I ran across this feature on the search engine Bing today that shows you a map of houses for sale in Missoula.
Here’s an image of what that looks like:
The cheapest house I see there is $185,000. The most expensive is almost $3 million.
Here’s a link to the page if you want to explore it yourself.
This is what it looks like as you head south toward Lolo and Stevensville. The cheapest house there is $295,000, though most seem to go for closer to $1 million.
This is what it looks like in Hamilton:
Seems like you can get a house in town for around $300,000, but if you want to move further out of town you’ll probably have to pay $500,000 or more.
Finally, here’s a look at Polson.
No matter where you go in western Montana, you’re not going to find a house to buy that’s affordable...at least not if you’ve lived here for the past few years and made your money here.
If you’re transplanting in from California or Washington or New York, however, then these prices aren’t only affordable, they’re a steal!
It’s the law of supply and demand, and in western Montana we have a real lack of supply. It’s the same story all over the country - America is lacking 7-12 million affordable housing units, and we don’t build enough each year to ever fix that.
The only real hope that native Montanans, people that have been living here for decades, and working stiffs have in general is if there’s some kind of massive, monumental housing bust.
That’s the only way prices will drop, but even if they do, how much are they going to fall?
Just because a home is now worth $300,000 instead of $500,000 doesn’t make it any more affordable for people that actually live and work here.
We know for certain that government has absolutely no idea what to do about this problem. Indeed, if they tried to do something, it’d probably just make the situation worse.
So what’s the answer...some rich billionaire riding in on a white horse to build miles and miles of tract homes?
Who’s going to do that...and what would the incentive be...altruism?
Besides that, the best option for Missoulians that want to buy a home is to actually leave Montana and head to Georgia, Illinois or Michigan.
Those states have the most affordable houses in the nation.
In Michigan you can get a house for $110,000, meaning you only need to make $34,000 a year to qualify for a mortgage.
In Peoria, Illinois, you can pay $102,00 and get a home.
But if you want a real steal, move to Macon, Georgia. There you’ll get a house for just $75,000. It’s the most affordable housing market in the country.
Of course, prices there have probably shot up recently as tons of Democrats move there so they can vote next month.
It’s sad the Missoulians actually have to leave Montana to find an affordable place to live. And I think the situation is only going to get worse.