Buyers or sellers?
Our local real estate experts, contributing to the conversation:
- Cindy Carrigan - Spokane Valley Realtor since 2001
- Jacquelynne Sandoval - Spokane Valley Realtor since 2018
- Greg Washington - North Idaho Realtor/Home Builder since 2002
- Marianne Bornhoft - Spokane Realtor/Broker since 1995
In the last five years, realtors watched the pandemic influence the rate at which people bought and sold homes. Some realtors said they even recalled there being only a few weeks of inventory, as buyer demand significantly increased.
"It was a great time to own real estate," north Idaho realtor Greg Washington shared. "There was so much demand for this area. Values went up over 30% in the last few years."
Washington said it was surprising how much housing took off during the height of the pandemic.
Now, things are presenting a bit differently. Houses are staying on the market for longer. Still, with two to three months of inventory in both eastern Washington and north Idaho housing markets, based on numbers alone, realtors could call it a sellers' market.
"We still have very low inventory for the amount of demand we have in Spokane," Cindy Carrigan Spokane Valley realtor said.
But with the context of coming off an extremely hot, abnormal market, realtors said months of inventory show the markets are normalizing.
“We’re trending more towards a balanced market,” Carrigan said.
"Right now, today, we’re probably in that three to three and a half months of inventory," Washington noted. "Historically, that would say sellers are still having the power, but right now, coming on the heels of the last couple years we’ve had, it definitely feels a little bit more balanced at this point.”
When considering "inventory," realtors said valuations are determined by how long it would theoretically take to sell out of all available, for sale houses in the market.
Realtors said buyers are able to work and negotiate more with sellers, rather than buying sight-unseen.
"Buyers are able to look at homes for more than 15 minutes and have to make a decision," Spokane Valley realtor Jacquelynne Sandoval said. "They're going to go in and look a couple of times. They're going to go in and look at a house a couple of times."
Despite buyers moving up in the housing ranks, realtors said increasing interest rates could be deterring some people from being able to buy the homes of their dreams.
"For every 1% increase in interest rates, we’ve reduced someone’s purchasing power by 10%,” Washington explained.
As a Spokane real estate investor, Cameron Bellinger said playing the real estate market game for the last four years has had its ups and downs.
"Before it used to be, 'this is the price,'" Bellinger said. "'We’re not doing any concessions, any repairs, any inspections, this is the house you get.'”
He said he believes the power is beginning to shift back from sellers to buyers.
"Especially as we move into the colder months," Bellinger started. "I think we're going to continue to see a shift and a change in the dynamic of that relationship.
In the current market, he, too, has noticed how high interest rates are affecting the state of buyers in the Inland Northwest.
"I think this is the most heightened point where buyers are not trying to be in the market just because interest rates are high," Bellinger said. "A lot of people can’t afford them.”
According to the Spokane Association of Realtors, the median home price in Spokane County for October 2022 was just under $400,000.
On the other side of the state line, the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors reports the median home price in Kootenai County for October 2022 was $550,000.
But, as buyers continue to get some of their power back, realtors said they are able to negotiate incentives that could lessen the costs of buying their dream homes.
"It's really finding the right way to sell and buy and really thinking very outside the box and being more creative in your mindset," Marianne Bornhoft, Spokane realtor and broker said. "I know everyone can buy or sell a house in Spokane -- even in these conditions.”
While each realtor had their own perspective and experience to contribute to the conversation, all echoed the same sentiment that buyers and sellers can win in today's market.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can tell you right now," Bornhoft said. "If there’s a house down the street that you really like don’t wait cause it probably won't be there next year.”
“Buying does really make sense right now because we’re continuing to see prices climb even with the interest rates being higher," Carrigan said. "So it’s better to get into the market now. As interest rates climb and buyers lose buying power, that will affect pricing. So it’s better to get your home on the market now if you need to sell anytime in the next 12 months.”
"Both sides have power in every situation," Sandoval shared.
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