Friday, December 30, 2011

Coeur d'Alene mine's stock begins climb

Coeur d'Alene Mines (NYSE:CDE) stock began its climb from a low of $19.30 to $24.50, a 27 percent increase.
Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation, which explores, develops, operates silver and gold mining operations in the United States, Australia, and South America, has been on an up and down cycle in the past year.

Here's the report:

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Black Sheep Sporting Goods plans clearance warehouse

A new pizza place is coming to Hayden, and Coeur d Alene's Black Sheep Sporting Goods plans to open a clearence store on Government Way, the Inland Northwest Business Watch reports.
"Ciao Mambo Restaurant in the Hayden Creek shopping center near the intersection of Prairie Ave and Government Way has unfortunately closed but to make up for the closure of Ciao Mambo the owning party, Montana based Glacier Resturant Group, will expand their Mackenzie River Pizza Co. restaurant in Coeur d' Alene in 2012, adding a pub and grill to the existing gourmet pizza resturant," according to NWBW.
In addition, a new and bigger outdoor warehouse will open south of Prairie Ave. on Government Way at the former site of Complete Suite Furniture.
the furniture store moved to a new location along Highway 95.
Here's the report:
"Coeur d Alene's Black Sheep Sporting Goods and Timberline have joined forces to open a new clearance store in Coeur d Alene at 7419 N Government Way, which Coeur d Alene residents may remember as the former Complete Suite Furniture which moved to along Hwy 95.The Black Sheep store offers many great discounts and will most likely be similar to a clearance store Black Sheep had operated in Sandpoint until Big R took over their lease there."

The warehouse location:'alene&,7419+N+Government+Way,+Coeur+d'Alene,+ID+83815&gl=us&ei=Hez9TobTKpGPigL3u8GSDQ&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CCAQ8gEwAA

The full report is here:

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CDA is proactive and forward thinking

Coeur d'Alene is one of few cities out West that has flourished, even during the recession.
Mayor Sandi Bloem in her recent state of the city address lauded city residents, businesses and city employees for their efforts to make it so.
More changes, more excellence, are on the horizon, the mayor said.
Despite the accolades the city received at the hands of Forbes magazine and USA Today - both of which billed the city one of the best places to live for its amenities, cost of living, sparkling vision and natural beauty - the City is pushing the laurels aside and moving ahead to a bright future.
"The culture we live by in our city is guided by that word, excellence," Bloem said. "It's a prevailing attitude."

For more of the mayor's Dec. 13 State of the City Address click this link:

-Ralph Bartholdt

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Thursday, December 1, 2011

So many, so low

Owning a home is more affordable now than at any time in the previous 15 years, and in many places it's cheaper than renting.
We've heard this before, but it's worth repeating.
Both home prices and mortgage rates are so low that jumping into the market right now seems a no brainer.
It's a double edged sword, however.
As the economy stumbles along, buying, for many - mostly for people working in sectors where job security is questionable - isn't an option. They either cannot get a loan, or aren't willing to buy.
The many who are skeptical about the country's economic future have stayed out of the real estate race as well. They are opting instead to rent, which has squeezed and pushed up prices in the rental market.
That means those who can afford it, and are willing to take the plunge, will find a veritable bargain barn of super deals.
Affordability could continue to improve as prices slide even lower in coming months, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
"Price declines are likely because the share of "distressed" sales, including bank-owned foreclosures, tend to rise in the winter, when traditional sales activity cools. Banks are often much quicker to cut prices to unload properties quickly, which means that the greater the share of "distressed" sales, the more prices tend to fall," according to the article.

Read it here:

-Ralph Bartholdt

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Historical rail line leaving for good

The remnants of an abandoned rail line in Coeur d'Alene fades into the vault of history this week.
A Chicago company began tearing out about three miles of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. line that has run through Coeur d’Alene for 100 years.
Crews from C&C Track Works, hired to removed the rails, ties and spikes are converting the line to a gravel railbed.
Crews can remove about a mile of rail in a day, according to an article in the Spokesman Review.
BNSF has federal approval to abandon six miles of rail line between downtown Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls, and part of it — from Garden Avenue south to City Park — now belongs to the city of Coeur d’Alene.
The land reaching into the Riverstone development on Northwest Boulevard, reverts to the federal Bureau of Land Management and then, through a planned land swap, is expected to be transferred to the city’s urban renewal agency for use as part of the education corridor, according to the article.

More here:

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Mi casa and meatloaf

The Casa de Oro on Highway 95 in Coeur d'Alene will soon serve meatloaf sandwiches.
The menu change follows on the heels of a change in venue.
Simply put, the Mexican fare is being replaced by hubba bubba home cooking, according to Matthew Behringer and his Inland Business blog.
Matt also writes about two Coeur d'Alene Tribe projects:

"The Coeur d Alene Tribe is wrapping up one project and in mid-project on another on their reservation near Plummer and Worley. The one that is basicly done is The Gathering Place Apartments, which is affordable apartments for Tribal members.The other is a new bus barn for the partial tribe owned Citylink bus service which is the city bus service in Kootenai County and part of Benewah."

