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Cover Page Image, 2018 Missoula Housing ReportEXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Housing Development & Occupancy

 

Missoula’s growing population, along with a tight rental market and tight real estate supply, spurred an increase in construction in 2017. Residential lot sales rang in with 169 lots being sold in 2017, marking the third year in a row of high lot sales. The median price of those lots increased 8.1 percent in 2017, to $92,500.

 

Building permits within the City of Missoula remained high for the second year in a row, with a total of 758 units permitted. At the county level, single-family building permits increased by 25 percent in 2017 and multi-family units increased by 162 percent over the previous year. However, according to US Census Bureau estimates, county-wide growth in the housing stock lagged slightly behind growth in the number of households between 2010 and 2016.

 

The number of Townhome Exemption Development units permitted also increased in the city. In addition, after three years of relative inactivity, Missoula saw a substantial increase in the number of preliminary plat approvals for subdivisions.

 

In the City of Missoula, about 46 percent of housing units are occupied by their owners; in Missoula County, owners occupy about 57 percent of the units.

 

Population and Income

 

Missoula County reached a population of 116,130 in 2016, a 1.7 percent increase from the previous year. Net migration has driven this recent growth, increasing 86 percent from 2015 to 2016, indicating that a much higher proportion of people are moving to Missoula than are moving away. This has placed increasing pressure on the housing supply.

 

While Missoula boasts a relatively low unemployment rate, the median income in Missoula County in 2016 was $46,550, which is below the Montana and U.S. median income. However, Missoula homeowners had a median income of $64,612 while Missoula renters came in at less than half of that, with a median income of $31,146. Such numbers highlight the difficulty that many residents have in affording both rental and real estate prices.

 

The percentage of Missoulians living in poverty continues to hover around 16 percent. The number of homeless individuals identified by a single point-in-time survey in January 2017 was 344, which was down slightly from 2016; however, the Missoula County Public Schools estimate that 438 children were homeless or in unstable housing during the 2016-2017 school year.

 

Rental Housing

 

Missoula continued to encounter low vacancy rates for rentals in 2017, with an average vacancy rate of just 3.0 percent. Certain types of rentals experienced rent increases of up to 5 and 6 percent for three- and four-bedroom units, while other rents increased by less than 2 percent.

 

The Missoula Housing Authority was able to support all 774 of its Section 8 vouchers, which subsidize rent, but the demand for this rental assistance greatly exceeds the supply. They still had 1,637 households on a waitlist for Section 8 vouchers in 2017.

 

Housing Sales & Prices

 

In 2017 Missoula experienced its most active year of home sales on record, with 1,543 homes sold. Of those, 39 percent were priced between $200,000 and $275,000—a price range that was considered in under supply according to the market absorption rates.

 

With a tight supply and competition among buyers, the median price of a home in Missoula increased 5.2 percent to $268,250 in 2017. Sales of homes under $200,000 declined by 26 percent, indicating a shrinking availability of more affordable homes. Meanwhile, sales of condominiums and townhouses, which often provide a more affordable option for buyers, increased by 29 percent in 2017.

 

New construction sales also hit a high in 2017, with 191 units sold, a 59 percent increase from 2017.

 

Housing Finance

 

Mortgage rates remained affordable in 2017, with a year-end interest rate of 4.0 percent. However, student loan debt has been a hurdle for many borrowers. While conventional loan programs have changed the way they calculate this debt, the FHA and USDA Rural Development loans have not. Approximately 69 percent of 2017 buyers used a conventional loan.

 

When it comes to down payments, Missoula homebuyers have access to a number of down payment assistance programs, as well as homebuyer and financial education. The good news is that home mortgage foreclosures dropped to a 10-year low, with just 24 properties reaching foreclosure in 2017.

 

Housing Affordability

 

Housing affordability remains an issue for both renters and prospective homebuyers. The Missoula Housing Affordability Index increased slightly in 2017, after several years of decline. But it still remains that a household would need a median income of $84,038 to afford a median-priced home with a 5-percent down payment in 2017. With a 20 percent down payment, one would need a household income of $65,949.

