All Real Estate is Local – Even in Montana

By the Missoula Organization of Realtors

2010 is behind us and it’s time to look forward to the new year.

We’ve all heard the national news about housing prices plummeting and foreclosure rates soaring. Fortunately, in most of Montana, we have come through without the astounding foreclosure rates and falling home values that plague Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Michigan. It’s important to remember that every market across the country, and even within each state, is different.

While the Flathead Valley and the Gallatin Valley have been hardest hit in Montana, Missoula remains relatively steady in value. Where we have been affected is in the significant drop in the total number of sales.

Our median sales price is still around $200,000, which has been pretty consistent over the last five years. Values of homes in the higher price ranges have had the highest percentage of decline, but that is dependent on its location. We really have a “hyper-local” market, and each neighborhood has a different story to tell.

Here are some statistics from Missoula: We had 830 residential sales in 2010, down 9% from 2009 and 42% from a high of 1443 in 2006. The fact that our housing prices haven’t dropped as dramatically as other parts of the nation is good for homeowners.  However, that means that affordability for potential buyers has not increased as much as it has in other parts of the nation.

Nevertheless, assuming income levels from 2009 are still accurate, and with a median price of $202,500, a four-person household has 101% of the income they need to afford that home. The affordability index has not been at that level since 2003! Even with the modest decreases in housing prices, opportunities for home ownership are available to those who thought it a pipe dream just a few short years ago.

Where do we go from here?

As many economists estimate a slow recovery, the housing market will most likely follow suit. However, the health of the market is local. For sellers, the neighborhood your home is in or the price range you’re selling in could dramatically affect its value or how quickly it sells.

For buyers, neighborhood and price range may be determining factors of affordability, and therefore the possibility of homeownership in 2011. If you have questions about your value, call your local real estate agent.

We really have many things to be thankful for here at home and we really do live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We are fortunate to be Montanans.


Diane Beck has been selling real estate in Missoula for over 20 years.  Her knowledge, experience and commitment to the community has placed her in the forefront of the real estate market.  Diane is serving the Missoula Organization of Realtors as their 2011 President and she continues to strive for the best interests of their members, community and her clients.