Across Montana, Housing Starts Continue to Fall

By Beacon Staff

Flathead housing starts, reflecting declines across the state’s most populous counties, are down 50 percent from last year, according to the Montana Building Industry Association.

In first quarter numbers released Wednesday, MBIA reported that housing starts in Montana were down for the seventh straight quarter and 48 percent from last year.

The declines were largely expected, according to a press release from MBIA.

“The important thing for Montanans to do is look forward,” said Dustin Stewart, Executive Director of the Montana Building Industry Association. “Things could obviously be better. Looking on the bright side, buyers can find great values; and starting in May first time home buyers will have an unparalleled opportunity to get down payment assistance through the Welcome Home Program.”

The Welcome Home Program is included in the stimulus bill (HB645) as it makes its way through the Montana Legislature. The bill provides the Montana Board of Housing authority to partner with private lending institutions to offer short term bridge loans of $5,000 to qualified first time home buyers. The loans are repaid when the home buyer receives their $8,000 federal tax credit.

“If a buyer can manage it, now is a great time to buy – land prices are down, material costs are down, and labor is available,” said Shelby Nash-Hunter, President of the Flathead Building Association “The deals are out there, it is just a matter of looking at this from a long term perspective.”

First quarter housing starts, compared to last year, have declined across the state. Here’s a sampling, by county:

Lewis & Clark: – 25%
Yellowstone: – 38.89%
Flathead: – 50%
Cascade: – 52.94%
Missoula: – 58.06%
Gallatin: – 59.02%
Silverbow: – 66.67%

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