 

In both 2015 and 2016 (which have the most recent available data), approximately 47 percent of Missoula renters spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing, which put them in the “cost burdened” category of being likely to have a hard time meeting other financial obligations. Comparatively, Missoula homeowners appear to be less cost burdened, with 25 percent of homeowners spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs in 2016.

 

Download the 2018 Missoula Housing Report

Making Missoula Home Cover Page - 2018Recognizing the growing issues of housing affordability facing the greater Missoula area, in the winter of 2016-2017 the Missoula Organization of REALTORS® began assembling both private and public-sector partners towards the goal of commissioning a study to analyze the housing market conditions and provide recommendations for strategies to promote more housing affordability.

 

In March 2017, Werwath associates was retained to collect data and research that characterized the demographic and housing market conditions, analyze the current state of housing affordability, survey both housing consumers and the building industry, analyze both regulatory and no-regulatory housing development constraints, and to provide concise recommendations for new strategies to increase housing affordability.

 

The process of compiling this report included a deep review of housing, workforce, and demographic information from the Census and local sources, over 30 stakeholder interviews (see Appendix I for a complete list), a review of housing market and housing development cost data, as well as a review of key regulations impacting housing development for both the City of Missoula and Missoula County.

 

The process of compiling this report was overseen by a diverse advisory group that included representatives from the city, county, building industry, REALTORS®, lenders, local businesses, and planning/engineering fields who met four times throughout the process of drafting the report to provide feedback on report drafts as well as to provide overall feedback on the approach and direction of the project. In addition, the drafts were reviewed by affordable housing service providers including the Missoula Housing Authority, Homeword, and NeighborWorks Montana, who provided invaluable feedback. There was also broad community and industry support for this project, and continued support around implementation is what will be required to create systems-level change in the various areas that impact housing affordability.

 

This project would not be possible without the direct support of our project partners including the City of Missoula, Missoula County, the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce, Missoula Building Industry Association, and the Missoula Economic Partnership. Additional sponsorship support was provided by First Security Bank, Edgell Building, Pew Construction, Territorial LandWorks, St. Patrick Hospital, First Interstate Bank, the National Association of REALTORS®, and the Montana Association of REALTORS®. We would also like to recognize the time and valuable input volunteered by our advisory group members: Collin Bangs, Clint Burson, David Edgell, Janna Geier, James Grunke, Ruth Hackney, Scott Hansen, John Horner, Merry Hutton, Mike Nugent, Pat O’Herren, Eran Pehan, Tom Pew, Jason Rice, Nicole Rush, Sam Sill, and DJ Smith.

 

Download the Making Missoula Home report

Berkshire Hathaway President's Circle logoIt gives us great pleasure to announce that we have been awarded the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices President’s Circle award for 2017. This recognition is given to agent teams who rank among the top agent teams in the entire BHHS network. We are truly blessed and incredibly thankful.

Best of Missoula logo, 2017

If you’re looking to buy or a sell a house, look no further than Anne Jablonski at Portico Realty to help make the process smooth and stress-free. Committed, dedicated and experienced, Jablonski will listen to you, research options and follow through. She’s friendly, patient and steady in a business known for chaos. You’ll be glad to have her by your side from the house search to the closing table and for every twist and turn along the way.

 

Third Place: Mindy Palmer, Berkshire Hathaway Montana Properties

 

Best of Missoula Readers Poll, Missoula Independent, July 6, 2017

 

 

We took a quick spin up the Bison Range yesterday and ended up getting close up and personal with some Bison (from the safety of our car, of course). The Red Sleep Mountain Road loop drive wasn’t open yet but the in and out Prairie Road drive was and it did not disappoint. Lots of wildflowers, including lots of Arrowleaf Balsamroot, and great Bison sightings right along the road. This place is always a treat to visit.