Frequently Asked Questions about the Spokane Real Estate Market

Frequently Asked Questions about the Spokane Real Estate Market

The Spokane real estate market has been a topic of conversation for both residents and newcomers alike. It's a place where dreams of home ownership come to life and where sellers embark on new journeys. Yet, like any thriving real estate arena, it's riddled with questions.

As you explore the possibility of buying, selling, or investing in the Spokane real estate market, information is key in making informed decisions. Below, I'll share the most frequently asked questions I receive about the Spokane-area real estate market. I'll provide you with the knowledge you need to navigate this unique landscape with confidence.

Whether you're searching for your forever home, looking to sell, or just curious about the current state of Spokane's real estate, let's dive into this Spokane real estate FAQ.

Spokane Real Estate FAQs for Buyers and Sellers

1) What is the current state of the Spokane real estate market?

Short answer: Spokane's real estate market trends continue to demonstrate a strong demand for homes, but as of fall/winter 2023, it's a seller's and buyer's market concurrently. Home prices have increased, but sales are declining, partially due to mortgage interest rates. It's key to work with a local real estate agent, like me, who can help you navigate this market. 

Related: Predictions for the Spokane Real Estate Market in 2024

In-depth answer: How’s the Spokane housing market? The answer is, well, it's weird. The real estate landscape in Spokane has seen some unique shifts, creating a dynamic that is constantly evolving.

Let's dive into the intricacies of the market and help you understand what's happening in this ever-changing world of buying and selling homes in the Spokane area.

Spokane is a Market of Contradictions

Spokane's real estate market is a study in contradictions. If you were to ask local real estate agents about its state, you'd likely hear phrases like "it's a seller's market" and "buyers have the upper hand." So, what's going on? Well, there's a supply and demand dance happening as of fall/winter 2023.

One key factor is the housing inventory. Currently, it suggests a seller's market, which generally means that there are more buyers than available homes. In these conditions, sellers tend to have the upper hand in negotiations.

However, the flip side to this story is that buyers are wielding their influence, too. Demand has decreased, and mortgage interest rates are, as you probably are aware, high. This seesaw battle between supply and demand has created a unique market.

It's important to understand the numbers and current market trends. 

Year over year, we've seen the median home price in Spokane increase modestly. But here's where it gets interesting: the number of home sales has decreased by over 13% in that same period. Mortgage rates play a significant role in this discrepancy.

However, as we move into the holiday season and the early part of 2024, it's typical to see a decline in home sales. This seasonal slowdown is nothing out of the ordinary.

The Recipe for a Quick Sale

In this ever-changing Spokane county market, some homes are still selling like hotcakes, sometimes with multiple offers on the table. What's their secret? It's a combination of factors. These homes are typically located in highly sought-after areas, well-maintained, and priced competitively, often below market value.

Buyer psychology also plays a significant role. With home prices historically high and mortgage rates at levels not seen in over 20 years, potential buyers are taking their time. They're making educated and calculated decisions, considering the long-term costs of homeownership and seeking deals that make sense for them.

On the seller's side, expectations have yet to align with the market reality. This, coupled with the uncertainty of the rate environment, makes it challenging for sellers to determine the true value of their homes. Preparation is crucial for sellers. It can help ensure a smoother and more expedient sale.

Read more about selling your Spokane home at our Ultimate Guide to Selling a Home in Spokane, Washington.

The Importance of Working with a Local Agent

Given the unique forces at play, working with an agent who is in tune with the local market dynamics is more crucial than ever. Terms of sale, contract negotiations, and the ultimate success of your buying or selling journey can be significantly impacted by the current market conditions.

If you're considering entering the Spokane real estate market, don't navigate it alone. Contact me, and I can help you make sense of the twists and turns in this ever-evolving market. I can help guide you through the process and ensure your unique needs and goals are met.

If you're interested in learning more about the Spokane real estate market and what your buying or selling experience might entail, get in touch with me! Let's navigate this unique market together and help you make the best decisions for your future in Spokane's real estate landscape.

2) What neighborhoods in Spokane are popular among homebuyers?

The Spokane real estate market is a landscape full of opportunities and choices. Whether you're a local looking for a change of scenery or someone considering a move to the Lilac City, choosing the right neighborhood is a pivotal decision in your homeownership journey.

One common question that I often receive is, "What neighborhoods in Spokane are popular among homebuyers?" Here are some of the most popular Spokane County neighborhoods based on my clients' feedback and my experience as a Spokane Valley local. 

