Housing & Real Estate in Southwest Idaho
Mountain Home Family Housing is a privatized housing community managed and maintained by Balfour Beatty Communities. Information about housing services can be obtained by contacting the Community Office at 208-832-9900 or at www.mountainhomefamilyhousing.com.
Mountain Home Family Housing offers move in ready two-, three- and four-bedroom homes in both single-family and townhome styles. Located on-base, residents enjoy a secure and comfortable hometown environment with the convenience of 24-hour maintenance, lawn care services and community events.
Spacious homes are equipped with a variety of attractive features such as central heating and air conditioning, walk-in closets, fully-equipped kitchens and a one- or two-car garage. Average monthly utilities and exclusive amenities, such as the community center and splash pad, are included in the monthly rent, allowing residents to maximize the value of their rental dollars.
Elmore County, bound by the Snake River to the south and the Boise River to the north, was born from the early riches of fur trapping, with a big boost from the region’s bountiful gold and silver. The county itself takes its name from nearby Owyhee County’s Ida Elmore mines, which produced more silver and gold in the 1860s than any other mine in the region.
Small farmers and ranchers followed on the heels of the rough-and-tumble miners, lured by the promise of up to 320 acres to anyone who could locate water and make required land improvements. By the 1880s a strong agricultural economy was taking hold, first to supply the miners, and then, with the coming of the railroad, to ship products to world markets. Elmore County was created in 1889; while county lines were being thrashed out, there were briefly peripatetic county seats: first Rocky Bar, then Hailey, then Rocky Bar again, then finally, in 1891, Mountain Home. Elmore County’s agricultural boom lasted until a slump in the 1920s that dragged on until World War II and the construction of what became Mountain Home Air Force Base, which has underpinned the region’s financial stability ever since.
On the south, Elmore County is bounded by Owyhee County, on the west by Ada County, on the north by Boise County, and on the east by Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Twin Falls counties. Of the county’s 3,000-plus square miles, about 60 percent are rugged and mountainous, and the remainder gently slope down to the Snake River Plain to the south. About 22 percent is farmland, but 70 percent is federally owned and overseen by various government departments, among them the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Water is precious, and this has limited agricultural expansion.
Recreation tends to be part of daily life. Elmore County has two national forests — Boise National Forest and Sawtooth National Forest — both with hiking trails, backpacking and wilderness camping; the two largest sand dunes in North America, the Eagle Cove Depression, are just 20 miles south of Mountain Home. There are more than 250 maintained campsites in Elmore County, varying from full RV hookups to cleared tent sites.
A low cost of living, moderate climate and abundant outdoor recreation in Elmore County contribute to a high quality of life not often found in larger metropolitan areas. In 2016, an estimated 26,018 people called Elmore County home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the population density in 2010 was 8.8 people per square mile.
The county’s communities give newcomers plenty of choices when selecting a home. Enlist the help of a reputable real estate agent to help you sort through the area’s home options. The Idaho Association of Realtors is a central source of local real estate information and services. Visit www.idahorealtors.com to find expertise and professional services for those interested in purchasing a new home.
Communities near Mountain Air Force Base include Mountain Home, Grand View and Glenns Ferry. Boise is the nearest metropolitan area to the base.
110 E. 2nd Ave.
Glenns Ferry, ID 83623
The area known as Glenns Ferry was one of the most dangerous river crossings on the Oregon Trail. Pioneers forded the Snake River at Three Island Crossing, at the cost of many animals, supplies and wagons, until Gustavus Glenn came up with an alternative. In 1869, Glenn set up a ferry about a mile downstream so people could cross the Snake River without the danger of driving horse and oxen teams through the treacherous waters. His ferry could hold two wagons and cut nearly 20 miles off the former route. By this time, traffic on the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail was heavy in both directions. Shortly after, in 1871, the city of Glenns Ferry was established. Construction of the Oregon Short Line Railroad through the town in 1883 gave the city its first major employer.
This residential community is 2 square miles with a 2015 population of about 1,137. Mean travel time to work for Glenns Ferry residents is 16 minutes. Median rent is $588, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $925.
425 Boise Ave.
Grand View, ID 83624
Grand View is a small, residential community in Owyhee County with a population of around 470 in 2015. It is 20 miles west of Mountain Home AFB and 59 miles south of Boise. The town rises 2,356 feet above sea level, has a total area of 0.6 square miles, and lies along the Snake River, which forms its border with Elmore County.
The area’s history is closely tied to irrigation projects. In 1887, the Snake River Land Irrigation Company of Rhode Island began building a dam on the Bruneau River, a Snake River tributary, to provide water for the valley. Floods washed out that dam within three years, in 1890, but another Rhode Island firm, the Owyhee Land and Irrigation Company, rebuilt it in 1892. This time the dam held for 18 years until floodwaters took it out again, in 1910. At that point the local Grand View Irrigation District was formed to reconstruct it.
By 1904, the Dorsey Ferry was working the Bruneau River near its mouth, but after several years the ferry moved to the Snake River, where it became the nucleus for a town first called Dorsey and later renamed Grand View. The town’s first bridge across the Snake was built just a few yards upstream from the old ferry.
