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The Great Reshuffling: How the real estate market exploded

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Boise, Idaho is a great place to live. It’s got natural beauty, great weather, and friendly people. But wow, is something going on with the real estate!

Correspondent David Pogue asked Elisha Figueroa, “Is this your house?”

“It used to be my house!” she laughed.

Figueroa recently sold her house here, and the experience was incredible: “We had over 150 people walk through in two days, which is pretty mind-blowing. We had nine offers, half of those for cash. And I’m still here, because the buyer is allowing me to live here for five months rent-free!”

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“Are you willing to share how much more than the listing price it finally went for?” asked Pogue.

“It was around $65,000 more than asking price,” Figueroa said, “but really, it was even more than just the money. They also didn’t require any kind of an inspection or an appraisal. They paid all of the closing costs. And you know, this was not an unusual offer.”

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Elisha Figueroa is packing up the house she sold, which the buyer agreed to let her live in for five months, rent-free. 

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Colby Lampman owns Homes of Idaho, a real-estate agency that his mother, Debbie, founded in 1990.

Colby said, “If you contacted me today and said, ‘I’m looking at buying somewhere in the Boise-Greater Treasure Valley,’ I’d say, ‘Put on your gear, buckle up!'”

“This market, compared to the other hot markets in the past, is sizzling, burning up, on fire!” Debbie laughed.

According to the real estate website Zillow, home values in Boise have shot up 32.5% in a year, the biggest increase in the country. [Nationally, the increase in average home value appreciation between April 2020 and April 2021 was 11.2%.] Real estate in Boise was already thriving, but the pandemic super-heated that trend, thanks to the remote-working movement that came with it.

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Home values in Boise have shot up 32.5% in a year, according to Zillow. 

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Colby Lampman said, “There’s people deciding, ‘Where do I want to land? I can keep my job and live anywhere, so where do I want to live?’ This is a nationwide thing that’s happening, this great reshuffling of people.”

He’s right: Smaller cities all over America are seeing a similar boom. Just ask real estate pros like Latrice McFadden in Durham, North Carolina: “It’s just insane!” she laughed. “We’ve seen tens of thousands, even $100,000 above list price.”

… or Laurie Finkelstein Reader in Miami, Florida: “Imagine you go to an open house. There could be 50 cars – yes, five-oh – 50 cars in a line outside waiting to see that property.”

…or Joseph Tamburo in Fort Lee, New Jersey: “This has been the busiest market that I’ve seen in 34 years. It’s doing unbelievable.”

… or Thomas Brown in Austin, Texas: “There was a home that came on the market. It was $460,000. Our client said, ‘Hey, here’s what we’ll do: We’ll buy this house, we will buy the seller’s next house.’ So, they bid in the mid-seven-hundreds on the home, and they offered to buy the seller’s next home.” Their offer was accepted. 

Zillow, whose website had 9.6 billion visits in 2020 – up 19 percent from the previous year – coined the term “Great Reshuffling” to describe the migration of home buyers. Amanda Pendleton, Zillow’s home trends expert, explained: “It’s more people moving. You know, remote work has allowed us to really wrap our work around our lives, as opposed to wrapping our lives around our work.

“The pandemic really accelerated some trends that we were seeing prior to the pandemic. People are moving to metros that offer relative affordability and year-round outdoor living,” Pendleton said.

“And where are they moving from?” asked Pogue.

“We have been seeing a shift away from really expensive coastal metro areas, to some of these more affordable metros,” she replied.

Among them: Dustin and Brenda Heft, who used Colby Lampman’s agency to find their new home in Boise. Like 20% of all Lampman’s clients, they bought their Boise house without ever having seen it in person; they’d had only a video tour.

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Californians Dustin and Brenda Heft bought this house in Boise without having set foot in it. 

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Pogue asked, “At what point did you finally walk in?”

“After we signed the papers and got the keys,” said Dustin.

“What sent you here from California?”

“My company is amazing and allowed me to work remotely,” he said. “So, we really wanted to pivot to somewhere that was a little more our style.”

“Is there any pushback among the locals to see all the Californians moving in?”

“To your face, no,” Dustin replied. “But, you know, in conversations and stuff, you’ll hear some people that are pretty unhappy. A lot of locals, you know, just can’t afford to buy anymore.”

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Those locals include Joey and Lauren Jenkins, who stopped by one open house. With 60% of Boise homes selling for more than the asking price, they’re getting discouraged.

“My wife and I – and we have our little son now – we’re just trying to move [to a] different area closer to schools,” said Joey. “And there’s no way. We can’t afford it. Two hard-working people, hard-working family, having a house with a yard and a fence should be something do-able.”

“Plus, there’s the question about, can Boise handle it? I mean, traffic?” asked Pogue.

“Absolutely! We have friends now that are finally having, like, an hour-long commute. I’m going, ‘We’re in Idaho. It shouldn’t take an hour to get anywhere!'”

“So, what are you going to do?”

Joey said, “So, we’re going to sit. We’re going to wait.”

He may be waiting a long time. The “Great Reshuffling” shows no signs of slowing. For one thing, mortgage rates are at rock-bottom lows, and for another (according to Zillow’s Amanda Pendleton), the country is experiencing a kind of generation clash.

“We have millennials, the largest generational group in the country, and they’re aging into their home-buying years,” Pendleton said. “Baby boomers, meanwhile, are healthier, they’re living longer, and they want to age in place. So, we’ve got millennials competing with baby boomers, and they’re looking at very similar types of homes – smaller, more affordable starter homes. And so, this is what’s really driving unrelenting demand that we expect to see in the market for many years to come.”

For now, Elisha Figueroa is packing up the house she sold. She’s one of the winners in the Great Reshuffling.

Pogue asked, “It really does sound like you were in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, like, Boise 2021?”

“Couldn’t be any better!” she smiled.

      
For more info:

     
Story produced by Reid Orvedahl. Editor: Ed Givnish. 

      
See also: 


How to navigate a competitive housing market

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