Sandpoint, ID Real Estate News

By Gary Lirette, Business & Investing in the Inland Northwest
Google ‘waterfalls' to find hundreds of pages detailing pictures, videos, trips to, and every conceivable detail about these often awe-inspiring, yet curiously relaxing touches of Mother Earth. There have been other hundreds of feature films with waterfalls, and one website has 328 videos of waterfalls from around the world. North Idaho has an equal number of stunning chutes, some popping up after spring rains and temperatures start the annual runoff of winter snow, others majestic year-round. Waterfalls in North Idaho run the gamut, from the low-slung Lion Creek Falls that locals call ‘Slippery Rocks,' to the long-falling Copper Creek Falls, dropping 160 feet. In fact, these cascading features of Idaho have long inspired cinematographers. In 1915 "The Waterfalls of Idaho" was filmed by...
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You don't have to be here long to get the picture. We are in lake country. Not surprisingly, many blogs and writings of winter skiers attribute to the area the misnomer that we are primarily a summer resort destination. After all, when skiing down the slopes of Schweitzer Mountain, the overwhelming view is Lake Pend Oreille. Oh so wrong, my research-lacking ones. Our main tourist season and draw is winter sports. Still, summers ain't bad. To understand our history, one must first take into account our geography. While our area is dominated by mountains, the most prominent feature is Lake Pend Oreille, with an area of 148 square miles, and 111 miles of coastline. Only Flathead Lake in Montana and some man-made lakes are larger.  It is 65 miles long, and 1,150 feet deep in some regions (5...
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By Gary Lirette, Business & Investing in the Inland Northwest
(This article has a correction and has been reposted. To see the corrected data, see the notes at the end of the article.) How are things here in North Idaho? Besides being named to Sunset Magazine's Top 10 Resort Towns this year, Idaho was just named the nation's 8th healthiest state. In Sandpoint, several new businesses just opened, including a Jack in the Box, Big 5 Sporting Goods, and Zip's. The new Mountain West Bank building now graces Highway 2, and the Panhandle State Bank is a monument downtown. Quest Aircraft just hired 60 new employees, and the dredging will be finished by Friday for the start of the Sand Creek Byway. This three-year project to circumvent Sandpoint will provide dozens of high-paying jobs for the next three years. When the CEO of Quest was on my radio show, he...
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By Gary Lirette, Business & Investing in the Inland Northwest
While the art of winter sports has now evolved to fantastic levels, early Indians in North Idaho were adept at ice fishing and certainly made snow shoes to facilitate the winter hunt and travel. Our area was settled much by German and Scandinavian stock, as well as the early French trappers, priests, and settlers. So, it was a natural that the descendants of these settlers followed with skiing the area. Snow skiing originated from two geographic groups: Alpine and Nordic, much like our ancestors. Nordic skiing is the oldest category and includes sport that evolved from skiing as done in Scandinavia. Nordic style ski bindings attach at the toes of the skier's ski boots, but not at the heels. Alpine skiing includes sports that evolved from skiing as done in the Alps. Alpine bindings attac...
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By Gary Lirette, Business & Investing in the Inland Northwest
You don't have to be here long to get the picture. We are in lake country. Not surprisingly, many blogs and writings of winter skiers attribute to the area the misnomer that we are primarily a summer resort destination. After all, when skiing down the slopes of Schweitzer Mountain, the overwhelming view is Lake Pend Oreille. Oh so wrong, my research-lacking ones. Our main tourist season and draw is winter sports. Still, summers ain't bad. To understand our history, one must first take into account our geography. While our area is dominated by mountains, the most prominent feature is Lake Pend Oreille, with an area of 148 square miles, and 111 miles of coastline. Only Lake Tahoe, Flathead Lake in Montana, and some man-made lakes are larger.  It is 65 miles long, and 1,150 feet deep in so...
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By Gary Lirette, Business & Investing in the Inland Northwest
 Recreation Guide - Autumn EventsThings to Do in Sandpoint and North Idaho for Autumn 2009 Coolest Things to Do   What to do in North Idaho Attractions & Amusements   Autumn Events Certainly with the turning of the leaves comes one of the most beautiful times of year for the North Idaho Panhandle. The colors are the myriad of the rainbow, with Buckthorn, Larch, and Maple turning yellow, hawthorn going from deep crimson to purple-red, and Quaking Aspen and Birch running the gamut from reds to golds against the backdrop of the deep greens and reddish browns of the coniferous forests. With some clearing of the leaves, formerly hidden glimpses of the many grand waterways and lakes now become apparent. Picnics are a favorite this time of year, and bikers and hikers seem to come out of the wo...
