Friday, March 29, 2013

Big Predictions for Housing for Next 2 Years


Home sales are projected to post some big gains in the next two years, according to Fannie Mae’s latest monthly economic outlook.

Fannie Mae economists predict that existing-home sales will rise by 10.5 percent this year, and by 6.2 percent in 2014. The economists made even bolder projections for new single-family home sales -- growing 15.1 percent this year and 44.1 percent in 2014.

"We expect home prices to firm further amid a durable housing recovery, continuing to boost household net worth, gradually diminishing the population of underwater borrowers, and reducing incentive for strategic defaults," according to Fannie Mae’s report.

Fannie Mae projects that mortgage rates will stay low by historical averages this year, but the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will rise from an average of 3.5 percent during the first quarter to an average of 4 percent during the final three months of 2013. During the fourth quarter of 2014, mortgage rates are projected to tick up to a 4.5 percent average.

Mortgage applications for purchases are projected to increase by 16.8 percent this year and by 17.1 percent in 2014. However, a decline in applications for refinancings will likely cause mortgage originations to be down 14.5 percent this year and by 31.4 percent in 2014, Fannie economists predict.

Source: “Fannie Mae sees housing upturn as 'intact',” Inman News (March 28, 2013)


Should You As Buyers Increase Your Offer?

Today's post is referring to whether a buyer should increase their offer on a house in the case of multiple offers.  That is always a difficult position to be in. I usually suggest that the buyer needs to consider two different scenarios. First, if they lose the house and they will always be upset the they did not increase their offer, then they should bid higher.  On the other side, if they bid higher and are going to be thinking they paid too much, then by all means do not do it. This situation is the worst when it is a multiple bid situation and you are called on to present your highest and best, so you do not know what amount you will have to bid, and you could be bidding higher than you need to. With our low inventory levels these situations have become rather common.

Below is KCM Blog's take on the situation.

PrintLimited inventory and a very strong demand for housing has created an environment where bidding wars are commonplace in today’s real estate market. Homes priced properly are getting multiple offers within a short time of coming to market. This brings about a dilemma for the agent: How should they advise their client who is about to make an offer when other offers will also be presented?

Over the last several years, there wasn’t any pressure on the buyer to adjust their offer for three reasons:

  1. There were plenty of homes for sale

  2. Prices were falling

  3. Mortgage interest rates were falling

They buyer could find another home easily for probably less money and a lower mortgage rate. There was no downside to not ‘upping the ante’. However, in today’s market, things have dramatically changed.


A normal real estate market has between 5-6 months worth of inventory. Over the last several years, the inventory of homes for sale had skyrocketed to 10 months. Most buyers in almost any price range had a multitude of houses to choose from. Today, the national month’s supply of inventory has fallen below five months. In many markets, there is not enough housing inventory to satisfy the current demand.

Conclusion: If the buyer loses the house they are bidding on, there is no guarantee they will find a similar home anytime soon.


Becausemof the limited inventory, home prices are again appreciating. The Case Shiller Pricing Index revealed that house prices rose by 6.8% in 2012. Experts are projecting home prices to increase by 5% to 8% in 2013.

Conclusion: If the buyer doesn’t get this house, there is a good likelihood that a similar home will cost more in the future.


The ‘cost’ of a home to a buyer is determined by the price of the house and the expense associated with the financing. Mortgage rates are projected to inch up in 2013. In a recent forecast, the Mortgage Bankers Association predicted that rates could climb as high as 4.3% by the end of the year.

Conclusion: If interest rates do inch up, the ‘cost’ of the next home could be impacted significantly.

Bottom Line

If a buyer truly loves the house they are bidding on, it probably makes sense to raise their bid now instead of waiting for another dream house to appear.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Part 3 of Reasons to Buy a House NOW!

Part III – Rents Are Skyrocketing

money evaporating houseWhether you own or rent, you will have a monthly housing expense. The question is how that expense will change in the future. When you purchase a home, for the most part, you lock-in that monthly housing expense for the length of the mortgage you take (15 or 30 years for example). When you rent a home, your housing expense is impacted by movements in the supply and demand for rental properties.

