An upscale development underway in the Mink Creek area south of Pocatello should test the upper limits of the community’s historically hot housing market.

Local entrepreneurs Dave and Emma Gebo are entering the residential real estate market with their 65-acre Deer Valley Reserve Subdivision. It will encompass two separate divisions in close proximity in the hills above Mink Creek Road, with six lots planned off of Autumn Lane and another six lots accessible from Caribou Way.

The undeveloped lots — which will each comprise 2.5 acres of buildable land and 2.5 acres of deeded open space — will sell for between $280,000 and $300,000.

Michael Wheelock, who owns Premier Properties and is listing the lots, acknowledges the price is double to triple the market rate to date for similarly sized lots. But Wheelock notes for their money buyers will be treated to incredible views and access to adjacent public lands.

Wheelock anticipates homes in the subdivision, located in unincorporated Bannock County, will be priced at more than $1 million each, ranging from 4,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet.

“I do think they’ll sell. ... They’ll be the most expensive lots ever sold in Pocatello,” Wheelock said. “Just the location alone and the exclusivity of the Forest Service (land) is part of the reason for the value.”

Roads for the subdivision were started in the fall of 2020 and finished earlier this spring. Wheelock anticipates work will start on the first houses this summer. Fiberoptic lines have been laid throughout the neighborhood, preparing homes to easily connect when fiber becomes available in the area.

The project is six years in the making, delayed by neighbors’ concerns, mostly pertaining to traffic and the potential ramifications of additional septic systems on the quality of well water, Wheelock said. Based on those concerns, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality conducted more thorough hydrologic testing and reporting. Consequently, septic systems in the neighborhood will have to meet heightened environmental standards.

To address traffic concerns, Wheelock said the original plans have been adjusted so that the project’s two divisions are no longer connected by a road.

Each lot will have its own access to public land via the deeded open space. A parking area and trailhead has also been built within the development providing public access to Forest Service land, with a trail connecting to popular recreation areas such as Gibson Jack, Dry Creek and West Fork.

“(The Gebos) are proud that they’re working with the Forest Service to try and include public access to their development so the general public can enjoy the trail system,” Wheelock said. “That’s part of what they think their legacy will be with this.”

Though the groundwork to get their project launched has taken longer than expected, they’re entering the market at an opportune time. Home and land values have skyrocketed recently, and Wheelock said there’s insatiable demand for real estate in every price range.

Many homes that previously sold for $125,000 have been selling for upwards of $225,000 in recent months, he said.

Wheelock said most listings typically get at least four to five offers, and it’s become customary for offers to include escalation clauses, offering to beat the next best offer by set amount, up to a specified cap.

Sales of new construction have been just as strong, with competing offers on homes built for speculation usually coming before the foundation is finished, Wheelock said.

The vast majority of buyers of local properties are coming from out of state, and prices that may seem inflated to Southeast Idaho residents are reasonable to these out-of-state buyers, Wheelock said.

“Most of our buyers without question are coming from out of state. They’re paying higher prices based on not having to worry about the local job economy,” Wheelock said. “That is a function of what was learned in the pandemic and being able to work from home.”

He sees no signs that values will dip back below current levels in the future. He noted the local market tends to lag behind the national market, and the trend of people leaving large urban areas for rural communities portends further growth in Pocatello and surrounding communities.

“That’s the scary part. For a local guy, sadly it’s pricing that individual out of pursuing a home in a lot of ways,” Wheelock said.