Spokane Journal of Business

Survey reveals diversity of recent home buyers

Spokane Valley, Post Falls most popular in survey

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Half of the people who bought homes in Spokane and Kootenai counties last year had lived in the area less than two years, and about a quarter of those people moved here to be near their families, not for job-related reasons.


Furthermore, while access to recreational opportunities was the most important quality-of-life factor to home buyers a decade ago, the top such factor now, say home buyers, is overall cleanliness.


Those are just some of the findings in the 2000 Home Buyer Study, a survey of buyers attitudes and attributes that was commissioned by the Spokane-Kootenai Real Estate Research Committee and was released earlier this month. The committee, a nonprofit organization that collects real estate-market statistics, commissioned a similar study a decade ago, although the earlier study didnt include Kootenai County home buyers. The survey was conducted in November by Spokane-based Robinson Research Inc. and polled people who had bought a home in the first nine months of last year.


The survey is full of interesting factsthe average commute time reported by Spokane County home buyers, for example, had risen by fewer than 2 minutes over the course of the last decade.


The conclusion to be drawn from the survey as a whole, however, is that there is no way to describe the typical buyer, says Meri Berberet, a Newman Lake consultant and member of the research committee.


Adds Randy Barcus, an Avista Corp. economist and fellow member of the committee, (The market) is very segmented, and these segments are quite profound.


Consider:


Thirty-five percent of Spokane County respondents had bought a home in the Spokane Valley, while 24 percent bought on the North Side, and 19 percent on the South Hill. In Kootenai County, 39 percent chose Post Falls, and 37 percent bought in Coeur dAlene.


Spokane County home buyers were nearly twice as likely as those in Kootenai County to use a mortgage broker to finance their home purchase; bank financing was the method of choice for Kootenai County buyers.


Roughly a quarter of home buyers reported themselves to be the only head of their households.


Twenty percent of Kootenai County home buyers said they were retired, which was double the share of Spokane County buyers who said that.


Twenty percent of Kootenai County buyers said the time they spend commuting averaged 5 minutes or less. In Spokane County, 17 percent of buyers fell into that category.


The Spokane-Kootenai Real Estate Research Committees purpose in commissioning the survey was to find out what factors drive single-family-home purchases in the two counties. Robinson Research interviewed 400 people who bought homes in Spokane County last year, and 300 who bought homes in Kootenai County. Together, about 4,400 homes were sold in the two counties in the period included in the study.


The complete study is available to companies that have invested in the project.


Barcus and Berberet say the oldest buyer who took part in the survey was 91 years old, while the youngest was 19.


Where possible, results were compared with the 1990 survey, and Barcus and Berberet say that comparison was notable inasmuch as buyers motivations havent changed much in 10 years.


I guess I was expecting more things to jump out as making a big difference in economic or quality-of-life factors, Berberet says.


Adds Barcus, There just wasnt a huge shift, even though we have a whole bunch more people here.

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