Home prices continued rising in Helena in 2019. Meanwhile, demand is higher than ever and availability is low for those looking to buy.
In a 15-mile radius around Helena, the median sale price for homes was approximately $280,000 last year. This is just over a $10,000 increase from the 2018 median price of $269,900.
There was also a 19% increase in the number of sales, with 1,150 reported in 2019 compared to 965 the previous year.
From 2018 to 2019, the number of days on market increased from an average of 50 to 51 days. However, the average time it took to close on a home decreased from 98 to 96 days.
Approximately 34% of the Helena homes sold in 2019 had three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
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Only 154 of the 2019 home sales were under $200,000, compared to 267 in that price range the prior year. A total of 86 of last year's home sales were in the $215,000 to $230,000 range and 97 were in the $245,000 to $260,000 range.
There were 263 Helena homes on the market on the last day of 2019, compared to 289 on the last day of 2018.
"I think one of the major factors is what is going on in Bozeman," said Shaun Moore, of Moore Appraisal Firm in Helena. "People often move to the state and then realize they can't afford Bozeman."
Moore said the overflow from Bozeman has affected the cost of housing most in Three Forks, Townsend and Helena, but it has also had a significant impact in Livingston. The influx of families who are willing to pay more for homes in these towns are driving up the market price, he said. Moore said most new home construction in the area is aimed at this market above $300,000.
The average cost of new construction in Helena was $332,000 in 2019, and inventory was even lower than it was in previous years. According to Moore, availability is the largest issue facing the Helena housing market. He said there aren't many homes in the most affordable range, and that most available homes cost more than $350,000.
The largest concentration of availability is within the city of Helena, specifically in the area near the Capitol building. There is very high demand for city lots to build on with next to no availability.