Considering a move to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho?

Blog Post Image
Real Estate

Considering a move to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho?...Get the fork out!


No matter how you fold it, slice it, dice it, or smash it…the Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho market is a strong seller’s market.

If you are considering a real estate purchase in North Idaho and you want an honest perspective of the market, this article is for you.

By the end of it, my hope is to provide you with a realistic perspective on what to expect as a buyer in one of the most competitive markets in the county.

We will answer these two questions:

1)     What makes North Idaho such a competitive real estate market for buyers?

2)     What are the best tactics to ensure buyers get the most for their money?  

What makes North Idaho such a competitive real estate market for buyers?

It is a strong seller’’ market. A seller’s market is a real estate term for a situation where housing supply is scarce and demand is strong, allowing sellers to keep prices high

The state of the North Idaho market is effectively summarized by for the end of November 2019:

The average home price was 380K, sold on average in 20 days, and got 98% asking price. Hot homes sold within 4 days with multiple offers.

Analysis of the Coeur d’Alene and greater North Idaho housing market’s low supply:

Low supply – In the state of Idaho 70% of the land mass of the state is public land, leaving 30% to develop.

In North Idaho the ratio of private land left to develop into housing is even less than the state of Idaho, because much of the private land is owned by timber and mining companies.

In Kootenai County, the home of Coeur d’Alene, only 15% of the private land is zoned residential and almost all of that prohibits subdividing below 5 acres. We document the breakdown of land mass in our video: “North Idaho Land Mass Breakdown.”

Another factor contributing to the low supply of housing is the decreasing amount of homes going onto the market. People are not moving out of North Idaho. The amount of homes on the market in November 2019 was down 32% over November 2018.

As a result of the limited private land to develop and the decreasing homes entering the market, those wanting to move to North Idaho are competing for a very limited land and home supply. 

Analysis of the Coeur d’Alene and greater North Idaho housing market’s high demand:

Most of the people moving to North Idaho do so primarily for the Conservative Culture and lifestyle NOT the real estate prices. Culture and lifestyle driven buyers are willing to pay more for their housing because they place a higher value on WHERE their home is, rather than WHAT their home is.  

More than half the country has less expensive housing prices than North Idaho.

According to, at the end of November 2019 the average cost of the US home was 318K. The average cost of a Coeur d'Alene home was 380K. 

If a buyer values the price of a home over Conservative Culture and lifestyle, they will see North Idaho as too expensive and choose other areas to seek a relocation.

One could only imagine the type of growth North Idaho would be experiencing if home prices were less expensive than the national average. Frankly, above avg housing prices are what keep “everybody” from moving to North Idaho.

So why are so many people still coming to North Idaho if the prices are higher than other places? Because crossing the threshold of above average home prices pays off in other ways for them.

For example, as reported by US News, even with above average real estate prices, Idaho still has the lowest cost of living in the Western Region and the fourth lowest cost of living of any state in the country. Cost of living is the price residents pay for day-to-day expenses like gasoline, utilities, taxes, insurance, regulatory fees and goods and services.

 Add to this, North Idaho is the most conservative part of one of the few “Highly Conservative States” as recognized each year by Gallup…indicated by the Red states on the map here…


Demand to live in Idaho is also popular due to our abundant and unmatched outdoor lifestyle. The Matador Network identified Idaho as the state with the third highest percentage of residents who participate in outdoor activities:

The 5 most outdoorsy states are:

Alaska: 81%
Montana: 81%
Idaho: 79%
North Dakota: 76%
Wyoming: 73%

Low cost of living, in a Highly Conservative Culture, surrounded by unmatched outdoor beauty and recreation. Add to it clean and safe cities, low population density, mild four-season weather and WATER. Few, (if any) places in the country offer all these things in one location.

So, with the low supply of properties and the high demand to be here, North Idaho is one of the strongest seller’s market and will continue to be, as long as people desire to be in a clean, safe, fun and conservative place to live.

