Q3 2022 Montana Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select counties of the Montana real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Though employment growth in Montana continues to taper, the addition of 11,500 new jobs over the past year is solid. All metro areas in the region continue to add jobs. Missoula was the standout, having added 1,900 new jobs during the past quarter. The state unemployment rate in August was 2.8%; this is up from 2.6% at the end of the second quarter and is mainly due to the growing labor force. In the metro areas covered in this report, the lowest jobless rate was in Billings at 2.6%, followed by Missoula at 2.7%, and Great Falls at 2.9%. The labor force participation rate (which is the civilian population divided by the labor force) has risen marginally to 62.7%, which is still very close to the all-time low. This means businesses will still have a difficult time finding workers.

Montana Home Sales

In the third quarter of this year, 2,023 homes sold in the markets contained in this report, which is a 7.9% decline from a year ago. Sales activity fell 14.3% compared to the second quarter of this year.

The number of homes for sale was 17.5% higher than a year ago and a remarkable 75.7% higher than in the second quarter. Sellers appear to still be confident in the market.

Year over year, sales grew in Ravalli County but fell in the balance of the markets included in this report. Sales grew in Missoula, Ravalli, and Lake counties from the second quarter but fell in all other markets.

Seller confidence was supported by the fact that pending sales rose 34.4% from the second quarter, which is a very significant improvement and is likely a result of there being considerably more choice in the market.

Montana Home Prices

Home prices were flat year over year, with the average sale price coming in at $709,013. Prices were .2% lower than in the second quarter of 2021.

Price growth will likely remain flat for the balance of 2022 and into 2023 as buyers and sellers react to mortgage rates that are higher than they’ve seen in a long time. That said, even with more expensive financing costs and higher inventory levels, I do not expect home prices in Montana to turn negative in 2023.

With pending sales up significantly but home prices essentially flat, the numbers are somewhat unusual until you note that the median listing price fell .8% from the second quarter. Home sellers are reacting to a market with more competition and are now having to price their homes more competitively.

Sellers who price their homes realistically are still finding buyers—even with more competition than they’ve seen in several years.

A map showing the real estate home prices percentage changes for various counties in Montana. Different colors correspond to different tiers of percentage change. Flathead, Broadwater, and Gallatin County have a percentage change in the -14% to 5.4% range. Lewis & Clark, Missoula, Ravalli, Madison, and Park are in the 5.5% to 24.9% change range, Lake is in the 35% to 44.4% range, and Jefferson is in the 64%+ range.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Montana from Q3 2021 to Q3 2022. Jefferson County tops the list at 91.9%, followed by Lake at 37.9%, Missoula at 16.4%, Lewis & Clark at 12.1%, Madison 11%, Ravalli 9.7%, Park 9.4%, Gallatin -5.3%, Flathead -13.3%, and Broadwater at -13.8%.

Mortgage Rates

This remains an uncertain period for mortgage rates. When the Federal Reserve slowed bond purchases in 2013, investors were accused of having a “taper tantrum,” and we are seeing a similar reaction today. The Fed appears to be content to watch the housing market go through a period of pain as they throw all their tools at reducing inflation.

As a result, mortgage rates are out of sync with treasury yields, which not only continues to push rates much higher, but also creates violent swings in both directions. My current forecast calls for rates to peak in the fourth quarter of this year before starting to slowly pull back. That said, they will remain in the 6% range until the end of 2023.

A bar graph showing the mortgage rates from 2020 to the present, as well as Matthew Gardner's forecasted mortgage rates through Q4 2023. After the 5.62% figure in Q3 2022, he forecasts mortgage rates continuing to climb to 6.7% in Q4 2022, 6.55% in Q1 2023, 6.35% in Q2 2023, 6.15% in Q3 2023, and 5.60% in Q4 2023.

Montana Days on Market

The average time it took to sell a home fell eight days compared to the same period a year ago.

Homes sold fastest in Broadwater County, while homes in Flathead County took the longest to sell. Jefferson, Gallatin, Park, and Madison counties saw market time rise compared to a year ago. Average market time in the rest of the region dropped.

During the third quarter, it took an average of 49 days to sell a home in the markets covered by this report.

In comparison to the second quarter of 2022, average market time fell in all counties other than Park (+17 days), Lake (+12 days), Gallatin (+11 days), and Madison (+6 days).

