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Fresh Eyes Column

by Caroline Downs

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Home sweet home is here somewhere . . .

Posted 9/11/13 (Wed)

Thirteen years ago this month, we were desperately searching for a home in Kenmare.

We talked with a couple of real estate agents in Minot who had contracts with the federal government because this was a move for the husband’s new job at the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.

Actually, we started the hunt seriously in late August, meeting the agents and studying the classified ads in The Kenmare News. Two--and I mean TWO--sweet homes in Kenmare were on the market then, but neither suited our needs or financial resources at the time.

Normally, I’d say the classifieds are a good source of information, but in 2000, any housing was scarce and finding a place suitable for two hunting dogs and a cat, let alone a dozen chickens, was difficult.

After a handful of miserable showings for houses in the area nobody had lived in for years, we tried prayer, word-of-mouth and more open minds.

The combination paid off with a farmhouse to rent on the outskirts of Bowbells. You longtime readers know what adventures the house provided through the years, but we’re working toward owning it now and grateful every day for the opportunity.

Fast forward 13 years. The housing market is wide open in Kenmare.

New construction, vintage construction, lots in town, out-of-town acreages, fixer-uppers, newly remodeled. Buyers literally have their choice.

IF they choose to pay the listed prices.

Fewer and fewer individuals seem willing to do so, at least right now.

I’m working on a follow-up story to the housing article we published in The Kenmare News on May 15th. At that time, between 10 and 12 homes were on the market in town, with prices a little steep for most buyers.

I was curious what the summer would bring, so I started doing the research and asking questions last week, only to discover the number of homes now available for sale has essentially doubled.

And some of the homes available for sale in May, still are.

The prices mostly run toward the high side.

And right now, the demand for housing is in the rental market, not ownership. The new Honkerville apartments are filled, with a waiting list. Meanwhile, the phone rings daily with more rental requests.

From my perspective, anyone buying, renting or selling a home in Kenmare right now needs to compromise a little.

Prices should come down. Persons set on renting should consider making a long-term investment. Some sellers could rent instead and keep their houses occupied through the winter, rather than vacant.

Kenmare maintains a strong appeal in this part of the state, and with at least 20 homes on the market right now, there’s a home sweet home...somewhere...for everyone who wants to be here.