Windermere shares successes, market realities

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  • Pepper Smock

  • 1

    Jennifer Smock

  • 2

    Duffy Smock

  • Pepper Smock

  • 1

    Jennifer Smock

  • 2

    Duffy Smock

Giving back

Not only did Windermere agents sell a whole lot of homes in 2019, but they reached a philanthropic milestone as well. Since its inception in 1996, Windermere Foundation passed the $1 million mark in fundraising that helps low-income and homeless families locally. Foundation President Richard Jurvelin announced $1,027,859.10 has been raised.

COEUR d’ALENE — Last year, somebody bought a home on the Spokane River for $9 million.

They paid cash.

Also last year, someone purchased a mobile home — as is — for $6,000.

Those were the bookends on Kootenai County real estate purchases in 2019. During Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty’s annual celebration and awards banquet Friday, a whole lot of love and information was packed in between.

The agency’s leaders — primarily Don “Pepper” Smock, Duffy Smock, Pat Krug and statistical wizard Jennifer Smock — handed out hardware and dished out numbers, most of them going up, up, up. At the top of the program, Duffy Smock made clear that after 98 years in business, Windermere Coeur d’Alene Realty’s culture is still the foundation of its success.

“We have focused on being … the most respected, the best real estate company possible,” he said.

Even though Windermere added 22 people to its team in 2019, Smock said size won’t win the war.

“We have no interest in being the biggest real estate team,” he said. “We’re growing responsibly and staying true to our culture.”

Over the past five years, that culture has helped Windermere’s annual closed sales surge, he said.

2015: $395 million

2016: $474 million

2017: $530 million

2018: $606 million

2019: $611 million

That success formula also reflects the market in many ways, several speakers said. One trend that appears to be leveling off at least somewhat is the rapid increase in housing prices. The people who sell homes for a living understand that constantly skyrocketing home prices aren’t good in the long term for communities.

“Maybe price appreciation is starting to slow a little bit,” Jennifer Smock told the packed conference room at Best Western Plus Coeur d’Alene Inn. “We don’t want double-digit appreciation. It’s not good for our little market here.”

But that doesn’t mean homes are losing value — not by a long shot.

According to Jennifer, sale prices in Kootenai County have increased as follows:

2013: 4 percent over previous year

2014: 9 percent

2015: 11 percent

2016: 9 percent

2017: 12 percent

2018: 13 percent

2019: 8 percent

Smock also shared the average sales prices for homes in 2019:

Coeur d’Alene: $371,000

Post Falls: $327,000

Hayden: $421,000

Kootenai County: $377,000

She noted that last year, 25 percent of all local real estate transactions were done in cash. She also earned some chuckles when she offered the statistic that at year’s end, the Multiple Listing Service showed 1,546 Realtor members in Kootenai County.

“That’s one out of every 100 county residents,” she said.

On a more somber note, Smock pointed out that the price range for first-time home buyers has steadily risen to the point that it’s beyond reach for many: $250,000 to $300,000.

“They’re getting priced out of the market,” she said.

Pepper Smock said Windermere is actively working on part of the solution by buying land and building homes.

“Our biggest problem has always been lack of inventory,” he said.

He said the company owns 40 acres on Huetter Road just north of Prairie Avenue and that they’re closing on another 40 acres just to the south. That’s room for a 240-home subdivision.

“This is a big part of our business and we expect it to grow,” Pepper said. “Every new house we build … is part of the solution.”

Looking ahead, Jennifer Smock shared a projection that by 2028, 38,000 new residents are expected to move here — and the vast majority will be 60 and over.

“They’re coming as retirees,” she said.

The retirees settle in and don’t move, she noted, which creates something of a barrier for younger people trying to buy their first home or move up as their income increases.

“We’re going to have limited supply for years,” she said.

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