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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane market bucks national trend with rising housing prices

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 29, 2019, 8 p.m.

Spokane’s housing market is bucking national trends, with home prices continuing to rise here.

Realtor.com recently released a list of 10 metro areas that experienced double-digit growth in housing prices last year. The price growth in the Spokane area and the other markets came as 70 percent of the U.S.’s 200 largest housing markets experienced a slow down.

Spokane-area homes for sale in December had a median list price of $299,100, representing a 15 percent increase from the previous year, according to Realtor.com.

The price quoted by Realtor.com seemed high to Rob Higgins, executive officer for the Spokane Association of Realtors. He said it may have included properties with acreage.

The Spokane Association of Realtors reported a median home price of $235,000 for Spokane County in 2018, up 12 percent from the previous year. The association uses the final sales price, not the listing price, to calculate the median. It also excludes homes with acreage, focusing on condos and single-family homes on less than 1 acre.

By either account, Spokane-area housing prices rose rapidly last year.

Spokane has become a magnet for people moving from high-cost urban areas, such as Seattle, according to Realtor.com. “… Many of the folks who don’t have those high-paying Amazon or Microsoft jobs look at Spokane,” the article said.

Marianne Bornhoft, a Realtor-broker with Windermere Manito in Spokane, said about half of her clients are people relocating to the area for better quality of life.

“It’s not just Seattle or Portland,” she said. “You have these buyers moving into Spokane from all over the nation. … We’re like the best-kept secret. It’s common knowledge that people want to move here.”

The ratio of buyers to sellers is high in the local market, with the tightest inventory of homes for sale Bornhoft has seen in 24 years.

She recently listed a South Hill home for sale. The house had 40 showings in three days. Another South Hill property she listed received five competing offers.

“Compared to the rest of the nation, we’re considered a very affordable housing market,” Bornhoft said. But some local residents, particularly first-time buyers, are feeling squeezed by the out-of-town competition, she said.

Bornhoft’s daughter bought her first home last year in the Shadle Park neighborhood. Competition was intense for the under-$200,000 house, which required the installation of a new sewer line, she said.

Realtors from across Washington recently lobbied in Olympia in support of legislation to ease regulations for condo construction. In the current housing market, many first-time buyers can’t afford a detatched home, Bornhoft said.

Building condos would help ease Washington’s housing shortage, give buyers options and allow first-time buyers to build equity in a property they could use later to buy a single-family house, she said.

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