Housing and construction boom continues in Twin Falls

Building permits for single- family homes are on pace for a record year
Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 9:39 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Last summer KMVT brought viewers the story of how the housing and construction market is booming in Twin Falls, and many still want to know if supply is keeping up with demand.

According to Western Magic Valley Realtors, there were 223 active listings in Twin Falls County for the month of February in 2020. This year it is down 74%.

“I pulled how many available single-family homes, condos, and townhouses included, in Twin Falls there are 34,” said Lacey Askew who is the president of WMVR. “In Twin Falls County, there are 57 available.”

Kortnie Kent, who is the senior building inspector for the city of Twin Falls, said currently it seems like Twin Falls is experiencing a migration of families from surrounding states that are moving to the area for work are to improve their quality of life. She said many are coming from California, Oregon and Washington.

Askew said she feels part of the reason for the increase in demand is that people are looking to get away from states with intense COVID restrictions, or maybe even for political reasons. As a result, the median sales price for a home has gone up 38% from last year. In February of 2020, the median sales price for a single-family home was $216,000, and this year it is a little more than $297,000.

“They are expecting to pay more for a higher quality of life,” Askew said. “Where they are living they are getting a very nice price for their home, and they can come here and purchase a home that is as nice or nicer for a lot less money.”

To keep up with demand, construction companies are building homes at a record rate. Kent said building permits for new single-family homes are up 25% from around this time last year, and 163% from 2019. She said her department is on track to issue over 600 permits for single-family homes this fiscal year, which would be a record year for the department. Kent said for her and her crew trying to inspect the homes in a timely manner has been an obstacle because they know there is a high demand for housing.

“We only have a limited number of staff that can provide this service so we’re trying to meet the demands of these increases the best way that we can and still provide a quality product at the same time,” Kent said.

She something else she has noticed is that homes are being built smaller more frequently. Kent said in February 2019 the average square footage of a home was 3,004, and this year the average square footage of a home is 2,892. She said part of the reason homes are smaller but the costs of construction are higher is because of supply and demand issues. Construction costs have gone up 38% from last year.

“The building industry has been hit by the pandemic as far as several businesses have had to shut down for COVID closures so we may have a shortage on windows, insulation, right now we have a shortage of OSB,” said Kent. “It is learning to navigate these difficulties that we are running into out in the field because we have this demand but we can’t get the product.”

She said most of the new growth is happening in the Northwest, Northeast and Southwest parts of Twin Falls. Kent said growing too big too fast is always in the “back of their minds,” and the city definitely wants to create a community that can be inviting for everyone.

“Experiencing growing pains is what we are trying to avoid,” said Kent. “Upgrading infrastructure and making sure we can meet the demands and water supplies of the growth that we are experiencing so I would say it is a continual conversation that departments are having all the time.”

At the end of the day, Askew said she hopes supply can eventually keep up with demand because the limited number of homes on the block is pushing some local residents out of the market.

“There are a lot of people that would like to own a home and can’t so now they are in rentals and rental prices have gone very high,” Askew said. “And it is very difficult to find a rental because we don’t have very many homes here.”

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