Hows the market?

12 Replies | Spokane, Washington

It is very patchy, but good in areas. 

My folks and a number of friends keep me up-to-date about goings on in the area, and grab information when I need it.

Best to you!

TM

Hey Ian,
The current Spokane market is great. I’ve had great success in helping my clients find, make offer, find tenant and close single family and multi family properties. Shoot me a message, would love to chat.

Spokane is a great market for investing.  There are only a few areas to avoid and plenty of good up and coming neighborhoods.  I'm a licensed investor friendly agent who is always looking for deals and would love to keep my eyes open for you.  Shoot me a message.

@Ian McDonald I grew up in Spokane moved away about 15 years ago, but my family is still there and I still spend a few months there every couple years. I don't own property there but I have family members who do, and I keep a close eye on the market. The city has changed so much - there has been rapid improvement in the downtown area and various pockets around town, and every time I go back, Spokane gets nicer and nicer, and more like a larger city with small walkable pockets of restaurants and retail. That said, it had always been quite a low-cost real estate market, which has changed dramatically over the past five years or so. The prices are higher than we ever thought possible. It could be because the city has improved so dramatically, and that people who would have previously left to go to Seattle or Portland are now choosing to stay and live the urban lifestyle in Spokane instead, and that as a result it really is becoming a higher-value market. Or it could be over-inflated and in bubble territory.

Here are my thoughts on neighborhood. Take them with a grain of salt, as these are just my own opinions and observations:

I tried to invest in a couple duplexes near Kendall Yards (an urban renewal project in an area that was previously locally called "felony flats") two years ago but the financing fell through, which was a shame. I strongly recommend heading to Spokane for a weekend or longer and just enjoying what the city has to offer and exploring the various parts of town. Spend some time downtown and check out Kendall Yards, but also explore the surrounding area to see just how quickly the revitalization drops off. I also really like the Perry district on the other side of town, but that might be just personal taste. The whole South Hill is pretty solid as far as I know (although I'm less familiar with that part of town) - they have older homes and charming streets. I like the areas on the lower South Hill near the hospitals, and I would think they would have a good pool of potential tenants with the hospitals as employers. However, the quality of the neighborhood drops dramatically and you go through kind of a dead zone as you go north past I-90, between Sacred Heart hospital and downtown.

The neighborhoods on the north side between downtown and the city limits vary a lot though (whether you go north along any of the major North/South routes, including Division (hwy 395), Nevada, Monroe, or Maple/Ash). In some pockets where the homes look super cute and quaint, the neighborhoods actually don't have that great of a reputation. The occupancy and quality of the stores in Northtown Mall have declined a lot in the past 10 years or so, and the surrounding neighborhoods don't have the best reputation.


 If you drive further north along highway 395 or highway 2, you'll see a lot of new growth in the suburbs outside the city limits, which is worth checking out. This area is more classic strip malls and suburbia though, which as more traditionally been Spokane's identity.

There is also a lot of growth out in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake as you get closer to the Idaho border. Definitely worth a look, although I don't know that side of town very well.

There is also the new North/South freeway that originates at Francis and meets up with Highway 2 in the county north of the city limits. The northeast side of town (Hillyard, etc) has always been known for being low-value and pretty rough, but that new highway could change that, especially if they ever extend it to actually meet I-90. However that might be a long-term play, and definitely check on the status of that project. They only built it a few years ago, and my mom said that it was being talked about as far back as 1974 when she moved to Spokane originally.

There are also two community colleges, Gonzaga University, Whitworth College, and satellite campuses for WSU and I believe EWU. I don't have any experience with investing in student areas, but that would be another angle to check out.

Do your homework and get realistic rental numbers before buying anything - that's true of anywhere, but I would think especially in Spokane because until recently, home ownership was so affordable, that renting wasn't a desirable option for most people (except students as I mentioned), leaving a potentially small tenant pool. That might have shifted now though, as house prices have risen.

If you don't have a realtor, I can recommend Ted Hermann. He is an agent and property manager, and he invests for himself as well, so he understands the Spokane investor market. I've never bought from him but he used to be my neighbor, and he has always been very helpful & responsive with property-related questions that I've had through the years, and if I do ever invest in Spokane, I would definitely work with him.

Good luck! 