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Montana for Q3 2022. Broadwater County has the lowest DOM at 25, followed by Gallatin at 26, Jefferson at 28, Park at 38, Madison 48, Lewis & Clark 50, Missoula 58, Lake and Ravalli 64, and Flathead at 86.

Conclusions

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

The Montana housing market has started to react to mortgage rates that have essentially doubled since the start of 2022. Sellers are having to adjust to higher inventory levels, more expensive financing costs, and increased competition by making sure their asking price is realistic. These adjustments should favor buyers—and they do. I see a trend back toward a more balanced market, but one that is still far from being a traditional buyer’s market.

A speedometer graph indicating a balanced market, leaning toward a seller's market in Montana in Q3 2022.

Therefore, I am moving the needle more toward the middle, but not so much as to suggest that buyers are now in the driver’s seat.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q3 2022 Montana Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Q2 2022 Montana Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select counties of the Montana real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Though the pace of job growth continues to taper, Montana still added 15,800 new jobs over the past year, which is impressive when compared to historic averages. All of Montana’s metro areas have recovered the jobs lost due to the pandemic. The unemployment rate in Montana in June was 2.6%, an increase from the all-time low of 2.3% in April. In the metro areas contained in this report, the lowest jobless rate was in Billings at 2.5%, followed by Missoula at 2.7% and Great Falls at 2.8%. I continue to be worried about the lack of workers in the state. The labor force participation rate (which is the civilian population divided by the labor force) stands at only 62.6%, close to a historic low and making it difficult for employers to find workers.

Montana Home Sales

In the second quarter, 2,359 homes sold in the markets contained in this report. This was a 2.9% increase from a year ago and more than double the number of closings in the first quarter of the year.

Higher home sales can be attributed to the 124% increase in the number of homes that came to market in the quarter.

Year over year, sales rose in four of the counties included in this report but fell in the rest of the markets. Compared to the first quarter, however, sales were up in every county other than Madison.

With significantly more homes to choose from, pending sales rose 11.7% from first quarter, suggesting that third quarter numbers may also be strong.

Montana Home Prices

Home prices rose 17.8% year over year to an average of $710,428 but were 12.9% lower than in the first quarter of 2022.

I have started watching list prices more closely, as they are a leading indicator of the health of the housing market. Thus far, despite rising mortgage rates and inventory levels, sellers remain confident. This is evident in the median list price going up in every county other than Gallatin compared to the prior quarter.

Although the quarterly drop may concern some, the average sale price used in this report is weighted to account for market size. If we use simple averages, prices in the second quarter were 11.9% higher than in the first quarter.

Price growth has yet to slow but, given the changing market conditions, it’s only a matter of time before it does.

AA map showing the real estate home prices percentage changes for various counties in Montana. Different colors correspond to different tiers of percentage change. Madison and Gallatin Counties are the only counties with a percentage change in the -11% to -0.1% range, while Park and Lake are in the 0% to 9.9% change range. Jefferson and Flathead Counties are in the 10% to 19.9% change range, Missoula County is in the 20% to 29.9% change range, and Lewis & Clark, Broadwater, and Ravalli are in the 30% + change range.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Montana from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022. Broadwater County tops the list at 50.9%, followed by Lewis & Clark at 32.7%, Ravalli at 31%, Missoula at 29%, Flathead at 17.4%, Jefferson at 10.1%, Park at 3.3%, Lake at 2.8%, Madison at -4%, and Gallatin at -11.4%.

Mortgage Rates

Although mortgage rates did drop in June, the quarterly trend was still moving higher. Inflation—the bane of bonds and, therefore, mortgage rates—has yet to slow, which is putting upward pressure on financing costs.

That said, there are some signs that inflation is starting to soften and if this starts to show in upcoming Consumer Price Index numbers then rates will likely find a ceiling. I am hopeful this will be the case at some point in the third quarter, which is reflected in my forecast.

A bar graph showing the mortgage rates from 2020 to the present, as well as Matthew Gardner's forecasted mortgage rates through Q2 2023. He forecasts mortgage rates continuing to climb to 5.9% in Q4 2022, then tapering off to 5.58% in Q1 2023 and 5.53% in Q2 2023.

