MOSCOW — Single-family residence construction is starting to accelerate in Moscow, where homes command some of the highest prices in the region.

A total of 37 homes were constructed in Moscow in 2018, and permits were issued for another 20 from January through May, said city of Moscow Community Development Director Bill Belknap. That’s an increase from the postrecession average of 26 per year from the nine years ending in 2017.

“Nationally, single-family home construction since the recession has been approximately half of the prerecession averages, and single-family housing construction in Moscow has followed that trend,” Belknap said.

Developers potentially stand to profit more from building homes in Moscow than elsewhere in north central Idaho or southeastern Washington.

The average price for a Moscow home is $290,284, compared with $277,175 in Pullman and $216,517 in Lewiston, Clarkston and Asotin.

While housing prices are high in Pullman, construction is following a different pattern in eastern Washington’s fourth-fastest growing city. Only 16 homes were built in Pullman in 2018, and the pace is similar this year, said Pete Dickinson, city of Pullman planning director.

“That’s the lowest we’ve had over the last 20 years,” Dickinson said.

A number of factors are preventing developers from focusing more on single-family homes, Belknap said.

It can be difficult to obtain property. That is aggravated by lingering postrecession concerns about building more homes than were needed in a market as well as stricter lending standards for potential homebuyers, developers and construction contractors.

In some instances, it can be difficult to find subcontractors such as electricians and plumbers.

Plus 20-somethings may be less interested in home ownership than their parents, Belknap said. “There ... may be some generational shift as millennials potentially defer home ownership either due to economic necessity or deferred family formation,” he said.

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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