By Amy Edelen
After Realtor Chad Oakland listed a home on the market Friday for clients moving from Coeur d’Alene to Colorado, the property already had eight showings scheduled by 10 a.m. for the following day.
“In 30 years of selling, I’ve never seen a market like this,” said Oakland, who is also co-owner of Coeur d’Alene-based Northwest Realty Group.
The secret has been out for years about the Spokane area’s quality of life and affordability compared with larger metro areas and proximity to outdoor activities.
Now, Coeur d’Alene also is gaining national attention.
Real estate website Realtor.com recently named Coeur d’Alene as the eighth-hottest housing market in the nation for February, a sharp increase from its ranking as the 62nd hottest housing market in February 2020.
Spokane was ranked the 10th-hottest housing market last month. Both cities were evaluated on how fast homes are selling and how many page views listings received on Realtor.com’s website.
Vallejo, California, was deemed top housing market in February.
“Smaller outlying markets continued to rise in the rankings in February,” Realtor.com’s hottest housing market report said. “Affordability continues to be a driver of demand as spillover markets dominate our list of the hottest housing markets.”
The report indicated homes in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane remained on the market for a median of 29 days. The median list price in Coeur d’Alene was $872,000 and $400,000 in Spokane, according to Realtor.com.
Those numbers differ from the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane Multiple Listing Service data cited by local real estate agents because they likely doesn’t categorize sales by acreage or if they are waterfront properties.
In Spokane County, the median closed sales price for single-family homes and condos on less than 1 acre was $325,000 in February, a 21% increase from $268,675 in February 2020, according to data from the Spokane Association of Realtors.
The median sale price for homes on less than 2 acres in Kootenai County was $418,100, according to data from the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors.
Oakland, who recently opened an office in Sandpoint in response to the growing real estate demand in North Idaho, said the ability to work remotely and access to outdoor activities during statewide stay-home orders accelerated an influx of out-of-state buyers moving to the area.
“It was different for us on lockdown,” he said, referring to stay-home orders that occurred as the pandemic took hold nationwide a year ago. “We were still able get out and walk Centennial Trail, but imagine if you are in a big city and you are in lockdown. You really can’t go anywhere.”
Although Coeur d’Alene’s housing market is gaining national attention, it’s a “Catch-22” for local buyers and sellers, Oakland said.
“It’s definitely sad for a lot of local people because if you are making out-of-area money, it goes a lot further,” he said. “I hear frustration with buyers when talking to them, and all you can do is empathize with them. It’s tough to people trying to compete.”
In Kootenai County, 189 homes were on the market on March 10, representing less than a month of supply, according to the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors.
For sellers, the lack of available homes on the market could hamper their ability to move to a different property in the area, Oakland said.
“People always sell for different reasons … but if people can’t move up or get a different house, they aren’t going to sell their (existing) house because they are going to be homeless,” Oakland said.
The Spokane market has been experiencing a similar dynamic with multiple offers and high demand, said Ken Sax, managing broker at Professional Realty Services.
“So many people have learned through the pandemic they can work efficiently remotely and they can live wherever they want,” Sax said. “The Pacific Northwest is hugely attractive, especially if you are looking for a better home value and better quality of life.”
At one point last month, Spokane County had 133 homes on the market, representing a nine-day supply, meaning it would take nine days to sell all available homes. A balanced housing market typically contains six months of supply.
“It’s like the ‘Hunger Games’ for buyers. Our inventory is still so minimal, which makes us see multiple offers,” Sax said. “Buyers are becoming greater risk-takers after they lose out on a handful of homes.
“They begin waiving or eliminating contingencies that they would have in place otherwise, so they are sticking their necks way out all in an attempt to be the winning buyer.”
Buyers might be willing to purchase properties without inspections or waiving financing contingencies, meaning they could lose their earnest money if they are unable to qualify for a loan, Sax said.
Waiving contingencies, coupled with recent revisions to statewide purchase and sale agreements, could put an additional burden on buyers competing in the local housing market, Sax added.
“I always say work with an experienced Realtor,” he said.
“Now, it is as important as ever because of the new revisions in our forms.”
Eric Johnson, Spokane Association of Realtors president, said while the national attention certainly has a tremendous impact on the market, it’s also brings positive aspects.
Typically, people who are moving here from out of state seem to value community, he said.
“If there’s a positive, that would be it,” he said. “We’re just getting more good people here.”