Montana Days on Market

The average time it took to sell a home dropped 31 days compared to the second quarter of 2021.

Homes sold fastest in Gallatin County. Flathead County homes took the longest time to find a buyer. All counties saw market time drop compared to a year ago.

During the quarter, it took an average of 57 days to sell a home in the region.

In comparison to the first quarter of the year, average market time fell in every market other than Jefferson (+17 days) and Broadwater (+45 days).

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Montana for Q2 2022. Gallatin County has the lowest DOM at 15, followed by Park at 21, Madison at 42, Lake at 52, Lewis & Clark at 60, Jefferson and Missoula at 64, Broadwater at 76, Ravalli at 86, and Flathead at 88.

Conclusions

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Even with a shortage of workers, the economy remains buoyant, which is an important factor when it comes to the regional housing market, particularly for buyers. Even though the number of homes for sale has grown significantly, which normally favors buyers, demand is strong and the market remains competitive. List prices continue to rise, demonstrating that sellers remain confident even in the face of higher financing costs, which is likely discouraging for home buyers. Sellers are clearly still in control.

A speedometer graph indicating a medium-to-strong seller's market in Montana for Q2 2022.

As such, I have moved the needle a little more in the direction of sellers. Until we see list-price growth and transactional velocities slow significantly, we will not approach a balanced market.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q2 2022 Montana Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Q1 2022 Montana Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select counties of the Montana real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

At the end of the first quarter, 505,200 people were employed in the state, which is up 17,400 from a year ago and 16,100 more than the pre-pandemic peak. Regionally, job levels in Billings and Missoula were also above pre-COVID-19 rates. Great Falls is only 200 jobs shy of matching its February 2020 level. Given the solid pace of job growth in the state, it’s not surprising that the unemployment rate is at a very low 2.3%. This is the lowest rate Montana has seen since the Labor Department started keeping records in 1976. In the metro areas contained in this report, the lowest jobless rate was in Billings at 2.4%, followed by Great Falls at 2.5%, and Missoula at 2.7%. Revisions by the labor department showed an economy that is doing better than originally thought. The only cause for concern is that the labor force has not been increasing at a pace that can keep up with the needs of employers, as demonstrated by the very low jobless rate. This will likely lead wages to rise significantly to attract more workers.

Montana Home Sales

In the first quarter of the year, 1,137 homes sold, which is a 35% drop from a year ago and 23.2% lower than in the final quarter of 2021.

The lower number of sales can be blamed on the lack of homes for sale: inventory was down 37.7% from a year ago and was 31.7% lower than the previous quarter.

The small county of Jefferson saw sales increase from a year ago, but all other markets pulled back. Compared to the final quarter of 2021, sales were lower across the board.

Pending sales increased by a solid 18.8% quarter over quarter, suggesting that second quarter numbers should show growth.

Montana Home Prices

Home prices rose a modest 3.1% year over year to an average of $815,938 and were 13.1% higher than in the final quarter of 2021.

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, prices were split: there were increases in Ravalli, Lewis and Clark, Lake, Jefferson, and Gallatin counties, but prices fell in the remaining market areas.

Although the tepid increase in prices may surprise some readers, it uses weighted averages which account for market size. If we use simple averages, prices in the region rose by a more significant 14.5% year over year.

There is a lag between mortgage rates rising and any impact on home prices. Thus far, higher financing costs have not had much of an effect on the market, but data from the second quarter of this year should give us a better idea as to whether the increase in rates is enough to dampen the market significantly.

A map showing the year-over-year real estate market percentage changes in various counties in Montana for Q1 2022.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Montana from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022.

Mortgage Rates

Average rates for a 30-year conforming mortgage were 3.11% at the end of 2021, but since then have jumped over 1.5%—the largest increase since 1987. The surge in rates is because the market is anticipating a seven- to eight-point increase from the Federal Reserve later this year.

Because the mortgage market has priced this into the rates they are offering today, my forecast suggests that we are getting close to a ceiling in rates, and it is my belief that they will rise modestly in the second quarter before stabilizing for the balance of the year.

A bar graph showing the average rates for a 30-year conforming mortgage, plus Matthew Gardner's mortgage rate forecasts for Q2 2022 through Q1 2023.

Montana Days on Market

The average time it took to sell a home dropped 15 days compared to the first quarter of 2021.

