BREAKING NEWS: Real estate prices in Kootenai County are on the rise.
OK. Maybe that’s not exactly breaking news, but the speed at which home prices are climbing clocked in at a much faster rate than some expected. The Multiple Listing Network reported this week the year-to-date figures through September for the average price of home purchases, and the news confirms what we all know.
North Idaho is a seller’s market.
“It’s simple supply and demand,” Loretta Hartman of North Idaho Real Estate said Friday. “There’s less supply than there is demand. That’s nothing new. The rate it went up doesn’t surprise me, either.”
The number of homes sold in Kootenai County so far this year — 2,615 — is in keeping with the number of sales this time last year. The median price, however, was $305,000, a 9 percent jump from this time in 2018. And the skyrocketing prices aren’t deterring more affluent buyers from making a more-than-competitive bid.
“If it’s a nice enough house, and buyers are out looking, they’ll pay over the listed price,” Hartman said. “If they find a special house they want, they don’t want to get bumped by another bid. They’ll put in a good bid.”
Those bids get snapped up by sellers quickly. More expensive million-dollar homes can stay on the market for upward of six months, Hartman said, but anything below $300,000 goes in a flash.
“Right now, it’s the beginner homes where supply is the most needed,” she said. “If you have a 1,400-to-1,700 square foot rancher — maybe a three-bed, two bath with a two-plus-car garage — it’ll go a lot quicker.”
Quicker, in Hartman’s experience, for buyers wanting to then rent out the homes, provided the details meet the need.
“Most of those newer houses don’t have landscaping done,” Hartman said. “No trees. No lawn. Somebody looking to buy and rent it out is going to show a little more discretion in what they buy.”
While the supply-and-demand issue is backed up by the math, other real estate agents say Idaho as a destination isn’t necessarily causing the boom.
“I’ve been doing this 18 years,” Realtor Katie Stolebarger of Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty said. “I’ve seen the ups and downs here in the area. The people who are coming here aren’t coming toward Idaho; they’re coming away from somewhere else.”
Stolebarger said the deteriorating conditions in more populated areas are driving people to seek refuge in the Gem State.
“I have a client in California,” she said. “He wants out of law enforcement. He deals with the worst of the worst. If you’re a police officer, you can’t shoot a suspect unless they’re shooting at you. This is the law down there. They have a mandatory vaccine program [in California]. People are looking to get out of there for health freedom reasons. They have power supply issues down there ... They’re handing out needles to people in Seattle. When you’ve got people like that looking to move their families out of that insane environment, the prices are always going to go up.”
She said the real estate market is pricing out local native Idahoans, but the local market isn’t bound to change.
“It’s such a beautiful area up here,” Stolebarger said. “This is kind of a special pocket market. That’s why people want to come here, and that’s why they’re coming here as fast as they can.”