COEUR d'ALENE - Home sales are on the rise around the five Northern counties so far in 2010, the highest they've been at this point in the year since 2007.
A Multiple Listing Service report shows that 800 homes have been sold around the region from Jan. 1 to May 31 this year, besting last year's total of 585 though the same point.
The total also outpaced the 699 homes sold in 2008, but fell short of matching 2007's total of 887.
"I think it's going to be a fairly strong year, much stronger than last year," said Pete Faust, certified residential specialist for Century 21 Beutler & Associates. "It's a very healthy sign overall as the trend upward seen between 2000 and 2002 appears to be repeating itself in the 2009 and 2010 recovery."
Of the total, 690 of the homes were sold in Kootenai County.
Coeur d'Alene and Dalton Gardens accounted for 294 of those sales. Last year, 197 houses sold in those two towns.
Post Falls has had 227 home sales so far in 2010, better than the 190 it had the year before.
Of the overall totals, 16 percent of the sales were from new construction, while it accounted for 27 percent of 2009 sales.
The homes are getting snapped up quicker, too. The average 'Days on Market' so far this year is down to 101 days from 121 in 2009.
While the overall numbers look good, there are some signs of slowing already.
Market activity slowed at the end of April when tax rebates for first-time and repeat home buyers expired.
More than 200 more homes are on the market in May as compared to April.
Buyers seem to be more price conscious as well, as the average price of a home sold in Kootenai County so far this year is $179,293, an 8 percent drop from 2009, when the average was $195,719.
In Coeur d'Alene and Dalton Gardens, the average home went for $180,481, a 4 percent drop from the $188,663 price the year before.
Post Falls' average price was $176,358, just down from the $178,979 price in 2009.
"People are really starting to take a look at that as far as the market, tending to value price on the home rather than just having an idea of having a certain amount of dollars to spend to buy a house," Faust said. "It's a more realistic market."
Hayden's average home dipped 13 percent from $228,589 to $197,812. A bigger average drop was in Rathdrum/Twin Lakes area, where the price went from $188,606 last year to $144,627 this year, a 23 percent reduction.
Homes are still available, too.
The listing shows that 4,240 houses are still on the market in the area, a slight decline from last year's 4,249 through May.
In 2005, at the peak of home buying in the region, the area had less than 1,000 homes on the market. That same year 1,462 homes sold through May.