BOISE, Idaho—During the pandemic-fueled housing boom, Boise emerged as one of America’s hottest “Zoomtowns,” communities that experienced a spike in population from an influx of remote workers.
Now, the housing boom around Idaho’s capital city has ground to a halt. Buyers are balking at record prices and mortgage rates that last month hit a 13-year high. Sixty-one percent of listings in the Boise metro area had a price cut in June, the highest rate out of 97 metro areas surveyed, according to brokerage Redfin Corp. Home builders who couldn’t keep up with demand last year are cutting back on construction.
The factors that made the Boise area so alluring, such as its relative affordability and its fewer pandemic restrictions, are less appealing now that prices have climbed and companies are calling workers back to their offices.
Some of the people who moved to Boise in recent years are now moving back because they need to return to in-person work, want to be closer to family or didn’t like the outdoorsy lifestyle as much as they expected, said real-estate agent Sheila Smith. Some longtime residents who don’t like how much Boise has grown are moving to more-affordable locales. And investors are cashing out.
Boise’s regional population was growing before the pandemic.
After stagnating for years following the 2007-09 recession, home prices started to climb in 2016 as people in nearby states realized how much more cheaply they could live in Boise. That in-migration was turbocharged in the past two years by remote work and pandemic-related restrictions in other states.
Gabriel and Briana O’Reilly, who were eager to buy a Boise home only months ago, have put their search on hold. The couple, who live in Dayton, Ohio, made three unsuccessful bids for homes in Boise earlier this year. By early May, with prices still steep and borrowing rates rising fast, they decided to take a break. They plan to move to Boise in August so Mr. O’Reilly can start a new job, and they expect to start looking again six to 12 months after that.
“We think the market’s going to be dropping continuously for a while here,” said Mr. O’Reilly, who is 29 and works as a civil engineer.