Historically, residential rental rates increase by 3.2% on an annual basis. However, in the current housing environment, there is an increasing demand for residential rental properties. This increase in demand has dramatically impacted rates. Zillow, in their most recent report, revealed that rental rates in the U.S. increased by 4.5% over the last twelve months. Other studies have projected rental rate increases of 4-5% over the next few years.

The only way to have control of your housing expense is to buy.

But Isn’t Buying Much More Expensive Than Renting?

Not right now! As a matter of fact, with prices down and mortgage rates at historic lows, it is LESS EXPENSIVE to buy than rent in most areas. In a recent reportTrulia revealed it is cheaper to buy than rent in ALL of America’s largest regions.

According to Jed Kolko, Trulia’s Chief Economist:
“People who didn’t buy a home last year may have missed the bottom of the market, but they haven’t completely missed the boat. Buying remains cheaper than renting in all 100 large metros. Even buyers who can’t get today’s lowest mortgage rates will still find that buying makes more financial sense than renting in nearly all local markets.”

However, Kolko went on to say that this opportunity may soon disappear:
“Although buying a home is still cheaper than renting, the gap is closing. In 2013, home prices should rise faster than rents, and mortgage rates are likely to rise in the next year as the economy improves. By next year, buying could be more expensive than renting in some housing markets, even for people with the best credit.”

Again, the only way to lock-in your monthly housing expense is to take that decision out of the hands of a landlord by owning. With both prices and interest rates set to increase, the best time to buy is right now.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

3 Financial Reasons to Buy a Home NOW! (Part II)

Yesterday, I posted part one of the three part series from KCM Blog on 2 financial reasons to buy a home NOW!  If you are thinking about buying a house, don't put it off any longer------contact me TODAY!

Part II – Interest Rates Are Increasing

interest ratesA big component in the cost of a home is the mortgage interest rate a purchaser pays. Understanding where rates are headed will help in making a decision whether to buy now or wait.

So, Where Are Rates Headed?

No one can know for sure. The Fed has been artificially holding rates down to stimulate the economy. However, as the economy improves, many experts expect rates to creep up. As an example, HSH Associates, the nation’s largest publisher of mortgage and consumer loan information, recently explained:
“The stronger the economy becomes, the higher rates may grind; the Federal Reserve is keeping them low to goose the economy, but an economy responding to the Fed’s medicine will soon see less of a need for it in order to function. If not otherwise manipulated, higher rates are the natural result of a growing economy, as rising demand for available credit supply and concerns about inflation allow costs to rise.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) agrees. They were quoted in HousingWire late last year regarding their thoughts on where rates would be headed in 2013.
“After reaching record lows in 2012, mortgage rates are expected to creep up slowly in 2013, the Mortgage Bankers Association predicted.”

In the MBA’s latest Mortgage Finance Forecast they forecast that the 30 year interest rate will be 4.3% by the end of the year. This represents an increase of almost a full percentage point from the 3.4% rate available at the end of 2012.

Mortgage PaymentsFor example, we show the impact a one percent increase in rate will have on the monthly principal and interest payment on a $200,000 mortgage.

Freddie Mac’s Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey reveals that rates have increased by 2/10ths of a percentage point already this year.

As we mentioned, no one knows for sure where rates will be a year from now. But, many experts think they may be as much as a point higher. With rising residential real estate prices and the possibility of higher mortgage rates, waiting to buy a home makes no sense in our opinion.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Reason to Buy Now!

I am re-posting part 1 of a blog from the people at KCM Blog.  They are providing reasons to buy a house now. " All real estate is local," as the old truism goes. That is especially true here.  The Treasure Valley's inventory is hovering at 12 low and buyer demand is high, as previously posted statistics have shown.  With those facts in play, prices will continue to rise and the time to buy is now! (Parts 2 and 3 will follow this week.)

Part I – Prices Are Rising at an Accelerated Rate

prices upThe price of a home is the major consideration when deciding whether or not it makes financial sense to purchase a house. Experts are not only projecting that house values will increase in 2013. They are also more optomistic in the level of appreciation they are projecting as the market begins to heat up. Here are some examples:

The Home Price Expectation Survey

The latest survey of a nationwide panel of 118 economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists reveals they project home values to end 2013 up an average of 4.6% according to the first quarter. This is after they had projected a 3.1% increase just three months ago.

