In a state without a particularly strong economy, how does the Montana housing market perform in 2015 considering the pressures of our post-recession economy? We will examine the particularities of the Montana real estate, as well as try to sketch some housing market predictions for the area based on how the current data looks like and the opinions weighed in by the locally relevant 2015 housing market experts. For now, let’s take a general look at how the Montana economy currently looks for a better overview and more context to this state real estate market.
As the fourth largest state in the United States, Montana is known for its rather low population density and its fascinating wilderness (the Rocky Mountains ranges, Yellowstone Park). Montana’s economy is traditionally based primarily around agriculture. However, its breweries, lumber, and mineral extraction industries are also important contributors to the state’s GDP. Tourism also provides a significant boost to Montana’s economic status, with the key attractions of Yellowstone Park, the Glacier National Park and the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn bringing in over 10 million visitors per year according to the latest official data. Technically, the state’s personal income per capita was $40,601 in 2014, making it rank as the 35th in the nation. Also, the rate of unemployment in Montana is 3.9 percent as of June 2015. This rate is significantly lower than the national average at 6.0 percent. These figures don’t make for the greatest base for the Montana real estate market, but they don’t give it a very bad start either.
Influencing Factors for the 2015 Montana Housing Market
- The median home value in Montana is $188,200 as of mid-2015, according to the Zillow home value index. This makes the Montana housing market surprisingly slightly more valuable than the average housing market nationwide (considering the national median home value scores only $180,800 in the data collection by the same source) (Zillow).
- This median home value has risen by 4.4% since the same time last year, and the Zillow experts have predicted a further rise of 1.9% for the overall Montana real estate in the next year. At the general national level, the home values have risen with only 3.3%, but they will rise further by 2.2% in the next year. Signs of improvement and continued growth are present all over the real estate market, which cannot be but a good sign for the Montana housing market and beyond, even if the values haven’t yet reached the heights they had attained in pre-recession times.
- As mentioned above, the rate of unemployment in Montana is 3.9 percent, compared to a national average of 6.0 percent. The cost of living in Montana is also slightly higher than the U.S. average, estimated in mid-2015 to be at 107 percent of the country’s overall levels. Only the transport and utilities are a bit cheaper than the national average, but not significantly.
- As for rents, the median rent price in Montana is $1,100, lower than the national average of $1,381. Per square foot, according to Zillow experts, the median rent price is of $0.93.
- Mortgage delinquency usually plays an important role on every real estate market and the local housing market predictions attached to it, but Montana seems to be faring better. The market health is rated by Zillow indexes to be quite high, with a 9.4 out of 10 rating, which earns it a ‘very healthy’ label. Only 2.1% delinquent mortgages are present on the Montana real estate market, compared to the corresponding 6.0% delinquent mortgages at a national level.
- Fortune Magazine’s housing market predictions for the 2015 overall real estate market indicate that while mortgage rates will likely decline and millennials will enter the market en masse as first time home owners (and we all know this demographic has been long awaited in real estate), homes won’t become more affordable, unfortunately. In Montana, this may be a particularly tough problem since the cost of living is pretty high (as are home values) while salaries/GDP are quite low.
- Speaking of young prospective home owners, the Montana government has set up financial aid programs to help them come closer to their dream of buying a house. Hopefully, this will contribute to setting up a friendlier environment for millennials entering the Montana real estate market and make housing more affordable to young families.
Best Places to Live in Montana
The Helena MT real estate should be the first on our list, considering that this is the state’s capital, and the center of economic activities as well. According to Zillow, the median home value in Helena is $197,300, a high value, but a little lower than the same time last year. There was a 1.8% fall in the median home value, and the data doesn’t indicate any prediction for the next year. Even with these high values, there are only 1.6% delinquent mortgages here though, much fewer compared to the national average of 6.0%. On the other hand, the market health is rated at only 4.4 out of 10 by Zillow experts, which is pretty low. As for rentals, the median rent in Helena is $1,238, the median rent in Helena Metro is $1,079, while the national average is $1,381.
The Missoula MT real estate market is the richest one in the state, in terms of the high home values to be found there. This is true for almost every site which lists houses for sale and for rent as well, from Trulia and Zillow Montana listings to Craigslist Montana: the values for Missoula seem to be the highest. The median home value here (according to Zillow) is $230,400, risen up by 3.6% over the past year and predicted to rise by a further 0.3% in the next year. This is still not as high as the peak reached in June 2009 (when the median home value was around $245K, but it’s still more than impressive. The rents here aren’t that expensive: the median rent price in Missoula is $1,227 and in Missoula Metro it is $1,236.
As for the Billings MT real estate, things aren’t looking bad here either. The Zillow Billings MT report indicates that the median home value here is $186,100, and that corresponds to a 4.7% rise during the past year, with a further rise of 2.7% predicted for the next year. The median rent price in Billings is $1,284, and the median rent price in the Billings Metro area is $1,274. According to Trulia Billings listings, the average listing price for homes was $271,453 in mid-October 2015 (but the actual sale price can be considerably lower).
Bozeman MT real estate is another important area of the overall Montana housing market. The median home value here, according again to Zillow data, is approximately $287,200, even higher than in Missoula. This median value has risen by 4.0% during the past year, but there are no current housing market predictions in store for how this value may change in the next year. The market here is very healthy, with only 0.6% delinquent mortgages, compared to the national average of 6.0%. Also, the rents are pretty high too: a median rent of $1,455 for Bozeman and $1,430 for the Bozeman Metro area, both of them higher than the national average (currently at $1,381).
The Great Falls MT real estate is looking pretty well, as far as the upwards trend goes. The median home value here is $151,000 and this corresponds to a 0.9% rise in the past year, with a more impressive growth of 4.6% predicted for the next year. There are 2.2% delinquent mortgages in the Great Falls area, and while the Zillow experts don’t really rate the real estate market here as too healthy (only 5.5 out of 10 rating), at least they label it as being a stable one. The median rent price is $1,137 for Great Falls per se, and $1,127 for the Great Falls MT Metro area.
On the Butte MT real estate market, things are improving as well, only at a slower pace. The Zillow experts don’t have enough data for a median home value, but the median listing prices in the area have been around $120K in mid-2015. There are 2.5% delinquent mortgages, and the median rent price is $791 for Butte and $806 for Butte Metro, both of them being much lower than the national average ($1,381). Trulia, on the other hand, reports an average listing price of $152,524 for homes in Butte in mid-October 2015, but the values here are always reported at higher levels than the levels calculated by Zillow experts, probably due to the gap between the actual value of a home and the initial listing price.