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Housing Costs Outpacing Median Incomes In Montana, BBER Says

House for sale.

Real estate markets in much of Montana are booming, according to University of Montana researchers. But the strong rise in housing prices since the great recession is creating an issue of affordability.

The growth of housing prices in Montana is outpacing median household incomes, creating an affordability problem that’s not easily solved.

That’s according to Brandon Bridge of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Bridge gave a statewide picture of Montana’s real estate and construction markets during the reveal of the 2018 Montana Economic report in Helena, Tuesday.

Bozeman specifically, housing affordability is a real issue. Missoula as well. Whitefish, Kalispell, Billings also.” 

Gallatin County leads the state’s largest counties in new homes being built, up about 160 percent from 2001.

Ravalli County is the lowest of the state’s large counties in new homes builds, at 60 percent of housing starts since 2001.  

Bridge says real estate markets in Montana will remain strong in 2018, but the affordability problem will get worse.

Montana housing prices vs. median household income.
Credit University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research
Montana housing prices vs. median household income.

Home prices have risen by nearly 40 percent in Montana since 2011, but the median household income has only increased by about 10 percent over that same time.

Bridge says the risk in the housing market is growing, as rising home prices challenge how likely it is that loans will get paid, and other forms of debt, especially student debt, climb. But, he says the market risk is not concerning at this point. 

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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