A little housekeeping

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Every once in a while we like to bring you up to date on a variety of issues that may be important to you, but don't warrant a full column. Today is one of those days so here are some short bits of information you may want to know:

Interest rates fell last week. Attributed to the catastrophic events in Japan last week mortgage rates declined across the U.S. A check of the Idaho Housing Finance Association website (ww.ihfa.org) showed the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage down to 4.6 percent. Freddie Mac listed the nation's average 30-year rate at 4.76 percent while 15-year notes at that site were reported at 3.97 percent.

Appraisers report challenges. With rates like these many of us would like to refinance but are unable to do so due to market declines in recent years. If you bought during the peak years of 2005-2007 and had a low down payment you may not have enough equity to meet the debt to equity bank requirements to qualify for a lower interest rate.

Appraisers who rely on information and statistics report it challenging to find good, comparable properties within recent sales data. Even if you have the nicest home on the block it may not appraise high enough to get you the loan you want.

Commercial activity is warming up. The meeting of the Coeur d'Alene Trader's Club last week was again upbeat with many reports of prospective buyers and tenants seeking space. Although a tour of the area will reveal plenty of vacancies, those who deal in this market will tell you things are beginning to move there.

Movement is apparent in higher than average priced homes. Although a lot of our statistical reporting is about averages we want to make sure that reporting takes into account more than just the average home.

Our average MLS home so far this year is $154,253 down 9 percent from the $170,440 last year at this time. These are site built, single family homes on lots that are less than an acre in size. As reported last week, some parts of our MLS have actually shown increases of the average price. While those homes under $200,000 in value account for 73 percent of our total, year to date sales, at this time in 2010, 72 percent of our homes were in this category.

In the $200-300,000 category we sold two less homes than at the end of February 2010, but as a percentage of sales we rose a bit, from 14.6 to 15 percent of total residential sales. These are not necessarily site built single family homes.

In the higher price ranges performance was consistent with the trends above. In homes priced more than $1,000,000, we have fallen behind last year with one sale reported in that category by February's end compared to the three sales last year at that time.

As always, if you really want to know how the market affects your property, call the Realtor of your choice and ask them to provide an analysis of similar properties in your neighborhood. If you are working with a Realtor already, then of course, you should ask them.

Trust an expert ... call a Realtor. Call your Realtor or visit www.cdarealtors.com to search properties on the Multiple Listing Service or to find a Realtor member who will represent your best interests.

Kim Cooper is a real estate broker, Realtor and the spokesman for the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors. Kim and the association invite your feedback and input for this column. You may contact them by writing to the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors, 409 W. Neider, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815 or by calling (208) 667-0664 with your questions or commentary.

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