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Important things to know when buying a house in Latah County, Idaho

Buying a House

Live big in Latah County

Idaho is often called the Gem State and it’s not hard to understand why. Its fertile plains, stunning mountains, and rugged beauty truly make it a treasure of a place.

But there’s one undiscovered gem in Idaho that’s quickly becoming a real estate hot spot: Latah County.

Bordering Washington state and located about 98 miles from Spokane, Latah County is a rural community where you can enjoy the freedom of big spaces and the beauty of lush environments. Here you’ll often find listings for ranchlands and farms — the ideal properties if you’re looking for a rustic lifestyle.

Along with affordable living costs, a top-rated university, and a plethora of fascinating attractions, this locale is truly worth a second look.

If you’re interested in homes for sale in Latah County, ID, this is the resource you’ve been looking for.

CONTENT AT A GLANCE

Why live in Latah County?

  • Small town living
  • Rural appeal
  • Lower cost of living
  • All four seasons
  • Excellent higher education
  • Close to nature

Amazing attractions in Latah County

  • University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden
  • Camas Prairie Winery
  • Appaloosa Museum & Heritage Center
  • Prichard Art Gallery
  • Bald Mountain Lookout
  • Hamilton-Lowe Aquatics Center
  • McConnell Mansion

Your complete guide to buying a house

  • Set your budget
  • Know what you want
  • Boost your credit rating
  • Get mortgage pre-approval
  • Hire a real estate agent
  • Start house-hunting
  • Make an offer
  • Do your due diligence
  • Close the deal

Work with the best

Latah County’s top neighborhoods

Why live in Latah County?

Moving homes is a big life change, but Latah County is truly worth it. With its beautiful sights, top-notch educational institutions, and low cost of living, Latah County is the perfect place to relocate to. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Small town living — Tired of the hustle and bustle of big city living? Then Latah County should be right up your alley. With just 40,000 residents, its low-density population is a draw for people who want a more private and low-key place to raise their families. It’s a place where tight-knit communities are the norm rather than the exception.
     
  • Rural appeal — Latah County is one of the biggest producers of wheat, oats, and barley in the country. Needless to say, agriculture runs deep in the county’s veins and its rural vibe is the perfect venue for mindful living. Indeed, many of the homes for sale in Latah County, ID are farms and ranchland where you can establish your own slice of rural paradise.
     
  • Lower cost of living — Buying a house is always a huge expense, but you’ll be glad to know that residing in Latah County is cheaper than you might think. Indeed, net found that the cost of living in the county is 5% lower compared to the national average. Essentials such as groceries, utilities, and even healthcare are all below the site’s cost benchmark, meaning you get more bang for your buck.
     
  • All four seasons — Embraced by mountains and blanketed by forests, Latah County is truly a sight to behold. Its beauty is further magnified by the change in seasons, giving residents unique delights throughout the year. Whether it’s picking wildflowers in the spring or attending the popular Moscow Winter Festival, your calendar will be filled with fun seasonal activities.
     
  • Excellent higher education — You can’t talk about Latah County without mentioning the University of Idaho. The research-driven institution is known for its innovative spirit, and has produced breakthroughs in agronomics, cybersecurity, healthcare, and clean water, among others. Founded in 1889, the university educates over 10,000 students and yet has an impressive 16:1 student-to-teacher ratio. And with almost a hundred undergraduate and graduate academic programs on offer, this school truly caters to everyone.
     
  • Close to nature— There’s no better way to relax and recharge than by communing with nature. Fortunately, Latah County offers you plenty of opportunities to do so. The area is home to several excellent county parks, such as Spring Valley Reservoir, Moose Creek Park, and Latah Trail. Here you can enjoy a wealth of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and biking, to name a few. Even better, these parks cater to different skill levels so they’re perfect for the entire family.
     
  • A wealth of property options— No matter what your life stage might be, there’s a home in Latah County that’s perfect for you. From cozy condos, to spacious single-family homes, to palatial ranching estates, it’s all available here. What’s more, home prices are surprisingly reasonable, with the median list price sitting at $325,000. Latah County proves that living well doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
     

Amazing attractions in Latah County

Latah County may be relatively small, but it’s home to some of the most fun places to go in Idaho. If you’re house-hunting in the area, be sure to make a side trip to these attractions, too.

