Montana Housing Prices Holding On

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – Housing prices may be plummeting elsewhere, but a strong state economy means prices aren’t dropping as much in Montana, Revenue Director Dan Bucks said.

“On the whole, Montana’s economy, Bozeman’s economy, are strong, and that helps weather the effects of national trends,” Bucks said Monday, during a meeting with about 20 real estate agents and appraisers.

The Department of Revenue is getting ready to do a statewide reappraisal of the property values of more than 1 million homes, businesses and farms to meet a constitutional requirement that property taxes should be fair, equalized and accurate.

Bucks says Gov. Brian Schweitzer and lawmakers are committed to taking action in the 2009 Legislature so that increases in market values won’t mean a huge increase in overall tax collections.

Bucks said his agency is traveling around the state to gauge local real estate markets to make sure the reappraisal is as accurate as possible.

Realtors told Bucks the once red-hot real estate market in Bozeman is cooling off.

In 2007, the average price of a home sold in the Bozeman city limits was $337,683, down $11,000, or 3 percent, from the 2006 average of $348,776. Realtors note the 2007 average is still $25,000 above the 2005 average.

Lloyd Mandeville said in most local markets, selling prices have rolled back to 2006 prices.

In national markets, prices have rolled back to what they were in 2003 or 2004, said Robyn Erlenbush, owner of ERA Landmark Real Estate.

She said the Bozeman area is seeing a correction of sellers’ inflated ideas of how much their homes would sell for — prices that were higher than appraised values.

Erlenbush noted that older homes don’t have the features that home buyers want and she suggested the Department of Revenue take that into account when appraising property.

“If I were the Department of Revenue, I would look at the age of the home, the layout of the home and the neighborhood,” she said.