That is why, Sellers have been getting 98% of their asking price for the past three years and running.

That is why home prices in North Idaho are in their fourth year of 10% or more equity growth.

That is what makes the Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho housing market is so competitive!

What are the best tactics to ensure buyers get the most for their money?

As potential buyers discover the true cost of real estate in North Idaho, they naturally try to find effective ways to get the most for their money. This is natural, and both the buyers and their real estate agent SHOULD be using effective tactics to get the best deal possible.

But expectations need to be realistic, and tactics need to be effective.

Trying to get sellers down in price 30%, 20%, or even 10% in a market where sellers are consistently getting within 2% of their asking price…is not realistic!

Buyers who think they can outsmart a seller’s market, ultimately end up discovering their tactics don’t work and will either have to pay the price or readjust their expectations about what they want. Some will give up, blame Californians for accelerated prices, and move to a different, less desirable location…where even MORE Californians may be actually moving.

This is why I say. “If you are considering relocating to North Idaho…get the fork out!”

Buyers who think they can outsmart a seller’s market are not unlike the gobs of people who purchase gimmick exercise equipment, like “The Thigh Master,” thinking there is an “easy button” to losing weight. There is no “easy button” to losing weight, you have to pay the price. The price to lose weight… get the fork out…of your mouth.

There is no “easy button” in a competitive seller’s real estate market. If you are serious about buying property in North Idaho, you have to…get the fork out. (You have to pay the price…or close to it)

Unfortunately, many of the tactics used to get better deals are buyer’s market tactics and they just don’t work in a strong seller’s market.

The following tactics are as effective in a seller’s market as the Thigh Master is at helping one lose weight:

Thigh Master Tactic #1: Foreclosures- foreclosures are bank owned properties where lenders attempt to sell a property through an auction to recover the balance of the loan that a borrower has defaulted on. In a strong Seller’s Market these properties rarely ever make it to auction because sellers who are faced with defaulting on a loan can sell the house to get out from under the loan.

REO (Real Estate Owned) and Short Sale homes represent less than 1% of homes sold in the Coeur d’Alene and greater North Idaho areas. If a property in North Idaho makes it to auction, one still must win the auction. Properties are sold “as-is” and payment is due “in full.” Buyers, especially those hoping to find properties in certain neighborhoods, are truly waiting to find a needle in a haystack.

Well then, you ask, why do I see all these “Pre-foreclosures” on Zillow? Pre-foreclosures are the banks way of threatening borrowers who are in the early stages of default. There is no such thing as a “Pre-foreclosure” in the actual MLS because the home is not even for sale. Very few Pre-foreclosures ever make it to auction because the sellers can sell the home on the open market (MLS) to get out from under the loan obligation.

Thigh Master Tactic #2: Low Ball offers remember, it is unrealistic to try and fit a 500K property into a 350k budget in a market where sellers are getting 98% of their asking price!

Okay, what about all cash offers? I have heard cash is King, doesn’t that give cash buyers the license to lowball?

True, cash is the strongest negotiating term buyers possess and it SHOULD be used to get sellers down in their price. But it does not translate into buyers slaying deals in a strong seller’s market. In the North Idaho Market 1 in 4 deals are cash deals. Just because you have cash, does not mean other cash buyers are not interested in the property you want, especially if it is a desirable property. Truth is, in the North Idaho housing market, cash deals are getting 96% asking price…that is only 2% less than those deals that close with financing.

Thigh Master Tactic #3: Contingent offers: this is asking the seller of a North Idaho property to enter a contract with a buyer who has yet to sell their home in another location in order to execute the purchase of the North Idaho property. The average home in North Idaho sells within 20 days. The more desirable homes sell within 4 days and often have multiple bids. This allows sellers to be picky on the offers they accept. Contingent offers, especially where the offering buyer does not even have a close date on the sale of their home, are the first to get shot down by sellers.

