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Housing market moves ahead

by BILL BULEY & Brian Walker
Staff Writer | April 14, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - There was something a little different about Tuesday's Coeur d'Alene Multiple Listing Service meeting among agents. It was upbeat as it has been in two years.

"It's not high-dollar stuff that's selling, but it's good to be working," said Jack Schwartzmeyer, an agent with The Real Team. "It's been doom and gloom for two years, but there's hope and we're marching forward."

But he said the big question will be at the end of the month when two tax credit programs - $8,500 for first-time homebuyers and $6,000 for people upgrading - expire.

"Everything that I'm doing is a result of that and prices being so good," he said.

Good is right.

According to the MLS March report, housing sales are up.

In Kootenai County, 322 single-family homes have sold through March, up 33 percent from last year, while the average price fell 5 percent to $176,975. The median price fell 4 percent to $160,000.

The total volume of all residential sales reported to the MLS - from mobile homes to waterfront property - totaled $113.6 million, up 41 percent over the same time frame last year. Total sales were at 573, a 52 percent increase, while the average sales price was down 7.6 percent to $198,204.

In Coeur d'Alene and Dalton Gardens, 150 homes sold in the first three months of 2010, up 46 percent, with the average price at $185,556, down 1 percent.

In Post Falls, 96 homes have sold, up 8 percent from last year, while the average price fell 8 percent to $162,904.

In Hayden, 47 homes sold through March, up 81 percent, while the average sales price declined 14 percent of $188,792, according to the MLS.

And in Rathdrum and Twin Lakes, 13 homes sold through March, same as last year, while the average price went down 19 percent to $137,285.

"Entry level 'workforce housing' continues to run strong as the first time buyer programs and tax incentives support that portion of the market," wrote Pete Faust, Realtor with Century 21 Beutler and Associates.

In March, about 68 percent of all residential sales were at less than $200,000. The average sales price of a single-family listing in March, with three bedrooms, two baths, was $161,034, with an average 92 days on the market.

Only two homes sold for more than $500,000 in March, the MLS reported.

The number of active listings, 3,833, is up 8.3 percent from one year ago.

Schwartzmeyer said the market has changed in that it's local residents who are buying homes.

"There's not as many out-of-state people rushing in with investment dollars," he said.

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