Sundance Estate Fits All Five
When a rural Idaho Realtor markets globally, which I do, you sometimes get raised eyebrows, and questions like, “Why would they (any foreigner) want to buy in North Idaho?
The assumption is generally that these buyers, especially Chinese, want real estate in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston. while that’s true (because studies show they are attracted to educational centers) there is ample evidence that quality rural properties are also on their list.
1. Long-Term Increase in Land Values
Consider this: The Chinese, like Americans and Europeans have seen chaotic swings in stock markets and currencies. With China representing one of the now more prosperous countries in the world, the number of millionaire and even billionaire families is quite high there. They love to invest and their investment strategies tend to be more generational than individual. That means buying real estate, especially in America but also in Australia and New Zealand, has great appeal to them.
A report published last year by CNBC shows 568 billionaires in China compared to 535 billionaires in America. The Huran Report, China-based, is an annual analysis of who’s who in wealth throughout the world. According to CNBC’s commentary of the Huran, 28 of China’s billionaires are under the age of 40 (2016). Regardless of age and per capita wealth, these stats are important to Real Estate holders of any unique property. The challenge is putting the property and it’s multiple reasons for value in front of these very busy people and because the men are generally fully vested in their businesses, their wives or daughters are often the Real Estate buyers who come to America to assess whether there is a match of value to interest.
A property like the Sundance, which appears remote, is not as isolated as one might think. Like a small island in the Pacific, however, it easily provides one the feeling of being alone. But it’s only an
Owning unique Real Estate of this quality nearly guarantees a return over time. Many of the Chinese billionaires are in no hurry to cash in on their holdings. It’s to their greater advantage to park their wealth in places like the Sundance Estate. They have money to spend and they spend it. Many of them do not inhabit the foreign properties they purchase because they are simply investing portions of their great wealth in the solidity of a future return. Real Estate is real therefore always has value.
2. A Totally Unique Environment
One can’t address just the residence on a property like this. With a heliport, a nearly 2-mile long private property hiking trail, a natural grass meadow, trout stream, quality timber and the lake, what else would you want to consider?
With the heliport established just below the house, medical assistance is only 15 minutes away from Sandpoint, a little longer to Coeur d’Alene. Both towns have excellent medical facilities and very qualified doctors and surgeons. It’s just a phone call.
But let’s start with the big picture. Priest Lake, known throughout the state as Idaho’s Gem, is still one of the finest freshwater bodies in the United States. The Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce refers to it as Idaho’s Crown Jewel. Roughly 90 miles (145 kilometers) to the Spokane International Airport, it’s a light-traffic, hour and a half drive at normal speeds.
What you find when you get to the main lake, which is itself 19 miles long and 300 feet deep with a junior wilderness-area lake on the north end close to the Canadian border called Upper Priest Lake. You reach the smaller northern body of water through a meandering, quiet-water thoroughfare which is still open to motored boat traffic, but has no residential living, no private ground. Together they afford both visitor and those who live at the lake with a true outdoor experience of non-crowded beauty. The water is very clear, one of Idaho’s cleanest lakes. It has sport fishing for Mackinaw trout, Kokanee salmon and Smallmouth bass–all of which are excellent table fare.
But Priest Lake is not just a summer destination. It attracts outdoor enthusiasts year round. Most of the eastern shore and mountains are publicly available to recreational use as Idaho State Forest. A good portion of the western side from the shores to the Washington State line is Kaniksu National Forest, also open to the public. Snowmobiling is a participation sport on the many mountain trails and logging-road systems during the winter. Ice fishing is also very popular, especially for the Mackinaw.
Now we narrow the scope of the Priest Lake northern mountain experience down to the absolutely rare qualities of the Sundance Estate. Here is a property in a very wild and natural state that is relatively undisturbed by development. The Sundance main house and out-buildings are currently the only living residence on the 105 acre main property. On the south shore of Lee Lake is a foundation for what was originally intended as a caretaker’s house, but finished it could be a lake cabin or full house. There is also detached garage near the foundation to which I refer.
The main house has several features that might appeal to the Chinese mind. The windows of this 3,650 square-foot split level structure are double-paned. The space between the sheets of glass is filled in each case with argon gas. This makes for a very efficient heat-protecting view of the great outdoors and on that thought, the window design is intended to give those living in the house the feeling of this wild and beautiful natural world that surrounds the property.
The house is warmed by radiant heat coming from the floor throughout the entire structure, fed by water pipes connected to a wood-fired boiler that heats a cistern which feeds the water in the system. Having sufficient amounts of perfectly dried firewood is no problem on this property surrounded and carrying a healthy variety of trees that also add to the beauty of the grounds. The radiant heat is automatically backed-up with propane system running off of a 1000 gallon propane tank sitting away from the house on the side of the graveled driveway. That’s in case there is no one present to stoke the boiler which is housed in its own small room adjacent to the 2-car attached garage. Maintaining a constant heat level is important in protecting the water pipes and radiant floors during the occasional cold snaps of North Idaho winters.
