Home builders in the Valley are busier than they’ve been in years. Just look at permit levels: New residential permits issued in Meridian doubled from 2011 to 2012.

“Developers are now back in the game,” BuildIdaho.com founder Trey Langford said. “Two years ago in Ada County there were 90 builders in the marketplace, and today there’s over 200.”

That’s still nowhere near the peak of 770 builders before the market crash, but it’s an improvement.

A big reason for the uptick in new construction is in-migration, he said, largely from California, Washington and Oregon.

Meridian gained 1,800 new residents in 2012, according to the city’s annual report. People move here for the lifestyle — outdoorsy, family-oriented and affordable — and to follow family members, Langford said.

“‘We’re here to be with our grandchildren’ is really the big one,” he said. “The most people that I talk to who buy new homes are retired or semiretired.”

But first-time homebuyers are also looking to buy a house before interest rates and prices go up, Icon Credit Union loan originator Kim Hansen said. Rates are still at all-time lows, but home prices are bouncing back up. From March 2012 to March 2013, both new and resale home prices in Ada County rose by an average of about 25 percent.

Low inventories are part of what’s driving prices and new home construction up. House hunters who want something under $200,000 may become frustrated by the bidding wars and lack of options, Hansen said.

“Some people are building because that’s what’s available, there’s just nothing that fits their needs in the other direction,” she said.

City learns from the past, looks forward

After a period of rapid population growth, the recession allowed the city to take a step back, update building codes and prepare for the future.

“We were able to catch our breath and assess, ‘OK, what just happened and how do we want to build on that?’ ” Meridian Planning Department Planning Manager Caleb Hood said. “We were reactive to a lot of those projects (during the peak) because there were so many of them.”

City officials continually update the future land use map to make sure the infrastructure is in place for new development.

“The future land use map ... is the guide for how each property should develop,” Hood said. “It’s not cast in stone, ... but that is our take at making it diverse and providing all those services for a robust community into the future.”

What you’re saying online

Q: Did you move to Meridian within the past 10 years? If so, why?

  • “Came from California for a much better place to raise the kids. Have never regretted the move.” - Jean Marion
  • “We moved from Boise to be closer to family. We love our location — close to everything!” - Debbie Heist Lambert
  • “...You can’t beat the people and the outpouring of kindness here.” - Sandra Laney
  • “I moved here to raise my children. I loved the small town feel it had a little over 10 years ago... Now it is growing and it saddens me. I miss all the farmhouses and land.” - Sunshine Laney
  • “Came here in 2006. My husband’s job moved its headquarters to Idaho.” - Deb Southworth
  • “My husband retired from the military and we needed a long-term home. We looked into lots of places, but … we heard this ‘was a great place to raise a family.’ And man, is it!” - Roberta Ricci Garvin

See more at www.facebook.com/MeridianPress


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