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Homes are a hot commodity in Cheney — again

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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Low inventory, interest rates are driving a crazy real estate market

You've seen and heard about the big boom in apartment construction in the area.

But there's another hot property these days and that's because there is way too little of it — houses for sale.

One of the basic laws of economics, supply and demand, is keeping many area real estate agents hopping, particularly, Benji Estrellado at Cheney Realty and Pat Isbell from Hilton Real Estate.

"They're selling fast and we're getting multiple offers on some of these houses," Estrellado said. "There are buyers out there because of the low interest rates, but there's not that many houses for sale." Some homes are selling within a day, he added.

Estrellado said this is market-wide as he works across the area. "It's all over," he added.

Both Isbell and Estrellado said the current market is reminiscent of a decade ago. "I went back and checked and found out there are a lot of parallels," Isbell said.

There were 47 houses sold from Jan. 1 to July 11 in both 2006 and 2016 in Cheney, Isbell said.

"In 2016 the highest one was $290,000, the highest one in 2006 was $375,000," Isbell said.

The highest sale in 2015 was $350,000. There has been what Isbell called a "clean, steady appreciation," in values since the market bottomed out in about 2008.

After homes hit bottom because of the housing bubble and the mortgage crisis, there has been a steady appreciation beginning in 2009-2010, Isbell said.

"I'm finding that things that are reasonably priced, or slightly unreasonably high seem to be going quick because there is limited inventory on the market," Isbell said.

Isbell's been involved in several transactions that had multiple offers where the deal concluded above the asking price.

Estrellado's also been beaten out on two recent sales that had multiple offers where the price paid was higher than what is being asked. Both were in Cheney.

The lack of properties being offered for sale has its own set of drivers. The economy is doing well enough that no one is being forced to sell, Estrellado said.

"People understand that the market might be turning around and it's a good time to hold on, get some appreciation back in their houses they lost," Estrellado said.

House values do appear to be on the upswing if recent tax assessments are any indicator.

"My assumption is the county has lost so much money on assessed values, with the rumor of the market doing better, they are trying to catch up," Estrellado said.

When a home is placed on the market, a real estate agent will do a market analysis where sales of other homes — "comps" or comparable values — help them come up with a price that is indicative of the market and area.

"The difference to me, and that's my take on it — that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee — this time we've seen a more steady appreciation; we haven't seen a spike in values like we saw in 2006," Isbell said.

In 2005-2006 there was a huge uptick in the appreciation. "It didn't appear to be sustainable," Isbell said, and of course it was not when the recession occurred.

Isbell said, "Anybody that is buying in at this point is in a much better position than in 2006." This time buyers do not need to be as nervous as they might have been in terms of a bubble in the market that was primed to burst.

"In 2006 it didn't seem right," he said. "Nowadays it just kind of feels more solid."

The target for sales is pretty well defined. Properties that are attractive to the first-time homebuyer, or a move-up house, are the hot commodities, Estrellado said. Those range from $185,000 to $225,000.

"The low $145's are busy as well; a lot of times those price ranges need some repair," he said.

Paul Delaney can be reached at

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Original Publication Date: July 14, 2016

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