For those with a passion for sound and entertainment, the house is wired for surround sound, satellite TV and a home theatre. For the culinary experts in most Chinese families, the kitchen is equipped with a large free-standing range that has two ovens and a built-in microwave. The deep sink (a cook’s dream) and the spacious refrigerator are stainless for an easy, clean look. And there is lots of storage including an extra large pantry.
3. Air and Water Quality
How many times have we looked at images of smog-choked China, people of the cities there wearing masks to go to and from work, the sun hardly visible through the fog-like cloud of exhaust from factories and traffic?
One of the reasons the Sundance property may go to a Chinese buyer, at least in my mind is that here we breathe clean air, here in North Idaho, we have abundant supplies of clean surface water that is useable even potable.
In that regard, one of the features of the Sundance Estate is the wetland environment I mentioned in the first part of this article. A healthy wetland produces excellent water because a healthy wetland acts as a filter and because a wetland is in essence a jungle of foliage it also acts as an oxygen supplier pouring, unseen, the very necessary oxygen we breathe into our surrounding environment.
To me, it is a reason commanded and accepted almost immediately by anyone who experiences it for the first time. To me, there is nothing better in the environment that taking a deep, refreshing breath of clean air as I realize the tremendous value of a natural environment and its interplay with my whole being. For me, such an experience is priceless. My supposition is that such an experience would mean the same to anyone from really any other country, including China, who experiences truly clean air and wonderful water for the first time.
4. Culinary Experience of Specialty Foods
I have a friend I met through the owner of the Sundance. Dave Summers is his name. He and his wife, Bea Camp, have spent a good portion of their lives as partakers of the Chinese culture in Shanghai, China.
Bea was once the #1 administrative person at the American Embassy in Shanghai. I’m not certain how many years that was, but the interesting thing has to do with the fact that they (Dave included) both lived there some 30 years ago before China really began to experience its current level of prosperity. Since then, they’ve been back for another stay of reasonable length, long enough, in my understanding, to truly understand both the people and their culture.
Dave and Bea are the owners of the Old Northern Inn at Priest Lake, a Bed & Breakfast you’ll most certainly want to check into if you visit the area and need lodging. Discussing the features of this article, Dave told me not to overlook a very special characteristic of Chinese in his long experience.
Chinese by and large, Dave told me, love to try new foods. They are culinary enthusiasts he said. Chinese are not hunters, so they don’t pursue wild game. Writing about hunting would not appeal to them; but writing about the venison, or grouse, wild turkey or even moose or elk as a choice of meat on a dinner platter would appeal to them.
Most certainly, he said, they love fish, but have never had the privilege or place to try Kokanee, for instance, (pictured above) or Mackinaw. They may have tried bass, I’m not sure. As a fisherman, I’ve seen some good videos of Chinese fishermen and I’ve tasted the best bass I’ve ever eaten prepared as it was by an Asian lady who placed two cleaned but not scaled or skinned smallmouth bass at the edge of my outdoor cooking fire until the skin, scales and fins were charred black. I was dubious. But when she pulled them from the fire, fully cooked and so easily slid the skin and scales and fins off and away from the very tenderized meat…I had the best, most flavorful bass of my life!
That’s the sort of experience Chinese are attracted to, according to Dave Summers. Here in North Idaho, in the Panhandle particularly, we have many species and some fruits Chinese people have never likely had. We have huckleberries, for instance. Who on earth does not passionately love huckleberry pie? Would that be something I’d like my Chinese guests to try? Absolutely.
They would also be quite interested in tasting, eating, consuming almost any wild food that could be bought or was properly prepared for them that might come out of the environment around the Sundance. Have you been fortunate enough to taste the difference between Blue grouse and Ruffed grouse? There is a difference. More than size (as the Blue Grouse are larger) there is a distinct difference in flavor, at least to my palate.
That is the kind of reason Dave Summers says I should not ignore.
5. Distance from Shanghai
Last of all, but of no less importance is the distance from Shanghai to North Idaho. He told me that when they returned to the United States, to this part of the country, they could leave Shanghai at 5:00 in the afternoon and be home by noon the next day…roughly nineteen hours. Google tells me Shanghai to Seattle takes roughly 11 or 12 hours, with some amount of time lost in exchanging flights to Spokane, I quite imagine arriving at Lee Lake within 20 hours of leaving Shanghai. That amount of time over that great distance is actually reasonable.
Don’t be misled by the differences in time zones. The actual flight time is what’s important here, either way. What it is saying is that within the confines of a single day, a Chinese buyer can be on the other end, one way or the other.
So there are the reasons a Chinese real estate buyer may make the acquisition of the Sundance Estate. We’ll see. But it certainly stands to reason.