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By Gary Lirette, Business & Investing in the Inland Northwest
We have so many great ski resorts: Silver Mountain, Mount Spokane, and 49 Degrees North to name a few. Our own local stop is Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, and we beamed with pride last year when Schweitzer was named to Skiing Magazine's Top 25 Ski Resorts, and #3 for Tree Skiing. Sandpoint and North Idaho are famous for the mountain views, and while our ranges don't usually top 7,000 feet, there are advantages over the higher level mountain ranges. The lower ranges affords rolling hills great for cross-country skiing, also called Nordic skiing. This is granite country, and the fantastic outcroppings of rock seemed formed by the Great Artist himself...er, herself?. Plus, the Idaho Panhandle is the land of the giant lake, with views that make the heart sing. Many of the smaller resorts ...
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By Gary Lirette, Business & Investing in the Inland Northwest
Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, was named to Skiing Magazine's Top 25 Ski Resorts, and #3 for Tree Skiing, so, if you like downhill, slalom, or even back country skiing, this should be your first choice. We have a page for Cross Country Skiing, and one for Snowboarding and Backcountry. Of course, skiing is #1, so to see info about all of our ski resorts, visit Skiing in the Inland Northwest. While you may be the next Bode Miller, for those that are seeking other things to do during winter months, here are some good choices. First of all, Sandpoint has a great Winter Carnival and Mardi Gras, and there are music venues, poetry slams, and all kinds of events. To learn more, go to our Calendar of Events. Here are some other choices: Fishing Last year, with such a big snow fall, we had a goo...
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By Gary Lirette, Business & Investing in the Inland Northwest
Sandpoint, Idaho has had so many great articles and accolades that it is hard to believe that right above is one of the world's best ski resorts: Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort. The North Idaho Panhandle is truly a winter wonderland, with several mountain ranges, including the Bitterroot Mountains, Cabinet Mountains, Clearwater Mountains, Coeur d'Alene Mountains, Purcell Mountains, Saint Joe Mountains, and Selkirk Mountains. There are many outdoors things to do for the winter months in Sandpoint and the surrounding winter sports areas, but there is also Shopping, many Events, Art, and great Drives, Tours, & Scenery. Sandpoint and North Idaho also have great Attractions, plus there are scores of Cool Things to Do within 100 miles of Sandpoint. For a great guide, see this 2008 Visitor's G...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
I am not suggesting by this post that everyone should go out and buy just anything on the market, particularly on a purely speculative basis.  That was just the sort of irrational exuberance that got us into trouble in the first place.  However if you are someone that has had a dream of buying that vacation property at the lake or mountains, I would say that you can stop waiting for a bottom. It is virtually impossible to time the bottoming out of a market cycle, as the only time we know for sure is when we are looking back in the past.  At that point we are of course already in a recovery mode with the momentum shifted back to some degree to the seller.  What is indisputable is that prices across the board are lower than they have been in years.  Sellers are also more motivated than ev...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
What is happening in the Schweitzer Mountain real estate market?  Is it the right time to sell?  This is a question that I have received from a number of my clients lately as they try to determine what course to take.  We have Sellers at the high end of the market that are struggling with their listing prices, grappling with the fact that the high end of the market at Schweitzer has just not moved. There are a total of 70 condo and house listings (non-land) at Schweitzer right now.  Having just seen about 50 of these on an MLS tour,  I was struck by the fact that I showed many of the same properties in early summer, or even last winter (often the price was about the same as before).  My belief is that many of these sellers are indeed willing to negotiate substantially, yet they have a h...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
This past week was the semi-annual Realtor tour of Schweitzer listings, where I had the chance to preview 50 out of the 70 listings on the mountain. I have a number of prospective buyers that have asked me what the best deals are and where I think the market is heading.  Here is my honest assessment of what I believe are the best values in each price range: Low-end - This is a great time to pickup a condo within walking distance to the village at a price that is unheard of for most ski areas.  There are a handful of 1bdr and studio units available in the Black Bear (located next to the St Bernard), with pricing starting at $175,000.  Unit 104 is probably the best value at $179k, 474 sft with fireplace, main level.  However with 5 of these on the market, a buyer could probably pick one u...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
Believe it or not, we are still mountain biking in Sandpoint on November 22.  What a gorgeous day! My buddy Collin Beggs and I rode up and down Trail 3 today, which was admittedly the coldest day I've riddent this Fall.  We rode through a frozen inch of snow over the top mile.  The views from the top were as beautiful as I've ever seen at around 330p today, with the sun and clouds dancing over Lake Pend Oreille creating all sorts of colors and reflections. These are the days where I feel very fortunate to be here year round.  Spring and Fall tend to get the bad rap in terms of living in North Idaho.  Winter rocks with Schweitzer Mountain as Sandpoint turns into a ski town.  However Summer is considered even better by many because of Lake Pend Oreille, all the festivals and events, and t...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
