BOISE — Everyone knows people are flocking to Idaho in droves from California, right? Indeed, 30 percent of the 71,889 new Idaho residents who came to the Gem State in 2016 came from California.

But when you look at the counties across the country whose residents are moving to Ada County, only three California counties appear in the top 10. Riverside and San Bernardino counties in Southern California ranked No. 4 between 2012 and 2016, contributing 850 people. Orange County, home to Disneyland and surfing mecca Huntington Beach, ranked No. 6, with 655 people.

Those statistics are among a trove of new data prepared for Treasure Valley real estate agents to help them understand a home-sales market where Ada County’s median house prices have climbed 165 percent since the Great Recession low (226 percent in Canyon County).

The data, in a midyear real estate status report prepared by Boise Regional Realtors, show that Californians aren’t nearly as important as fellow Idahoans when considering migration to Ada County. The data show a strong and steady reduction in the traditional price gap between existing homes and new ones.

And they show how low mortgage rates have fueled the rise in prices by enabling monthly payments on today’s $340,000 house that are almost as low, adjusted for inflation, as those of the $228,000 prerecession-peak house of 2007.

Here are the report’s key lessons:


The largest number of Ada County newcomers came from just a few miles away. Canyon County contributed 3,407 new residents, 12.8 percent of the total.

Real Estate

Most new residents to Ada County came from other counties in Idaho or from western states.

Five other Idaho counties made the Top 10 list, which the Realtors compiled from U.S. Census Bureau statistics: No. 2 Twin Falls County, with 901 migrants; No. 5 Bannock County, 741; No. 7. Latah County, 593; No. 8, Bonneville County, 540; and No. 10, Gem County, 431.

Breanna Vanstrom, CEO of the Boise Regional Realtors, said she isn’t surprised. “Most people, if they’re going to make a move, it’s more local than state to state,” Vanstrom said.

Idaho’s outdoors opportunities, friendly people, low crime rate, a relatively lower cost of living and less congestion have been cited by people moving into the state. Ada County attracts people who may not want to live in a major city but want quality restaurants, sports and entertainment offerings.

The Boise area’s growth reflects a national phenomenon.

“People are looking for more affordable places to live,” chief economist Danielle Hale of Realtor.com said in a news release. “Last year we saw people moving to far-out suburbs of major cities. This year, we’re seeing people move to smaller metro areas, which are even less expensive. And they still get access to city life—just not in the biggest cities.”


High demand and a shortage of homes listed for sale have caused home prices to rise dramatically over the past three years. The median price in June for new and existing homes hit a record $354,405.

The higher median is also reflected by the higher percentage of new homes being sold in Ada County. New homes accounted for 22.4% of home sales in 2016. Last year, they made up 28.9%. During the first six months of 2019, they were 35.2% of sales.

Real Estate

The small type above the chart says: “As new construction sales made up an increasingly larger share of total home sales, the overall sales prices grew year over year. This is due to new home prices being, on average, 32.2% more than existing homes (during this time period) because of higher land, labor and materials costs. So as more new, higher-priced homes sold, it brought up the overall median sales price for the county. Then as the median sales price for existing homes rose (due to the lack of lower-priced inventory for the segment) the new home premium has decreased. 2019 figures are for January to June only, compared to a full year’s worth of data for 2016 to 2018.”

Just three years ago, the average new home cost 38 percent more than the average existing home. Today the premium is just 23 percent, because people are staying in their homes longer and selling less.

The median price of new homes climbed from $313,530 in 2016 to $419,040 in June. Median prices for existing homes rose from $227,500 to $339,945 during the same period.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years to drive those new home prices up is the increased cost of land and labor and materials are more and more expensive,” Vanstrom said.


In June, the minimum household income needed to buy an Ada County home at the median price of $354,405 was $58,011, the report said. That’s for a 30-year mortgage with a fixed interest rate of 3.8%, a down payment of 20% and spending no more than 28% of the household’s monthly gross income on the mortgage payment.

For the same house, but with only a 10% down payment, the income necessary jumped to $65,262.

Real Estate

The average monthly mortgage payment climbed only $86 since 2007, after adjusting for inflation. That’s despite the median home price rising by more than $130,000 since then. Boise Regional Realtors told the Idaho Statesman: “Despite the median home price increasing more than $100,000 since 2006, the estimated mortgage payment is just $39 more per month today (not adjusting for inflation). This is due to a drop in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate of over 44% since 2006, when the market was at its previous peak. However, for those who were able to get into a home in 2011-12, when prices were at their lowest point and rates were lower than they are today, the estimated mortgage payment is up by $800 per month. Estimated monthly mortgage payment includes the principal and interest only and assumes a 20% down payment.” Provided by Boise Regional Realtors

The minimum income needed to afford the average monthly rent of $1,050 was $42,064. The minimum income is determined by multiplying the average rent by 40.

The median household income in the county is $62,942, according to state and federal statistics. For individuals in the Boise City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Ada, Canyon, Gem, Boise and Owyhee counties, the median wage is $46,293.

The Realtors’ report said the estimated mortgage payment for a home priced at the median is nearly the same as in 2007, when adjusted for inflation. In those 12 years, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen by more than 40%. The estimated cost of a 30-year mortgage with a 20% down payment was $1,782 in June, compared with $1,768 in July 2007, when adjusted for inflation.

On Thursday, the benchmark rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.9%, with an annual percentage rate of 4% according to Bankrate.com. Bankrate surveys the nation’s top mortgage lenders daily to calculate the rate.

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