Like much of the Midwest, the slowing oil prices recently have investors cautiously eyeing the Wyoming housing market. But with the price dipping below $50 a barrel, oil-rich communities have yet to see much of a slowdown. One reason is that oil industry workers tend to reside in hotels, rental units, and RV’s. So as the oil market slumps it has had little impact on the housing market. In fact, the area most impacted by the oil industry has been rentals, not real estate. On rental listing websites such as ApartmentFinder.com and Craigslist Wyoming has recently seen an increase in the number of available rental units.
Wyoming has seen a shortage of available real estate inventory, which has driven up new construction. And the demand can even be seen even in some of the lower end markets such as in the Sheridan WY real estate market and the Gillette WY real estate market as well. “There’s not a lot of inventory, so we’re seeing a lot of new construction,” says real estate associate Kara Koss. “There’s a lack of affordable housing here. The new construction will fill a void.” And although the homes being built are on the extreme high end of the scale, they are still near the high end for the national average. For example, the majority of homes currently for sale in Douglas County are new construction homes with an average price of $190,000.
Even though the decrease in the oil and energy sectors has not slowed down the housing market (the number of home buying applications has remained steady), effects of the economic hit can be seen with current homeowners. With more than 14,000 home loans across the state Executive Director of the Wyoming Real Estate Community Development Authority David Haney says he is beginning to see the adverse result of the energy sector fallout with current mortgages. “There’s greater uncertainty today with unemployment and reductions in oil and gas prices. We’re starting to see evidence of that,” says Haney.
But as some homeowners are beginning to struggle to make payments the low interest rates are still attracting first-time homebuyers and those who have owned homes previously. So what is the takeaway from all of this and what should your outlook for the 2015 Housing Market be?
“If your employment is stable… today is about as good a time to buy as any,” Haney says.
Influencing Factors for the 2015 Wyoming Housing Market
- Zillow has the Home Value Index for Wyoming to be $107,600. This represents a 9.6% change in the past year and the site’s housing market predictions forecast a 4.1% increase in the upcoming year.
- The median sale price for a home this year is $110,750.
- The average number of days that homes spent on the market is 40 days shorter than a year ago. Again, this is attributed to the low inventory. As demand has stayed the same, homes that are listed are not on the market for long.
- Wyoming is still seeing low interest rates which have recently been as low as 3.25%. But forecasts have the interest rates going up in the near future which is sure to have an impact on home buying applications.
- The state has a mortgage delinquency rate of 3.2%, lower than the national average of 4.8%. Oddly enough, Wyoming actually has a slightly higher rate for underwater mortgages (owners owing more than the home is worth) than the national average.
- The unemployment rate is 3.6%, nearly half the national rate of 6.3%. It is worth noting that the cost of living in Wyoming is 4.4% higher than the national average.
- Average rental prices statewide are $1,101. The averages in metro areas are higher, but only slightly.
Best Places to Live in Wyoming
The housing market has been particularly great for Cheyenne WY real estate. Says Cheyenne Board of Realtors President Max Minnick, “The Cheyenne market is still extremely hot. In Cheyenne the addition of Microsoft, the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center, and several other large businesses has the housing market steadily growing.” On real estate website Trulia Cheyenne is showing that the biggest challenge has been low inventory, driving up average sales prices to $202,000. And according to Zillow Cheyenne WY has an average of 48 days for homes listed, down from 90 days last year. This shows that if you want a home in Cheyenne, you’ll need to be quick.
As the state capital Cheyenne’s economy sees a large boost from government employment. But the city also has a large railroad infrastructure that remains a large economic force. And due to its high elevation and geographic location Cheyenne is one of the windiest cities in the nation. Efforts have been made in the past decade to take advantage of this and as such the city has become an ideal place to develop wind energy. This has transformed the region into a leader in alternative energy.
Next on our list is the second largest city in the state, Casper. According to Trulia the Casper WY real estate currently has 462 resale and new homes listed. Because this is a market of limited properties and lots of eager buyers in recent years Casper has become a hot spot for homebuilders. Subdivisions and high-end homes have begun to litter tracts of land. Recently the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Caper as the eight-fastest growing metro area in the country. Says president of Horner Construction Josh Horner, “There are a lot of new people moving into Casper.” Most of the homes in Casper are above the $250,000 price range.
Casper is a regional hub for banking and commerce and as such the city has one of the higher income levels in the state. The city boasts a good public schooling system as well as a reputation as an overall safe place to reside. In 2010 Casper was named the highest ranked family friendly small city in the West and ranked 8th overall in the nation in Forbes magazine’s list of the best small cities to raise a family.
Today the Jackson WY real estate market is near the level of 2007. So far in 2015 sales are up 21% over last year, and overall average and median sales prices are up 32% and 22%, respectively. Like the rest of the state the Jackson housing market inventory is down and there’s nothing indicating that there will be much change considering the tough building rules and relatively short money, discouraging speculation building. “There is no inventory out there, which is why people are willing to pay so much,” says Jackson real estate agent David Viehman. He sees demand staying strong, particularly due to baby boomers retiring. If you’re looking to get into the much coveted Jackson real estate you might have to wait a while. “For at least the next couple of years there will be little new inventory,” Viehman says. “But our demand is going to continue to be here, if not grow more.”
Jackson benefits from millions of tourists visiting nearby Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Par, and the National Elk Refuge, on top of being in close proximity to several ski resorts. Due to the diversity in visitors the city has become host to a number of art organizations, festivals, and centers. The downtown area has also developed into a large shopping and eating district to support the local economy.
Along with Casper and Cheyenne the Laramie WY real estate has remained relatively the same since 2008-09. They didn’t have the harsh consequences of the recession like recreational areas of the state such as Jackson and Cody. Recently the real estate market has seen a large selection of single-family homes, luxury homes, and plenty of land for sale. Due to its scenic views of the mountains, and being the home of the only 4-year state college in the state (the University of Wyoming) Laramie attracts people of all ages. In fact Money Magazine named Laramie one of the best cities in which to retire. Laramie has all the amenities of a great small town: renowned parks and recreation, sports, arts and culture, and a great infrastructure and transportation system.