Bank of America

In a report titled, Someone Say House Party?, Bank of America analysts revised their projections upward:
“Home prices continue to show momentum amid shrinking inventory and record high affordability, prompting us to revise up our original forecast of 4.7% for home prices this year. We now expect national home prices, as defined by the S&P Case Shiller home price index, to increase 8% this year.”

Capital Economics

According to a report in DSNewsCapital Economics also upgraded their prediction:
“Strong demand and tight inventory have brought existing home sales back to ‘normal’ levels, and further gains are possible, according to the latest market report from Capital Economics. Additionally, market conditions may prompt lenders to “loosen the purse strings slightly” and lend a little more freely.

These conditions, combined with broader economic indicators, lead Capital Economics to revise its previous forecast of a 5% price gain this year up to 8%.”

Morgan Stanley

In an article from HousingWireMorgan Stanley joined the party:
“Strong momentum in home prices as well as housing activity gave Morgan Stanley analysts enough confidence toupgrade their home price appreciation projections to roughly 7% (from 5%) for 2013, according to its latest global securitized credit report…

“The momentum in most metrics of housing activity is running well ahead of the pace we had expected,” said James Egan, Jose Cambronero and Vishwanath Tirupattur, analysts for Morgan Stanley.”

Not only are prices projected to appreciate. Experts are actually revising their projections upward as demand maintains its momentum.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Could rising mortgage rates help housing?

Mortgage rates are still near record lows but they have been inching up slightly in recent weeks as the U.S. economy shows some signs of improving. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage—the most popular choice among home buyers—reached its highest level in more than six months last week, averaging 3.63 percent, according to Freddie Mac figures.

Mortgage rates are projected to rise higher this year, which could make buying a home more expensive. But some housing analysts say that the higher rates could actually help aid the housing recovery.

Home buyers who have been lingering on the market may finally move forward on a purchase. The increasing rates may drive home the point that  while borrowing is still cheap, they'd better lock in a rate now before rates move any higher.

"Rising interest rates alone are not enough to slow down the housing recovery," Barney Hartman-Glaser, a real estate finance professor at Duke University, told Fortune. “My sense is that underwriting standards are getting easier to satisfy, and so we would expect rates to rise as slightly more risky borrowers are brought into the fold."

Andrea Heuson, finance professor at the University of Miami, says that the increase in mortgage rates also interestingly coincides with increased demand for loans across U.S. businesses—which also could prove positive for home sales. Commercial and industrial loans reached $1.5 trillion, up more than 12.5 percent in January from a year earlier. “The recent increase ... bodes well for the future of the U.S. economy,” Heuson told Fortune. When businesses borrow more, she says that usually boosts the economy in several ways, from job growth to increasing consumer confidence as well as increasing home sales.

Source: “Why higher mortgage rates will help the housing market,” Fortune (March 18, 2013)

BUYERS: Mortgage rates ARE going up, perhaps you should buy NOW!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Will Economic Uncertainty Derail Real Estate’s Momentum?

Train SeriesSome are questioning whether the current rally in the real estate market will fall victim to financial uncertainty regarding the impending debt ceiling debate and sequestration. However, many experts believe housing will be able to maintain its current momentum.

In a March 2013 report, Someone Say House Party?, analysts at Bank of America/ Merril Lynch concluded:
“We believe that the gain in home prices can persist despite subpar economic growth this year…Absent a significant weakening in the economy with negative payrolls, we think the housing recovery can continue. The combination of low inventory, high affordability and improving expectations for home prices provide powerful momentum for the housing sector.”

The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) was recently quoted in HousingWire as reporting:
“While gross domestic product is expected to be negatively impacted by all the uncertainty surrounding the nation’s impending debt ceiling debate and the risks of sequestration, the housing sector is expected to continue its upward trajectory.”

Housing has been a tailwind to the overall national economy for over a year. We agree with the experts in the belief that this will continue moving forward.


