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Saturday, August 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Idaho auctions 39 Priest Lake cabin sites, just one draws competitive bids

A 1.7-acre slice of North Idaho lakefront heaven on Priest Lake – with just a rustic, one-bedroom cabin on it – drew the only contested bidding at a weekend auction that saw the state of Idaho sell 39 cabin sites.

The cabin owners, a Seattle couple whose family had been leasing the land since at least the 1970s, were outbid by a Coeur d’Alene physician who was willing to pay $1.107 million for the lakefront property – $367,000 more than its appraised value. The successful bidder also will be required to pay the cabin owners the $44,200 assessed value for their 870-square-foot cabin.

All 38 other cabin sites sold for the appraised value to the people who are leasing the lots from the state.

It’s part of the Idaho Department of Lands’ move to get out of the business of renting lakefront cabin sites, on which private owners lease the ground and build and own their own cabins.

It’s a business that has led to multiple lawsuits over the years, as cabin owners contested higher rents charged by the state and the Lands Department countered that it must raise the most amount of money possible to benefit schools.

Two lots drew no bids; the cabin owners had nominated them for the auction, but didn’t bid.

With the weekend auction at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, Idaho has now auctioned 228 cabin sites at Priest Lake and at Payette Lake near McCall. The state endowment has collected $97.7 million in proceeds from the auctions, including the $18.9 million raised Saturday.

Idaho’s state Land Board, which is chaired by Gov. Butch Otter and consists of the state’s top five elected officials, has voted to invest the money into higher-earning investments, focusing on timber land. The state endowment currently owns nearly 1 million acres of timber land, and made $68.2 million from logging in 2015.

The Land Board has authorized auctioning another 300 state-owned cabin sites at Priest and Payette lakes by 2019. It’s also considering auctioning some unleased cabin sites at Priest Lake this fall.

At Saturday’s auction, the lot that drew the competitive bidding was the priciest lot, but also the one with the lowest-valued cabin on it. The priciest property in total was a $615,000 lot with a $1.2 million, 4,948-square-foot cabin; it went to the cabin owner for the appraised value. The lowest-valued lot in Saturday’s auction sold for its appraised price of $300,000.

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