Homes sold fastest in Gallatin County and slowest in Madison County. Missoula, Ravalli, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, and Gallatin counties saw market time drop. The length of time it took for homes to sell rose in the rest of the counties contained in this report.

During the first quarter, it took an average of 68 days to sell a home in the region.

Average market time across the region rose one day compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, but was lower in Missoula, Lake, Broadwater, and Jefferson counties.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Montana during Q1 2022.

Conclusions

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Full employment and a growing economy tend to encourage home buyers, but rising financing costs are a cause for concern. Furthermore, we have yet to see whether the increase in mortgage rates will have a dampening effect on price growth, especially if more homes come on the market.

A speedometer graph indicating a seller's market in Montana during Q1 2022.

With this level of uncertainty, I have left the needle in the same position as the previous quarter. The data shows that an inflection point may have been reached, as indicated by slowing home-price growth and lower sales, but the impact of mortgage rates is not clear at this time. We should have a better picture of the market as we move through the spring. That said, it firmly remains a seller’s market.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q1 2022 Montana Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Q4 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select Montana real estate markets is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Jobs continue to return to Montana. The latest data shows the state needs only 3,700 more jobs to reach its pre-pandemic peak. As I have mentioned in past reports, the pace of the job recovery has been slowing—particularly in the Great Falls and Missoula metro areas—but this has been offset by growth in Billings and other parts of the state. The latest unemployment numbers showed only 2.8% of the workforce out of work, which is significantly better than the country as a whole. In the metro areas contained in this report, the lowest jobless rate was in Billings at 1.8%, followed by Great Falls at 1.9%, and Missoula at 2%. I still anticipate a full job recovery but, when placed alongside extremely low unemployment rates, the recent slowdown suggests that a lack of workers is the biggest hurdle for employers. I anticipate a return to pre-pandemic employment levels toward the end of 2022.

montana Home Sales

❱ In the final quarter of 2021, 1,479 homes sold in the markets contained in this report, which is 17.6% below the level a year ago and 14.1% lower than the previous quarter.

❱ Sales did manage to rise in Broadwater County, but it was only by one unit. Compared to the third quarter, sales were lower in every county other than Lake.

❱ Lower quarter-over-quarter sales are not surprising given seasonal factors. The drop in sales compared to a year ago is likely due to low inventory levels, which were down 47%.

❱ Year-over-year, listings were down between 30% and 82% in the counties contained in this report. Buyers are still looking, but if there isn’t a significant increase in the number of homes coming to market in the spring, things will remain very competitive for buyers.

montana Home Prices

A map showing the real estate market percentage changes in various counties in Montana during the fourth quarter of 2021.

❱ With the supply limitations discussed above, it’s hardly surprising to see prices rise 17% year over year to an average of $721,634. Prices were also 8.3% higher than in the third quarter of 2021.

❱ When compared to the third quarter of 2021, home sale prices were lower in Ravalli, Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, and Jefferson counties, but rose in the remaining markets.

❱ Average home sale prices rose by double digits in all but two of the counties contained in this report. Broadwater County saw prices more than double.

❱ Mortgage rates trended higher in the final quarter of the year, which I expect to continue as we move through 2022. This should act as a headwind to home price growth, but my current forecast suggests that prices will continue to rise by an average of 15% in 2022.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Montana during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Days on Market

❱ The average time it took to sell a home in fourth quarter dropped by seven days compared to the previous year.

❱ Homes sold fastest in Gallatin County and slowest in Madison County. Days on market dropped in Ravalli, Lake, Lewis and Clark, and Jefferson counties, but rose in the balance of the counties contained in this report.

❱ It took an average of 64 days to sell a home in the region during fourth quarter.

❱ Relative to the third quarter of 2021, market time dropped in Ravalli, Broadwater, and Jefferson counties, but rose in all other markets.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Montana during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Conclusions

A speedometer graph indicating a seller's market in Montana during the fourth quarter of 2021.

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

The job recovery in Montana continues and, at this point, is only limited by the number of available workers. In addition, according to the Montana Secretary of State, a record number of new businesses were registered in 2021. With a growing economy, it’s no surprise that there is a strong demand for housing. Even as mortgage rates continue to rise, there are clearly more buyers than sellers, which sets the stage for home prices to rise at well-above average rates.

