Missoula’s housing market is expanding with most of the measures continuing to follow national trends. Current homeowners are in a positive position. Those looking to buy are facing more competition in the most affordable price ranges. Based on the data included in this report, we are gaining confidence in the Missoula housing market, but some challenges will need to be overcome.
Lot sales have seen an increase which can possibly be related to reduced inventory for buyers. An increased demand for housing has left buyers with fewer options, so many aspiring homeowners are deciding to build instead. Fewer building permits were issued in the city overall in 2013, but since multi-family development is growing, the available housing stock should keep pace with Missoula’s positive population growth.
The increase in development also bodes well for economic recovery. During the recession, jobs in construction and related industries took the hardest hit. With an increase in development, we can expect an increase in jobs and an improvement in the overall economy.
Home sales and sales of condominiums and townhouses are up in almost every neighborhood. Multi-family development continues to expand while rental vacancies remain below the national average.
There is less distressed property on the market now, meaning fewer deals than in years past for homebuyers. However, it also means that sellers will face less downward pressure on prices. The increase in competition in the affordable price ranges also is a positive indicator for a seller. For buyers, mortgage interest rates have increased to 4.75 percent, and overall affordability is decreasing. The median home price has increased to $215,000.
A growing number of people are seeking financial housing assistance from the Missoula Housing Authority (MHA), while funding cuts have prevented forty families from receiving the rental assistance promised to them by their vouchers. The number of households on the waiting list for rental assistance has neared 2,000 households.
Most discouragingly, the number of homeless and at-risk children has increased over 30 percent in the last couple of years. Homelessness is not improving.
Many of Missoula’s most vulnerable residents can be encouraged by some of the economic figures. For instance, last year saw a decrease in unemployment and in the percentage of people living below the Federal Poverty Level. Also, “Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness” began in earnest.
Missoula’s housing market is posting positive statistics overall, with growth in some areas and setbacks in a few others. While the market as a whole shows numerous positive indicators, there are still issues facing buyers and sellers alike. At the end of the day, it is Missoula’s community that keeps us all home.