Missoula housing sales steady, but behind 2013 pace


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula housing sales are steady, but reportedly behind 2013's sales volume.

We have heard stories about houses selling quickly in Missoula. But it doesn't necessarily mean real estate is off to the races.

The Missoula Organization of Realtors said, compared to lastyear, home sales are behind pace by 24 percent.

The Organization said inventory is limited, so when buyers find a house in a certain price range they like, and in a certain neighborhood that appeals to them, they jump on it.

This time last year, the organization said about 500 houses had sold in the Missoula valley, compared to 375 so far thisyear.

With interest rates about 1 percent higher than last year, it affects borrowing power.

"In terms of tens of thousands of dollars," said board President Brint Wahlberg, "it's going to create a higher payment, so people are going to lower their expectations."

Wahlberg said house shoppers are on tighter budgets. Last year, they might have paid $250,000 for their dream home. This year's dreams might be marked down $25,000 or $30,000.

It's putting more pressure on sellers to negotiate.

"Last year, buyers were coming pretty close to full price," said Wahlberg. "They were happy to get into houses. Now we're starting to see buyers needing to negotiate."

A Missoula homeowner has a "price reduced" sign outside the house he has for sale.

Ryan Patrick is a young family man. Patrick said he thinks the market offers a lot of opportunity.

He said once his house sells, the family plans to downsize so they can save money.

"It puts us on better ground financially," said Patrick, "to make choices in the future."

Wahlberg said most shoppers are looking for houses in the $200,000 to $250,000 range.

He said he expects the pace to pick up the second half of the year. But he doesn't expect 2014 to match 2013 in residential home sales.