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Housing prices around Montana skyrocket due to COVID-19

Housing prices around Montana skyrocket due to COVID-19. (Photo: NBC Montana Sky Team)
Housing prices around Montana skyrocket due to COVID-19. (Photo: NBC Montana Sky Team)
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Housing prices in Montana have skyrocketed over the past few months, and local realtors say COVID-19 is largely to blame.

"People are coming from across the country, realizing their jobs are online, and they can live where they want," said Tanya Gersh, a realtor with PureWest Christie's International Real Estate in Whitefish.

Realtors say that led to a major increase in housing prices.

The median sales price for a Gallatin County home increased from $384,000 in February, just before the pandemic, to $479,900 in August. Missoula County saw the median home sales price increase from $323,000 to $370,000. In Lake County it increased from $325,000 to $423,000. And Flathead County saw an increase from $335,000 to $415,000.

"People who are essential to this community -- whether it's teacher or police officers -- are being steamrolled by this market because they can't keep up," said Noel Seeburg of Bozeman Real Estate Group.

Realtors explained there are a number of reasons for the increase. The first is supply and demand. Far more people are looking to buy homes than are selling them. This also creates a chain reaction. Since supply is already low, people are reluctant to sell their homes, because they're afraid they won't have another home to buy once theirs sells.

Another reason for the increase is out-of-staters. Realtors said people from out-of-state can often offer more for a home than locals, because a home of that magnitude in a large city would cost far more.

They added that buying homes sight-unseen, in cash and for well over asking price is becoming common. One agent said she's seen a house sell for $60,000 over asking price.

"For someone who's lived there their whole life, that's a hard pill to swallow, because having the market explode like we've seen since March -- our wages just haven't kept up,” Seeburg said.

The good news -- if you're looking to sell your home for top dollar, now is the time to sell.

If you're in the market to buy a home, realtors gave a few tips:

  • Find a good agent
  • If you're not paying with cash, make sure you're pre-approved for a loan
  • If you're a first-time home buyer, consider attending a class that will help you with the process

Realtors we spoke to said they're afraid this price spike could be the new normal in Montana. They said prices usually fall in the winter months, but the overall trend could be here to stay.

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