As mentioned earlier, I would not be surprised if prices rose by an average of 15% this year as supply and demand remain out of balance. Given all these factors, I have decided to move the needle further toward home sellers.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q4 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Q3 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select Montana real estate markets is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Following the loss of 63,300 jobs in the wake of the pandemic, Montana continues to recover, and current employment levels are only 7,400 jobs shy of their pre-pandemic peak. Although this is good news, the momentum of this recovery began to slow in second quarter and this trend continued into the third quarter. The latest data on unemployment indicated that 3.5% of the labor force is currently out of work, but that level is well below the national rate of 4.8%. In the counties contained in this report, the lowest jobless rate was in Billings at 3%. Missoula followed at 3.1%, and Great Falls at 3.2%. I anticipate the state will see a return of all the jobs that were lost due to COVID-19, but the recent slowdown in the job recovery suggests that we will not reach pre-pandemic employment levels until the end of this year.

montana Home Sales

❱ In the third quarter, 1,722 homes sold in the markets contained in this report, representing a drop of 1.5% compared to the same period in 2020. Sales were 47.3% higher than in the second quarter of this year.

❱ Year-over-year, home sales still managed to rise in four of the nine counties contained in this report, with double-digit increases in Broadwater, Gallatin, and Park counties. Compared to the second quarter of this year, sales rose in every market other than Ravalli. Transactions more than doubled in Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, Jefferson, and Madison counties.

❱ I’m not concerned about the modest drop in sales compared to a year ago given that at that time the country was experiencing a massive housing rebound following the outbreak of COVID-19. On a more positive note, sales grew compared to the second quarter of 2021, even as inventory levels fell precipitously.

❱ Although we saw some very significant sales growth compared to the spring, pending sales managed to rise by only 3%, likely due to the lack of homes for sale. This suggests that closed sales in the final quarter of this year may be lower unless we see a large increase in listings.

montana Home Prices

A map showing the real estate market percentage changes in various counties in Montana during the third quarter of 2021.

❱ Home prices averaged $666,391 in the third quarter, which is 22.5% higher than a year ago and 40.6% higher than the prior quarter.

❱  Year-over-year, all but Lewis and Clark County saw prices rise by double-digits. Broadwater County saw average prices rise more than 50%.

❱ Average sale prices rose in all counties contained in this report. It’s worth noting that following a significant drop in the second quarter, prices in Madison County rebounded and are now back above the $1 million mark.

❱ Mortgage rates moved modestly lower during the quarter, which could have contributed to rising prices, but not to the degree we saw. The bigger culprit is demand which far exceeds supply and continues to push up prices.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Montana during the third quarter of 2021.

Days on Market

❱ The average time it took to sell a home dropped 19 days compared to the third quarter of 2020.

❱ Homes sold fastest in Park County and slowest in Ravalli County. All markets other than Madison (+17 days) saw market time drop compared to the same period a year ago.

❱ During third quarter, it took an average of 67 days to sell a home in the region.

❱ Relative to the second quarter of this year, market time dropped in Ravalli, Gallatin, Park, and Madison counties, but rose in the rest of the areas covered in this report.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Montana during the third quarter of 2021.

Conclusions

A speedometer graph indicating a seller's market in Montana during the third quarter of 2021.

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

The economy continues to recover, even though the pace of the return of jobs is slower than I would like to see. The unemployment rate remains very low compared to most other states, which suggests there are job openings out there; the biggest issue for businesses is finding qualified applicants.

Third-quarter homes sales are impressive—especially considering the lack of inventory—and with buyers clearly outnumbering sellers, the region has experienced very significant price growth. With all these factors in mind, I am moving the needle a little more in favor of sellers.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q3 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Q2 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select Montana real estate markets is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Along with the rest of the nation, Montana’s job market was significantly impacted by COVID-19, losing 63,300 jobs statewide. However, as of the end of the second quarter of this year, Montana has recovered all but 10,000 of them. Although this puts employment levels 2% lower than the pre-pandemic peak, the momentum of jobs returning has slowed. Employment levels dropped by 1,800 jobs in the second quarter. The June unemployment rate in the state was 3.7%, well below the national rate of 5.9%. Unemployment numbers ticked up one tenth of a percent between May and June. In the counties contained in this report, the lowest jobless rate was in Billings at 3.3%. Great Falls’ rate was 3.4% and Missoula came in at 3.5%. I am hopeful that the economy will pick up speed as we move through the balance of 2021, but I remain mindful of the uptick in new COVID-19 cases and their potential to undermine the state’s recovery.

montana Home Sales

❱ In the second quarter, a total of 1,169 homes sold in the markets contained in this report, representing an increase of 2% compared to the same period in 2020. Sales were up 4.3% compared to the first quarter of this year.