His blog also tells that West Corp., which provides customer service call centers for several large companies at two Spokane locations, will be hire 250 more employees for its downtown Spokane center. Applications  are online at

Follow Matt's blog at

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rathdrum reduces building fees

Rathdrum council members agreed to chop a chunk of change from the city's steep impact fees making it easier to build in this edge-of-the-prairie community.
Imposed on new construction, the impact fees are used for a variety of city services including park maintenance and to defray the cost of operating its police force.
Council members agreed to cut $782.97 from the cost of building a single family home, the Rathdrum Star reports in an Oct. 26 front page story.
Without impact fees the cost to mitigate the impact of new construction would fall on current taxpayers, according to The Star.
In other communities the fees are usually used to maintain utilities, or to "buy in" to a public utility, such as a water treatment, or sewer plant that other residents are already paying for.
In Rathdrum, contractors must add $2,957.25 to the cost of a building permit to construct a single family home.

For more of this story go here:

 Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Super view, Lake Coeur d'Alene, in Harrison Idaho, main street

I can tell you that local lore tells that One Shot Charlie, Harrison's premier bartender and the namesake of the local watering hole, once lived in this house.
There were many other occupants since the house's construction around 1900: School superintendents, doctors, college professors and families of mill workers.
I can't vouch for any of it, but if you spend enough time in Harrison, Idaho, the lakeside town that was once the biggest community on the lake, sporting several sawmills, a theater and terraced walkways, and you talk to old timers and historians at the Crane Museum, you will invariable feel at home here, and learn tidbits of this town's past.
This house has an unrivaled view of the lake.
On a corner lot, the Trail of The Coeur d'Alene's bicycle and walking trail, and Lakefront Ave. is the only thing that stands between the porch and the best sunsets in Idaho.
It is a 4 bedroom 1 bath house, two stories with a kitchen, family room and a woodstove for heat.
The home is built on rock and wood beams, so there is no traditional foundation, but the present one has lasted more than a century and feels sound underfoot.
The home is used as a family summer retreat, in this summer family-oriented resort community.
Owners are asking $139,000.
Come take a look.

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Keller Williams expands overseas

Keller Williams Realty, the second largest real estate company in the United States, is exploring options for international expansion in Singapore.
‘Some may wonder why we’ve chosen now to take Keller Williams Realty worldwide, considering the state of the real estate market, and our answer is simple: momentum. Our model continues to provide a platform for growth and profitability despite the market,’ said Mark Willis, chief executive officer.
‘We have experienced unparalleled growth and technological innovation over the past five years and this signifies the next logical step in the growth as a company,’ he added.

The full story is on Property Wire, here:

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Fall decor, Hayden neighborhood

                                                     Corner of Ramsey and maple/Ralph Bartholdt

                                                    Golden days of truckin'/Ralph Bartholdt

There is a lot of color covering the pavement of many North Idaho neighborhoods this week.
The falling leaves come just in time for the forecast to call for a dusting of snow.

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Home sales up; prices down

There seem to be a lot of mixed messages in the real estate market nationwide as well as locally.
According to a recent article in the Journal of Business, home prices are falling, yet sales are on the rise.
This seems to be the general formula, and has been for at least 12 months.
Home sales in neighboring Spokane have shown three consecutive months of improvement since the home buyer tax credit expired more than a year ago, according to the Journal.
That could mean that the downturn in the market has bottomed out, according to Rob Higgins of the Spokane Association of Realtors.
One of the reasons for increased sales could be the number of foreclosed homes and distressed properties that remain on the market with more of them being classified daily, according to the report.
More REOs and short sales "continue to pressure prices downward," Mike McLean of the Journal writes.
The Spokane area saw a third-quarter increase in home sales of almost 15 percent. Sales in the first nine months combined grew 6.5 percent.
"If we stay in this trend, we could be headed back up," Higgins said.

For more of this article visit:

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

North Idaho town gets facelift

At a cost of $1 million in grant money, Spirit Lake got new sidewalks and a new Maine Street/ Ralph Bartholdt

 An informal survey last year showed that the majority of people who visited Spirit Lake, Idaho - a small gem of a town  perched at the edge of its namesake lake - spent their time and money along the HWY 41 corridor and didn't venture into the heart of town.
The heart of town for most people who have been here is known for its few bars and the parked motorcycles in front of them leaning in fleetlike-like array as if at a hitching post.
In addition to a couple of eateries, a smattering of storefronts lined the town's cracked sidewalks and crumbling buildings.
This summer, though, a hefty $1 million makeover prevented tourists and passers by from accessing downtown.
Equipment beeped and groaned as workers dug, pounded and finished concrete while the former Maine Street disappeared and a new one formed.
The streets and sidewalks were replaced, and the work has left the town with a new, cleaner feel.
Whether the upgrades will funnel more business downtown is food for thought.
And local residents are taking seconds.
"I'm not sure if it will make a difference in the economy or attract people to downtown," area resident Chuck Gruenwald told the Coeur d'Alene Press.
Others think the improvements will attract visitors.
 "We believe this will bring more tourism to our area," said Jeanne Bruner, president of the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce.
What goes unsaid is that other towns in similar predicaments - the disappearing of their tax base as the timber economy is shut down and sent elsewhere - haven't fared better despite main street upgrades.
St. Maries, 80 miles to the south, and the ever famous Potlatch, Idaho two hours away, are precious examples.
Having said that, Spirit Lake is still a great place to visit, buy some pottery at Sondahl's local shop, have a cup of Joe at the Books and Coffee and stop by the gift, second-hand and ice cream shops downtown.

