Well — the heat is on and not just because it’s the dog days of summer.
Montana real estate is a hot commodity.
From east to west, north to south, homes and land are, more often than not, sold within days.
Butte realtors are feeling the heat, too, and working fast and furiously.
For Gary Shea, broker/owner of CENTURY 21 Shea Realty, it is the busiest he has seen the market in his 23-year career.
“Every Montana market is on fire,” Shea said. “There’s a lot of demand out there — with local, in-state and out-of-state.”
Denise Kelly, broker/owner of RE/MAX Premier, concurs.
“It’s been insane — a house comes on the market and there are multiple offers in just a couple of days,” Kelly said.
The same can be said for land.
“Land is flying off the market,” said Kelly, who explained that many of the buyers are from Butte trying to prevent out-of-staters from buying it up.
Realtor.com reported the market is doing so well that this past July in Butte, there were “roughly more buyers than active homes for sale.”
According to both Shea and Kelly, the two main reasons for the upswing is the pandemic and the current social unrest.
“The pandemic, though, is definitely the driving force,” Kelly said.
While a definite sign of the current times, Shea also credits technology, which has allowed people to live in one area while working from another.
“People want to get out of the bigger cities,” Shea said, “and have been choosing more rural areas.”
In this all-too-surprising turn of events, Kelly is also amazed at how many people seeking homes buy the property sight unseen.
She noted that this almost unheard of trend has forced the Montana Association of Realtors’ legal department to develop a “sight-unseen” form in order to protect the realtors.
Another major reason for the current success in Butte’s real estate market is affordability.
“We are much more affordable than other communities like Bozeman, Missoula, Helena and Great Falls,” Shea said.
According to Realtor.com, the average home in Bozeman is $540,000, Missoula is $368,000, Helena sits at $288,000, and Great Falls is $211,000.
Meanwhile, in Butte the average cost is at $190,000. Currently, home prices range from $19,000 to an astronomical $7 million.
One of the reasons for the upswing is today's buyer’s market. Interest rates are low — averaging less than 3%.
“This makes finding a house more affordable,” Shea said.
Recreation is an additional reason people are buying in Montana, and southwest Montana has it in abundance.
“Our quality of life is so amazing,” said Kelly. “Most of us have just a 10-minute commute to work.”
Outdoor activities afforded southwest Montana residents includes hiking, bicycling, fishing, and skiing.
“Except for the ocean,” Kelly pointed out, “we have it all.”
Shea agrees. “People are also looking for a simpler lifestyle.” he added.
An added plus in this current economic trend, according to Shea, is that both in-state and out-of-state businesses are showing an interest in Butte.
“They, too, are looking for real estate,” he said.
“That’s absolutely true,” said Joe Willauer, executive director of the Butte Local Development Corp. “Businesses are interested in coming to Butte.”
Since early July Willauer has fielded several calls from businesses looking for detailed information on Butte, particularly Uptown Butte, and the commercial market.
“They are feeling out what’s going on within the community,” said Willauer, “and looking at what Butte has to offer.”
Interest has also been shown on developing apartment complexes and condos.
“A lot of companies are looking to expand,” said Willauer.
The current real estate climate makes Shea optimistic.
“I think it’s great to see people coming in rather than leaving,” Shea said. “Communities have got to move forward.”
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