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Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com names Coeur d’Alene top emerging housing market in U.S.; Spokane No. 5

Coeur d’Alene’s home price appreciation, economic vitality and quality of life have put the resort town on the map as the top emerging housing market in the nation, according to a new ranking released Tuesday.

The initial Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com Emerging Housing Market Index analyzed real estate market statistics, commute times, employment and small business growth in more than 300 U.S. cities to determine areas that offer attractive lifestyle amenities amid home price growth.

Spokane ranked fifth on the index. Other cities rounding out the top 10 include Austin-Round Rock, Texas; Springfield, Ohio; Billings; Layfayette-West Lafayette, Indiana; Reno, Nevada; Concord and Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire; and Santa Cruz, California.

“By definition, these areas have strong housing demand and somewhat limited housing supply,” the WSJ/Realtor.com index said. “These factors have contributed to strong recent home price growth and are expected to continue to push home prices higher.”

Coeur d’Alene’s ranking as the top emerging market was not surprising because the area is seeing an influx of out-of-area buyers, especially during the pandemic, said Kevin Bennett, Realtor with Bennett Realty Group at Keller Williams Realty Coeur d’Alene.

“We’ve been ranked as one of the best small retirement communities for 15 years,” he said. “What is surprising is the magnitude of people that sold (homes) and decided last year was the time to move.”

Kootenai County’s median home price increased 35.7% to $440,945 in March, compared with the same time last year. As of April 12, there were 154 active listings on the market in the county, according to the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors.

Spokane County’s median closing home price was $341,750 in March, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors. There were 209 properties listed on the market in Spokane County last month.

The national median existing home sales price in March increased 17.2% to a historic high of $329,100, according to the National Association of Realtors. Housing inventory nationwide is about a two months supply. A balanced housing market typically contains six months of supply.

The WSJ/Realtor.com index indicated the top 10 emerging housing markets have an average median home listing price of $519,100 and lower-than-average inventory – also a signal of high real estate market demand.

“Most of the pent up demand we see right now is coming from Washington, California and Colorado,” Bennett said, referring to Coeur d’Alene’s real estate market. “Oftentimes, if you bring a new property on the market and it’s priced reasonably, you are receiving multiple offers within days, and buyers are bidding up on those properties frequently.”

Shorter commute times and lower unemployment rates were bright spots for the index’s top emerging markets.

On average, the markets had an unemployment rate of 5.5%, compared with 6.3% for all markets in the survey, according to the index.

Coeur d’Alene’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.8% in March. Spokane County’s non-seasonally adjusted rate was 6.3%.

The top emerging housing markets had a larger concentration of companies that received U.S. Small Business Administration loans, signaling discretionary spending to support and retain small businesses, according to the index.

“(Coeur d’Alene) is attractive for people who come here to start a business. Our economy is growing, which is a good indicator for startup funding,” said Derrell Hartwick, president and CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce.

Since January, the Coeur d’Alene Chamber has doubled the number of new members each month. The Chamber’s membership also includes businesses in Hayden, Post Falls and Rathdrum, Hartwick said.

“The Coeur d’Alene Chamber is here to help anyway we can – whether they are a member or not,” Hartwick said. “The Coeur d’Alene business area is growing very, very rapidly.”

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