2019 Flathead County Real Estate Market Report
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Residential Real Estate Market
This is the 2019 Flathead County Real Estate Market Report. The average price of residential real estate continues to increase. In 2019, the average price was $424,097, up over 9% from 2018. The overall quantity of sales continues to climb as well, up to 2,078 sales in 2019, which is a new record. Figure 2 shows that 2019 has seen a similar amount of days on the market to 2018, down to 160 days on average. Sellers typically got 97% of their asking price in 2019. Overall, the residential real estate market is very strong in Flathead County.
Relative to peak pricing in 2007, Kalispell and Columbia Falls are outperforming Whitefish, Bigfork, Lakeside, and Somers. Kalispell prices are 32% higher than their peak in 2007, while Columbia Falls prices are a staggering 38% higher. In 2019, The average price in Whitefish was $611,019 which was an 11% increase over 2018. And it finally surpassed 2008’s peak of $596,758. Lakeside & Somers are up just 1% from 2018, and Bigfork actually went down 2%, ending at $518,732. Figure 8 shows that waterfront properties have not yet recovered from their peak pricing; however, sales prices did increase by 10% in 2019. In the long run, waterfront tends to perform well as a result of scarcity, but the higher price of entry may be contributing to a slower recovery.
Residential Real Estate Price Categories
The residential sales quantity in each price range is graphed in figure 9. Since 2012, sales below $200k have declined steadily, likely a result of that price segment disappearing. Sales in all segments between $200k and $1m have continued to increase, whereas sales over $1m have been relatively steady for over a decade.
Flathead County Land Market
The average land sale prices in the Flathead valley peaked in 2007, but prices fell much slower than residential prices. Prices hit bottom in 2013 and have been slowly increasing since then. 2019 saw a 6% increase in average land price over 2018. It took an average of 388 days to sell, and sellers accepted 94% of their list price on average. It is likely that high construction and subdivision costs are preventing the land market from performing as well as the residential markets.
Land sales are further broken down by acreage in figures 12 and 13. In 2019, average prices for large tracts fell while small tracts increased. Percentages for acreage ranges are: 15% for 0-1 acres, 23% for 1-3.5 acres, 25% for 3.5-6.5 acres, -2% for 6.5-10 acres, -24% for 10-20 acres, and -6% for 20-40 acres. $/acre for tracts over 40 acres fell slightly to $5,863/acre.
Time to Sell?
In the Flathead county real estate market, nearly all residential prices have increased over the past few years. If you’ve been thinking of selling your existing home and building new, now is a great time. Land is still inexpensive relative to peak prices, while your existing home is worth more than it has been in a decade. It is possible if you live in Kalispell or Columbia Falls, that your home is worth more today than it ever has been. Sales of entry-level homes are particularly strong, and supply across all segments is very low.
Time to Buy?
Even though the Flathead real estate market is strong as a whole, some segments are still a bargain. Land, in particular, is affordable, especially when compared to pre-recession peak pricing. Larger parcels are among the slowest to recover. Overall land prices are 23% lower than their peak in 2007, while 20-40 acre parcel prices are 59% below their peak. In the residential markets, waterfront properties are 14% lower, Lakeside and Somers are 18% lower, Bigfork is 6% lower, and Whitefish is just now on par with 2008.
Northwest Montana has been discovered. Glacier National Park breaks visitor records with regularity. Whitefish and Whitefish Mountain Resort are continually publicized for great skiing, great accommodations, and friendly locals. Kalispell is the third fastest growing micropolitan area in the country, and Glacier International Airport is the fastest growing airport in Montana.