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Business is booming, but Twin Falls still deals with a housing shortage

Active housing listings down 50 percent from last year
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 7:28 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The housing and construction market is booming in the Twin Falls area right now, but is supply keeping up with demand?

“I really can’t drive anywhere without seeing some construction for residential,” said Kortnie Kent, who is a senior building inspector for the dity of Twin Falls.

She also said building permits for new single family homes is up 63% from July of 2019, and more than $70 million worth of new single homes have been built so far this fiscal year, which is a 31% increase. Kent said all this activity has brought in a new stream of revenue for the city of Twin Falls.

“Year to date for this fiscal year. . . the collective revenue: building, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical, we are sitting at $1.4 million,” Kent said.

Jordan Beard, president of the Western Magic Valley Realtors, said it seems most of the people moving to the area looking to buy homes are from out of state, specifically the Western coastal states of California, Oregon and Washington.

“A big part of it is our affordability,” Beard said. “The homes here, at least from where they are coming from, are very reasonably priced. Our utility expenses are lower. Just the general cost of living is lower.”

Kent added she thinks the reason Twin Falls has become a hot spot is because it is a great community.

“We (people of Twin Falls) focus on trying to embrace our values and trying to take care of one another,” Kent said. “It is still a small community feel, and as we get bigger we try to keep that at all cost.”

Beard said there are more than 160 active listings in the Twin Falls area, but the demand for homes in the area is actually much greater than that.

“We just have a tremendous influx of people coming in from out of state, and so with the amount of demand the supply has been limited,” Beard said.

He also said the number of homes on the market is down 50% from last year at this time.

“There has been a bit of an apprehension with COVID with people not wanting to put their houses on the market, and that creates a shortage of inventory,” Beard said.

Jared Hunt, who is the owner of TKO Homes, said his company typically builds 80 to 100 homes a year, and right now there are more customers than his company can build homes for, so TKO is just trying to be upfront with people, as things are going to take a little longer just because of the increase demand they have seen.

“We are selling more homes over the last couple of months than we have sold previously,” Hunt said. “So it’s just trying to set a proper expectation for when the project will be done based on the backlog that we have.”

Beard said typically when the market starts getting really fast like this it takes the developers and builders a little time to catch up. He said the “tricky” part about development is it is usually a year to a year and half process.

Beard also said the shortage of available housing is having an impact on prices. The median house price of $246,775 is up 12% from last year.

“Supply and demand has kind of dictated a lot of what is going on here, and that is pushing our prices up a little bit,” Beard said. “So it is making it a little harder for our younger locals to do the first time home buying process.”

Hunt said COVID-19 did slow construction and development down a little bit in March and April, because schools shutting down had an impact on his employees’ lives, and some of them wanted to be at home making sure their kids were taken care of.

The city of Twin Falls also saw a decrease in the number of new applications coming in for building permits around that same time, but Kent said things have definitely sparked back.

Beard said a lot of the new development in the Twin Falls area is in the southern part of town, across from Rock Creek, and on the eastern side toward Kimberley.

“Some people would say ‘I was told you weren’t going to develop here for five years’, and it is moving along quicker than we (Twin Falls) anticipated, but everyone has jobs, and we know we can sustain what we are building now,” Kent said.

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