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00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71570000The Boise-metro market was hardest hit in Idaho's housing crisis, with foreclosures concentrated in Ada and Canyon Counties.Idaho’s housing boom was centered around its two main metropolitan areas, Boise and Coeur d’Alene.John Starr of the global real estate company Colliers International had a front-row seat as capital poured into the local housing markets in the years preceding the bust.When he thinks of the early 2000s, he remembers watching land prices rise with demand, and house lots shrink. What the area wound up with, he says, were more and more subdivisions, packed tight with houses.Census data show that the state’s population grew by more than 28 percent from 1990 to 2000, and by more than 20 percent from 2000 to 2010. Starr said that's due in large part to growth at Micron Technology. That growth, in turn, fueled Idaho's housing boom.“The reason we were doubling the national average growth rate was we were moving in a whole bunch of people that we couldn’t produce here in Idaho, namely electrical engineers and so forth to work at Micron. The data points that people were looking at that were helping them make decisions about coming to Boise and deploying capital and building and helping us grow – those data points were skewed.” - John Starr, Colliers InternationalAccording to Metrostudy, a housing and data information company, Boise’s housing market began to bottom out in 2009.

Why The Boise Bench Is Leading A Surge In Ada County Home Values

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A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the increase in median home values across Ada County. The county assessor says the pace of growth is sustainable at a little more than 5.6 percent. After the housing market rebounded after the Great Recession, buying a home has become more competitive.

One of the places that's seen a boost in popularity for home buyers — and increased home values because of the competition — is the Boise Bench.

Real estate agent Ron Minegar has been selling homes in the Treasure Valley for a long time. He says over the past few years, he's noticed a surge in home values on the hill south and west of downtown. Minegar says that's because as prices in other parts of Boise have increased, some buyers have been pushed to other areas. As that's happened, the Bench has become an affordable — and even trendy — option.

"It's long been thought of as kind of the stepchild to the North End," says Minegar. "But as North End prices have gone up so high and so steadily for the last 30 years, the Bench is kind of an undiscovered gem."

Minegar says the Bench's central location and proximity to downtown make it a good second choice for people who might prefer to live in the North End but can't afford it. Anecdotally, he says the area is especially popular with first-time homebuyers and single women with professional jobs. He says he's also noticed more people investing in projects to increase the value of their homes, which helps bring up the value of houses in the neighborhood. Minegar says it's normal for a house to sell in just a matter of days on the Bench.

But the broker isn't concerned about any sort of bubble on the Bench. He says Bench home values were low for so long, they're now catching up with the rest of the valley.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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