Spokane Valley: A Hometown Favorite

Spokane Valley holds a special place in the hearts of many locals, and for good reason. If you've been a lifelong resident of the area like me, you're probably quite partial to the landmarks and amenities that are just a stone's throw away.

One of the standout features of Spokane Valley is its diverse housing stock, ranging from charming homes dating back to the 1930s to brand-new construction. It's a place where the past meets the present seamlessly.

One of the aspects that makes Spokane Valley shine is its vibrant community of locally owned businesses. The local entrepreneurial spirit thrives here, creating a sense of uniqueness that's hard to find elsewhere. If you appreciate the idea of supporting local businesses and living in a neighborhood with a rich history, Spokane Valley might be the perfect place for you to call home.

The South Hill: Classic Charm and Community

The South Hill is another hot spot that captivates the hearts of buyers. What makes this neighborhood so special? It's the unmistakable charm of the early 1900s construction, with its classic architecture and mature tree-lined streets. As you stroll through these picturesque avenues, you'll feel a connection to a bygone era, a sense of timeless beauty that continues to attract residents.

Beyond its visual appeal, the South Hill boasts an inclusive and welcoming community feel. Many buyers moving from outside the area are charmed by the sense of familiarity and camaraderie that permeates the neighborhood. It's the kind of place where neighbors know each other's names and where life's daily routines take on a comforting rhythm.

Liberty Lake: A Planned Paradise

Liberty Lake is a unique community in the Spokane real estate landscape. What sets it apart is that it's a planned community, meticulously designed to cater to residents' needs and desires. Everything you could possibly want is within reach, from stores and restaurants to recreation and parks.

One of the distinguishing features of Liberty Lake is its thriving golf community. Here, golf carts aren't just for the golf course; they're a normal mode of transportation throughout the city. The convenience and lifestyle Liberty Lake offers are a significant draw for those seeking an all-inclusive and well-planned neighborhood.

Mead: Excellence in Education and More

The Mead area of Spokane County is popular for its highly rated schools, large lots, and community feel. Families with children often gravitate toward this area for the quality education it provides. However, Mead offers far more beyond top-rated schools!

Larger lot sizes and sustained property values due to its location are additional reasons why Mead is a sought-after neighborhood. If you're looking for a spacious property and the assurance that your investment will hold its value, Mead may be your ideal choice.

The Spokane real estate market offers a diverse range of neighborhoods to suit different preferences and needs. Whether you're drawn to the hometown feel of Spokane Valley, the classic charm of the South Hill, the planned paradise of Liberty Lake, or the educational excellence of Mead, there's a neighborhood that's perfect for you. Each of these areas has its unique character, amenities, and community spirit. If you'd like a tour of one of these neighborhoods or want to learn more, contact me for more information or check out my current listings.

3) What can I do to prepare my home for sale in Spokane?

Selling a home can be a thrilling yet daunting task, especially in a dynamic market like Spokane's. When it comes to preparing your home for sale, many people tend to get wrapped up in the idea of big remodeling projects as a way to boost their home's value.

While these projects can certainly make an impact, there's no guarantee that they will yield a significant return on investment. Instead, when it comes to selling a home in Spokane, I often advise my clients to focus on the details. It's the little things that can make a big difference in attracting potential buyers and securing a successful sale.

Exterior Maintenance: Curb Appeal is Key

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that's certainly true in real estate. The first thing potential buyers see is your home's exterior. So, start by sprucing it up. Caulking trim and windows, giving your siding and fascia a fresh coat of paint, and removing moss from the roof can go a long way in boosting your home's curb appeal.

Don't forget to refresh your flower beds and add a splash of color with some well-placed, eye-catching plants. A well-kept exterior sets the stage for the rest of the home tour.

Related: Spokane, WA Renovations That Really Pay Off

The Front Door: A Welcoming Entryway

Your front door is more than just an entry point; it's an opportunity to make a memorable impression. Consider investing in a new front door to give your home a fresh, inviting look. A well-chosen front door can add character and charm, enticing potential buyers as they step inside.

Declutter and Depersonalize: Create a Welcoming Space

Clutter can make a space feel small and overwhelming. To help potential buyers envision themselves living in your home, start by decluttering the interior. Clean out closets, clear off surfaces, and remove any big, bulky furniture that makes rooms feel cramped. Also, consider depersonalizing the space by removing family photos and personal items. The goal is to create an environment that is neutral and allows buyers to picture themselves living there.

Additionally, a deep clean is a must when preparing your home for sale. Scrub every nook and cranny, from baseboards to ceiling corners. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms, as these are high-traffic areas that buyers inspect closely. A clean, fresh-smelling home is a welcoming one.

