The Missoula Real Estate Guide features thousands of pages of the very latest real estate listings and homes for sale in Missoula and Western Montana
by Mindy & Steve Palmer. Not your ordinary Missoula real estate agents.

The Missoula Real Estate Blog

2019 Missoula Housing Report Cover
Housing Development & Occupancy
Despite a growing population, a tight supply of real estate and a relatively tight rental market, construction did not increase in Missoula in 2018.
Multi-family unit construction, which had enjoyed significant increases from 2016 to 2017, suddenly dropped in 2018. Within the City of Missoula, permits for new multi-family units declined 64 percent, while county permits dropped 48 percent. However, duplex permits increased and single-family permits remained relatively level.
Residential lot sales remained the same in 2018 as they were in 2017, with 169 lots sold. The median price was $90,000.
Several large, previously approved subdivisions completed development phases in 2018, raising the total number of subdivision lots that had received final approval and were ready for building up to 322. However, only 18 residential lots entered the first stage of preliminary plat approval, none of them within the city.
In the City of Missoula, about 46 percent of housing units are occupied by their owners; in Missoula County owners occupy approximately 58 percent of the units.
Population & Income
Missoula County continued to grow, adding another 1,311 residents between 2016 and 2017. While most of that growth is owed to more people moving to Missoula than moving away, net migration did see a slight decrease in 2017. Even with new rentals and single-family homes being added to the market, a growing population kept the markets for both in tight supply.
Economically, Missoula experienced significant improvements, although they didn’t transfer to all demographics. Unemployment reached a low of 3.8 percent in 2018, and the 2017 median income in Missoula County increased 17 percent, to $54,311. Homeowners also saw a large jump in their median income, to $75,940. Conversely, the median income for renters declined 4 percent, to $29,793. Such disparity, coupled with rising real estate prices, illustrates the difficulty many residents have in affording real estate as well as rentals.
As has been the case for several years, about 15 percent of Missoulians live in poverty. While the number of homeless individuals identified by a single point-in-time survey declined to 319 in January 2018, an estimated 500 children were homeless or in unstable housing during the 2017-18 school year, according to the Missoula County Public Schools.
Rental Housing
Missoula recorded an annual vacancy rate of 3.9 percent in 2018, which is slightly above recent years but still considered a tight rental market. Multiplexes saw a bigger increase in vacancy rates thanks to new units coming on line, but homes and duplexes had vacancy rates of 2 percent or less. Overall, rental prices declined 1.55 percent in 2018, giving renters some relief.
The Missoula Housing Authority (MHA) provided 774 Section 8 vouchers to subsidize rent, but it didn’t come close to meeting the demand for such assistance. With 1,777 households on their Section 8 waiting list (up 8.5 percent from 2017), it’s clear that there isn’t enough affordable housing. No new affordable housing units were added in 2018, but MHA plans to bring on 200 new units in 2020.
Housing Sales & Prices
The pace of home sales remained brisk in 2018 but did decline by 3.8 percent, with 1,482 homes sold. The median price of a home rose 8.1 percent, to $290,000, while that of a newly constructed singlefamily home rose 26 percent to $383,500. The largest portion of sales (32.6 percent) occurred in the $200,000 to $275,000 range, and homes over $275,000 all saw an increase in number of sales. Sales of condominiums and townhouses also kept pace, though a decline in newly constructed condominiums did cause overall condo/townhouse sales to drop by 9.6 percent in 2018.
The market continued its trend of having a tight supply, and competition among buyers likely contributed to rising prices. Homes under $350,000 were typically in under-supply throughout 2018.
Housing Finance
Home buying became more of a challenge for many would-be buyers in 2018. Higher mortgage rates drove up borrowing costs, and the cost of construction created financing issues for those looking to build. Foreclosures, however, remained low in 2018.
Missoula homebuyers have continued access to a number of down-payment assistance programs, as well as homebuyer and financial education. However, with such a tight supply of homes at affordable price points many buyers are unable to afford to purchase a home even with down payment assistance programs.
Housing Affordability
Housing affordability remains a challenge for both renters and prospective homebuyers. As the median price of a home continued to increase, the Missoula Housing Affordability Index declined. To purchase a $290,000 home in 2018 with a 5-percent down payment, a family would have needed an income of at least $95,731 to have it considered affordable.
While the percentage of homeowners spending a worrisome portion of their income on housing decreased to 22 percent in Missoula, according to the most recent 2017 data, the number of renters spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing increased, reaching almost 49 percent.

Download the 2019 Missoula Housing Report

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman's Circle logo

Today, we were informed that we have been recognized with the Berkshire Hathaway Chairman’s Circle award for 2018. This recognition is given to agents who rank in the top 2% of agents in the entire Berkshire Hathaway network across the nation. We are truly blessed and incredibly thankful.

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.