Montana Housing Market Down Slightly at Midyear Point

Single-family home sales down in Northwest Montana, townhouses up

House sales are slightly down this year but appear to be picking up during the heart of selling season, according to the latest sales data from the Montana Association of REALTORS (MAR).

At the halfway point of the selling season, sales in the eight largest markets in Montana are down roughly 6 percent compared to last year.

Activity picked up after dropping nearly 12 percent in the first three months of the year, and nationwide data reflect strong gains during the early summer months. Pending home sales surged nationwide in May, according to the National Association of Realtors, and although no local data is available, all four regions of the U.S. have seen increases.

In the state’s eight major markets — Billings, the Bitterroot, Butte, Gallatin, Great Falls, Helena, Missoula and Northwest Montana — a total of 4,190 single-family homes were sold in the first six months of 2014, compared to 4,456 during the same period of time in 2013, according to MAR.

In Northwest Montana, there were 813 single-family homes sold through June 30, which was 107 fewer than the same period last year.

The average local sales price was $258,984, roughly $10,000 lower than last year. The median sales price was $212,000 compared to $199,000 in the first half of 2013.

There were 105 townhouse sales through June, nine more than last year, and 388 lots have sold, nearly 30 more than last year. The average local lot was sold for $161,891 compared to $102,783 a year ago. The median sales price for a lot was $76,000 versus $59,250 in 2013.

Three housing markets reported an increase in single-family home sales — Butte, Great Falls and Gallatin. Missoula has seen the sharpest percentage decline at 15.6 percent, or 91 fewer homes sold.

Gallatin had the highest average sales price for a single-family home, at $363,531. The median sales price was $275,000. Missoula was next, with the average sales price at $261,759 and the median sales price at $230,900, followed by Northwest Montana. Butte had the lowest housing prices, with the average single family home selling for $123,863 and the median price at $103,000.

“The warming in the weather has also warmed our state’s housing markets across the state,” said Dennis Cook, 2014 MAR president. “While the state is still a bit behind last year’s pace, overall our markets are still very stable. Interest rates remain near historical lows and it is a great time to contact a REALTOR to begin the buying process.”