For more of this story go here:

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Upward creep in home prices

Home prices are creeping upward nationally, according to a CNN report, but they remain substantially lower - as much as 35 percent - compared to five years ago.
The report looks at home prices in the nation's 20 major cities and shows a - hold on! - .2 percent rise in prices in places such as Minneapolis, Atlanta and Chicago.
That may seem like a small margin, yet the gradual increases account for as much as 2.4 percent over time, according to the report.
Overall, however, the market is still floundering and probably will be for a while, according to the report.
"Even though the year-over-year rates are improving, national home prices are still below where they were a year ago," said David Blitzer, a spokesman for S&P/Case Shiller Index which tracks home prices nationally.
The home price report follows recent changes in HARP (the Home Affordable Refinance Program) that are supposed to make refinancing of high-interest mortgages easier.
For more of this story click here:

Ralph Bartholdt
Agent Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene

Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn coming; time to get your home on the market!

It's easy to get caught in the whirlwind of activities that North Idaho offers. It's that kind of a place.
And if you like your occupation - as many of us here do - it's easy to get immersed in that as well.
Keller Williams Realty in Coeur d'Alene,  the company under whose umbrella I work, set records most of the summer: Listings, home sales - buying and selling - and pending properties.

 Despite an economy that has been bumped and bruised, many people who live in the Panhandle of the Gem State, or those new to the area, have decided this is the place to look for a home, buy a home, or sell a home and buy something else - bigger or smaller, out of town with acreage, or a property closer to town, maybe in Coeur d'Alene's Midtown and near the lake.

This past summer was a short one for us here in the Panhandle, because we got hit with rain through June and the warm weather didn't settle in until the Fourth of July.

Summer was concentrated.Business was often interspersed with something other than business.
Family and friends came to visit to awe at our mountains, trees, wildlife and plethora of scenic trips on and off the water, and invariably they asked to fish.

It's something a lot of us here have in common.We like to fish the Panhandle's many lakes and streams.

I was more than happy to oblige, spending time on the rivers and lakes with fly rods and heavy pike poles, paddling, cruising and pointing at show stoppers like the bald eagle that came down, talons drawn, to spike a fish from the surface, thanks to Rich Lindsey and his Priest Lake Guide Service

North Idaho is rich in all of that.
Its big three lakes, Priest, Pend Oreille and Coeur d'Alene, are all right here, out our back door, and many of its fabled trout streams including the Blue Ribbon Kelly Creek, and the St. Joe River are a short jaunt away.

So, in addition to helping owners and want-to-be-owners buy and sell homes and property, much of what we did this summer is fish.

We're pretty fair at it.

If there is one thing we enjoy more than stalking and catching fish on the many rivers and lakes of the Panhandle, it is GUIDING first-time home buyers AND sellers, as well as experienced buyers and sellers through the moving water of REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS.

Let us help you make your NORTH IDAHO DREAMS come true. 

If want to list a home or buy a home, or if you know someone who wants to list a home, buy a home or invest in North Idaho real estate. Call us at (208) 582-1867, or visit
Tight Lines!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to get approved for a loan

Being approved for a mortgage is more difficult now than ever.
Even people with sound credit have been rejected for loans.
Lending standards for mortgages have tightened so considerably that "the bottom third of people who might have qualified for a prime mortgage a few years ago, cannot qualify today," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said recently.
Roughly one-in-four mortgage applicants was denied in 2010, up from about 18 percent in 2003, according to data from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.
Those are just the ones that apply. Many potential borrowers are discouraged and don't even bother to apply.
There is money to lend, however.
According to a recent CNN article, Bob Ryan, the acting commissioner for HUD, said that mortgage money "is flowing, it's stable, it's tightened from the boom years, but it's there."
Many potential home buyers sitting on the sidelines are qualified as long as they take a few crucial steps.

Read the full article here:

-Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene
(208) 582-1867

Rathdrum Prairie sunset

                Afternoon on the Rathdrum Prairie looking northwest from Huetter Road, Hayden, Idaho/Bartholdt

Summer on the prairie is crop time. From wheat, to mint and a variety of grasses grown for hay and the seed market, contracted farmers and landowners who have sown, grown and harvested crops here for generations, are at work.

This photo was taken here:,-116.852061&spn=0.013209,0.0421&t=f&z=15&ecpose=47.75347524,-116.85206115,3049.96,0,44.997,0

-Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene
(208) 582-1867

The nuts and bolts of home buying

Are you planning to move to a new community, facing a lifestyle change or is buying an option, not a requirement?
What would you like in terms of real estate that you do not now have?
Do you have a purchasing time frame?
These are all questions you might ask yourself before you opt to buy or sell property. The more you know about the real estate marketplace, the more effectively you can define your goals.
Do you have the money?
Homes and financing are closely intertwined.
Recently, several innovative loan programs have evolved which require a 5 percent down payment or less. In fact, a number of programs now allow purchasers to buy real estate with nothing down.
In addition to a down payment, purchasers also need cash for closing costs (the final costs associated with closing the loan). Several newly emerging loan programs not only allow the purchase of a home with no money down, but also underwrite closing costs.
That’s beautiful, right? Yet, there is always another side to the equation. Less money down means higher monthly mortgage payments, so most home buyers choose to buy with some cash up front.
In a buyer’s market, it may be possible to negotiate an offer for a home that requires the owner to pay some or all of your settlement expenses. Speak with local REALTORS® for details.

For a more in depth look at home buying, go here:

-Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene
(208) 582-1867

What to do this summer?

Only 30 minutes from Spokane International Airport and served by 65 non-stop daily flights, Coeur d'Alene is a destination that is easy to get to. Given the many recreation and entertainment opporunities in the Lake City and throughout Idaho's Panhandle, it is a difficult place to leave.
Coeur d’Alene and the surrounding area offers families a wide range of activities, some designed to stimulate the urban escapist who seeks extreme adventure, other activities bring family members together for a vacation filled with fun and relaxation. A variety of festivals, fairs, ferris wheels and evening fare bridge the spectrum from fun to elegant.

