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State of 208: What Treasure Valley zip codes are best for buying a home

Posted at 12:16 PM, Oct 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-28 17:24:35-04

BOISE — So what's in a zip code? A lot when it comes to finding a new home. Where are the hot spots, the secret gems, and where's the best bang for your buck?

6 On Your Side asked, what zip code is best for people hoping to buy a home? And how is it best to calculate that?

After digging into Zillow data, census data and creating an index score to calculate "bang for buck" (more on that later), this is what we came to. These rankings include Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley and Washington counties. That's a lot of zip codes and even more disparity between incomes and home values. But the data tells an interesting story.

The verdict? Payette. Payette is the zip code with the most beneficial relationship between household income and the value of each square foot of a property. Eagle comes in second, followed by two Boise Zip codes, a Kuna zip code and then Boise.

Does this data tell the whole story? No. But let us explain how we came to this. It tells more of the story than you might think.

First, we broke down census data for each zip code in the Treasure Valley. The results were eye-opening. Boise zip code 83716 came out on top with an average household income of $85,259.

But income only tells a sliver of the story. Sure, more more helps buy property, but it doesn't necessarily translate to a better purchase of a home. So, we researched the next data point. It's called value per square foot (VPSF) and it's an excellent tool for realtors to help their clients find the home they can afford and the neighborhood they want to live in.

Keep in mind, value per square foot is different than sell price per square foot. Our numbers come from Zillow, an American online real estate database company. The Boise Regional Realtors do not use Zillow, but use their own internal statistics to judge the market. We asked Phil Mount, President of the Boise Regional Realtors about the average sold price per square foot.

"It is a guideline but it doesn't tell the whole story because it will figure in things like how big the property is, is it a five-acre parcel, is it a big two-story home, because a two-story home is actually lower per square foot than a single level because you have more materials under one roof," he said.

So let's take a closer look at what we have here in the Treasure Valley, starting in Boise with the zip code 83702. Not a big surprise; the Boise foothills are at the top of the list with the highest VPSF at $326. Followed by 83712, the Harris Ranch area of town, $258 per square foot. Moving over to 83714, Garden City, where the value per square foot is $193. 83642 is South Meridian, where it's $179 per square foot.

Mount says as the growth continues to head west, keep an eye on Nampa and Caldwell.

"Nampa is developing and coming into its own certainly downtown Caldwell has just transformed, and beautiful neighborhoods near Lake Lowell."

6 On Your Side decided to combine these numbers to find the zip code where you get the best bang for your buck, meaning that the VPSF divided by the average household income came to the lowest number. The smaller the number, the more property you can purchase in your zip code per dollar. To translate this number, we multiplied the score by 1,000. The results were much different than either the average income or the VPSF rankings.

The bottom line is that the market is vibrant and with a little bit of patience and leg work, you might find a new zip code to call home.