Spokane’s housing market: too many buyers and not enough homes

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane’s beauty is like no other, people who live here agree. The Inland Northwest has a lot to offer.

It’s a place that’s caught the eyes of many, like Priya Mathur. She lived in California for most of her life. That’s also a state where people are leaving and heading to Washington and Idaho.

“I know an issue in California, or at least the Bay Area, from what I’ve experienced is loneliness, the lack of ability to really connect with the community,” Mathur said.

Community is what we have here in Spokane and the Inland Northwest. It’s something Mathur wants to be part of. In 2019, Mathur came to Spokane to visit for a work trip; the company is based in Liberty Lake. Ever since then, she fell in love with the Lilac City.

She moved to Spokane in October, hearing feedback from family that she needed to go through an Inland Northwest winter before buying a home here.

Mathur decided she still loved it, and has been looking for a home since November. However, she’s had very little luck.

“It’s been a little frustrating, to be honest,” she told 4 News Now.

There are very few homes on the market in Spokane.

The Spokane Association of Realtors’ January report showed there was about a 10 day supply of homes in January 2021. In January 2020, it was a one month supply. Anything under a three month supply is a sellers market, said Eric Johnson, a realtor and president of the association.

“I’ve been doing this 26 years and I can’t remember a time when it was lower,” he said.

Normally during the winter months, they have lower sales and fewer listings, however there are just many buyers looking during a time where there aren’t as many homes for sale.

“I think this is probably one of the busier winters we’ve ever had,” he said.

Johnson says the market can’t keep up because there isn’t enough labor to build more homes, too.

Homes are also selling at a much higher price now. The report said the average price of a home went up 21.5 percent this January compared to the last. The average closing price was about $347,500. Last year, it was nearly $289,000.

Johnson believes that price will continue to go up.

One reason could possibly be because of out-of-state buyers coming in to purchase a home. Some homes in other markets sell for maybe $800,000, Johnson gave an example. Coming to Spokane, they’d spend around $300,000. Johnson says they may not care as much about spending $50,000 to lock down the home.

However, he’s not blaming out-of-state buyers, either.

“With interest rates as low as they are, you have the people who can afford that payment in that higher price point as well,” he continued. “It’s not just people coming in from the outside, it’s the function of that under-supplied market and a large pool of buyers wanting that security. It comes together and this is what we get.”

The market where it is now has made it tough for buyers like Mathur.

Johnson said those trying to buy need to be prepared to put in multiple offers on a home.

“You might have to write three or four offers to get that house. The emotional ups and downs is very hard to watch your clients go through that,” Johnson said.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for Mathur. She ended up being on the losing side for one home she really wanted, because someone outbid her.

“I was outbid by, I would say, $30,000 in cash. It was well over the asking price. It was shocking, actually, because I had come in at a pretty good asking rate,” she said.

While she continues to look for a home and is hopeful she’ll find one of her dreams, she’s excited to be part of a community like Spokane.

“I really appreciated the beauty of the city I’m in. Driving through this neighborhood, driving through the South Hill, it just gave me so much hope and so much excitement for where I might actually end up,” she said.

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