Here's a link:

-Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Coeur d'Alene
(208) 582-1867

July powwow

An annual event, the Julyamsh Powwow, the largest outdoor powwow in the Pacific Northwest, is set July 22-24  at Post Falls. For three days, the powwow sponsored by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, honors Indian culture with dances, songs, games, and is open to everyone.
Dancers wear regalia reflecting special events in a person´s life, traditions or symbols rooted in legend. Most of the symbols are handed down from generation to generation as family heirlooms.

For more information, directions and explanations go here

-Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene
(208) 582-1867

So far this summer (2)

                                       Fourth of July parade Sherman and Lakeside in Coeur d'Alene/Bartholdt

Although Fourth of July weekend is made to fish brook trout in North Idaho's many tributaries (There are a lot of rivers and streams feeding the abundance of Panhandle lakes, including the two largest: Pend Oreille and Coeur d'Alene), there is also a lot going on in town.

The city's parade ambles down Sherman Ave. (it was a great day for it!), followed by festivities in the park and the region's best fireworks.

-Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene
(208) 582-1867

So far this summer

The June 24 Ford Ironman Triathlon in CdA./Bartholdt

Throughout most of June we watched the rain, it's true. There were some nice days of course, and some landmark events in North Idaho worth mentioning despite the belated thumbs up.
Here's one:
Around the third weekend of June for the past several years, the Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene Triathlon starts off with a two-loop, 2.4 mile swim in beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. The 112 mile bike course takes athletes through rural northern Idaho and the marathon run course, known for its spectator support, is the highlight of the race.
A multitude of volunteers support participants, including "pointers," such as this mom and 5-year-old (above) who made sure athletes took the right path to the finish line.


-Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene
(208) 582-1867

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lindsey and his lakers

North Idaho fishing guide Rich Lindsey and one of Priest Lake's ubiquitous lakers/Ralph Bartholdt

Rich Lindsey keeps a wire cutter in a pole holder in the back of his boat.
It's a pocket size cutter used to dislodge fouled fish hooks and snip tangled leaders.
Mostly, it's used to kill fish.
This is done with swift dexterity and a mantra.
The mackinaw - invariably the fish his clients hook are V-tailed lake trout - is held with one hand by its gill slits as clients admire its lines, size and verticulation. The other hand, the one grasping the implement makes one or two swift movements as the dull steel knot of the wire cutter thumps the fish between the eyes.
Lindsey, one of the Idaho Panhandle's premier fishing guides, a guy who has been at it longer than anyone in this land of woods and mountains that plunge into the gem-like lakes of prehistoric glacial gouges, has his own way of doing things.
"Welcome aboard," he lilts almost quietly to the fish whose fins extend like oriental fans with each thump. They quiver as their brain pan is irreparable jostled.
The fish are dropped into a box at the transom with a cutting board top and although Idaho Fish and Game allow anglers to keep six lake trout, Lindsey's boat limit is three apiece, which allows his clients enough of the meaty mackinaws to feed a family and ensures the lake keeps on giving.
"This lake has been generous to me," Lindsey says.
And his generosity is not only in giving clients a taste of North Idaho's Valhalla, but in making sure it stays fertile, at least from a fishery perspective.
As fishery programs in many northern Idaho lakes preclude any mention of mackinaw or lake trout, Priest Lake, up here in the northern reaches - so far north that it keeps the riff raff out as some residents like to proclaim - the name of the game is simple: Lambaste lakers.
And that's what Lindsey and his clients do.
My own preponderance with lake trout began as a kid on northern Minnesota's Lake Vermilion where I grew up.
I fished for bass mostly, and walleye during the full-moon nights of July and August. Muskie could be found in the spring and northern pike were caught in the evening pulling plugs off the rock ledges where they came to hunt.
Lake trout were an anomoly.
They hung deep, between 70 and 150 feet, out there in Big Bay, paddling their V-tails in the haunting water that was often white-capped and swollen with mystery.
I caught one as a 14-year-old, by accident, while fishing for walleye using a method my Uncle Jim taught as my line dangled into the depths and the waves slapped the side of my 14-foot Crestliner.
I was alone of course, summers in the North Country of Minnesota were made for learning about everything from jointed plugs and cotter keys, portages and pint-size beers to making outboard repairs in swelling seas.
And doing it solo.
These were not seas. Not like the kind I became familiar with much later, in Southeast Alaska, but to a teenage boy the whitecaps on Big Bay were sea enough.
The fish I pulled from the depths of that lake was speckled. Its eyes were not glazed like shop-window glass: The sign of a walleye.
This fish came up slowly like a walleye does. When it got to the net, however, it had the same spike teeth but a different feel altogether.
Lake Trout, I said and pulled it in for a better look.
I kept it longer than I usually did, back then. I looked it over hard and let it go.
This was catch and release before it was cool, an impetus that later earned me a biology degree. Aside from anything feathered or furred punched with bullets or BBs, I tossed it back.
My mother assailed me for this. In hindsight, I think the piscatorial patchwork I brought home was pan worthy enough and kept me in fishing licenses.
In some respects, Mr. Lindsey follows the same philosophy.
He tells of a 50-pound mack he caught while fishing alone and the trial of shooting a picture with his cell phone camera before letting the beast free to spawn again and hopefully, be hooked by one of his clients some time in the future.
"Those 50-pounders are heavy," he says.
The memories of releasing them, though, are light.
And just like a good mackinaw lake, they remain.
Even without a photo.

-Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene
(208) 582-1867

Another version of this story can be found in the August issue of Northwest Sportsman Magazine or at

Monday, June 20, 2011

More Wieners!

It's summer, right? At least the air has the muggy, serene effervescence that portends the last days of spring before they cuddle up to a NYT best seller in the hammock and shade of the old Linden tree.

With that, it's officially summer.

And the one food, bar none, the one ding-a-ling thing we all smash into our craw at least once each summer, and likely many times more at parades, ball games, rodeos or as spectators of the fancy dancing Linger Longer Club patrons as they strudel their way down a boulevard on the heels of a paper mache boat on wheels, is the dog.

The long slim sausage, the frank, the pork lips in a tube.

It's more than a wiener, it's an American tradition and the latest edition to Coeur d'Alene's downtown culinary accouterments is a place called Dangerous Dog Serious Sausage @ 108 N 4th St.,Coeur d'Alene
(208) 819-0011.

Read the best review here:

-Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Realty, Coeur d’Alene
(208) 582-1867

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A small, well-lighted lake

The trail to Gamlin Lake winds through an open forest with little underbrush.
Walking sticks left by other hikers usually lean against the wildlife sign in the parking lot.
The trail eventually passes through a meadow overlooking the lake where an old homestead, barely noticeable and decaying into the earth, is swallowed by thorn bushes. Less organic remnants like this pickup prick at the imagination.
Gamlin is one of dozens of small, accessible lakes in the northern Panhandle.

Here's more:

—Ralph Bartholdt
Agent, Keller Williams Realty, Coeur d’Alene
(208) 582-1867

Monday, May 23, 2011

Future of the homeowner tax deduction

Interest tax deductions for homeowners have been around since 1986 when the U.S. tax code was reformed.
The idea was to encourage homeownership and spur the housing and construction markets, among the biggest drivers of the economy.
Eliminating or scaling down the mortgage interest tax deducation has been considered in Congress as a means to rein in the national debt.
Pundits on both side of the aisle have reasons to dislike or applaud the deduction. Opponents call the deductions a tax expenditure that costs the government $120 billion annually. Supporters say cutting it would be the same as another middle class tax increase and further depress the housing market just as it looks for ways to climb out of tha tank.

What do you think?

Here are a few articles on the subject.

-Ralph Bartholdt

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May day! It's pike time in North Idaho

Pike enthusiasts Ben Carney (r) and Dan Pierce with a lunker NI pike that hangs in Coeur d' Alene's premier fishing source, Fins and Feathers Tackle and Guide Shop on Sherman Ave. The men started the North idaho Pike Association with a page on Facebook/ Ralph Bartholdt

Its body stiff as a board, it doesn’t blink, but maybe a series of successive waves results in an undulation of its fins, a flip of tail that causes a weed stalk to flinch.
Cast there.
That is how 19-year-old Ben Carney picks up the northern pike in the shallow bays of his favorite north Idaho pike lake.
He fishes Hayden for pike whenever he can, and he often targets the same animals because, he says, pike are territorial, and especially with smaller fish, you can often cast at a pike that you hooked near a certain structure, even a clump of grass, and drag in the same fish.
He doesn't keep the fish he catches, choosing instead to toss them back into the lake for other enthusiasts to hook.
Dan Pierce, 45, a former millworker who prefers to spend his waking hours casting plugs and tube baits into aquatic cabbage patches is Carney’s fishing partner.
Standing at the edge of Hayden Lake on a glum, late spring day with snow spitting from a sky the color of concrete Pierce describes a fight with a specific pike.
“It was down there in the cabbage and we couldn’t get it up,” he says. “It just sat there.”
The fishing line was weed-wrapped and the fish was content to hunker in the foliage until Pierce reached down from the boat’s gunnels into the water with a net, bumped the pike on the head wrapped him in net and hoisted the fish to the surface.
Pierce and Carney are anticipating, with relish, the coming season’s pike tournaments. Two of the men’s favorite tournaments will be on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s southern end, a place Pierce knows well.
It is where he caught his first fish as a boy, and where his heart often travels when time strictures prohibit he make it there.
It was on Hayden Lake, though, that both men caught their biggest pike, a 29-pounder for Dan and a 19 pounder for Ben.
For these guys, pike fishing is more than salad. It is gravy.
“It’s adrenaline,” Pierce says.
Ben caught a half dozen small snakes on a recent day as he forged along the water accompanied by snow, a peppering of hail, but no other anglers. He patiently anticipates higher water when big pike move from the depths to the shallows for some aggressive spring feeding.
“In mid-May, when the water is up, the pike are going crazy,” Pierce says.
The men focus their efforts in the shallows then, throwing spinnerbaits and spoons at weedlines.
Silver minnows with a trailers or big-bladed spinners are the chosen hardware.
There are other methods: Bank fishers mostly, toss dead things, herring, smelt, suckers that are threaded with treble hooks and strung through big bobbers.
“Pike hit hard,” Ben says.
With no season, bag or possession limits, Northern Idaho is wide open for pike anglers to pursue their favorite quest. With its many lakes holding big pike, anglers like Pierce and Carney are in the right spot to pursue their passion.
Hayden Lake has long been known as a great pike lake, the men concur, but “it gets fished pretty hard,” Pierce said. “Coeur d’Alene Lake is bigger and is always good for pike.”
The state record, a 40 pound 2 ounce northern pike was hoisted from a nearby Lower Twin Lake last year by a trout fisherman. A few days later, a 32 and a 36 pounder were also taken at Lower Twin.
The men started a club called The North Idaho Pike Association with a page on Facebook.
Although mid-May shakes the arms and jiggles the jowls of many north Idaho pike anglers, it doesn’t end there.
“It’s good all the way into October,” and later, Pierce says. “If you can handle the cold, you’ll catch them.”

