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Housing shortage impacting first time buyers, renters

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - A cutthroat housing market is seriously impacting first time home buyers and renters in Southeast Idaho.

The Gate City area is experiencing an ongoing housing shortage during a time when out-of-state buyers are really attracted to Idaho.

Brent Richardson, local realtor and member of the Greater Pocatello Association of Realtors, said he and his fellow veteran realtors have never seen demand so high for homes.

“Many times you’ve got anywhere from 12 to 17 offers on the table,” Richardson said.

Buyers are having to race to put offers down for any house in their price range, and are willing to pay a premium for it.

“And I’m talking $20, $30, maybe $60, $70 thousand above asking price. We’ve seen that many times,” Richardson said.

In years past, Richardson usually sees about 400 listings on the market in the Pocatello area. But now, there's fewer than 40, and about 15 are in the $200,000 price range.

“You really can’t get anything $150, to $190,000 out there that’s decent,” Richardson said.

The highly competitive market is putting first time home buyers and low income families at a big disadvantage.

“They come in hoping they can get a house at $200,000 or less that maybe they can raise 2 or 3 children in. It just melts your heart knowing you can’t get them what they dream of having. It is an American Dream,” Richardson said.

While families try their luck at buying a home, they have to live somewhere.

Sunny Shaw, with the Housing Alliance and Community Partnerships organization, said the housing problem is spilling onto renters shoulders, too.

“With so few homes on the market for purchase, it’s forcing these households who would be purchasers into the rental market. And because they’re being pushed into the rental market, it’s straining the availability of how many homes are available to rent and the rent rates,” Shaw said.

Rent rates in Southeast Idaho are rising, Shaw said, which is straining families' budgets.

“We have seen households that are paying 50% and beyond of their monthly income towards rent and utilities. I’ve even seen some households paying 70%, which is especially challenging when you think of elderly or disabled households, who may only be making $770 to $1000 a month,” Shaw said.

The problem isn't an easy one to fix, and will take a lot of development.

“Until we’re able to get more housing built, I’m afraid this is something we’re going to be facing for quite a while,” Shaw said.

Richardson said the general thinking among the realtors association is that this market trend will continue for at least the next year or two.

“A lot of people are going to be saying that some day it has to balance out. Hopefully, it doesn’t have to climb so much that we have to go down drastically like some of these bigger cities had to do in 2010,” Richardson said.

Shaw hopes the growing pains are a sign of a stronger economy to come.

Economy / Idaho / Local News / Pocatello / Top Stories
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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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