Monday, March 18, 2013

The Real Estate Market is Back!

Money Magazine

The magazine supported their case by explaining:

  • In the last year, home prices increased in 92 of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas

  • Homes are more affordable than they’ve been in 40 years

  • The number of houses for sale is at the lowest level in a decade

  • Price increases are projected for most of the country this year

It seems that even the unbiased realize that Housing is Back!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cost of Purchasing a Home is Going UP

I have spent the last 3 days speaking low inventory levels and increasing prices in the Ada and Canyon county real estate markets. The other major cost factor for most home purchasers is the interest rate. We have been enjoying record low rates, which are predicted to increase by the end of the year.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ada and Canyon Home Prices UP!

Staying with the theme of the last couple of days, due to low inventory levels the Boise-Nampa Metro area is showing an  very significant increase in values on a year over year basis.

The Idaho Statesman reported the following.


Housing prices in the Treasure Valley surged by about 30 percent in January, thanks largely to an ever-dwindling supply of homes for sale in Ada and Canyon counties.

The median sales price for a single family home in Ada County last month hit $185,909, about 35 percent higher than in January 2012. Canyon County's median price was $107,202, about 31 percent higher than the same time last year. Homes in those counties were on the market about one-third as long as they had been in January 2012.

The supply of homes in Ada County is almost identical to February 2001, said Marc Lebowitz, executive officer of the Ada County Association of Realtors.

"You've got pent-up demand, really low [interest] rates continuing, household formation on the rise," he said.

He noted a couple of trends:

— Real estate investors are still pouring a lot of money into the Treasure Valley — buying homes to rent to locals, for example — but that will diminish as home prices climb higher.

— Lebowitz expects people who've been upside-down on their homes since 2006 or 2008 to finally start selling this year. That will add to the supply from new-home construction.

— Foreclosures made up only 50 of the 1,751 homes for sale in Ada County at the end of January. About 24 percent of all the homes listed in Ada County were distressed, but most of them were listed as short sales, meaning the homeowners hoped to sell for less than they still owed on the homes.

The Boise area's real estate market continues to be one of the fastest recovering in the nation. Can the local economy support such a rapid rise in housing prices?

Yes and no, he said. When the mortgage crisis hit, property values fell "below market value," he said. Now they're more realistic.

But a 30-percent surge in prices "makes me nervous because it's not sustainable," he said. There are fewer homes for sale, and each one has multiple offers from buyers. Some families are jumping in with a goal: to buy a home because a baby is on the way, or they're moving here for a job that starts March 1, or to capture low interest rates.

"And with prices increasing this quickly, that puts an unnecessary pressure on families to make decisions," he said.

On the other hand, prices seem to be climbing like a staircase, surging one month and leveling out the next, he said. He predicts a moderate rise overall this year. "I don't foresee 30-percent median price increases throughout the year," he said. "I do see mid- to upper teens."



Thursday, March 14, 2013

LOW Inventory equals Appreciation

Yesterday's post reported that in Ada County we have less than 4 months of inventory on hand.  These are inventory levels below the national average which is what the following article discusses.

Months SupplyFor some time now, we have attempted to shed light on the fact that pricing in today’s real estate market, as it is in the markets for every other saleable item, will be determined by the concept of ‘supply and demand’.

According to dictionary.com:
“The relationship between supply and demand determines the price of a commodity. This relationship is thought to be the driving force in a free market.”

In real estate, supply and demand is represented as the current month’s supply of homes for sale (the number of homes for sale divided by the number of homes sold in the previous month).

While there is no steadfast rule that will apply to pricing in every category of housing, here is a great guideline:

  • 1-4 months supply creates a sellers’ market where there are not enough homes to satisfy buyer demand. Appreciation is guaranteed.

  • 5-6 months supply creates a balanced market. Historically home values appreciate at a rate a little greater than inflation.

  • 7-8 months supply creates a buyers’ market where the number of homes for sale exceeds the demand. Depreciation follows.

What is happening across the country right now?

