Montana Homes Hold Their Value
The Big Blue Sky Country of Montana is an exception these days. Montana's housing markets aren't making it big in the news, but are not only holding their own in the fall out of the nation's financial mess—they're actu-ally appreciating.
While the credit crisis hammers most of the country with slumping home sales and falling housing prices, Montana is turning in a star performance. Home sales have slowed everywhere in the state, but housing prices are still headed up mainly because it has one of the highest employment rates in the nation due to growth in natural energy and oil production. There are also comparatively fewer foreclosures.
In Great Falls, home sales have slowed by nearly a fifth, but the price of a home has inched up slightly. Great Falls is projected to maintain slow but relatively consistent sales through 2009 and forecast to appreciate a marginal 1.4 percent for the year. A new wind farm has brought jobs to the area, and there's talk of more jobs in the energy business coming.
In Missoula, home prices have been going up for 15 straight years and have held their values though the national housing slowdown. Many attribute Missoula's consis-tent home sales to a higher quality of life, despite its cold winter weather. Missoula homes inched up an average of $1,000 each in 2008 and should maintain their value through 2009, when they are forecast to appreciate a moderate 1.2 percent.
Consumer confidence in Montana may be hurting a little because of the national recession, but the state has never been through a major real estate correction. It may miss this one too. It's already missing the national housing depression. The changing national economy doesn't seem to be bothering Montana home sales much.
Montana's natural seasonal slump in home sales during the wintermay have something to do with it, or that the state is so spread out, but Montana is at least partially insulated from fall out of the credit crunch. Montana has been largely isolated from national trends. There wasn't much subprime or creative financing offered during the nation's real estate boom in Montana with Alt A adjustable rate mortgages, which acted to protect the state's markets to some degree.
Billings has seen home sales slow, but prices have been rocketing upward in Montana terms, appreciating 6 percent in 2008 as demand for housing grows. The inventory of homes on the market is healthy, but not excessive. Billings is forecast to appreciate 3.1 percent in average home prices in 2009.
Bozeman is ranked as one of the country's most liveable cities with lots of entrepreneurs as residents boosting the local economy. As a small town of under 50,000 residents, Bozeman still offers amenities usually found in larger urban cities and plenty of year round outdoor activities, including resorts for snow skiers boosting a resort vacation market that may hold its own through the downturn. Foreclosures have crept up but not in heavy volume like so many other places. Bozeman is projected to have slower sales in 2009 on moderate appreciation of 1.8 percent.
While Montana residents wonder if a thaw in the housing market is ahead, the average home price is still going up in Livingston. Sales have slowed but that's no big thing to real estate sales people in town, who are accustomed to seasonal slowdowns. The Livingston market is forecast to experience appreciation of 1.3 percent in 2009.