Thigh Master Tactic #4: Building to save costs: Can one beat the North Idaho market by building to save money? Only on days when the sun rises in the west. Guess what the number one limiting factor to building in North Idaho is? COST! We document many of the challenges of building in our video: “To build or not to Build”. Just a few of the challenges of Building in North Idaho include the cost and lack of skilled labor and the demand of materials in a boom economy, where tariffs and rebuilding from recent natural disasters add to the high cost of materials.

And for those that think they can save money by building themselves, you better have cash unless you are a contractor, because lenders will require a licensed contractor to oversee your build.

You do not build in North Idaho to save money… you build to get what you want.

I know, I am a total buzz kill for most of you.

But our real estate team serves a lot of clients and we have learned what works and what does not work in our market. You can disagree with my corny analogies, but the truth behind them is real. If you work with us in searching for a home in North Idaho, we are not going to waste your time, or ours, using “Thigh Master tactics” in a “get the fork out” world.

However, let your hope not be crushed!

There ARE tactics that buyers can use in a Seller’s market to ensure the best deal possible.  

We will call these “Get the fork out” Tactics

“Get the fork out” Tactic #1: Have realistic expectations about the Market. This is where an honest and knowledgeable real estate agent matters. You, spending all day on Zillow during work hours, does not a market expert make!

Relocating is a serious and time sensitive matter. You do not want to waste your precious time entering a market unprepared and with fairy tale expectations. Smart buyers acquire a real estate agent who knows the market and has experience as a top producer in that market. Furthermore, you want an agent who is not afraid to be honest with you and tell you if your sandwich is too big for your bag!

A knowledgeable agent can also identify when a property you are seeking to buy is overpriced for the market. A good agent can effectively negotiate a better price based on their experience and market data.

“Get the fork out” Tactic #2: Have no contingencies (at the very least have a solid close of escrow date) We created a detailed resource called, “The Buyer Pecking Order” below. Find your current situation and see how you rank:

 “Get the fork out” Tactic #3: Have a respected local lender:  Good agents will have good lenders they can recommend to you.  Respected local lenders matter in the offer buyers submit to sellers, especially in a multiple bid situation. Local lenders have a face in the community and don’t stay in business long if they under perform. Chain lenders deal in volume and work from a distance, often in offices located on the east and west coast…they have very little to lose by not going the extra mile. There is much to be said about a local lender that selling agents respect and know. As a buyer, you want every advantage in a competitive market. Don’t underestimate the advantage respected local lenders can bring to your team.

“Get the fork out” Tactic #4: Offer terms favorable to the seller: A good buyer’s agent will call the seller’s agent and ask if there are any other offers on the table to determine how strong the offer needs to be. You agent should ask questions to see what the seller’s priorities, concerns, and timeline are. With that knowledge, buyers can sweeten their offer by including terms important to the seller, like:  

*waive or shorten inspection contingency periods (not something we recommend unless we need a nuclear option!)

*offer a higher and/or non-refundable earnest money deposit

*Offer the seller a longer or shorter escrow period depending on what they need

*Offer to allow the sellers to stay in the home rent free or at a favorable rate after close of escrow for a period of time if they need the wiggle room

* Offer more in price if competing with other offers and it appears such a tactic could help

* Submit a letter (and family photo if relevant) with your offer helping the seller to understand who you are and why their home would be in good hands with you.

This is not an exhaustive list of terms one can offer the sellers and your agent can help create terms based on the needs of your particular offer.

So, there you have four tactics that can serve you well in a competitive seller’s market and help you get the most for your money.

The Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho real estate market is one of the most desirable markets in the country…as a result, it is a highly competitive process to buy properties here. It’s not easy or cheap…if it were, everyone would be here.

Those who end up here are honest with themselves about the cost and effort involved to make it happen.

Those who end up here do not do so with a “Thigh Master” mentality, trying to out gimmick their competition with buyer’s market tactics in a strong seller’s market. Those who end up here…take the fork out!

Written by: Kory Martinelli - Owner/Agent of The Martinelli Realty Team of Professional Realty Services Idaho