Not enough homes to sell? Then build some

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  • Photos by LOREN BENOIT/NIBJ Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty’s Duffy Smock and his wife, Jennifer, pose for a portrait at The Reserve, a new neighborhood at Twin Lakes.

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    Located south of Prairie Avenue and east of Atlas Road, Garden Grove is a 94-homesite neighborhood that includes two acres of park, walking trails, a community garden and more.

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    Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty is also building new houses at Prairie Sky in Rathdrum. The project is nearly done and features 163 homesites. LOREN BENOIT/NIBJ

  • Photos by LOREN BENOIT/NIBJ Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty’s Duffy Smock and his wife, Jennifer, pose for a portrait at The Reserve, a new neighborhood at Twin Lakes.

  • 1

    Located south of Prairie Avenue and east of Atlas Road, Garden Grove is a 94-homesite neighborhood that includes two acres of park, walking trails, a community garden and more.

  • 2

    Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty is also building new houses at Prairie Sky in Rathdrum. The project is nearly done and features 163 homesites. LOREN BENOIT/NIBJ

The owners of Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty are building three Kootenai County neighborhoods.

If you think that’s a bit unusual, you’re right.

The real estate company owned by the Smock clan — featuring Don “Pepper” and Midge Smock, their son, Duffy, and Duffy’s wife, Jennifer — isn’t bashful about doing things a bit differently than most other real estate agencies. So in their world, the Smocks aren’t just adding layers to the tradition of selling somebody else’s real estate; by building new homes they’re providing an important additional service to society.

And Pepper would be the first to correct the opening sentence of this article.

“We don’t build neighborhoods,” he said. “We build nice homes for people to live in and thrive.”

The Smocks say there’s an economic benefit that stretches far and wide.

“If we don’t bring new houses to the area, it’s incredibly inflationary to the existing homes,” said the senior Smock.

Consider his point. With any desirable product, scarcity raises value, which increases price. If you have a cap of 10,000 homes in a community with 15,000 families, a couple of conclusions come easily:

1. Those 10,000 homes are going to be priced beyond what a typical market might dictate because demand far exceeds supply.

2. A third of those families are going to have to rent or move away.

For Duffy Smock, the additional inventory his family is providing will not just keep costs a little lower locally, but pave the way for first-time homebuyers who are tired of paying rent. As quality inventory comes online, established homeowners can move up, which in turn opens the door to homebuyers ready for their share of the American Dream.

For many, renting isn’t just a last resort; it’s not even an option with tight inventory and high prices. As of May, Kootenai County rents were the third highest of Idaho’s 44 counties — $1,274 a month, according to a WalletHub study.

New homes translate to new opportunities.

“We’re helping solve the housing shortage,” Duffy Smock said.

The Smocks are doing that by putting fallow land to work — much like urban renewal projects but without relying on taxpayers to get projects off the ground. The Smocks incur all the risk by buying the land, improving it, working with select local builders, financing the houses, then marketing and selling the homes, primarily through Windermere agents.

The three projects now on the Smocks’ plate:

GARDEN GROVE

Located south of Prairie Avenue and east of Atlas Road, this 94-homesite neighborhood includes two acres of park, walking trails, a community garden and more. Monogram Homes and Benway Quality Homes are the builders, and prices range from $285,000 to $450,000.

PRAIRIE SKY

On the northwest corner of Meyer and Lancaster roads in Rathdrum, Prairie Sky includes 163 homesites and is 97 percent built out now, thanks to Benway Quality Homes. Prices range from $235,000-$300,000.

“These were fields that raised nothing more than weeds and gophers,” Pepper Smock said.

THE RESERVE AT TWIN LAKES

With Timbered Ridge Homes the designated builder, The Reserve at Twin Lakes will feature 16 parcels of 5 acres each. Prices will range from $450,000 to $700,000, Duffy Smock said.

“This was land that had been very poorly logged and was just sitting there,” he said, adding: “These will be homes that won’t see each other.”

The project is expected to get under way sometime this fall.

For Pepper Smock, a Coeur d’Alene native, critics of the kind of growth that includes quality home construction have it backwards.

“Some people think people come because we build the homes. No,” he said. “We build the homes because people are already here.”

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