❱ Even with greater choice and an increased number of sales in five counties, sales were lower in four counties. Compared to the first quarter of this year, sales were higher in Missoula, Ravalli, Lake, Gallatin, and Park counties, but lower in the other areas covered in this report.

❱ It was pleasing to see sales pick back up after the drop in transactions in the first quarter. This can be attributed to the 156% increase in the number of homes for sale from the first quarter to the second. Clearly, supply was the limiting factor, not demand.

❱ The growth in sales is a good sign, and with pending sales up 34.3% compared to the first quarter, it is likely that third quarter numbers will be positive.

montana Home Prices

A map showing the real estate market percentage changes in various counties in Montana.

❱ Year-over-year, home prices rose 6.5% to an average of $473,959. However, they were 10.8% lower than in the first quarter of the year.

❱ Sale prices can be frenetic—especially because many of the counties contained in this report have low sales activity—so I am not overly concerned at the present time.

❱ Average sale prices rose in all but one county. The outlier—Madison County, where average sales price dropped from $1.33 million to $924,000—dragged the regional average price lower.

❱ Last quarter I said I wouldn’t be surprised if prices dropped further in the second quarter, and it appears I was right. What I said then was that after a significant period where price growth far exceeded the long-term trend, the market is trying to find balance—and this remains true.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Montana.

Days on Market

❱ The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped 38 days compared to the second quarter of 2020.

❱ Homes sold fastest in Broadwater County and slowest in Ravalli County. All markets other than Ravalli (+19 days) and Lewis & Clark (+2 days) saw market time drop year over year.

❱ During the quarter, it took an average of 74 days to sell a home in the region.

❱ Relative to the first quarter of this year, market time dropped in Lake, Missoula, Broadwater, and Jefferson counties, but rose in the rest of the areas covered in this report.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Montana.

Conclusions

A speedometer graph indicating a seller's market in Montana.

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Montana’s economy is performing better than a vast majority of the nation and does not yet appear to be suffering significantly from the rising COVID-19 infections that are hitting many other states.

With mortgage rates set to remain very competitive for the foreseeable future, I believe the housing market will come out of this unique period in the positive despite some of the numbers in this report. Price growth and sales should pick back up, but I think we are seeing the early signs of a more balanced market. That said, we’re not there yet.

Well-positioned and well-priced homes continue to attract buyers, but the slowdown in certain aspects of the market have led me to leave the needle in the same position as in the first quarter.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q2 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Q1 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select Montana real estate markets is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Montana’s job recovery following COVID-19 continues to impress, having returned more than 56,000 of the 63,300 jobs that were lost in the state. The recovery in employment was seen across all metro areas and I feel fairly confident that all of the jobs lost in Montana will have returned by the end of the year.

The February unemployment rate in Montana was 3.9%—well below the national rate of 6%. The Labor Department recently revised its unemployment estimates across the metro areas, and all of them saw rates increase from levels shown at the end of 2020. Even so, jobless rates in Montana were still well below the nation. Billings and Missoula were at 4.2% and Great Falls came in at 4.3%.

montana Home Sales

❱ In the first quarter, a total of 1,121 homes sold in the markets contained in this report, representing a drop of 31.8% compared to the same period in 2020. Sales were down 37.2% compared to the final quarter of 2020.

❱ With few choices for buyers, I was surprised to see sales higher in three counties. That said, they are all very small markets and the total growth in sales was only 22 units. In total, sales were down 522 units compared to a year ago.

❱ The decline in sales does not come as a surprise and can be almost totally attributed to the remarkably low level of homes for sale. The average number of listings in the first quarter was 36.5% lower than a year ago and 6.5% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2020.

❱ At some point, I expect to see sales start to rise again, which will likely occur when potential home sellers feel less concerned about COVID-19.

montana Home Prices

A map showing the real estate market percentage changes in various Montana counties.

