As local leaders continue to mull how to address the county’s housing crisis, the average home price in Ontario increased by nearly 50% over the last five years.
The detail is in a 2022 report by the Four Rivers Association of Realtors reviewing housing trends in the western end of the Treasure Valley. Jeffrey Williams, a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Payette, presented the report before the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce Forum on Monday, March 6.
According to the report, Ontario’s average home price was $296,000 in 2022, up from $156,000 in 2018 and $275,000 in 2021.
In an interview ahead of the event, Williams said the five-year data, from 2018 to 2022, looked at real estate trends in Payette, Weiser, New Plymouth and Ontario. In addition to the average price of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, the report accounts for the number of homes sold, including new and residential, and the number of days a home was on the market.
While Ontario saw its home prices soar, it had the lowest average home price compared to the other cities, with New Plymouth topping the list at $424,000, followed by Fruitland at $416,000, Payette at $358,000 and Weiser at $331,000.
At the same time, Ontario was second from the bottom in the number of homes sold in 2022 – 146. Home sales have steadily declined in Ontario since 2018 when the city saw 186 homes sold. And despite mortgage rates at a historic low in 2021, buyers purchased 170 homes in Ontario.
Meanwhile, Fruitland saw the most homes purchased in 2022, with 187 down from 236 in 2021 and 238 in 2020.
With surging mortgage rates and high home prices last year, the housing market saw intensified pressure in 2022. The Federal Reserve’s rate hikes, intended to curb inflation, had some mortgage brokers concerned would-be home buyers were getting squeezed out as rates hovered at 7% at some points last year.
Last year in May, the average 30-year fixed $350,000 mortgage was at 4.5%, with monthly payments working out to $1,773.40.
Interest rates on that same type of loan jumped to 6.95% at the beginning of November, bringing those payments to $2,317. According to mortgage lender Freddy Mac, rates are now averaging around 6.5%.
The association’s report noted that new home sales dipped to eight last year in Ontario, down from nine in 2021 and five in 2020. In 2018 and 2019, according to the report, no new homes were sold.
Williams said that the region saw similar trends over the last five years. Home prices surged, and the demand for homes went up, with homes spending fewer days on the market and the number of houses sold in the region was down from the previous year, but not by much.
Williams said more homes were sold in the first half of 2022 than in the second, which he said was due to the interest rate hikes. Now, he said, there are fewer buyers. The good news, he said, is fewer people are coming in from outside of the area to buy up the inventory of homes with cash. He said that first-time buyers who can afford the higher mortgage rates do not have to compete with money.
“First-time homebuyers are the fabric of your communities,” Williams said. “They set roots, have kids in school, get involved and get involved with local organizations.”
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