Bubble? What bubble?

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  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Windermere Realty agent Jen McGuire and client Ralph Buttermore tour a model home Thursday afternoon on West Thiers Drive in Coeur d’Alene, just north of Skyway Elementary School.

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    BRIAN WALKER/Press Matthew Gardner, chief economist for Windermere Real Estate, told local Windermere employees on Friday the economy is expected to continue to grow in 2018.

  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Windermere Realty agent Jen McGuire and client Ralph Buttermore tour a model home Thursday afternoon on West Thiers Drive in Coeur d’Alene, just north of Skyway Elementary School.

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    BRIAN WALKER/Press Matthew Gardner, chief economist for Windermere Real Estate, told local Windermere employees on Friday the economy is expected to continue to grow in 2018.

Windermere sales soar

By BRIAN WALKER

Staff Writer

COEUR d’ALENE — Not to sound like a broken record, but local Windermere Real Estate offices enjoyed another broken record in 2017.

The company, which has locations in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Hayden, had $530 million in sales, marking the 20th time in the local company’s 22-year history that they’ve set a record.

"That’s a pretty cool milestone for us, and (more than a half a billion dollars) is really fun to say," broker and owner Don "Pepper" Smock told nearly 200 Windermere employees on Friday during the company’s annual Agent Award Ceremony and Breakfast at the Best Western Plus Coeur d’Alene Inn.

"That’s not a bad performance when you consider the catastrophe that was the economy in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012," Smock said. "On the report card, put down an ‘A’ for us for production in 2017."

Windermere’s local sales totaled $1.735 billion over the past 48 months.

Smock said Windermere is part of the solution on the low inventory front by creating 145 new building lots for sale in 2017 and it expects to add 67 more this year.

He said lots in the Reserve at Twin Lakes will be on the market in mid-June. Some infrastructure has been completed and work on the roads will start when the weather breaks.

Smock said he expects the real estate beat to continue in 2018.

"The tide in North Idaho is still rising," he said.

Smock encouraged employees to not take the success for granted, however.

"We know that the future doesn’t belong to who is biggest, but the learner and adapter," he said.

Smock said it’s been a joy watching Windermere employees succeed. The company is a recipient of Gov. Butch Otter’s prestigious Brightest Star Award.

"Your life’s successes and well-being is my life’s dream come true," he said.

Jennifer Smock, managing broker for Windermere’s Post Falls office, presented changes in the real estate market from 2016 to 2017 from Coeur d’Alene Multiple Listing Service stats, which included:

• Coeur d’Alene — Listings and home sales were both up 2 percent, while the average sales price was up 13 percent to $295,000.

• Post Falls — Listings were down 4 percent due to heavy new construction and there was no change in home sales. The average sales price was up 13 percent to $264,000.

• Hayden — Listings were down 0.5 percent and home sales up 3 percent. The average sales price was up 17 percent to $324,000.

• Kootenai County — Listings were down 0.5 percent and home sales up 4 percent. The average sales price was up 13 percent to $205,000.

The average sales price for all homes in 2017 was $267,000, up 11 percent from the previous year.

The total number of homes re-sold in the area in 2017 was 3,259, compared to 765 new construction homes sold.

Waterfront sales were up 15 percent, which is a good indicator of the market, Jennifer Smock said.

Single-family homes on regular lots were on the market an average of 97 days in 2017; homes on lots of more than 2 acres, 133 days; waterfront, 175; vacant land, 177; condominiums, 103; and multi-family, 99.

Midge Smock, the corporate representative for the Windermere Foundation that assists the community, said $39,250 was raised by employees in 2017, the fifth-highest amount among all Windermere franchises. The local foundation has raised $883,409.10 since 1996.

By BRIAN WALKER

Staff Writer

COEUR d’ALENE — Matthew Gardner popped the thought that we’re in a housing bubble.

"Just because some markets are overvalued there doesn’t have to be a bubble," Gardner, Windermere Real Estate’s chief economist, told nearly 200 Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty employees on Friday during the firm’s annual Agent Award Ceremony and Breakfast at the Best Western Plus Coeur d’Alene Inn.

Gardner cited multiple current market conditions, including high credit quality, borrowers not defaulting, good debt-to-equity ratios and slight mortgage rate increases to perhaps 4.4 percent, to dispel the thought that the economy has entered a housing bubble.

Gardner predicts the economy will expand 2.5 percent in 2018, but foresees a slowdown in 2020.

"It’s the ‘R’ word (recession)," he said. "I’m sorry about that, but recessions do happen. We’ve had about 47 of them in this country. But it will not be very bad — nothing like 2007. It should not affect housing prices, but you should be aware of it."

As for the immediate future, Gardner forecasts that the inflation rate will increase a modest 2.1 percent this year, 2.5 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth, 2.6 million new jobs will be added nationally and the nation’s unemployment rate will decrease to about 3.9 percent by the end of the year.

"We’re feeling pretty good," he said, referring to consumer confidence.

Gardner said Idaho should add about 14,000 jobs this year, including 1,400 in Coeur d’Alene with construction and health care leading the way.

"You’ve done remarkably well over the course of the past several years creating jobs," he said.

Gardner said there should also be growth in income, which there hasn’t been in a decade, and that should send people "skipping down the street" to shop. He expects the local increase to be about 4.5 percent; 3 percent nationally.

"When we love shopping, our economy thrives," he said.

The economist originally from London described a funky housing situation that includes low inventory both locally and nationally, but sales continuing to rise. He pointed to millennials behind the trend.

"First-time buyers are back," he said. "They’ve been putting (buying homes) off. If you have not found out how to work with that demographic, you’re losing out. The oldest millennials have grown up."

Gardner said there’s not more homes for sale because the Baby Boomers are retiring later and not downsizing, remodeling is on the rise, and because of the lack of construction in some areas due to labor shortages.

People today are living in their homes twice as long as they were in 2000 — on average from four years to eight, he said.

Because labor, land and material costs have increased, home construction has slowed in some regions, although that hasn’t been the case in Kootenai County, Gardner said.

"Builders are more cautious now than they have been in many years," he said.

Gardner said skyrocketing home prices in other areas such as California — the median sales price in San Francisco is $1.18 million — will continue to drive people to North Idaho.

"We are cheap," he said.

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