@Kristin Whitaker thanks for the mention, and thanks for the up votes guys! Just a couple more interesting neighborhoods that I forgot in the post above -

@Ian McDonald Five Mile Prairie is extremely desirable with owner-occupiers. It is a flat-topped mesa on the north side of town that used to be farmland with a few view mansions on the edges, and has been recently converted to high-priced SFRs, and is a popular place to buy vacant land and get a cookie cutter SFR built to live in. There are still vacant lots and even view lots available, but for a premium. There is a new Mead district elementary school up there too (Mead is the school district north of town in the county, and is known for having very good schools). One thing I really don't like about Five Mile is that there are essentially four narrow, two-lane roads going up the hill, one at each point of the compass basically. That was fine when population density on the prairie was low, but they are not built for the traffic volumes that are going up there now, especially in the winter. And on three of the four sides, they are basically cut into the side of the hill, so there is no way to really widen the roads. They are also precarious when they're iced over. Also, the thoroughfare, Wall St, which runs alongside the bottom of Five Mile along its northeastern side, was recently reduced from four lanes to 2-3, causing traffic to become much worse (I think in an attempt to push traffic over to the new north/south corridor that I mentioned above, but it's far away and not as convenient for a lot of commuters). Another thing about five mile is that the city limit line cuts across it, but I have heard from friends who live there that there isn't 100% agreement as to where exactly the division is. So check which side of it you are on, because that has implications for tax rates and city services. Also, there is not any commerce on five mile (except maybe the few remaining farms selling jars of honey and that sort of thing). If someone were to open a grocery store and/or coffee shop, they would make a killing, but with current zoning laws, that hasn't been a possibility if I remember correctly (I looked into it a couple years ago but don't remember exactly what I found). Zoning info is easy to find online for the city side, but harder for the county. Oh one other thing is that there are some roads on Five Mile with no sidewalks, and a lot of people still drive really fast up there because they're still used to it being rural. So it's not the safest or most pleasant place for kids to walk to school in my opinion. Anyone who is renting in that area would have these sort of classic homeowner concerns I would think, as I'm sure it is primarily homeowners up there. I've looked really seriously at some duplex-zoned view lots up there and didn't end up going ahead because they would have to be built into the side of the hill, which blew out construction costs. I would definitely buy on Five Mile at the right price (especially if flipping is your thing), but would be extremely cautious about it being over-inflated, as there is so much building going on up there, and at some point, people are going to get tired of getting stuck in traffic every time they drive to work or go grocery shopping.

There is also Airway Heights, which is west of town along Highway 2, out by Fairchild Air force Base and Spokane International Airport. This area is similar to the far north side that I mentioned above, in that there has been a lot of suburban expansion in recent years which is transforming the area. But unlike the north side, which has always been suburban and middle class, Airway Heights was quite rural and low-cost until recently. Now the area is booming. There is a casino/hotel there (Northern Quest) that has been going strong for 18 years or so (maybe longer and I just wasn't aware of it earlier than that). They have a huge hotel, and there are restaurants and a concert venue on site. So there are a lot of jobs for potential tenants. A different tribe has actually broken ground on a new casino nearby, so I assume the growth in this area will continue. Like some of the more urban pockets that I mentioned before though, the improvement fades quickly as you drive away from the new neighborhoods, so be careful about what part of Airway Heights you invest in. There is still cheap property (at least as of last time I looked about a year and a half ago), a little bit further away to the south (closer to the airport), and it is probably quite likely that it will improve along with the rest of the area, but far from a sure thing. 

Happy investing!

@Ian McDonald One last thing - you opened your post with "Hey Spokanians" but the term is actually "Spokanites" :-P Have fun potentially becoming one!

@Jerold Tan-Franco@Derek Tonn@Stacey Marsh

My posts above might be helpful to you, based on your posts on this forum. They should be great for anyone who is just starting to think about investing in Spokane, and wants to understand more about the city and its neighborhoods. Happy investing!

One thing to add is Amazon is adding a fullfillment center out by the airport/ Airway Heights area. That is going to provide a lot of new jobs and a lot of opportunities and deals to come from what I understand.

According to a couple realtors we've been in contact with, the inventory is pretty thin in Spokane currently as far as rehabs/wholesale properties, but as my wife and I are just getting started, I can't verify those realtors' opinions yet.

we are seeing the market finally start to cool down a bit here in Spokane.

Month over month since last month July 2018 to August 2018 our average  sales price went down 15,000k and the median sale price went down 10%. 

This is consistent w other markets like Seattle, San Francisco ETC

Still a sellers market for sure  but not as much.  Your not going to see 5+ offers w out inspections, and all above asking price.