Despite being one of the strongest areas in U.S. home value stability, Montana saw home prices decline during the real estate collapse, but record low mortgage rates are driving the state that claims the title as Big Sky Country to recover from the downturn and is forecast to see additional gains the remainder of the year.
Real housing appreciation is slowly starting to materialize in most regions, including hard hit Livingston, where the rich and powerful bought massive ranches with homes on hundreds and sometimes even thousands of acres for years prior to the downturn. Celebrities Peter Fonda, Meg Ryan, Dennis Quaid and Robert Redford among others make their second homes in the region to escape from the dizzying world of Hollywood.
The region is now posed to return to its highly acclaimed past, with Livingston being ranked #6 in the Countryman Press guide of 101 Best Outdoor Towns. The housing market is forecast to inflate 1.2% in value through the end of the year.
In the largest city in Montana, the housing market is also rebounding. New home starts are up in Billings, where contractors are applying for new home construction permits at the highest pace in at least three years.
Foreclosures are unusually low in Montana, particularly in Billings, where few Alt-A and subprime mortgages were sold at the height of the real estate bubble.
Home values, however, did slip during the worst of the crisis nationally as buyers became reluctant to make home purchases. Billings home values are projected to increase slightly over the remainder of the year on higher home sales at an average of 2.7%
In Missoula, better home sales driven by record low mortgage rates and lower priced homes are helping the market into a recovery. The record low mortgage rates should boost sales and inflate average home values 2.2% for the year. Missoula should show a major vast improvement with the number of days it takes to sell a home declining.
Bozeman home sales are booming, with the highest home prices in the state. The region is beginning to attract investors again, and those with a few extra dollars to spend on real estate from the oil business.
The artsy counter-culture community is a draw to many out of state types searching for a place for a second home. Bozeman home values are forecast to inflate the most for any area of the state, averaging 2.9% by years end.
In Great Falls, home sales should improve towards the end of the summer selling season, and make a slow rebound through the rest of the year. Home prices are projected to average 1.4% better in 2012.