The combination of sky-high home values and low interest rates — some below 4 percent — has created an interesting dynamic of a seller’s and buyer’s market in Pullman and Moscow.
“It is unusual that it’s a seller’s market but yet it’s still a good time to buy because of the interest rates,” said Patti Green-Kent, a broker for Coldwell Banker Tomlinson in Pullman.
According to numbers provided by Matt Kreamer, manager of data public relations for Zillow, the Pullman median home value in April — its latest data — was $290,700. It was $271,300 in April 2018.
Moscow single-family residences sold for an average of $276,739 in 2018, and $250,893 in 2017, according to the Latah County Assessor’s Office. This year to date, Moscow single-family homes on the multiple-listings service sold for an average of $292,574, according to numbers provided by Bill Hall of Moscow Realty, up from $272,461 in 2018.
Joe McGurkin, owner and broker of Moscow Realty, said Moscow home values typically increase gradually, but they have jumped significantly the past two years.
Green-Kent said the average price of homes sold this year in Pullman is $276,000, which is far below the $406,000 mean price of the 64 homes currently listed.
“We’re getting a lot more houses on the market right now for this time of year,” she said.
“They’re going fast. I mean, they’re selling as soon as they are on the market.”
This year, houses were on the market for an average of 48 days before they were sold — a short period, Green-Kent said.
While more expensive houses might take months to sell because of the lack of buyers in that market, she said a $250,000 to $350,000 home — if priced properly — can sell in a week to 10 days.
McGurkin said several homes that have been marketed and priced properly have sold in a couple of days to two weeks. It takes two to four months in a normal Moscow housing climate.
Green-Kent said several upper-end houses for sale now are essentially the only homes with declining prices.
“It’s not because the value isn’t there,” she said. “It’s just that there’s not as many upper-end buyers.”
The high prices in Pullman and Moscow continue to make home buying a challenge for young professionals and others with modest incomes.
The median Pullman household income in 2017 was $30,548, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It was $35,979 in Moscow. Both are heavily influenced by the university population in each community.
Although good loans are available for first-time homebuyers, Green-Kent said the loans often require the homes to be in great condition, which is typically not the case for cheaper homes lower-income individuals are often searching for.
Green-Kent said she is working with several individuals who need to stay under the $200,000 price mark, which is extremely challenging because there are only a few homes under that value.
McGurkin said an individual who makes $35,000 a year in Moscow can likely only afford a maximum $1,000 per month house payment, which limits the individual to a home under $200,000.
Similar to Pullman, a $200,000 Moscow home can be tough to find, especially with home values continuing to climb.
“Affordable rentals and affordable housing purchasing has always been an issue and I think, unfortunately, I’m afraid it’s going to get worse,” Green-Kent said.
She said the cost of building materials, labor and taxes continue to soar.
While there is enough land to build in Pullman, she said there are not enough contractors in Pullman and Moscow to provide more housing inventory.
“If we had more builders and they could build faster, it would open up the market dramatically,” Green-Kent said. “But we just have not been able to do that.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.