Mean travel time to work for residents is a little over 10 minutes. Median rent is $583, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $750.
160 S. Third East St.
Mountain Home, ID 83647
Mountain Home, the largest city in Elmore County, had 13,730 residents in 2015. Mountain Home was originally a post office at Rattlesnake Station, a stagecoach stop on the Overland Stage Line about seven miles east of the present city, but when the Oregon Short Line Railroad was built just to the west in 1883, the post office was moved downhill to the rail line, and Mountain Home grew up around it.
Mountain Home Air Force Base is 12 miles southwest of the city. About 8 miles to the northwest are the Crater Rings, a National Natural Landmark, and Boise is 44 miles northwest of the city via Interstate 84. Recreational opportunities are virtually unlimited in the Mountain Home area. CJ Strike Dam and Anderson Ranch Dam provide boating, skiing, fishing, etc. Elmore County has elevations from 2,200 feet up to 9,400 which provides a wide variety of habitat for game birds and big game in the Mountain Home area.
The city has a total area of a little over 6 square miles. Median rent is $738, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,098. Mean travel time to work is a shade over 17 minutes.
150 N. Capitol Blvd.
Boise, ID 83702
Boise sits about 40 miles east of the Oregon border, 110 miles north of the Nevada border and 50 miles northwest of Mountain Home AFB. The city’s 80 square miles were home to more than 218,218 residents in mid-2015, by the latest Census estimate.
The City of Trees, as Boise is known, was originally established as Fort Boise by the U.S. Army in 1863. It was designated as the capital of Idaho Territory a year later and officially named the capital of the new state of Idaho in 1890. Gold was discovered in the Boise Basin in 1862. As a result of the gold rush and frequent raids by Native Americans, the military needed a new location for Fort Boise, chose one on July 4, 1863, and started building. With protection from the military, a new town next to the fort grew rapidly, benefitting also from its location on the Oregon Trail.
Today, Boise is still Idaho’s largest metropolitan area and the hub of commerce, banking and government for the state. The city has a lot to offer outside working hours including museums, an award-winning 2,030-seat performing arts facility on the Boise State University campus, outdoor recreation at one of the 136 parks, reserves, pools, greenbelts and rec centers, Boise State University collegiate sports, minor league baseball (the Boise Hawks) and hockey (the Idaho Steelheads). The Boise River, which runs through downtown, is a popular spot for tubing, canoeing and fishing. Bogus Basin is less than an hour outside the city, and adventure seekers can enjoy day and night skiing there. The nearby mountains are favorite hiking, fishing and camping locations, while the nearby Payette and Salmon rivers are known worldwide by kayakers and rafters.
Homes range from well-established neighborhoods to new housing developments. Median rent is $805, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,267. Mean travel time to work for those living in Boise is 18 minutes.
Planning Your Move
Relocating to a new home can be one of the most stressful situations in life. Whether moving across town or across the nation, preparation and organization can make all the difference. First, decide whether to use a professional moving company or make it a do-it-yourself operation.
For a DIY move, consider distance, labor help and the costs to rent the moving van, gas, lodging during the move and insurance. A transportable storage unit can bridge a professional and DIY move. When the unit is delivered to your residence, you load and secure it for transport and then unload it at your new residence.
Whatever the method, be sure to obtain as many quotes as possible from professional movers, as well as cost estimates for a DIY move. Next, compare the costs for each type of move, factoring in the stress and physical exertion involved. Ask any company you are interested in for references and use them to inquire about reliability and customer service.
Regardless of which method you choose, the first step should be to inventory your personal belongings. The list, with photographs of any valuables, will be important for both insurance purposes and to help keep you organized during transit.
Plan for one full day to pack each room — though the kitchen and garage may take longer. Make a rough estimate of your packing schedule and then add 50 percent more time. It always takes longer than predicted to pack. Toss or donate unused items to lighten your load. Visit www.goodwill.org, www.salvationarmyusa.org or www.clothingdonations.org for locations near you or to arrange a pickup.
Pack for success:
- Consider what you’re packing and control box weight. Books should go in small boxes while bedding can easily fill a larger box.
- Wrap fragile items with cardboard dividers, tissue paper or air bubble wrapping.
- Use bright colors when wrapping small items so they don’t get thrown out accidentally.
- Use crumpled paper or newspaper to line the top and bottom of boxes.
- Tape a copy of your inventory list to boxes to identify what’s inside and where it should go.
Buying Versus Renting
The decision to buy or rent is the most important step in your relocation process. Purchasing a home entails a long-term financial and emotional commitment with various pluses and minuses attached. Advantages include the possibility of building equity and the freedom to design and decorate your property or landscape. And don’t forget the tax benefits. Disadvantages include upkeep, property taxes and fluctuating property value.
Renting, on the other hand, makes moving easier and someone else maintains the property. Amenities such as laundry rooms, exercise rooms, swimming pools and tennis courts vary from one rental complex to another. The main disadvantage is loss of control over the residence. Some complexes, for example, restrict or prohibit pets and personal touches such as painting. And the landlord or property managers can also raise the rent with proper notice.