Fix the Little Things: Details Matter

Caulking showers and tubs, replacing old or dingy carpets, looking for and repairing leaks under sinks, servicing the HVAC system, and tackling those repairs you've been delaying are all crucial steps. Even minor issues can raise red flags for potential buyers, so it's essential to address them.

Illuminating the Space: Brighten with Light

Don't underestimate the power of good lighting. Replace old or dim light bulbs to create a bright and inviting atmosphere. Well-lit spaces often feel more open and welcoming, which is precisely what buyers are looking for.

Safety and Security: Ensure Peace of Mind

Install seismic straps on your hot water heater to ensure safety. Verify that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and operational. These measures not only create peace of mind for potential buyers but also demonstrate that you've taken good care of your home. Doing so also satisfies common loan conditions so you aren’t held up at closing with these easy-to-satisfy requirements.

When preparing your Spokane home for sale, it's the small details that can make a significant impact. Focus on creating curb appeal, an inviting entryway, a clutter-free and depersonalized interior, a sparkling clean space, and tackle necessary repairs. By attending to these details, you'll not only attract potential buyers but also increase your chances of securing a successful sale in the competitive Spokane real estate market.

Interested in selling your Spokane area home? Reach out to me for more information on how to make a smooth sale and get the most for your home.

4) How long does it typically take to sell a home in Spokane?

The answer to "How long does it typically take to sell a home in Spokane?" is not one-size-fits-all, as it depends on various factors. Let's break it down.

The Spokane Market Clock: Two Metrics to Watch

When it comes to timing the sale of your home in Spokane, two metrics are commonly referenced: the median days on market and the average days on market.

Median Days on Market: This metric is a good one to watch because the average is usually distorted by higher-priced homes that are sitting longer on the market, which in turn increases the average. 

Average Days on Market: The average days on market, on the other hand, gives a good temperature of the overall market and is a helpful indicator for sellers as to when we should start evaluating the pricing strategy and considering a price reduction. Homes that are priced well and presented well generally should sell within the average Days on Market (DOM) window.

Average DOM shouldn’t be the only thing driving your strategy and decision-making, however. The number of showings, showing feedback, and lack of offers are all other indicators of needed adjustments. 

The Countdown Factors: Presentation and Pricing

The amount of time your home spends on the market is a direct reflection of how well it's presented and the pricing strategy you've chosen. Here's what these factors mean in practice:

1. Presentation Matters: Homes that linger on the market longer than the average days are often characterized by one or more of the following:

  • Poor Presentation: They may not be presented well, with deferred maintenance issues and a lack of aesthetic appeal.
  • Location Challenges: They could be in a less-than-desirable location, which can deter potential buyers.

2. The Price Point: Alternatively, homes that don't receive offers in a timely manner may be overpriced by 3-5%, depending on the factors mentioned above. Pricing your home accurately is a critical aspect of attracting buyers.

The sweet spot for selling your home in Spokane often lies in finding the right balance between presentation and pricing. Here are some tips to help you hit that sweet spot:

  • Work with a qualified real estate agent who knows the local market inside and out. They can help you determine the optimal listing price and advise you on necessary improvements. Contact me for more information.
  • Invest in home staging and make necessary repairs to enhance your home's appeal.
  • Consider current market conditions and pricing trends in your neighborhood. An experienced agent can help you evaluate these factors.
  • Be open to negotiating and adjusting your price if needed. Understanding that the market drives the price will help sellers remain objective in their pricing strategy. 

The time it takes to sell your home in Spokane is influenced by your home's presentation and pricing strategy. With careful planning, the right resources, and guidance from a knowledgeable real estate professional, you can position your home to sell in a timeframe that aligns with your goals. 

5) What costs are involved in selling a home in Spokane?

Selling a home is a significant undertaking, and understanding the costs involved is essential to ensure a smooth and successful transaction. If you're gearing up to sell your home in Spokane, you're likely wondering, "What costs are involved in selling a home in Spokane?" Let's dive into the details.

Standard Costs of Selling a Home in Spokane

First, it's essential to be aware of the standard costs that come with selling a home in the Spokane market. These typically include:

  • Real Estate Commissions: Real estate commissions are one of the most significant costs, and they typically range between 5% and 6% of the final sale price. This fee is usually divided between the listing agent and the buyer's agent.
  • Real Estate Excise Tax: The Real Estate Excise Tax is a tax imposed on the sale of real property. In Spokane, this typically amounts to about 1.5% to 1.7% of the sale price.
  • Escrow Fee: The escrow fee, which covers the services provided by the escrow company, is another standard cost. It typically starts at $500 and can vary depending on the sale price.
  • Title Policy: To ensure a clear title transfer, a title policy is usually obtained. This cost can range from $1,500 and up, depending on the sale price and specific requirements.
  • Prorated Property Taxes: Property taxes can be a credit or debit item depending on the time of year and when the sale closes. This is an adjustment made to ensure that both the buyer and the seller pay their respective portions of property taxes.

