Wild West Real Estate

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On Thursday morning, in front of a crowd of 200, Kootenay County’s director of community development David Callahan compared the impact of COVID-19 to the impact of World War II.

Attendees at the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber of Commerce and Coeur d’Alene Realtors’ Association “Journey through the Wild West – Growth of Couthenay County” probably did not expect to receive a lot of information from famous speakers.

President of the Association Kristen Johnson of CENTURY 21 Beutler & Associates, Jennifer Smoke of Windermere / Coeur d’Alene Realty, airport director Steven Kiergaard and Callahan, speakers provided the latest news on the regional housing market.

By doing what he never does, Callahan strayed from the script. He shared with the audience his personal navigation experience over the past 18 months, comparing the national and local impact of COVID-19 with the impact of World War II.

“We have been traumatized to some extent and are still recovering,” Callahan said. “In the years after World War II, as today, there was a shortage of labor and housing, and the European economy was destroyed.”

Pointing to a slide in the presentation titled “It’s Cruel There,” Callahan noted that prices have risen 30-50% year-on-year, breaking previous records.

Citing previous data provided by Smock, inventories – albeit slowly growing – are still down nearly 70% from the same period last year.

In four main neighborhoods – Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Hayden and Rathdrum – the average home sales price has increased 35-44% since 2020, Smoke said. It is noteworthy that first-class properties with prices in the millions reached record sales: from 26 private sales in 2019 to 24 in 2020, but already 144 this year, which is not half less.

Today Smoke and other realtors are discovering that if a buyer cannot afford a $ 350,000 home, they have “nothing to buy.”

“This is a really tough pill for a lot of people,” she said.

Smoke noted that the growth was not driven by the real estate agent, but by the lack of inventory and people willing to bid above the quoted price.

Something to blame is the growing population of Kutenay County, but Callahan noted that “growth” is not new to the area. It’s just happening faster than before, and the secret North Idaho utopia being broadcast in the national media isn’t helping, Smoke said.

Smoke said that, if she had to estimate, the ratio of out-of-state buyers to Idaho residents is roughly 60/40, only slightly biased towards newcomers. Most of them want to buy a second home and pay in cash, she said.

“This is a very different market than we have ever seen. It’s hard, it’s hard, it’s a struggle. Not enough inventory, ”Johnson told The Press. “It’s wild in this fast-paced, hot market. Now more than ever, you need a realtor partner to help you in this process. ”

Johnson said the focus is on getting more listings and increasing inventory to feed the beast of supply and demand. However, although she is hopeful, she doesn’t know when the inventory problem will get better.

Stocks of both new buildings and existing homes have declined for various reasons. For existing properties, historically low interest rates are encouraging homeowners to stay and invest, she said.

In terms of new construction, developers have been constrained by high permit applications and skyrocketing prices for materials such as lumber, which have risen more than 250% since April last year, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Aside from all these points, Smoke encouraged those in attendance that Kootenay County was not heading for a housing bubble. She said Thursday that there were 24 properties with declining prices, and more and more buyers are opposed to the overpriced amounts on the list.

“We’re all scared. This is an unpredictable time, so we are all worried, ”Smoke said. “I would advise everyone to keep their stake in the house and sit and see what happens.”

Callahan was hopeful, but much of his faith stems from the Regional Partnership for Housing and Development, made up of elected and planning officials across the territory. He believes that the best way to resist growth is to seek solutions that benefit the entire community.

“If we don’t approach it that way, we end up with a zero-sum game – a game strategist’s term, where for every winner there is a loser,” Callahan said.

What saved the world powers after World War II, and what Callahan believes will save County Kootenay now, are born of out-of-the-box ideas. Pointing to historic actions such as the Marshall Plan, also known as the European Reconstruction Plan, and the creation of the United Nations, Callahan said it would take a community ready to rally to overcome the rut caused by COVID.

“I hope (audience members) will find the courage of Churchill and the compassion of Mother Teresa so that we can unite and deal with this,” Callahan told The Press. “I hope that we, as a community, will find this common cause because we need it.”

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