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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane’s housing boom outstripping nation’s record pace

July 27, 2021 Updated Wed., July 28, 2021 at 11:31 a.m.

Children walk through home construction in Liberty Lake near Selkirk Middle School on Feb. 25, 2020. Prices for U.S. homes rose faster in May than they have in 17 years. (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
Children walk through home construction in Liberty Lake near Selkirk Middle School on Feb. 25, 2020. Prices for U.S. homes rose faster in May than they have in 17 years. (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
By Amy Edelen The Spokesman-Review

While home prices are rising at a record-breaking pace nationwide, Spokane is outpacing that trend as demand continues to outstrip supply of available properties on the market.

DeedClaim, an online deed preparation service, recently ranked Spokane 20th out of cities nationwide for the greatest housing shortage.

The site analyzed data to calculate housing supply in each metro area and examined population changes over the course of a year to determine buyer demand. Data does not take into account current residents of each metro area actively seeking a home.

Phoenix and Dallas topped the list for facing the greatest housing shortages, according to DeedClaim.

DeedClaim’s report comes as Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward declared a “housing emergency” Monday for the first time in Spokane’s history.

In a statement Tuesday, the Spokane Association of Realtors indicated it stands with Woodward on addressing Spokane’s housing shortage.

“Regional researchers, builders, and brokers have been sounding the alarm on our housing emergency for the past several years,” Tom Clark, chair of SAR’s governmental affairs committee, said in a statement. “We’re relieved our city executive and legislators now see it, too. Spokane Realtors are ready to bring housing solutions to the table and continue to help build Spokane’s future for everyone who wants to live here.”

The Spokane City Council on Monday unanimously approved a Housing Action Plan with four priorities: Increasing housing supply and affordability for people of all incomes; preserving housing affordability for those who already live here; increasing access to housing and homeownership; and supporting housing initiatives across the region.

“Some of our biggest housing challenges are of our own creation,” Clark said. “We make it difficult – sometimes impossible – to build what people want to buy in areas where people want to live. We pile on burdensome regulations and fees, then wonder why we have a housing crisis. All of this is fixable by our own hands.”

Spokane County’s median home closing price hit a record breaking $380,000 in June, a 28.8% increase compared with the $295,000 median in June 2020, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors.

The county’s median home price is above the nationwide median of $363,300 in June, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

Nationally, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, soared 17% in May from a year earlier on top of a 15% jump in April. The May increase was the biggest since August 2004.

The hottest markets were Phoenix (where prices surged 25.9%), San Diego (24.7%) and Seattle (23.4%). All 20 cities reported faster year-over-year growth in May than they did in April.

The U.S. housing market has been hot. Many Americans, tired of being cooped up at home during the pandemic, have traded in apartments and small homes in city for bigger houses in the suburbs.

The Federal Reserve’s easy money policies have also kept mortgage rates near historic lows, pushing up demand for housing.

Spokane Association of Realtors Executive Officer Rob Higgins anticipates strong buyer demand to persist in the county, although there may be a slight slowdown the second half of the year.

“We are starting to see our inventory tick up a little,” he said. “New listings were up 16% in June over May and, actually, new listings for the year have been exceeding last year.”

The county had 284 properties on the market in June, representing a 12-day supply, compared to 224 homes available in May.

“Hopefully, we’re going to see more inventory coming in and I think that will happen,” Higgins said. “The key ingredient is what will happen with interest rates in the next quarter and next half of the year. If it ticks upward, that will slow demand a little.”

In the rest of the country, the supply of houses for sale has been limited, partly because many Americans are reluctant to put their properties on the market and allow would-be buyers to troop through their homes.

But rising prices have pushed many would-be buyers out of the market.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that sales of new homes fell in June for the third straight month, sliding to the lowest level in more than a year.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors reported sales of previously occupied homes nationwide rose in June, ending four months of declines.

“Price pressures remain very firm and appear ready to stay that way in the months to come,’’ said Matthew Speakman, economist at the real estate firm Zillow.

“Indeed, sharply rising prices do appear to have priced out some home shoppers, particularly those looking to enter the market for the first time, and causing fatigue among would-be buyers,” Speakman continued. “But overall demand for homes remains very firm.’’

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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