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Coeur d’Alene ranked in top 10 of hottest places to live

Coeur d’Alene, which topped the index in its inaugural year, landed at No. 7 in top 10 emerging markets in the U.S.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Coeur d’Alene is no longer the No. 1 emerging market in America, according to The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com.

But don’t despair. It’s still in the top 10, as reported by our partners, The Coeur d'Alene Press.

"We just continue to be a beautiful place to live," said Lindsay Allen, president of the Coeur d'Alene Regional Realtors.

She cited quality of life, low crime rate, abundant recreation opportunities, a strong business and construction community and political climate as reasons why working families, professionals and retirees continue coming here.

"I don't see it stopping anytime soon," Allen said.

Vacation destinations like Coeur d’Alene “have become desirable destinations for Americans moving into retirement, as well as young professionals and families looking for a more balanced lifestyle - contributing to a substantial demographic shift in many of the top markets,” according to the WSJ/Realtor.com Spring 2022 Emerging Housing Markets Index released Tuesday.

Coeur d’Alene, which topped the index in its inaugural year, landed at No. 7 this time around.

Rapid City, S.D., which previously ranked 17, moved into the top spot. It was followed by Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla., Santa Rosa, Calif., Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla., and Boulder, Colo. Billings, Mont. was No. 9.

Coeur d’Alene, a lakeside town with a population of about 55,000, fits the bill of what the index is after.

The spring 2022 index highlights “strong local economies with a mix of private industries, health care, higher education and the presence of government facilities and institutions.

“These factors result in a growing real estate market aimed at attracting and retaining entrepreneurs, professionals and families,” it says.

The index analyzes housing market data, as well as economic vitality and lifestyle metrics, “to surface emerging housing markets that offer a high quality of life and are expected to see future home price appreciation.”

You read that right. Home. Price. Appreciation. Still going up.

The Coeur d’Alene Regional Realtors reported the median home price in Kootenai County in March was $535,000, a 21% increase from March 2021.

Through March, CAR said 599 Kootenai County homes had sold, down 12% from the same three-month time frame last year because inventory is low.

It said there were fewer than 300 homes for sale, compared to what used to be a normal market when there might be more than 1,000 homes for sale.

The area's scenic beauty — endless lakes, rivers and mountains that offer year—round activities — is a big factor.

Lake Coeur d'Alene has gained national recognition and The Coeur d'Alene Resort, which sits on its shores, is considered one of the world's top resorts.

"Access to recreation is still a big draw," Allen said.

According to realtor.com, some homes currently for sale in Coeur d’Alene include a three-bedroom, one-bath, 1,344-square-foot home for $525,000; a two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,285-square-foot home in the Sanders Beach area for $499,000; a two-bedroom, one-bath, 924-square-foot mobile home for $92,500, and a four-bedroom home on Government Way for $750,000.

The rising home prices aren't stopping people from coming here.

The Census Bureau reported Idaho’s population rose from 1,847,772 in 2020 to 1,900,923 in 2021, in its July 1, 2021, population estimates.

According to the Idaho Department of Labor, Kootenai County grew by 4.1% to just under 180,000 people from 2020 to 2021.

Population growth continued to be strong in Idaho’s three largest counties – Ada, Canyon and Kootenai – from 2020 to 2021, the IDL reported. These three counties collectively accounted for just under 50% of the state’s total population, and they accounted for 31,491 of the state’s new residents, or 59% of the population growth.

Idaho remained the sixth youngest state in the nation with a median age of 36.6 years, according to the Department of Labor.

United Van Lines released the company’s 45th Annual National Movers Study earlier this year. It had Idaho at No. 9 of top inbound states for 2021. It was No. 1 in 2020.

The study said results indicate, "Americans were on the move to lower-density areas."

Coeur d’Alene has attracted many from crowded areas like California and western Washington, people who are looking for more space and a less frantic pace.

"We have great quality of life here," Allen said.

Coeur d’Alene’s popularity has come at a price for many who can no longer afford to live here due to rising home prices and rents.

The Regional Housing and Growth Issues Partnership said that five years ago, 75% of county residents could afford a home when the median price was $250,000.

That’s no longer the case. Now 75 percent can't afford a median priced home.

The median household income in Kootenai County is $65,500. But to buy a $500,000 home requires a median income of $100,000, and there are only a handful of homes under $500,000, with many of those mobile homes on leased land.

“This picture gets worse as mortgage rates go up," said Maggie Lyons, member of the Partnership.

While Coeur d’Alene lost six spots in the spring index, others fell further.

The sharpest drops were with Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii, and Waco, Texas, dropping from No. 3 to No. 94 and No.16 to No. 87, respectively.

Nine markets from the winter’s top 20 fell out of the top tier but not out of the top 100.

The index said that despite prices reaching new record highs over the past year, eight of the top emerging markets have median list prices below the $405,000 national average.

It cites Coeur d’Alene as an “expensive” market driving up the average home price.

“While the average price for the cities in the top 20 list is above the national median, most of that is due to a handful of expensive markets, like San Jose, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa, Calif., along with Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Naples, Fla.,” the report said.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 News partner. For more news from our partners, click here.

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