  • University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden— Spanning 63 acres and absolutely free to the public, this attraction is an outdoor museum that features over 2,500 plant varieties. A visit here is like a botanical tour of the world, as the flora are arranged according to their indigenous regions. Here you’ll find a wealth of irises, lilies, and other annual flowers that will surely add color to your day. The best time to visit is between April and May in the spring, when the colorful blooms serve as a welcome sight after the dreary days of winter.
     
  • Camas Prairie Winery— If it’s handcrafted fine wines you’re after, there’s no better place to visit than Camas Prairie Winery. Established in 1983, it is North Idaho’s oldest vintner and uses only locally sourced grapes, fruits, and honey. Drop by to purchase award-winning vintages like their raspberry and strawberry honey wines. The winery produces only around 2,000 cases of vintage each year, so each bottle is truly a labor of love. If you’d like to sample more wines, Camas Prairie Winery also has a tasting room that’s open year-round.
     
  • Appaloosa Museum & Heritage Center— The Nez Perce Indians and the Appaloosa horse breed are closely intertwined, and there’s no better place to learn about them than this museum. Designed to create a self-guided experience, the Appaloosa Museum & Heritage Center offers many hands-on exhibits that truly bring history to life. There’s even a horse-riding trail that allows you to experience what it’s like to ride on these majestic creatures. It also has a theater and a library where visitors can dig deeper into this topic.
     
  • Prichard Art Gallery— Fans of contemporary visual arts will undoubtedly enjoy a trip to Prichard Art Gallery at the University of Idaho’s campus. A proud supporter of up-and-coming artists, it was founded on the belief that artists should have the freedom and support they need to realize their vision. Since its establishment in 1986, it has exhibited boundary-pushing artists such as Milica Popovic, Maurizio Giuseppucci, Ted Kelchner, Andria Marcussen, and Zimoun. It also holds after-school art programs and workshops on its premises.
     
  • Bald Mountain Lookout— Few spots in Latah County can rival the beauty of Bald Mountain Lookout. Originally built as a fire lookout in 1956, it now serves as a popular outdoor recreational area for locals. It is located on one of the highest peaks of the Hoodoo Mountain Range and gives visitors stunning 360-degree views of the heavily forested region. You can also stay the night, either by renting the nearby four-person cabin or by setting up a tent in its primitive campsites. On your hike to the lookout, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife such as eagles, moose, elk, and deer.
     
  • Hamilton-Lowe Aquatics Center— Looking for a place where the kids can have a splashing good time? How about a venue where you can practice your laps and beat your personal record? Good news: the Hamilton-Lowe Aquatics Center allows you to do both! There are many fun and creative activities your family will love, including tube slides, a mini lazy river, and water basketball. It even has a six-lane, 25-yard lap pool that many athletes use for training.
     
  • McConnell Mansion— For a taste of Latah County’s local history, book a visit to the McConnell Mansion. Built in 1886, it used to be the residence of William J. McConnell, Idaho’s governor from 1887 to 1893. Today, it serves as a museum with interactive exhibits featuring different time periods from the early 20th century. There’s also a backyard garden where guests can enjoy some cold refreshments during warm, sunny days.
     

Your complete guide to buying a house

There are few things in life as exciting as buying a home, especially if it’s your first. That said, a house isn’t just a major investment, it’s a long-term one, too. The better prepared and informed you are, the less likely you’ll experience buyer’s remorse.

Luckily, we have all the tips you need to successfully find and purchase your dream house. Check out this home buyer’s guide we prepared for you:

  • Set your budget — The last thing you want is to buy more home than you can realistically afford. As such, be sure to set your budget early in the process so you can quickly narrow down your options. The 28% Rule is a handy rule of thumb that you can follow, which states that your mortgage should not exceed 28% of your monthly gross income. Of course, your mortgage isn’t the only thing you should budget for; make sure that ongoing expenses like home insurance, property taxes, and maintenance costs are factored in as well.
     
  • Know what you want — You likely have an idea of what your dream home should be like, but take the time to actually write down your preferences. This makes it easier for both you and your realtor to pinpoint the property that best suits your criteria. On that note, be sure to clarify what features are non-negotiable and which are nice to have; for example, a smaller yard might not be such a deal-breaker if the home is near a park anyway. And if you plan on having more kids, you’d be wise to buy a bigger house than you currently need.
     