In most parts of the country, home values are rising. This is for two reasons:

  1. According to NAR’s latest Existing Homes Sales Report, raw unsold inventory is at the lowest level since December 1999 when there were 1.71 million homes on the market.

  2. According to this month’s Pending Sales Report from NAR, houses going into contract reached levels last seen in April 2010 which was the month the Home Buyers’ Tax Credit expired.

This has resulted in a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace which is the lowest housing supply since April 2005 when it was also 4.2 months.

Based on the table above, we can see that the supply/demand ratio is leaning toward a sellers’ market where prices will appreciate. That has created positive movement in housing values in most parts of the country.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ada County February Market Report

The following is by Marc Lebowitz, executive director of the Ada County Association of Realtors.

by marclebowitz

by Marc Lebowitz, RCE, CAE

ACAR Executive Director


Single family home sales in February 2013 were 465 in Ada County, an increase of 2.65% compared to February 2012. Year-to-Date sales in 2013 are 833; down slightly from 2012 YTD sales of 844.

Dollar volume for February was up 17.6% to $97 Mil.

Days on Market averaged 72 in February; down from 56 in January.

New homes sold in February increased 24% over new homes sold in February of 2012.  However…sales of existing homes were down 2.2% in February; for the second month in a row.  This becomes more worrisome as inventory continues to try to find a new low number.

Historically, February sales increase by 17% from January. February 2013 sales increased by 29% from January 2013.

Of our total sales in February… 23% were distressed (106 total sales)….down 2% from January 2013. In February 2012, 45% of our sales were distressed.  February 2012 started a noticeable decline in distressed property sales. In February 2013 43% of distressed properties were REOs (45 total sales ) and 57% were short sales (60 total sales).

This is eleven consecutive months with short sales being the larger percentage of distressed properties sold.

Pending sales at the end of February were 1056; up 10% from January. In general pending sales in May are the highest of the year; and June the second highest.  The percentage of pending sales in distress decreased 2% from January, totaling 23% overall.

In December 2012 29% of pending sales were Distressed.

Of Pending sales in distress, short sales outnumbered REO’s 1.7 to 1.

At the end of February, we had 8% more sales pending than at the end of January 2012.

February median home price was $180,000; up 14% from February 2012. Median home price is above $170,000 for 10 months running.  We continue to outpace our national recovery; according to NAR’s most recent report.

New Homes median price for February was $243,450; up 19.2% from February 2012. For the first time (in a long time) the YTD rate of  median home price increase is essentially the same for existing and new home sales (+19%).

The number of houses available at the end of February increased 3% from January 2013 to 1,728; taking us back above the 1,700 line. This is 11% less than last year at this time. This is the first month over month increase in available inventory since July 2012. Could we be starting a new trend?  I sure hope so.

At the same time, the percentage of distressed active listings decreased 3% to 22% overall. This reverses the trend of the last few months in which the percentage rose from 23% to 26%. We have been hovering between 33% and 36% for the last year. We remain well below the 40% levels set last spring….when we were on the increase.

With an inventory increasing and the percentage of distressed inventory holding steady; median home price will continue to strengthen well into 2013.

Of our Distressed Inventory 84% is Short Sales (319 homes) and only 12% is REO (60 homes).

Available inventory declined in all price points up to $250,000. From $250,000 to $400,000 there was an increase in the number of homes available of 17% (69 homes). We also added six homes to the $500,000 price range.

In Ada County we now have less than 4 months of inventory on hand.

The price category in shortest supply is <$159,999 where we have 2.9 months. All price points up to $400,000 have a 4 month’s supply. We have benefited for nearly two years from inventory levels much lower than national average.

Multiple offers are much more prevalent; now becoming the norm.

Based on February sold data, our most desirable price point is $120,000 to $160,000 which was 26% of total sales. The next largest price point sold is <$120,000 at 18%; $160,000 to $200,000 at 16% of all sales. Coming in a strong third is sales in the range of $200,000 to $250,000 at 16% of all sales. The price point showing the most improvement; $300,00 to $400,000; up 35% from 39 to 53 homes sold.