❱ Year-over-year, home prices fell 14% to an average of $531,193 and were 12% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2020.

❱ I am not concerned about the regional decline in prices, as it was directly due to a significant price drop in Jefferson County, which is a very small market that is subject to severe swings. Additionally, the expensive Madison County market also saw prices drop, which impacted regional growth.

❱ Average sale prices rose in Ravelli, Missoula, Lake, and Broadwater counties, but this was offset by a drop in prices across the balance of the region.

❱ I cannot guarantee that the decline in home prices will turn around in the second quarter. I think the market is trying to find balance after having experienced a significant period where price growth has far exceeded the long-term trend.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Montana.

Days on Market

❱ The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped 28 days compared to the first quarter of 2020.

❱ Homes sold fastest in Lewis & Clark County, and slowest in Lake and Ravalli counties. All markets other than Lake (+37 days) saw market time drop compared to the first quarter of 2020.

❱ During the quarter, it took an average of 82 days to sell a home in the region.

❱ Market time rose one day compared to the fourth quarter of 2020.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various Montana counties.

Conclusions

A speedometer graph indicating a seller's market in Montana.

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Montana’s economy is performing better than most of the nation, and I believe that the housing market is still on solid ground—despite some of the numbers in this report. I expect both price growth and home sales to pick back up, but this can only happen if there are more homes to choose from.

It is still a seller’s market in which well-positioned, well-priced homes continue to attract buyers. As such, I have moved the needle a little further in favor of sellers, irrespective of lower sale prices that much of the market saw in the first quarter.

 

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q1 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Q4 2020 Montana Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select Montana real estate markets is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Montana continues to see jobs return. As of November, the state had recovered 46,800 of the 63,500 jobs that were shed due to COVID-19. The job recovery was evident across the state, but current numbers show that Missoula’s employment levels are only down by 160 of the 7,400 jobs that were lost. The unemployment rate in the state was 4.9% in November, down from the April peak of 11.9%. Unemployment estimates across the various MSAs shows Billings’ current rate at 4%, Great Falls at 4.5%, and Missoula at 4.1%. New COVID-19 cases in Montana dropped as 2020 came to a close, which may be why the job recovery has been so robust.

montana Home Sales

❱ During the final quarter of 2020, 1,783 homes sold in the markets contained in this report. This was 3.8% lower than during the same period in 2019 and 29.9% lower than in the third quarter of 2020.

❱ Sales activity rose in six counties but dropped in three. The largest annual increase was in very small Broadwater County, where sales were up by 183%, which was an increase from 12 to 34 home sales.

❱ The overall drop in sales can be attributed to the woefully low number of homes for sale. The average number of listings was 47.1% lower than a year ago and 57.4% lower than in the third quarter of 2020.

❱ I would like to see inventory levels higher, but I do not anticipate that will occur until later in the spring of 2021.

montana Home Prices

❱ Year-over-year, home prices rose 14.2% to an average of $603,845. Prices were also 21% higher than in the third quarter of the year.

❱ Average home prices rose everywhere but Lake County, though this was likely because there were very few sales in that market.

❱ An improving economy, in concert with rapidly growing demand for housing, has driven significant growth in sales prices.

❱ Inventory levels are still well below where they need to be, but I am hopeful we will see more listings come online this year. That, combined with modestly rising mortgage rates, should soften home price growth somewhat.

Days on Market

❱ The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped 28 days compared to the final quarter of 2019.

❱ Homes sold fastest in Gallatin and Park counties and slowest in Madison County. Even with the overall drop in market time, it took longer to sell a home in Lewis & Clark, Broadwater, and Jefferson counties than it did a year ago.

❱ During the quarter, it took an average of 89 days to sell a home in the region.

❱ Market time dropped eight days compared to the third quarter of 2020.

Conclusions

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

The economy is recovering nicely, and the housing market is performing very well—if you are a home seller! Price growth is solid due to the lack of homes for sale. I am looking for inventory levels to rise in 2021, which, in concert with mortgage rates that seem to have bottomed out, should mean that price growth will taper somewhat.

It remains a seller’s market, and, given the factors described above, I have moved the needle a little further in their favor.

 

About Matthew Gardner

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q4 2020 Montana Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.