  • Boost your credit rating — There’s good news for buyers: the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage interest rate currently sits near 3%. But if you want to get this historically low rate, you need to have a high credit score. How high? Experts say you should aim for a rating of 740 or higher. If your score isn’t quite as lofty, there are a few things you can do to boost it. For starters, aggressively pay down any existing debt to lower your credit utilization. You should also review your credit reports to spot mistakes that could be lowering your rating.
     
  • Get mortgage pre-approval — Now that you’ve raised your credit rating, it’s time to visit a mortgage lender and get a pre-approval letter. It may seem like just a piece of paper, but many sellers won’t even entertain buyers that don’t have it. Why? The pre-approval letter essentially tells you how much you are qualified to borrow if you took out a mortgage today. Since you actually have to go through the mortgage application process to secure it, you need to submit proof of creditworthiness including, pay stubs, bank records, asset statements, and credit scores, among others. This gives sellers assurance that you can indeed secure financing and the home purchase won’t fall through at the last minute.
     
  • Hire a real estate agent— Many buyers scoff at the idea of paying an agent’s commission when buying a house, but that fee more than pays for itself. People are often unaware of just how much paperwork and legwork is involved in the purchase of a property. And that doesn’t even include the time-consuming task of corresponding with sellers, coordinating property viewings, sending in offers, and negotiating the final price. With a realtor at your side, you can focus on the bigger picture: finding and moving into a new home.
     
  • Start house-hunting— After all that preparation comes a worthy reward: it’s time to start your home search! Luckily, your agent will help you shortlist properties that suit your needs, wants, and budget. Of course, don’t just focus on the characteristics of a property — pay attention to its neighborhood, too. Depending on your lifestyle, you can choose a property that’s nearer downtown or closer to the suburbs. In any case, the best homes tend to be near great schools, popular shopping centers, and central business districts.
     
  • Make an offer— Before long you’ll find a property that really speaks to you. And when you do, it’s time to put in an offer. But just because you offer to buy a house doesn’t mean it’s yours; chances are, you’ll be bidding against several buyers on the same property. That’s why crafting an offer is both an art and a science. To begin with, don’t scrimp — offer the maximum amount you can afford from the get-go; then sweeten the deal by offering concessions and bonuses to the seller. For example, you can opt to drop the home sale contingency, which states that you will only proceed with buying a house if you sell your current one. You can also offer to shoulder the closing costs or give the seller an extra month’s stay at their house to make your offer even more irresistible.
     
  • Do your due diligence— Once your offer is accepted by a buyer, you proceed to the escrow phase. Essentially, this part of the buying process involves conducting your due diligence. As a buyer, this means commissioning a professional home inspection and an appraisal. These steps ensure that your chosen house has no deal-breaking flaws and that its asking price is in line with prevailing market values. At this stage, you’ll also want to do a title check on the property to verify that there are no liens or tax liabilities associated with it.
     
  • Close the deal— If everything checks out with a property, you can finally close the deal on it. Do note that closing fees cost anywhere from 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price, so set aside money for this as well. During this stage, you and the seller agree on the move-in date and you’ll sign paperwork that formally transfers ownership of the house to you. You’ll also turn over the check to the seller and they’ll give you the keys to the house. The property’s deed will now be updated to reflect your name.
     

Work with the best

Buying a house can be a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be. Kathi Nygaard, a leading realtor, specializes in Latah County real estate. With years of experience in this market, she has access to the best listings and can help you find the ideal house.

Known for her impeccable professionalism, Kathi can be relied upon to provide accurate and timely advice so you can make the best decisions. She’s a firm believer in going above and beyond expectations, and she tirelessly advocates for your interests.

Clients commend Kathi for her integrity, honesty, expertise, and work ethic. Despite her busy schedule, she keeps close contact with her clients and provides hands-on services every step of the way.

To know more about her services, feel free to give her a call at 208.875.0345 or send her an email at idahosbestproperties(at)gmail(dotted)com. It would be her honor to help you find your dream home in Latah County.

Latah County’s top neighborhoods

Different families have different needs. Latah County’s broad range of neighborhoods caters to a variety of lifestyles. Take a look at some of them: