Residential Real Estate in Latah County, Idaho
Located in the north central part of Idaho, Latah County is where you go to behold the rolling hills, forested mountains, and pristine rivers and creeks of Idaho’s Palouse region, an area known as much for its beautiful landscapes as it is for its strong agriculture (wheat, barley, legumes, hay).
Home to an estimated 39,000 residents, the county consists of nine cities (Bovill, Deary, Genesee, Juliaetta, Kendrick, Moscow, Onaway, Potlatch, and Troy) and nine unincorporated communities (Avon, Cedar Creek, Farmington, Harvard, Helmer, Howell, Joel, Princeton, and Viola) spread over a land area of 1,077 square miles. It shares its borders with the state of Washington (west) and the Counties of Benewah (north), Shoshone (northeast), Clearwater (east), and Nez Perce (south).
Moscow, the county’s seat and largest city, is a main cultural, commercial, and business center. The rest of the county is divided into small suburban and rural communities located near predominantly agricultural land.
Why should you consider moving to Latah County?
Latah County is one of the most beautiful areas to live in Idaho. But the scenery isn’t the only thing that convinces people to settle here. Here are a few more reasons why moving into a home in Latah County is a great idea:
Cost of living
Cost of living is generally low in Idaho, and Latah County is no exception. Living expenses here cost about 5% less compared to the national average. Residents get the biggest savings when it comes to utilities and transportation, which are, respectively, about 17% and 28% less than the average cost nationwide.
Area and job growth
Thanks to its wealth of wide, open spaces and affordable real estate, Latah County gets demand from residents of other western states (California, for example) who want to enjoy a quieter way of living on an expanse of land.
The presence of the University of Idaho also guarantees the constant influx of students as well as job seekers and young professionals who work in education and administration. The county also attracts professionals who work in healthcare and retail with major area employers like Gritman Medical Center and Walmart. Nearby counties also offer employment opportunities in sectors associated with the Washington State University, SEL (Schweitzer Engineering Lab), Bennett Lumber, and Pullman Regional Hospital.
Mild weather and the great outdoors
Idaho’s Palouse region, which is mostly found in Latah County, has four distinct seasons of moderate weather. Average lows in winter stay in the mid-20s, while summers are generally dry, hovering around the low 80s. The region’s mild weather cements its status as an agricultural backbone; at the same time, it also opens county residents to a wide range of outdoor activities, no matter the season.
Here in Latah County, where the lush hills of the western region lead to the dense mountain forests of the eastern part, residents and visitors can fish, go boating, hike, hunt, ski, snowshoe, and more. Trips to Moscow Mountain, Idler’s Rest, Spring Valley Reservoir, Laird Park Campground, Palouse River, and Dredge Ponds serve as popular introductions to the diversity of outdoor recreation that the county has to offer.
Culture and history
Before the first pioneers and homesteaders settled in what is now Latah County in 1876, the Palouse people (which included the Nez Perce) made these hills their home. In fact, the county’s original name, Lah-Toh, comes from the Nez Perce Tribe terms “lah” (places of pine trees) and “toh” (pestle). Once pioneers moved into the area, it boomed with industry. The area’s fertile soil and rich natural resources supported the timber industry, local commerce, and, of course, farming.
Today, Latah boasts several destinations with significant cultural and historical importance. More than 50 buildings throughout the county are recognized as National Historic Places. This includes Moscow’s Downtown District and Potlatch’s Commercial Historic District, which feature well-preserved buildings that were built from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century.
For an up-close look at early Native American, head to the Appaloosa Museum and learn more about the mottled horses closely connected to the culture of the Nez Perce. Get a feel for what it may have felt to live in Juliaetta Valley at the turn of the twentieth century by scheduling an appointment with the Castle Museum to learn about the history of the small town through the home’s view artifacts.
Since Latah County is part of the Inland Pacific Northwest, you won’t have to cross over the border to Washington to enjoy farmers’ markets, local breweries and wineries, art venues, or restaurants. The University of Idaho in Moscow also contributes to the county’s art and culture scene and brings the vibrant energy associated with college towns.
Homes for sale in Latah County
Idaho’s lower real estate prices and property taxes (0.75%) make investing in a home in Latah County attractive and affordable for homebuyers and investors. (Homeowners in the county can expect annual property taxes to fall between $800 and $1,499 on average.) The county’s housing stock adds up to over 17,000 housing properties, with large parcels of land widely available on the market.
Agricultural from the very beginning, Latah County moved to ease the rules on dividing parcels of agricultural and forest land in 2013 in order to encourage development, particularly around Moscow. As a result of this decision, large swaths of land were and are now allowed to be split into smaller parcels, providing even more opportunities for homebuyers in the area to make a purchase.
When the 2015-2019 American Community Survey was completed, homes in Latah County had a median home value of $228,200. Home prices have risen since, with the median listing price for the county in December 2020 reaching $289,000, a year-over-year improvement of 8.3% from December 2019 (Realtor.com). Interest in Latah County is expected to grow as buyers continue to shift their attention to more sparsely populated areas as a reaction to the pandemic’s “new normal.”
Type and architecture
Latah County has variety when it comes to property. Single-family homes, farms, and vacant land dominate Latah County’s housing market and present themselves as the most common investments. Condominiums, townhouses, and apartments, while present, are largely concentrated in the city of Moscow.
Populated by cities and communities with roots going back to the late nineteenth century, Latah County has a rich architectural history. It’s not uncommon to find Colonial, Neoclassical, and Queen Anne homes in the historic districts of cities and the town centers of communities. Farther away from the centers and throughout Latah County’s hilly expanse, homebuyers will encounter Contemporary log cabins, Craftsman homes, cottages, farmhouses, and Ranch homes in traditional and contemporary styles.
Latah County cities and communities
Discover the ideal Latah County community for you. Cities and unincorporated communities in the county offer varying atmospheres, which reflect their size, geography, and history.
- Bovill. The second-smallest city in the county by population (298 residents), Bovill lies near Joe National Forest and the eastern border of the county. It’s surrounded by the great outdoors, where residents hike and fish in their leisure.
- Juliaetta. With a population of 586 residents, Juliaetta is a great suburban community for raising a family. Schools here are considered above average for the state, and the general atmosphere of the community is warm and welcoming.
- Onaway. This semi-rural community of 200 is just a quick hop over from Potlatch. It was once a stagecoach stop to the Hoodoo Mining District up in the Hoodoo Mountains. Today, it’s a small community with a saloon and a church.
- Deary. Once a major center for the timber industry, Deary is now a vibrant, rural community of 520 in the heart of the county. A number of trails and camping sites are located near the town, making it ideal for outdoor mountain recreation.
- Kendrick. Formerly called Latah City, Kendrick is a small agricultural community of about 300 residents living along the Potlatch River. Kendrick lies at the bottom of a canyon the river carved. Settled in 1887, this historic community was once a main thoroughfare for timber and ores on their way to Lewiston.
- Potlatch. A sparse suburban sprawl consisting of more than 800 people, Potlatch was originally a planned community for Potlatch Forest Inc. Today, the timber industry is still booming and employs the vast majority of the community. Timber remains a huge draw for those who want to relocate here, just as farming is. Potlatch is also a self-sustaining community with more storefront businesses than any other community in Latah County, aside from Moscow.
- Genesee. With 951 residents, Genesee is one of the oldest communities in the county. It was once a center of trade in the area during the early 1900s, as evidenced by its historic commercial district. Genesee is an ideal place for families and young professionals to live in thanks to highly rated schools, its great sense of community, and a wealth of local establishments (a library, bank, parks, a cafe, and a few bars).
- Moscow. The largest city in the county with a population of 25,339, Moscow is the current center of business for the whole county. It enjoys a diverse population, a vibrant arts and culture scene, and a small college town vibe, thanks to the presence of the University of Idaho. It ranked Number 1 in Chamber of Commerce’s best cities to live in Idaho, and boasts 17 city parks.
- Troy. A small town about 13 miles east of Moscow, Troy is a tight-knit rural suburban community of around 900 residents. The town, surrounded by agricultural land, was once a center of trade with a bustling downtown district in the early 1900s. Today, Troy is a bedroom community where people with jobs in Moscow seek a tranquil life after the workday has ended.
The unincorporated communities of Latah County are rural to semi-rural communities where home buyers who are searching for quiet and proximity to nature can settle. Here are some fast facts about the county’s notable unincorporated communities:
- Harvard: Located eight miles east of Potlatch, this community is a camping and fishing destination thanks to Laird Park Campground and the Palouse River. It’s also close to St. Joe National Forest.
- Princeton: Populated by around 150 residents, this small area 21 miles away from Moscow was another stagecoach stop on the way to the Hoodoo Mountains. Residents here enjoy the ease of finding outdoor recreation.
- Helmer: A small rural community, Helmer’s fertile landscape is dominated by fields and forest. Farms and vacant land are readily available here for buyers and investors who wish to take a shot at ranching or farming.
- Viola: Home to over 570 residents, Viola’s intimate community is ideal for those who prefer life in a semi-rural environment. It’s one of the oldest settlements in the whole state, cementing its continued existence through farms and pasturelands.
Steps to buying a home in Latah County
A decision to move to Latah County is a decision for a slower way of life in a warm and family-friendly community. Take a step closer to owning a new home in North Central Idaho with the following home buying tips:
- Pinpoint what you’re looking for
- Review your finances
- Hire an experienced local agent
- Start your home search
- Send offers
- Work toward closing
Figure out early on what you want in your new home, and list the features it must have. Do you want the convenience of condo living, the flexibility of a single-family home, or the potential of vacant land or a home with acreage?
Consider location as well. A home in Moscow is a great choice for buyers who enjoy a more urban vibe, while a home in smaller towns like Bovill and Deary is better suited to someone who enjoys remote places and doesn’t mind the commute to larger cities for supplies.
Find out how much home you can afford by scrutinizing your finances. Months ahead of your home search, request a copy of your credit report and verify it for accuracy. File corrections for errors on the report, and settle as much outstanding debt as you can to improve your chances at better mortgage rates. Once you’re confident that your finances are in order, apply for mortgage pre-approval to strengthen your hand during the home search.
Local real estate agents, like the ones at Idaho’s Best, can provide insight to each neighborhood and community, saving you valuable time in your search. Our experience and knowledge of the current market will help you narrow your choices to homes that are the right price and type for you. As real estate professionals, we also act on your behalf and in your best interest when it comes time to negotiate the best deal for your next home.
Look for potential homes with your list of criteria in mind. Browse through listings and check comparables to learn which neighborhoods have potential and if a home is priced right. Be persistent. It takes time and a bit of luck to find homes that match your criteria. Once you’ve narrowed your list down to a few homes, take this next step.
Make an offer on the property you’re most interested in. Get advice from your real estate agent when drafting this offer letter. The agent can help you choose which information, provisions, and contingencies to include in your offer.
Don’t forget to take the market’s temperature into consideration. An offer that’s lower than the listing price will be ignored in a hot market, unless it contains a provision that fully catches the seller’s interest.
Once the seller of the home you’re interested in accepts your offer, the deal moves to the closing stage. The several weeks that this process lasts involves several key steps for securing the deal and making the home yours. It includes:
- Scheduling a home and land inspection and appraisal
- Doing a title search
- Negotiating repairs or credits
- Getting home insurance (and flood insurance, for properties near rivers and lakes or where there is flood risk)
- Setting up escrow
- Covering closing costs
- Finalizing your mortgage
Enlist your agent to help you throughout the process, since it’s common, even for experienced buyers, to feel uncertain about how to proceed. Closing is a complex and involved process, because several steps are usually taking place at the same time or overlapping.
At this stage, most of the closing process is out of the way. Read through the closing documents and exhaust your list of questions. Check your understanding of the agreements. Once everything is clear, you can do a final walkthrough, sign the documents, complete your escrow, and get the keys to your new home.
Move into a beautiful home in Latah County with Idaho’s Best
Born and raised in the Palouse region, our agents and staff at Idaho’s Best Home & Land know firsthand the heritage and beauty that make Latah and its neighboring bounties special places to live in. As locals passionate about our region, we share our knowledge of local communities with buyers and investors and guide them on their search for a home or investment that will let them experience the appeal of the Palouse region for themselves.
Get in touch with us if you are looking for homes or investment opportunities in Idaho’s Latah County and its neighbors. Call 208.875.8100 today or send us a message here. We’d love to schedule a video tour or accompany you for site visits.