August 24, 1995 in Nation/World

Bucking The Tide Sales Of Waterfront Homes Remain Strong Despite Softening Real Estate Market

Eric Torbenson Staff writer

While the area’s housing market continues to cool from last year’s record pace, buyers still seem thirsty for waterfront homes.

The allure of living on the rivers and lakes speckled around North Idaho and the value that waterfront homes gain over time has sustained that market, real estate professionals say.

Sales of more modest homes around Kootenai County, excluding the big lake homes, are off about 15 percent from the same time last year, according to the Coeur d’Alene Multiple Listing Service.

During the first seven months of the year, 53 properties on water or with waterfront view and access (called secondary waterfront) have sold. During the same period last year, a record-setting 57 of the pricey homes were sold.

The Arrow Point condominium development has been behind a portion of the sales both years, said John Beutler, listing agent for the resort complex that juts out from the southeastern shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

With more than half the 100 units sold on the tree-lined jetty, Beutler said he hopes the complex will be sold out by year’s end, a year ahead of schedule.

The Arrow Point condos offer modern luxury and waterfront access for as little as $180,000, which has kept the homes within the price range of local buyers, said Mary Olson, managing broker at the complex.

Buyers from Idaho and Washington bought 37 of the 54 units that have been sold. Most are bought as second homes, but some buyers - retirees, mostly - plan to live there year-round, Olson said.

“They really just sell themselves,” she said. “People just walk in one and know immediately that they want it.”

It’s that enduring value of homes on the water that keeps buyers hunting in the area, Beutler said.

His sales of waterfront homes over $300,000 in value have nearly doubled this year, from eight in the first half of last year to 15 for the same two quarters this year.

The in-migration of out-of-state buyers continues, Beutler said. A drop-off in the number of Californians has been offset by interested Texans and Floridians looking to snap up a lakeside retreat, he said.

Location and the area’s reputation as a retirement haven play a large part in the waterfront market, said Realtor Bill Robinette in Hayden Lake, but the near-certain appreciation in value of these homes makes it a smart investment.

“I sold one man a home on Hayden Lake about twenty years ago for $105,000,” said Robinette, who owns Select Properties Co. in Hayden Lake. “I just sold it for more than $500,000. The homes are just so popular they speak for themselves.”

While prices for prime water frontage continue to climb, the demand for more affordable secondary waterfront homes follows, he said.

Robinette, too, hasn’t seen a slowdown in the number of out-of-state buyers scouting waterfront homes.

“In fact, there is a window right now in the marketplace where there’s a lot of homes out there to look at and not a lot of buyers,” he said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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