Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Home values on the rise?

Federal survey doesn’t tell whole story, county officials say


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

A recently released government survey reports that median housing values in Blaine County are on the rise, but one county official says more current data show a decline.

The American Community Survey, a yearly survey conducted by the Census Bureau, reported the average median value of a Blaine County home was $501,300 for 2005 through 2009. Using that number, values are up almost $170,000 from the median value of $332,000 reported by the U.S. Census in 2000.

Blaine County Assessor Valdi Pace, however, said the federal survey does not accurately reflect the state of home values in the county, which she said are declining.

"That number includes the boom years of 2006, 2007 and 2008," Pace said, when values were much higher.

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County data show a median value of $449,000 for 2007 to 2010, slightly down from the federal survey data. However, Pace said the median home value for 2010 was $380,000, down about 16 percent from the 2007 to 2010 period.

Pace said there are limitations to the utility of the federal data.

"The real problem with their survey is that Blaine County is large and has a wide range of values," she said, citing the multi-million-dollar homes in Ketchum and Sun Valley as compared with more modest residences in Hailey and Bellevue.

According to the Census Bureau, local and state governments use data from the American Community Survey to distribute public funding for services such as highways, schools, hospitals and public housing.

Unlike the 10-year census, the survey is conducted every year over a sampling of randomly selected addresses nationwide.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com

Other survey data

The American Community Survey also collects data on everything from income to education. Here are a few other slices of information regarding Blaine County:

- Residents below the poverty line for 2005-2009: 10.6 percent, up 2.8 percent from the 2000 census

- Median income per household for 2005-2009: $56,601, down $8,402 from the 2000 census

- Residents age 25 years and older with GED or high school diploma: 92 percent, up almost 2 percent from the 2000 census. However, the margin of error on this statistic is roughly 2 percent.

- Anecdotal knowledge about the local male-female ratio holds true: There are roughly 110 males for every 100 females in Blaine County.

- Racial demographics: 91.7 percent of residents identified as white, 17.3 percent as Hispanic or Latino and 1.3 percent as American Indian. (Some residents identified as two or more races.)




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