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Growing Pains and Patience

What’s trending for home buyers and sellers in 2022 By Joshua Nishimoto

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To love living in Sandpoint, one must perceive change as a fresh start. The only constant is change, so goes the fluctuating housing market, along with living trends based on pandemics and other lifestyle (living and working) preferences. For further insights to these issues and more, this month we turn to real estate agent and North Idaho housing guru Eric Skinner. Skinner is very knowledgeable about the industry and has shared some advice to help navigate the current and future housing market and its rough waters.

“Sandpoint, and all North Idaho, is experiencing some serious growing pains,” Skinner said. “The lifestyle we love here has become a desired lifestyle for others following Covid (COVID-19) and other national issues. Unfortunately, the lack of good real estate supply to service the people wanting to move here has seriously increased home sale prices.”

For those looking for local housing market prices to go down, they may need to exercise some patience. According to Skinner, considering both labor and raw material shortages, we are looking for supply to rarely, if ever, meet demand any time soon.

“Following the period (2008-2012), many builders left the construction industry, so our builders are pushed to the limits to get new product hitting the market to help service the recent demand,” Skinner said. “Most builders at this point are several years out for availability to build new homes. Then when you throw in the instability of lumber prices, and other additional issues such as some materials being hard to get due to manufacturer shutdowns and shipping cargo not making it to port, it has created a multi-level problem.”

Housing prices will eventually settle down again. Although they may never be where they were before, Skinner said that he sees the market staying fairly steady with slight variations, returning to a new state of normal, proving that those waiting for a “good deal” will most likely continue to wait.

“I see buyers looking for a good home still having to be patient,” Skinner said. “Good homes and good deals still make it to the market, but you and your agent need to be ready to jump when they hit, because if you don’t, someone will.”

The current housing market has led to some new and interesting trends. When interacting with clients, Skinner gets a good feel for which trends will stick and which ones may discontinue: “I see the absurd prices slowing down and going away. I think we are seeing good signs of this already. I’m seeing more and more buyers willing to walk away from properties that are severely overpriced,” he shared.

When looking at luxury condo and luxury home living, Skinner was slightly troubled with the number of people in the area and lack of available condos/apartments available.

“I do think there is some additional need for condominiums in our area, but I’m somewhat concerned at the numbers we are going to see shortly,” he said. “Density of people increased without proper infrastructure is going to make some of our problems like parking downtown even worse. Additionally, we are losing several of the great restaurants in our area for the property to be used for condos. Getting a reservation for dinner to your favorite restaurant in town may become a thing of the past for a while.”

Along with luxury apartments and condos, one can’t argue that the development of future affordable housing, although much needed, will add to several growing concerns.

“Honestly, they scare me a bit,” Skinner said. “I completely agree we need more homes at reasonable prices, but building small units on top of each other, or buildings housing hundreds of people and compacting them so closely, concerns me.”

For those looking to purchase their first home in Sandpoint, or to sell one, Skinner offers us his hottest tip: “Buyers and sellers should take seriously the need to hire an agent who knows and services a particular market,” he said. “Take the time to find someone knowledgeable about Sandpoint and the surrounding areas. The effort you put into finding that agent may save you a bundle!”

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