Cooler housing market still pretty hot

In spite of a dramatic increase in homes listed for sale, experts say that Spokane County’s housing market isn’t going through a major slump.

“We had an unsustainably hot market. We’re now in a much more normal kind of environment. A purchaser can take their time selecting the right house for their needs and that’s an advantage,” said Glenn Crellin, director for the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University.

There were 3,273 homes for sale at the beginning of this month, an increase of 662 homes from last year, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors, and the year-to-date median sale price was $186,000, up 7 percent over the same period last year.

Crellin said the inventory shortage that helped fuel rapid appreciation, which was about 17 percent annually in 2005 and 2006, has subsided. While a six-month inventory of homes is considered balanced, Spokane County had a two- to three-month supply, which led to bidding wars, he explained. Spokane now has about a seven-month supply of homes and prices that are stable without skyrocketing. Some buyers are finding that they can negotiate and get more home for their money, he said.

James Young, president of the Spokane Association of Realtors, said home sellers in some other cities are struggling to sell properties and that is contributing to a slowdown of people migrating into the region.

Young is currently representing a couple who’ve had their Phoenix, Ariz., home on the market for a year in hopes of moving to Spokane. They’ve had to lower their price four times, he said.

National news coverage about widespread lending problems, high foreclosure rates and declining home values isn’t characteristic of the Spokane market, Young said, and may discourage would-be homebuyers from entering the market at a time when interest rates are still low and more houses are available to choose from.

For instance, while foreclosures are up in many parts of the country, Spokane County’s rates declined in 2005 and 2006. There were 269 foreclosures last year, down from a 29-year high of 1,152 in 2002, according a real estate report published by the Spokane-Kootenai Real Estate Research Committee.

On the other hand, foreclosures rose in Kootenai County, which had 422 foreclosures last year but then almost half of that, 198, in the first quarter of this year.

Crellin hasn’t had time to analyze the North Idaho trend but said that the Spokane market is stable.

“I certainly don’t see this market experiencing any significant declines in value. It may not see rapid appreciation, but you don’t need rapid appreciation.”

Rockwood moves therapy office

Tom Metzger, director of therapy services, said the new location at 605 E. Holland, Suite 112, is 5,800 square feet, with double the rooms and a much larger gym space.

“We’re in a professional office building now, so it’s got some nicer amenities,” he said.

The business, which moved from a place near the North Division Y, will hire two or three more therapists for its growing client base.

Metzger said the business works with a growing number of high school athletes and baby boomers who get injured while exercising.

“Our bread and butter in the Rockwood Physical Therapy Department will always be outpatient orthopedics.”

Assisted living complex to open this month

Legacy House, an assisted living center in Post Falls, is opening this month. The Web site for the two-story complex shows 36 rooms and a variety of amenities and services for residents. The complex is located at 1136 Mullan Ave.

Box company moves to business park

The BoxMaker Inc., a company that makes and distributes packaging supplies, is leasing 4,000 square feet of space at the business park on Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley.


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