Before determining your best option, account for all of your needs, review your financial situation and research your options thoroughly.
Finding an Apartment
Find local apartments listed in chamber of commerce membership directories, local newspaper classifieds, online or through referrals from family or friends. The Idaho Office of the Attorney General Landlord and Tenant Guidelines can be downloaded at www.ag.idaho.gov/publications/consumer/LandlordTenant.pdf.
Be prepared when you meet with the leasing agent, property manager or owner. Bring a list of what you are looking for in a rental; it is important to be clear about your needs and to get all of your questions answered. You will also need to provide information and verification about your job, your income and your past rental history. Dress to make a good impression and treat the meeting like a job interview — be polite and arrive on time.
Before you decide to rent, inspect the apartment with the landlord. Look for the following problems:
- Cracks, holes or damage in the floor, walls or ceiling.
- Signs of leaking water, leaky fixtures or water damage.
- Any signs of mold or pests.
- Lack of hot water.
- Inadequate heating or air conditioning.
Use a written checklist with the landlord to document the condition of the rental before you move in, and keep a copy of the completed checklist to use when you move out.
Buying a Home
Buying a home is a complex process and, as the recent housing crisis demonstrated, requires a thorough education on the part of the buyer. First, fully understand your financial position — credit score, available savings, monthly income and expenditures. Subtracting your expenditures from your income, for instance, will yield the amount you can afford for housing.
Be sure to account for all insurance costs associated with owning a home, possible homeowner association fees and property taxes in your monthly expenditures. Overall, loan rules changed in 2015, but according to www.ginniemae.gov (Government National Mortgage Association) and www.homebuyinginstitute.com (the Home Buying Institute) loan programs continue to vary on the percentage of your income that can be used for housing-related expenses. Lenders balance debt against income to decide if an applicant will be able to repay a loan. Most conventional loans require borrowers to have no more than 43 percent total monthly debt versus their total monthly income, though there are exceptions, such as for those with significant savings. The Federal Housing Administration has a two-tier qualifying system: FHA sets its top thresholds at 31 percent front-end debt (housing expenses as a percentage of income) and 43 percent back-end debt (all debt as a percentage of income) for a 31/43 qualifying ratio. Like commercial lenders, Veterans Affairs combines front-end and back-end debt for a 41 percent limit against income.
Next, research the different types of home loans to determine the right fit for your financial situation and discuss your options with a lending professional. Lenders are diverse today, and not all homebuyers obtain their mortgage loans through their banks and credit unions. For example, you may choose to work with an internet lender, a mortgage broker, a homebuilder or a real estate agency lender. To determine which lender is best for you, get recommendations from friends and family members and check credentials as well as Better Business Bureau ratings.
A preapproved loan before starting your search for a home can determine your spending limits and signal any potential issues in the way of receiving a loan. For any home loan application, the mortgage company will order a credit report, so it may be good to get a free report in advance to determine your credit status and make sure the report contains no erroneous information.
There are three ways to order your free annual report from one or all of the national consumer reporting companies: Visit www.annualcreditreport.com and complete and submit the request form online; call toll free 877-322-8228; or download and complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. For more information, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans.
Knowing your monthly budget and the amount of your loan are invaluable during the next phase, especially finding the answers to questions before the hunt for a home begins.
First, determine your home preferences. Does a single-family house, condo, town house or duplex best fit your needs and budget? Do you prefer a new home, an existing home or to build one? Though new homes generally cost more, existing homes may come with maintenance issues and renovation costs. How many bedrooms and bathrooms would you like? Do you want an attached garage? Will you live in the city, a suburb or in the country? How close to work, school, shopping or public transportation do you want to be? Answers to these questions will greatly assist your search and the next stage — hiring a real estate agent.
The ideal agent will help find your ideal home and guide you through the purchase process. First, interview potential candidates to ensure they understand your needs, know your homebuying and neighborhood preferences, and are readily accessible.
Good luck and happy hunting!
City of Boise Housing Programs
The City of Boise’s Affordable Homeownership programs give those of low to moderate income an opportunity to buy a home within the city limits. There is also a low-interest Home Improvement Loan Program to help qualified homeowners bring their dwellings up to code and make them safe and sanitary, and to improve accessibility and energy efficiency. For renters, the city has a stock of more than 300 affordable rental units, among them studios, one- to four-bedroom apartments, and single-family houses. Go to http://hcd.cityofboise.org/housing or call 208-570-6830 for more information.
Idaho State Programs
Idaho provides housing programs and incentives to help residents with home ownership. For more information, visit http://portal.hud.gov and select Idaho from the “State Info” drop-down menu.
Idaho Housing and Finance Association provides funding for affordable housing opportunities in Idaho communities where they are most needed and when it is economically feasible. The organization also offers rental assistance, homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention. For more information, visit www.idahohousing.com or email Idaho Housing and Finance Association at email@example.com or call 208-331-4700.