In May of 2012 the median home value in Wyoming was $78,500. Four years later that value has increased by $35,000 and is currently $113,500. Although the statewide median home value is one of the lowest in the country, the rate in which the value margin has increased in a relatively short time span is a big positive for the Wyoming’s real estate market. But like other energy-producing states, the oil industry continues to be a major factor for Wyoming real estate.
Falling energy prices can be a great thing for your gas tank or heating costs, but it’s not so great for your home’s value. A decrease in oil costs can increase consumer spending, but in an economy that is dependent on oil, gas, and coal, the decrease in energy costs results in layoffs and less demand for housing. Many housing markets in the country have been plagued by tight inventory, leading to higher home costs. In states like Wyoming, as the demand begins to recede and supply catches up, the increasing home prices will slow down or stop altogether.
Check out the 2015 Wyoming Housing Predictor to compare and contrast the report from this year
“The jobs are leaving, and if an area gets depopulated, they can’t take the houses with them and that’s dangerous for the housing market,” says Ralph DeFranco, senior director of risk analytics and pricing at Arch Mortgage Insurance Company. Along with West Virginia, Alaska, and North Dakota, DeFranco identifies Wyoming as a state facing the biggest risks of falling home prices. Natural gas prices have begun to put pressure on the price of coal, which also affects employment. However, the forecast is not all doom and gloom for the Equality State.
The leading cause of the rise in home costs nationwide is a shortage in supply of homes, and this could keep the prices from falling drastically if the energy sector continues to struggle. Some economists feel that because states are starting out in a housing shortage, the fall in energy prices could actually lead to a more balanced market. It typically takes 16-24 months for a housing market to react to an extended decline in energy prices. This means that the housing market could potentially feel the affects of the drop in oil prices by the end of this year. So only time will tell how the Wyoming real estate market will fare.
Influencing Factors for the 2016 Wyoming Real Estate Market
- The median home value index for Wyoming according to Zillow is $113,500. These values have increased 11% in the past year and the website predicts that they will rise 5% in the upcoming year.
- Without a large increase in inventory, the low supply of homes will likely continue to be a contributing factor in the 2016 housing market.
- The current unemployment rate in Wyoming is 3.6%, far below the national average of 6.3%. Job growth in the state is positive with an increase of 3% in the past 18 months.
- The Wyoming real estate housing market, like much of the country, is contingent on when and how high interest rates increase. Experts agree that the current historically low interest rates could rise to 5% by the end of the year.
Best Places to Live in Wyoming
When talking about the best places to live in Wyoming it makes sense to begin with its biggest market: Cheyenne real estate. According to Zillow Cheyenne has a median listing price of $212,000, and housing market predictions have this number increasing another 4% in the next year. While supply has been hard to come by elsewhere in the state, Cheyenne has been not had this issue. This is evidenced by the listings on Craigslist Cheyenne, and other online rental websites. The median rental price in Cheyenne is $863, far below the state average of $1,266.
Government jobs make up the largest sector of the city’s economy. For years many of the area’s residents were employed by or dependent on by the Air Force base, the National Guard, or by the railroad industry. However, in recent years the city has made a calculated effort to diversify its workforce. Major retail distribution centers, such as Lowe’s and Wal-Mart, have been erected on the city’s outskirts. Tech giants Microsoft and NCAR have also established data centers in the city limits. Cheyenne has also started taking advantage of its high elevation and began developing wind energy and transforming the region into an alternative energy hub. Aside from the great job market, Cheyenne is a draw for its wonderful parks and recreation department. American Hiking Society and the National Park service named Cheyenne “Trail Town USA.”
A short commute west from Cheyenne lays the city of Laramie. Laramie real estate has benefited from its close proximity to Cheyenne, as residents are able to take advantage of all of the amenities that Cheyenne has to offer. The city has a higher average listing price of $217,000, but it has become a favorite for younger homeowners due to the low crime rates and the exceptional public school system. Older homeowners also make up a large demographic. Five years ago Laramie was named by Money Magazine as one of the best cities to retire due to its scenic location, low taxes, and educational opportunities.
Along the western border of Wyoming lies the town of Jackson. Jackson WY real estate has seen a 23% decrease in the number of transactions through the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter a year ago. But despite the decrease in the number of transactions both the average and median sale prices have continued to go up at 14% and 23%, respectively. This is a result of the high demand-low inventory issue seen throughout the country. The inventory issue seen last year has not changed thus far this year. In fact the number of active listings in Jackson is up nearly 5%. Jackson’s sustained popularity is due to the area’s key industries: Arts, entertainment, and recreation. The town’s strong economy has helped Jackson establish a strong retail and restaurant district. This is primarily due to tourism. Jackson has easy accessibility to many world-class resorts and parks, including Yellowstone National Park.
To the west of Jackson, Casper real estate has continued to be a strong market. The average listing price for homes in Casper is $276,129. Casper is the second largest city in the state and has been named one of the highest-ranked family friendly small cities in the West, as well as “one of the best small cities to raise a family” by Forbes magazine. Although Casper is relatively small by national standards it is a regional hub for banking and commerce. Since oil was discovered in the region over a hundred years ago there has always been at least one refinery in operation nearby. The development of coal and uranium fields in the past few decades have also helped to make Casper the center of the energy industry in the state.
Located in the northwest part of the state Gillette has quietly come on as a solid market. With median home listing prices of $214,000 market trends have remained relatively steady. While Casper is definitely an energy leader in the state, the city of Gillette touts itself as the “Energy Capital of the World.” This is because of the vast amounts of coal, oil, and coalbed methane gas in the area surrounding the city. Because of this Gillette has also been able to sustain a steady local economy.
Off the beaten paths are lesser-known markets that still have great upside. On the southeastern border sits the town of Fort Laramie. Fort Laramie consists of plenty of open lots, and the potential for building the perfect house on a great stretch of open frontier is a fantastic option for those looking to retire or build a second home.
Cody WY real estate also has plenty of lots for sale, but there are great homes in the area as well. The median listing price is on the higher end for the state at $239,250. A majority of the homes in the area are newer, have a lot of square footage, and sit on large acreage. The city embraces its pioneer and Cowboy roots, and this is evident in the common cultural events and activities of the area. As such, tourism is the main industry for the city.