There has been alot of talk about the recent challenges facing The Idaho Club.  Most notable is the fact that the preferred builder, Sullivan Homes of Idaho, has now gone out of business.  Sullivan had been the builder of the Lodge Home product, which were built around the core of the resort and priced from $900s and up.  It has been over a year since any of these homes have been sold. IMI, the reputable Sales & Marketing organization that had been representing The Idaho Club, has now pulled out or been removed from the project.  Having said all this, I believe the Idaho Club will still be a successful project moving forward.  Chuck Reeves and his partner, the original and current owners, have formed a real estate brokerage called North Idaho Properties.  The Broker will be Brad Arnold,...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
For those people who are able to disengage themselves from the emotional elements of the current economy, there is incredible opportunity in the North Idaho real estate market.  This area did not experience the irrational home appreciation that many cities (ie Bend, OR, Bakersfield, CA, Las Vegas, Phoenix) went through that led to a ridiculous oversupply problem and property values that were supported primarily by investors. Sandpoint is an area that will continue to attract people for the four season active lifestyle and small town values.  Prices are extremely low relative to other resort destinations offering similar amenities i.e. Whitefish, Lake Tahoe, Tamarack.  And where values did become out of reach for many people, the market correction over the past couple years has made even...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
New pricing has just been made available for The Spires at Schweitzer, an 80 acre planned development located off the South Bowl of Schweitzer Mountain.  The seller has just announced that he will offer a few lots as 'loss leaders', with pricing starting at $225,000! The Spires is the highest elevation of any neighborhood at Schweitzer Mountain.  Every one of the homesites offers stunning views of Lake Pend Oreille.  The community has been very well-planned to preserve not only the view corridors but also ski access to all homesites.  Each site is arranged so that the building envelope is essentially the entire lot - the common space has all been built in to protect these view corridors and create a very well laid out community. Access to The Spires is at the end of Mogul Hill Road, whe...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
Marina Town is the premier waterfront condominium at the four season Dover Bay Resort.  These condos offer a level of luxury that is difficult to find in North Idaho, with all of the top end fit and finishes, and phenomenal views.  The closest competition in the Sandpoint area would be Seasons at Sandpoint, or perhaps the waterfront condos that are still in preliminary stages of development at The Idaho Club.  The Idaho Club is pricing their condos from around $2 million, and the developer inventory at Seasons starts around $1 million.  The new Building 1 for Marina Town has just been completed.  The two downstairs units have actually been combined into one penthouse for one buyer.  However the two upstairs condos are currently available and are drawing quite a bit of interest even in t...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
What a fantastic Fall season we have had in Sandpoint, and at Dover Bay!  The foliage is amazing, the sun has been shining every day, and the pace has been relaxed and tranquil.  For those of us fortunate enough to live at Dover Bay year round, the months of Sept and Oct are one of the best times here. One of the more overlooked aspects of the Dover Bay location is the incredible mountain biking and hiking trails out our back door.  Within two or three minutes from home I can access miles of single track trails in the hills behind Dover that locals call 'Syringa'.  These trails are a local favorite and are user-friendly enough to be a great introduction to mountain biking.  At the same time there are challenging, more technical routes that can be taken.  Picturesque views are offered to...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
Despite the slowing of the real estate market, the ownership of Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort is continuing to do the behind the scenes work to ensure that our ski resort gets better and better.  Last year we saw the creation of the new arrival roundabout, and more importantly the addition of two new ski lifts. This Winter 08/09 season will see a substantial increase in snow-making ability, with the goal of being able to open for Thanksgiving weekend every year.  The installation is the most energy efficient and low impact snow making system available with the latest proven technology. Nine fully automated Techno Alpin M18 fan snowmaking guns will be moved between twenty-three hydrants. These high tech automated snowmaking guns are able to produce 25% more snow for the amount of energy...
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By Rick Evans - Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate Waterfront, Ski, and Resort Property
(Sandpoint Sothebys Intl Realty)
Having managed the Schweitzer Mountain Discovery Center over the past winter, many people have asked me what is going on with Schweitzer Mountain Real Estate.  I had been recruited to take over the sales of Trappers Creek and the other Schweitzer owned property last year, bringing the Sothebys brand as the new exclusive listing agency. Here is the good news:  The decision makers for Schweitzer are very engaged and have been in direct talks recently with Jeff Bond (Tomlinson Sandpoint Sothebys).  Howard Trott has been hired as the new Pres of Schweitzer Mtn Real Estate, essentially replacing the position that was held by Steve Wood.  When they do move forward (if not this winter then certainly by next year), the new plan is likely to be just what Schweitzer needs. Trappers Creek, Schweit...
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