This is healthy: real estate edition
Our broken housing market in one silly listing (and a few gut-wrenching stats)
Real estate reporting isn't my biggest interest, and it's definitely not RANGE's beat, but the Inland Northwest is in the midst of an extreme housing crunch that's beginning to affect people's ability to even survive — and that is definitely our beat.
It's not breaking news that the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene housing markets are absurdly hot. Hotter than any time in our young lives (40 is young, shut up), and at the very top of emerging markets in America (read about the the methodology here), but many Spokies are still coming to terms with what it means for those of us who have lived here our whole lives (and who have jobs that pay Spokane market rates).
We have lots of friends who wonder if they'll ever be able to buy a new house. Some younger folks have given up on ever being able to buy at all. It's like, what is this, Seattle?
A lot of our Seattle friends don't get that part. Houses aren't that expensive. Well, depends on the lens.
Given the top-level housing prices, Spokane is still lower than almost any market on either coast, and not hugely out of step with national averages, so it's sometimes hard for people from those markets — like, ahem, many of the folks who might be moving here — to understand just how disruptive the market is for people who have lived in the Inland Northwest their whole lives.
While it's true that Spokane's $325,000 median home price is only about 7% above the national average of $304,000, $325k is 20% higher than it was last year. That's a difference of over $50,000. In one year.
And as the Spokesman-Review noted in March, that money ain't exactly buying cute bungalos on the South Hill: "for $329,900, homebuyers can purchase a three-bedroom, two-bath home with a two-car garage in Airway Heights."
If you don't understand the joke here, you're probably one of the people driving up housing prices (let's just say don't drink the water).
And plus, Spokane is a relatively low-wage market, so these prices are felt exponentially by citizens of a city making, on average, barely half of Seattle and with a median household income $10,000 below the national average. So that's the disconnect.
But then comes a story so patently absurd that everyone can understand. The story of the Stair House. We almost missed it when the headlines looked like this:
Again: Real Estate isn't RANGE's beat. Neither is ugly architecture.
We only noticed it today, when the Stair House came back on our radar, this time with a headline that doesn't completely bury the lede:
God bless you, Idaho Statesman, for drawing my attention to the perfect dumpster fire to symbolize our overheated housing market.
The property doesn’t even have running water.
And while this is all hilarious, and ridiculous, it’s having real world consequences up and down the housing market that — as this week’s guest on the podcast told us — is literally pushing people into homelessness and endangering their lives.
So yeah, whether it’s $329k for a home with poisoned ground water or three-quarters-of-a-million for a house with plenty of lake but zero bathrooms:
This market is definitely healthy.