-Ralph Bartholdt

A more refined version of this story appears in Northwest Sportsman Magazine's May issue.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rural designation, and zero down home loans, may be thing of past in Post Falls

As home prices continue to slide, making the market a veritable candystore for buyers who are also taking advantage of another dip in interest rates, at least one North Idaho community may feeling the crunch more than others.
Post Falls, which was afforded a rural designation by the USDA allowing zero-down home loans will likely lose its rural designation.
New census figures released last week show that Post Falls, one of the fastest growing markets in the state, saw a population jump over the past decade that pushes the city out of its rural designation.
For several years in a shifting market, zero-down rural development loans provided money that kept the Post Falls real estate market afloat, said Kim Cooper, spokesman for the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors.
As equity shrinks or disappears there are some sellers who are more likely to show a profit on their home. Long-time home owners, many with as much as 100 percent equity, stand to sell quickly given bargain barn interest rates, Cooper said.

For more on the local real estate market click here:

-Ralph Bartholdt

Backyard coups, Chickens take to NI towns

                                              Raising chickens is common, and allowed, in many NI cities/Ralph Bartholdt 

Backyard bantees, barred rocks and Australorps are common in some cities where council members have lifted bans on raising chickens.
In the small town of St. Maries, an hour drive south of Coeur d'Alene, the council voted this month to allow chickens in town after a 10-year-old citizen asked to raise a few hens in her back yard as a 4-H project.
Kootenai, Idaho near Sandpoint adopted a similar measure last year and Rathdrum is considering one.
Throughout North Idaho, communities have given the nod to backyard coops as long as roosters are not in the picture.
Coeur d'alene allows chickens. In Hayden, residents must have 3/4 acre dedicated to the birds. Don't be surprised to wake to roosters crowing in Spirit Lake, and chickens have been a staple in Sandpoint yards for several years.
Although local co-ops are brimming with baby birds and kids carrying small boxes that peep, before you buy call City Hall to see if chickens are kosher, or considered a nuisance and best baked with garlic and basil.

Here's more:

-Ralph Bartholdt

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring in North Idaho

Scenes from April in Idaho's Panhandle

                                          Rathdrum Prairie field with new snow

                                          Along Wyoming Ave.

                                         Meyer Road

                                         Spirit Lake Post Office

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Touch and go show at Boyington Field

It wasn't an airshow. Not really, but the pilot of the Navy P-3 landed with a bit of burned rubber and some rabbit squeals as the plane's tires tipped the tarmac this afternoon at Coeur d'Alene's Pappy Boyington Field.
The plane raced down the runway and lifted off again, made a wide arc over the Rathdrum Prairie, stopping traffic on Huetter Road as it circled.
It dropped altitude, slipped over the newly-tilled fields and its arc became a circle. Its nose headed northeast, its landing gear down, and the P-3 touched the tarmac again, raced on the smooth surface and lifted off.
This happened over and over.
The plane and its crew were doing what plane-people call "touch and go," according to airport personnel who grabbed binoculars to watch the show.
It lasted a half hour, maybe longer. 
Then the plane headed west toward the Coeur d'Alene River country and Montana. A bit later it nosed again over the mountains, and made its last appearance before beelining toward home: Whidbey Island and the sea.

-Ralph Bartholdt 

For a recent story about the Coeur d'Alene airport and Pappy Boyington Field, go here:


KW serves up big

Keller Williams Realty earned a quarter of the market share of sales in the housing industry, according to a recent survey.
Keller Williams brokerages represented 24 percent of the top 500 brokerages ranked by closed transactions, and 28 percent of the top 500 brokerages ranked by closed volume, according to REAL Trend Inc.,a leading source of analysis and information on the residential brokerage and housing industry.
The number of KW brokerages on the list surpassed all other major franchise players – with twice the number of brokers represented by closed transactions, and almost three times the number of brokers represented by closed volume compared to Coldwell Banker, currently the largest real estate company in the U.S. by agent count.
In March, the company announced it had surpassed Century 21 as the second largest real estate franchise in the country.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tree Farmer of the Year

Don Heikkila of Harrison was recently recognized as Idaho's Tree Farmer of the Year/ Ralph Bartholdt

For 64 years Don Heikkila has lived on a farm at the edge of a mountain that overlooks Lake Coeur d'Alene.
The farm was homesteaded at the turn of the century and later sold to Heikkila's father. It edges a plateau that towers over the azure waters of the lake and is fondly referred to as the Harrison Flats.
Compared to a pine board, or the plains of Dakota that many early homsteaders to the area left as they came looking for water during the Great Depression, the Flats don't deserve the name.
They wobble, careen and disappear in wooded swales and scrap-rock gullies filled with fir. A northbound traveler on Hwy 97 who breaks from the wooded hills of Peterson Creek doesn't notice this. He or she see only the vast open ground from Indian Mountain, where Heikkila's farm is, to Lamb Peak miles away with nothing in between but rolling hay fields.
The land was cleared a century ago by homesteaders. The pioneers of what then was a high plateau of larch, fir and pine with cedar mixed into the draws, signed on to improve their sections, so they cut trees, pulled stumps and raised wheat.
But, Heikkila says, "The soil is better for growing trees than it is for growing wheat."
The former soil and conservation district board member who served on the state's soil and water commission under three governors, was recently awarded Idaho's most prestigious tree farm award.
Heikkila was named Outstanding Tree Farmer for 2011 at a recent gathering in Moscow.
His trees have always been there, and although he supplements timber harvesting with plantings, the forest is in its original state. His 240-acre wood is a mixed stand of diverse native species of all ages from seedlings to mature ponderosa pines.
Heikkila is one of a handful of old timers - there are some that are older, but not many - with a foothold quietly planted in the soil where he was raised, never having left, or strayed very far in more than six decades.
"Not too many people have lived here longer than 64 years," he says.

