NEIGHBORHOOD OF THE WEEK: Crossing the border

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  • Photo by TYLER WILSON A view of Liberty Lake from the public boat launch area in town.

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    Photo by TYLER WILSON Liberty Creek Elementary School is set to open this week, serving grades K-2.

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    Photo by TYLER WILSON New homes in the Stonehill development located near the state line on the east side of Liberty Lake.

  • Photo by TYLER WILSON A view of Liberty Lake from the public boat launch area in town.

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    Photo by TYLER WILSON Liberty Creek Elementary School is set to open this week, serving grades K-2.

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    Photo by TYLER WILSON New homes in the Stonehill development located near the state line on the east side of Liberty Lake.

From a visual perspective, nothing really changes when you drive across the Idaho border and into Washington state.

Real estate, however, can be significantly different depending on whether you want to call Post Falls or Liberty Lake home. Post Falls is typically seen as a less expensive place to own a home compared to its neighbor across the border, but that isn’t always the case.

Plenty of quality, affordable options await potential buyers in Liberty Lake, so long as you’re willing to stay in town and away from the waterfront and lakeview properties.

Before even looking at the current market — a few things worth noting. First, property taxes are generally higher in Washington, though it isn’t as huge of a gap as some might think. It all depends on lifestyle too. Someone working in the Spokane area and living in Washington state won’t have to pony up income tax, unlike folks who live in Coeur d’Alene and commute.

Sales tax is higher in Washington too, but you aren’t paying taxes on food. For Liberty Lake residents, you can drive 5-10 minutes and be at the Post Falls Cabela’s and state line Walmart, where you can buy pretty much anything else that matters at a lower sales tax rate.

Back to housing market itself. According to Realtor.com data, homes in Liberty Lake currently have a median sales price of $291,700, with an average price per square foot of $120. Like in North Idaho, activity has been strong in the past year. According to another online real estate resource, Zillow.com, home values have risen 8.7 percent in the last year. That’s Zillow’s hilariously branded “Zestimate” program, but it’s obvious driving through the area that prices have risen since last summer.

Nearest to the state line, Liberty Lake’s newest development, the Villages at Stonehill, is active with numerous homes under construction. The planned development will eventually feature a town center with restaurants and shops. Home options include townhomes, condominiums, 55 and older duplex and triplex homes, and single-family homes. More information at www.StoneHillLiving.com.

Closer to the center of town are some appealing and affordable neighborhoods. Near the primary intersection of Mission and Molter, there’s a three-bedroom home with more than 1,700 square feet listed at $240,000. Nearby there’s a four-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot home listed at $294,900.

Closer to Liberty Lake’s primary hub for outdoor activities — Pavilion Park, there’s an almost 2,300-square-foot home with four bedrooms listed at $274,900. It’s close to the town’s two elementary schools — Liberty Lake Elementary houses grades 3-5, while the brand-new Liberty Creek Elementary will welcome students in grades K-2. Middle school age students in Liberty Lake currently attend Greenacres Middle School and high schoolers head to Central Valley High School in the Spokane Valley.

Waterfront prices are, not surprisingly, out of the price range for most middle-classers, though there are townhouse options that come with access to private, gated beach access around the $200,000 range. As for public access, there’s a fishing area and boat launch in town. More expansive public access is located just outside of town, about a mile southeast at Liberty Lake Regional Park. It includes camping options, park and playground, a public beach area and an expansive network of trails through the forest and wetland areas surrounding the lake.

Liberty Lake is also home to three public golf courses. Homes along the golf course will cost more, of course, but still won’t touch the prices of the homes on the hill west of town overlooking the lake. Lots of fancy houses up there, and probably a good place to check out if you ever win the lottery.

Of course, more affordable options are found as you head deeper into Washington, with Greenacres touting a median listing price of $229,000, according to Realtor.com. But then you’re getting closer to Spokane, and as is the case with all Idaho natives, I won’t be able to write about the real estate there without a series of snarky, elitist remarks.

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Let us know about more standout neighborhoods and developments to feature in an upcoming Neighborhood of the Week. Contact Tyler Wilson at twilson@cdapress.com.

Real Estate Agents — take advantage of Neighborhood of the Week by sending in your suggestions for featured areas, including sites outside the confines of Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum and Hayden.

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