EAST WENATCHEE — It was a job offer and the pull of family that brought Sam and Katy Gilstrap back to East Wenatchee.

“We came back because she was pregnant with our son and we wanted our kids to grow up closer to cousins their age,” Sam said. “She also got a job offer to return to teaching at Clovis.”

They found a home in the Maryhill Estates, a new development that will eventually have 198 houses and a 96-unit apartment building when it’s completed in a few years.

In this neighborhood, the Gilstraps’ situation is the rule, not the exception: Developers estimate half of the new homebuyers are moving in from out of town.

“It’s surprising how many people are moving from all over,” said real-estate agent Rebecca Hackworth, who’s handling sales for the developer, Sage Homes.

The Gilstraps, who are both originally from East Wenatchee, moved back after a short stint in Arizona. But Hackworth says people are coming from all over, including many from the Seattle area.

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“We definitely have a mix. I would say it’s first-time homebuyers, people relocating or people who are retiring who don’t want to be married to a mortgage,” she said.

In the Wenatchee area’s current housing crunch, developments like Maryhill are in demand, Hackworth said.

By the end of May, Sage Homes will have completed 87 homes in the development and all but six have already sold, Hackworth said. They range in price from $294,400 to $385,900.

Maryhill’s demand shouldn’t be a surprise: There have been fewer homes available and prices have increased in Wenatchee during the last 10 years.

When the Gilstraps graduated Eastmont High School in 2006, the price of an average house in the Wenatchee Valley was $230,000, according to Pacific Appraisal Associates data.

In February 2019, the average was $348,689 — and it’s still increasing.

When the Gilstraps’ graduating class had its five-year reunion in 2011, there were 179 homes for sale in Douglas County, according to the University of Washington Runstad Department of Real Estate. At the end of 2018 there were just 81.

And even though prices are on the rise, they’re still less than in places like King County, where the median price was $610,000 in January, according to The Seattle Times.

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That makes a move across the mountains even more enticing, said JoAnna Holland, the communications director of the NCW Association of Realtors.

“People are naturally attracted to this area,” she said. “We’ve got the great schooling, the great communities, the four seasons. All of that is an attraction and you have to combine that with what appears to be affordable housing from the outside.”

About a third of Holland’s home sales are going to people from out of town, but it makes sense to her that Maryhill would attract a large percentage of newcomers, she said.

“I could see that with Maryhill. I think that people coming in from out of the area want the newer house,” she said. “They are OK with a smaller lot. I can see that happening with the new houses, the sense of immediate community.”

That sense of community was a little more personal for the Gilstraps — they already knew the neighbors.

“We moved in right near my two brothers,” Sam Gilstrap said. “We actually all live on the same street.”

Reach Reilly Kneedler at 509-661-5213 or (javascript required to see email). Follow Reilly on Twitter at @reillykneedler.

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03-25-2019 at 12:22:18