See more here:

-Ralph Bartholdt

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tundra swans make whistle stop

                                                             Swans congregate south of Rose Lake/Ralph Bartholdt

Sunday Morning with the late-Charles Kuralt once had a segment on the Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge at the California-Oregon border .
The segment showed the plethora of shore and water birds including ducks, geese and swans that use the area for a winter holding and feeding ground. It ended with the overwhelming, and solemnic sounds of the birds quacking, whistling and honking, a sound that could be heard for miles.
Spring in North Idaho brings a similar orchestra.
The chain lakes of the Coeur d’Alene River from Cataldo to Harrison  is a year-round duck and goose factory, but in March these birds are accompanied by Tundra Swans. Thousands of the gabbling, bugling, clucking, rattling and squealing swans mix with the already numerous Canada geese and migrating fowl to make for great bird watching, or just a nice listening stop.
The birds can be easily observed and heard along State Highway 3 near the old Blue Lagoon roadhouse at Lane, and south to Medimont.
Tundra swans usually overwinter in the central Rocky and Western States with Utah’s Great Salt Lake Basin being a hotspot. In spring they begin their migration north to Alaska and the Canadian tundra. Spring observers have reported as many as 3,000 swans a day on the chain lakes.
Here’s a link that shows the difference between tundra swans and trumpeters :

-Ralph Bartholdt

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Local housing notes

Interest rates fell last week, according to the Idaho Housing Finance Association website

The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is down to 4.6 percent, according to IHFA. Freddie Mac listed the average 30-year rate at 4.76 percent while 15-year mortgage rates were reported at 3.97 percent.
Appraisers report challenges, writes Kim Cooper, a local real estate broker, Realtor and the spokesman for the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors.
"With rates like these many of us would like to refinance but are unable to do so due to market declines in recent years," said Cooper in a Sunday column in the Coeur d'Alene Press. "If you bought during the peak years of 2005-2007 and had a low down payment you may not have enough equity to meet the debt to equity bank requirements to qualify for a lower interest rate.

"Appraisers who rely on information and statistics report it challenging to find good, comparable properties within recent sales data," Cooper said. "Even if you have the nicest home on the block it may not appraise high enough to get you the loan you want."
Commercial activity is warming up, and homes priced higher than average are also seeing buyer activity, Cooper said.

The average price of homes listed in the Coeur d'Alene MLS in the first two months of 2011 is $154,253, down 9 percent from  $170,440 last year. 

Fewer homes in the $200-300,000 category sold in the first two months of this year compared to last year, according to figures compiled by the Coeur d'alene Association of Realtors and the sale of homes priced higher than $1,000,000 have also fallen behind last year with one sale reported so far in 2011.

For more of this article visit
-Ralph Bartholdt

Friday, March 18, 2011

Latest proposal on Rocky Mountain wolves

Whether gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain states have recovered to sustainable population levels and no longer need Endangered Species protection has been an ongoing controversy here.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service and several plaintiffs in a lawsuit recently agreed that numbers in states including Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have reached sustainable numbers.
The agreement could mean de-listing of wolves in those states and returning management to state wildlife departments.
With numbers three times those originally sought, wolves in the Rockies were de-listed a few years ago.
State wildlife agencies took over management which included hunting wolves.
After a year of state management another lawsuit sent the issue back to federal district court in Missoula where U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy reinstated federal protection for wolves.
The latest proposal would de-list wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, but afford protection for wolves in Washington, Utah and Oregon where small populations exist.

More here:

-Ralph Bartholdt

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

North Idaho population climbs

Kootenai County is the third most populated county in Idaho, according to the latest census figures.
With over 138,000 residents, Kootenai County filled the number three spot behind Ada County, home of Boise, which has 205,671 residents and Canyon County's 188,923 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Overall, Idaho's population increased by 21 percent, or 273,600 new residents, in the last decade.
According to the figures, Post Falls, the state's 10th largest city, added 10,377 people since 2000 and boosted its population to 27,574.
Coeur d'Alene is in seventh place with a population of 44,137, according to the figures. Rathdrum's population is 6,826 and Spirit Lake has 1,945 residents.
-There are 8,977 vacant homes in Kootenai County, either bank or real estate owned.
-Rathdrum has 134 vacant homes
-Coeur d'Alene has 1,824
-Post Falls, 887
-Hayden, 113
-Sandpoint, 554
-Kellogg, 299

-Ralph Bartholdt

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Home sales jump in parts of Kootenai

Home sales jumped in northwest Kootenai County and the Silver Valley in the first couple months of this year and showed a significant drop in the southern Panhandle compared to last year, according to recent figures.
Sales doubled in the Silver Valley, according to figures released by the Coeur d'Alene MLS, and jumped by 275 percent in Rathdrum and the Twin Lakes area, writes Kim Cooper, the spokesman for the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors.
The increase in number of sales doesn't translate into a hike in prices, Cooper wrote in Sunday's Coeur d'Alene Press. And the percentages exaggerate the real numbers.
In the Silver Valley, the number of sales in January and February of 2011- as compared to January and February of 2010 - increased from 8 to 16.
Combined sales in Rathdrum and Twin Lakes increased from 4 in 2010, to 15 this year, Cooper said.
Prices seem to be trending upward in Hayden, where figures show a 36 percent increase in sales and a 10 percent price increase.
Most areas covered by the MLS showed price declines including Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene.
The biggest price decline was in Benewah County where five homes sold in the first two months of this year.

