which is our young and talented folks, and we want to make sure that they always have a place to call home," said Cherry.

Why Mountain Home?

"Mountain Home is getting its moment in the sun because the treasure valley has filled out. If you're a builder going into the treasure valley you are too late for the party. Now when they see Mountain Home and if I have a Job in Downtown Boise or maybe even east Boise, I can get there much quicker from Mountain Home than I could from Caldwell, Nampa, Middleton and those areas," said Cherry.

Don't count Mountain Home out. We are getting a lot more inquiries into the Mountain Home area than ever before. There is a micro shift that is happening in the mindset of those who have initially looked at moving into the Boise market but have been priced out. They are now telling me, Greg, why don't we expand our home search into Mountain Home. The commute time into Boise is just about the same as if I was to live out past Caldwell or even into New Plymouth. I can get a bigger home, bigger lot and not have to fight traffic. So we are starting to see more and more inquiries into our website for larger homes on larger lots. I do have to remind prospective home buyers that Mountain Home isn't a sleepy market. It is a very hot market and homes go very quick. You need a good real estate agent these days on both sides of the transaction. Someone who can assist you through this home buying process and someone who can explain the risks some buyers are facing as they waive their contingencies to be more competitive
Greg Langhaim, EXP Realty

When it comes to new residential homes Mountain Home on average permits 11 to 35 projects. In 2019, that number jumped to 56, and in 2020 it went up again to 65. So far in 2021, they have permitted 48 projects and expect to triple last year's numbers by December.