Additional Costs That May Arise

In addition to the standard costs mentioned above, there are several other items that may or may not apply, depending on the circumstances and negotiations:

  • Home Warranty: Sellers may choose to offer a home warranty as an incentive to buyers. The cost of a home warranty can range from $350 to $550 or more, depending on the level of coverage.
  • Buyer Closing Costs: Depending on the terms of the offer, sellers may agree to cover a portion of the buyer's closing costs, which can range from 2% to 3% of the sale price.
  • Sewer Assessment: If your property is subject to a sewer assessment, this cost may need to be addressed.
  • Septic Inspection/Cleanout: If your home has a septic system, the inspection and any required cleanout costs may be negotiable between the buyer and seller. Costs can vary but generally start at $500 or more, depending on the company hired.
  • Well Inspection/Flow Test: For properties with a well, a well inspection and flow test may be required. Costs typically start at $1,000 or more and can be negotiable between the buyer and seller.
  • HOA Transfer Fee: If your property is part of a homeowners' association (HOA), a transfer fee may be applicable, typically starting at $200 or more, and may vary by the specific HOA.
  • Repairs Negotiated Between Buyer and Seller: Repairs, if agreed upon during the negotiation process, can vary widely in terms of cost and scope.

Understanding the full scope of costs involved in selling a home in Spokane is crucial for a successful and well-prepared transaction. If you're interested in selling your Spokane house, you'll want to work closely with a real estate agent who knows the costs and can provide a clear understanding of what you can expect during the home selling process. Contact me for more information about selling your home, as I have access to tools that can help evaluate pricing and help you get the most for your home.

Read more about the home selling process here: The Ultimate Guide to Selling a Home in Spokane

6) If I want to buy a home by X date, when should I start the process?

If you've set your sights on buying a home by a specific date, you're probably wondering when to kick off the process. After all, finding the perfect home, navigating financing, and ensuring a smooth closing can be a complex journey. The short answer to the question, "When should I start the home buying process in Spokane?" is the earlier, the better. Let's dive into the details.

The Role of Your Real Estate Agent

Reach out to your real estate agent to begin the process. Your realtor can connect you with a trusted local lender, and this partnership is pivotal for a successful home purchase. Starting early allows you to get your financial house in order, explore financing options, and fully understand your buying power.

Don't have a real estate agent yet? Contact me or check out my current listings here

The Ideal Timeline

While the timeline for buying a home can vary depending on your unique situation, here's a general guideline to keep in mind:

  • Six Months Before Your Desired Move-In Date: Starting this early is advisable. Use this time to review your finances, discuss your goals with your lender, and identify any potential hurdles that need to be addressed. Use these months to fine-tune your financial readiness. Ensure your credit is in order and make any necessary adjustments to your financial profile.
  • Four Months Before Move-In: At this stage, consider getting the preapproval process underway. Preapproval provides you with a clear understanding of your budget and sets you up for success. If you have a home to sell, the timeline may vary, so contact me for more personalized guidance.
  • Three Months Before Move-In: Between six to three months before purchasing, handle any credit issues and continue saving for your down payment/closing costs. By the third month mark, you’ll be starting your house-hunting adventure! Give yourself 60 days to house hunt, then 30 days to close the transaction.
  • One Month Before Move-In: If everything goes smoothly, you should be under contract about 30-45 days prior to your desired move-in date. This timeline allows for any unexpected delays or last-minute negotiations.

Keep in mind that unexpected situations can arise during the home buying process, so having some flexibility in your timeline is crucial. Planning for contingencies ensures you won't feel rushed or pressured as your move-in date approaches.

In today's real estate landscape, where market dynamics can change rapidly, starting early is even more critical. The demand for homes in Spokane has been strong, and this can influence the availability and competition for properties. So, the earlier you begin, the better your chances of securing the home of your dreams.

To wrap up our Spokane real estate FAQ (for now!), the Spokane real estate market is thriving and full of opportunities for buyers and sellers alike. Whether you're looking to invest, buy your dream home, or sell your property, now is the time to take advantage of the market's growth. Don't let your questions hold you back - reach out to me and get started on your journey today. 

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Whether relocating locally or across the country, Samara is dedicated to ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience while helping her clients achieve their goals. Contact her today!

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