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Spokane County home sales hit monthly record in June; some hopeful signs for buyers emerge

UPDATED: Wed., July 26, 2017

Home sales in Spokane County hit an all-time monthly record in June, continuing a blistering year for the local real estate market.

A total of 944 homes sold last month, topping a previous record of 871 homes sold in June 2005, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors.

The tight inventory of houses for sale continues to drive up prices. The median sales price in June was $217,000 for Spokane County, which represents a 10 percent increase from a year ago.

“It’s still a very strong seller’s market,” said Matt Chapman, managing broker at Chapman Real Estate in Spokane.

But Chapman sees some hopeful signs for prospective buyers in the latest data. Demand – which represents the ratio of home buyers to properties on the market – has fallen by about 5 percent in recent weeks.

“If anyone experienced buying in the spring market, it was just insane,” Chapman said. The slight drop in demand “has taken off some of the edge.”

Several of his clients, who got discouraged by the frenzied home-buying market in April and May, are starting to look at houses again.

Eric Swanson is one of them. The Spokane resident spent two weeks this spring looking for a house to buy in the Shadle area for under $200,000 before giving up.

“It was pretty stressful,” he said. “Buying a house is a major decision, a life-altering decision. I had to make a decision within hours, almost within minutes, about whether to make an offer.”

Swanson, an electrician, headed out to look at houses in the late afternoon after work.

“It was ridiculous how quickly they were selling,” Swanson said. “If a house came on the market at 10 a.m., I was looking at it at 4 p.m. By 6 p.m., it had an offer.”

Many homes still sell quickly, but the market doesn’t seem quite so cutthroat to Swanson, who recently started house-hunting again. He’s looking for more space than the 1,200-square-foot house he’s currently in. He also wants to stay in the Shadle neighborhood so his son can go to the same elementary school.

“While we waited out the market, interest rates have risen,” Swanson said. “But it was better to let it calm down and pay the higher rate. … I was just not comfortable making a snap decision.”

A midsummer lull is typical for the Spokane market, said Jennifer Valerien, the owner/broker of Re/Max Inland Empire and president of the Spokane Association of Realtors.

“School ends and there’s graduation,” she said. “People want to go on vacation or go to the lake.”

Shopping for a new home tends to take a back seat to summer recreation in the Inland Northwest, Valerien said. The market often picks up again in August, when families who hope to move before school starts resume their search.

This year, Valerien has noticed an increase in online activity. People may be out of town, but they’re still on the lookout for homes coming on the market in their price range.

“That’s the beauty of technology,” Valerien said. “You can track what’s happening wherever you are.”

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