February was a nice rebound from January’s spooky start. Sales are back to modest increases.  Median price increase is a more sustainable amount and inventory is growing. Distressed activity shows improvement in all areas.


Stay tuned….


marclebowitz | March 11, 2013 at 9:02 am | Categories: End of Year, PredictionsHome Sales,Market Update | URL: http://wp.me/pPMWo-kB


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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Market Window for Sellers?

Interesting post from KCM Blog, provides some good food for thought.

Is There a Window of Opportunity for Sellers Right Now?

Posted: 25 Feb 2013 04:00 AM PST


3081280_thumbnailOne of the most interesting revelations of the latest National Association of Realtors (NAR) Existing Home Sales Report is the shortage of housing inventory being reported throughout much of the country. At the same time, buyer demand is dramatically up over last year.  Here are some key points:

  • Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 4.9 percent to 1.74 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace.

  • This represents the lowest housing supply since April 2005 when it was also 4.2 months.

  • Listed inventory is 25.3 percent below a year ago when there was a 6.2-month supply.

  • Raw unsold inventory is at the lowest level since December 1999 when there were 1.71 million homes on the market.

What Does This Mean if You Are Selling a Home?

The price of anything is determined by supply and demand. According to NAR’s report, inventory is at its lowest level since the real estate boom eight years ago. At the same time, demand is up. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, reveals:
“Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady. In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country.”

Does that mean you should sell your house now? Or should you wait to see if prices increase? Nobody knows for sure. However, some feel that there may be a pent-up inventory about to come to the market because, as prices increase, it will free up some sellers who have been locked in a negative equity situation (where the house is worth less than the remaining mortgage).

The Zillow Negative Equity Forecast predicts:
“The negative equity rate among all homeowners with a mortgage will fall to at least 25.5 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013, freeing more than 999,000 additional homeowners nationwide.”

If these homes come to market, the supply/demand ratio will begin to balance out and lessen the opportunity a seller now has.

Calculated Risk, a well respected blog which analyzes the economy:
“With the low level of inventory, both in absolute numbers and as a month-of-supply, and the recent price increases in some areas, it would seem likely more inventory would come on the market.”

Lawrence Yun agrees:
“We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring.”

Yet, Yun is quick to add:
“It may be insufficient to avoid more frequent incidences of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth.”

Probably the most interesting comment on this comes from Calculated Risk:
“I need to think about this…This will be an interesting issue all year.”

This is an issue that is important to every seller. Make sure that you are working with a true professional that is dedicated tokeeping current on what matters in the real estate market so he/she may provide you with the best advice possible as this situation becomes clearer.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Housing Market in 2013: Freddie Mac’s Projections

bigstockphoto_Graph_With_Houses_2966697Some believe that our coverage of the housing market at times is too optimistic. Today, we want to report on Freddie Mac’s projections for the real estate market in 2013 as per their latest U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, explains:
“Across the nation, most local housing markets have room for sustainable growth, particularly in home construction and sales. As the broader economy heals, expect to see more good news with house prices continuing their recent upward trend, and home sales and housing starts continuing to post strong growth rates.”

The report also offered projections on sales and prices.

Housing Starts and Sales

  • Projecting housing starts in 2013 will increase to 950,000 units or about 22 percent higher than 2012 levels.

  • Existing home sales are expected to pick-up as the house price recovery allows homeowners who have been forced on the sidelines by negative equity to get back into the market.

House Prices

  • While most metro areas saw substantial run-ups in prices during the boom, well above income growth, the subsequent market correction was in many cases more severe.

  • The level of affordability in most markets suggests a continued improvement in home prices, and strong growth in sales and construction.

It seems Freddie Mac is also optimistic about the future of real estate in the U.S.


Friday, March 1, 2013

January Market Report-Ada County

I have been a bit slow in posting these. Note we have the lowest amount of inventory since 2001!  Median prices are rising with levels of dis-stressed homes decreasing. Hopefully we get some more homeowners above water and they can put their homes on the market, to move up or just move.



Another Take My Breath Away Winner!

It has been a while since I posted a winner in this random contest. But this bright green home on the western outskirts of Nampa is a worthy winner.  I do not think the photos do it justice however.