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Spokane is third most attractive destination for West Coast movers, real estate experts say

As Spokane's housing market is expected to perform well in a "post-COVID-19 environment," a real estate expert says interest rates could gradually increase in 2022.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The National Association of Realtors ranked Spokane and Spokane Valley as one of the top 10 markets that showed resilience during the pandemic as well as the ones they expect to perform well in a “post-COVID-19 environment.”

According to the report, nearly 24% of people moved to Spokane from elsewhere in 2018 with more than 7% of the workforce working from home. It should be noted that this is all pre-pandemic data, with numbers likely even higher now.

Rob Higgins, Executive Vice President of the Spokane Association of Realtors, explained to KREM 2’s Tim Pham that real estate forecasts are important for understanding the job market and how it affects the housing market.

“When you start forecasts, you’re an economist,” Higgins said. “You got to know what the job market is going to be like because the job market is critical for the housing market.”

Higgins says that the real estate market is “cyclical,” citing the relationship between Californians and Spokane regarding shifting housing markets.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, California had a horrible housing market while Spokane’s housing market thrived.

“A whole bunch of people selling and coming up here,” Higgins said. “Coming up to the Northwest and drove prices up.”

Now, the cycle continues as local agents report that Californians and people from larger cities are in fact choosing Spokane. According to the National Association of Realtors’ list, Spokane is the third most attractive destination for West Coast movers, following Phoenix and Dallas.

“No, it’s not Seattle,” Higgins said. “But, there’s some nice things to do plus the outdoors are handy. You know, let’s sell our house in Sacramento for way more than what you get in Spokane and come and buy a house in Spokane.”

All of these factors are making it harder for first-time homebuyers like Cassie Morden. The pandemic changed people’s habits and priorities. Now, people want stability more than ever.

“I grew up here,” Morden said. “I love the city. There’s a lot to offer. It’s growing and I wanted to be able to pay for something that was mine.”

With skyrocketing rents and historically low interest rates on home mortgages, Morden decided to navigate the ups and downs of buying her first home.

“There were no offers on it,” Morden said. “It was back on market price decrease, which honestly kind of put us off a little bit. We’re like ‘what’s wrong with it?’ And then we got it and it’s perfect.”

Spokane Association of Realtors President Eric Johnson says that the pandemic has brought him new clients, as more and more people want to be safe from the coronavirus.

“People all of the sudden bought homes because they’re like ‘hold on a second. I want to be someplace where I know it’s stable, it’s safe’,” Johnson said.

In 2022, Johnson expects interest rates in Spokane to gradually increase.

“I think 2022 looks stable. I think prices could kind of level off,” Johnson said. ‘“If there was any incentive to do something sooner than later, it would be that interest rate volatility.”

But the reality is some will have to wait because there is simply not enough housing.

“We’re going in the right direction, but it’s still a pretty aggressive seller’s market,” Johnson said. “Anything under four months is considered a seller’s market and we’re at 23 days.”

This story is part of KREM 2's Boomtown Week. Watch stories about the impacts of growth in Spokane and North Idaho all week long through Friday, Nov. 12.

Watch more Boomtown coverage on the KREM 2 YouTube channel:

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