‘Crazy Hot’ Housing Market Continues Through Fall

High demand for real estate is leading to rise in prices, shrinking inventory

By Maggie Dresser
Homes for sale in the West View Estates development on the north side of Kalispell on April 22, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

After a busy summer for realtors in the Flathead Valley, the real estate market continues to boom with rising prices and a shrinking inventory after the third quarter illustrated a sharp increase in sales.

“The market is still crazy hot,” said Erica Wirtala of Northwest Montana Association of Realtors.

Data compiled by Richard Dews, CEO of Glacier Flathead Real Estate, shows 48% growth from 2019’s third quarter with a 114% increase from 2020’s second quarter. There were 995 residential sales in 2020’s third quarter compared to fewer than 700 sales in 2019.

Wirtala says the low inventory in the valley is driving prices up, making it difficult to find anything below $250,000, creating a tough market for buyers.

“There’s just stuff happening in every sector of the market,” said Wendy Brown, a realtor for Chuck Olson Real Estate. “It’s commercial, residential, land – everything.”

According to Montana Regional MLS data, Flathead County’s median sales price in September 2020 was $415,000 compared to $351,500 in 2019.

In a separate report compiled by PureWest Real Estate Broker David Fetveit, Flathead Lake’s waterfront properties broke records this summer with $37.5 million in sales and 25 closed transactions in September.

Many of the waterfront sales were over $1 million, including a home that sold for $5,995,000 in Polson in September.

Fetveit agrees that the high volume of sales is leading to a shrinking inventory, according to his report. August’s waterfront listing inventory fell to 79, compared to 119 in 2019 and land listings have dropped to 21 compared to 40.

Waterfront condominium demand also rose. There are currently 30 active condo listing with roughly six months of inventory, a significant decrease from last year, which had 24 months of inventory.

“Lake properties are selling within days,” said Brown. “We have record Flathead Lake sales.”

While there’s no way to get the exact number, Wirtala says she’s been hearing that several realtors have out-of-state buyers from all over the country, which is likely due to the uptick in remote work since the pandemic began.

“Since March, everything took off,” Wirtala said. “Everything is higher than it was last year and we’ve just been on this steady increase since the Great Recession. With mortgage rates being at an all time low, people have been refinancing like crazy, lenders are practically on 12-hour shifts and almost every lender I know is scrambling to keep up.”

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