Read Cooper's article here:

-Ralph Bartholdt

Turkey time in NI is a month away

                                                            Long beard maestro Al Shaw and a fan/Ralph Bartholdt

ST. MARIES— Al's sons are grown and have their own families.
But there was a time when spring had Al in the woods with a boy sitting between his knees on the damp ground. A few yards away, at the edge of the alley that the firs made towering over a strip of greening grass, clover, and the needles of Ponderosa pine sat another son with his back against bark and a shotgun tottering on his knees.
There might have been a shhh on Al's lips and then a scratch on a slate call, and maybe a putt putt from the reed in his mouth as a shadow crossed and uncrossed the bridge of his nose.
There was a bunch of those boys. Four sons, maybe five.
He had them hunting, or at least joining him on a hunt, as soon as they were old enough to pack a lunch.
Al moved to Idaho from Massachusetts more than 30 years ago to attend the University of Idaho for a teaching degree.
The first time he had an opportunity to gun for toms was in the 1970s and he's still at it.
He likes talking to the birds, luring them in, coaxing them and seeing what happens.
He has taken his share of long beards, he says, and although his sons have moved on, there is another brood of Shaws.
Small ones.
Another generation.
Which means this spring may have Al out in the woods again with a grandson sitting quietly between Papa's knees in that first light as a hen decoy bobs in a gust where the grass mixes with pine nuts and the slate call says peep peep. The reed call in Papa's mouth will make that cackling sound of a bird coming off a roost and then the soft yelps.
A gobbler calls back. Where is he?
The sun wedges through the trees.
The boy's eyes big.
He is quiet.
Papa on the call and then the tom, face blue as turquoise, waddle like pomegranate, fans a tail and drags a foot like a receiver.
The wind comes up.
Papa, his cheek on the smooth of stock, an eye squinting, whispers.
Cover your ears.

-Ralph Bartholdt

A hunter must be 10 to 15 years of age on April 8 to hunt in
the general season youth hunt (April 8-14, 2010 and 2011).
Two turkey tags - one general and one extra tag -
may be purchased for the spring turkey season that starts April 15. -- Idaho Fish and Game regulations

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Longer Days

                                                                            Ralph Bartholdt/Skookum Photography
     The road bumps up an incline like a roller coaster with the chains underneath clinking and rattling on a rail.
     Passengers are jostled, the driver of the car or pickup considers suspension and what this road might jar loose, or fracture.
     The vehicle moves through low light under canopies of yellow pine, past glades snow smattered with deer raising their heads and skewing their ears as they eat greening shoots.
     Mud makes a rubbing sound in the disc brakes, cakes in the fenders and speckles the paint.
     Drivers and passengers shield their eyes now to the sun, its last sharp rays, setting over a lake - what else but one of North Idaho's many lakes - and then the car stops.
     Sunset time from up here is electra.
    Winter is almost gone and the days are getting longer. We know this instinctively. That is how we made it to March. For this is the best month.

 Here's how it works:

Hold on! Another North Idaho spring is rattling the bush.

-Ralph Bartholdt

Idaho's Circuit Breaker Property Tax reduction

     Qualified homeowners in Idaho are eligible for the 2010 property tax reduction program, also called Circuit Breaker.
     By enrolling, property owners may get a tax reduction of $1,320 on their homes and up to an acre of land, according to the state tax commission.
     Although the state administers the program, home owners must apply at their county assessor's office.
     The application must be filed with your assessor by April 15.
     Seniors unable to register at the Kootenai County Assessor's Office should call (208) 446-1500 to make an appointment for a home visit.
For more information, or to dowload brochures and application forms go here:

See what others say about Idaho's Circuit Breaker here:

-Ralph Bartholdt

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pain in the Gas

                                                                                Bad gas. Prices in NI spike/Ralph Bartholdt    

    The recent 18-cent increase in the average gas price countrywide marks the second-largest increase in a one-week period since 1990, according to news reports.
    The other major spike happened in Sept 2005 when prices took a big 7-day jump in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
    The latest increase puts the average Idaho price at $3.28 a gallon, about four bits lower than elsewhere in the nation.
    That's a good thing, but it cannot downplay the super price hike and what it means to commuters and budget watchers across the nation.
   Why pump prices are playing catch-up with rising oil and wholesale gasoline prices are included in the following AAA link.
    The auto association notes that the buyers of oil and gas futures are responsible for skyrocketing prices at a time when the impact of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is minimal.

    The jump in local gasoline prices took me by surprise as I visited my favorite North Idaho gas station, which for more than a month had kept its prices well below the $3 per gallon mark until last week.
    This station, I must add, didn't play price games by posting on its reader board one low price - while the small print dictated that consumers who paid with a debit card at the pump actually got gouged because they didn't pay cash inside.

Here's a look at the best prices in the Greater Coeur d'Alene area:

-Ralph Bartholdt