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Rent remains low as economy grows in Idaho

File photo by Glenn Landberg.

File photo by Glenn Landberg.

Housing rental prices in Idaho have remained lower than the national average as the country has slowly recovered from the economic downturn.

That’s according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which says Idahoans are paying nearly 25 percent less in rent than the rest of the country.

A $1,000-per-month apartment throughout the nation in 2013 —the latest data available— would cost roughly $760 per month in Idaho, The Post Register newspaper reported.

The report noted that the difference in rental prices stands out when compared with the fact that Idahoans pay relatively the same as the national average for everyday items such as bread, cars and fishing rods.

Idaho is still recovering from the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008, Idaho Department of Labor regional economist Chris St. Jeor said.

Idaho’s low population density coupled with a high number of low income people has contributed to sluggish growth in the state’s housing market, Jeor added.

“Our per-capita income is one of the lowest in the country, so that will impact it,” he said. “There’s more land available per person. In New York, you’ve got people piling all over on top of each other, all fighting for very coveted pieces of land. In Idaho, we have such a low population density that there’s more land available.”

However, that doesn’t mean rent in Idaho is going down. The federal report explained that rents are just rising more slowly than the national average.

When rental units fill up, rent prices go up, said Jared Duncan, branch manager with IF Rentals, which currently has a 1 percent vacancy rate.

“We are seeing an increase in those rental rates, especially on single-family homes here,” Duncan said. “Any time you have a vacancy rate that low, rental rates do rise.”

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