When it comes to real estate, the Chewelah area is very different from a hot market like Seattle, but it has been drawing people in at a steady rate since the housing bubble burst in 2008. The population of the town has increased from 2,186 in 2000 to 2,607 in 2015, while the zip code area has roughly a population of 4,792.
“We get at least as many, if not more, buyers moving here from out of the area as we do buyers who already live here,” said Broker Sally Beane.
“Our biggest concern for younger people looking to move to this area is employment,” said Steve Schalock, Windermere Chewelah owner and principal broker.
In the June unemployment report for the state of Washington, Stevens County showed eight percent unemployment, which is well above the statewide average of 5.6 percent.
The growing movement to live off-grid has caused people to take a peek in the Chewelah area. The area also has become a choice for people looking for hunting cabins or property where they can build one.
While not the cheapest place in the state to buy a place, the prices are more affordable for prospective homeowners than most markets. According to the US Census Bureau, the median home value in the 99109 zip code is $183,100 while median rent is $577. According to Schalock, a current shortage in inventory has been driving prices up a bit.
As to why people are moving to the area and buying property, the brokers say the reasons are all over the place. Some people are downsizing and retiring, some want to get away from the high property costs in Western Washington, others move here just to get closer to family.
“A lot of people say they moved here to be closer to their kids,” Beane said, “or sometimes they have friends who live here. A common comment we hear is ‘I came to Chewelah to visit and never wanted to leave.’”
Right now Deer Park is probably the fastest growing area north of Spokane, the agents said. However, they added, sales in Chewelah are steady and over the years many homes have sprung up in the countryside surrounding Chewelah.
With hunting, fishing, boating and other outdoor activities available in both directions on Highway 395, it’s definitely a draw for home buyers but not the only force. Agents agreed that many factors draw people to buy property in Chewelah, one of which is that it is considered a warm and welcoming community.
So while there might not be any grand surprises about how the real estate market is doing in Chewelah, it still reaffirms what many believe about the community: It’s a nice place to live.
By The Independent Staff