Missoula Thrives Through Housing Downturn

Planned communities, smaller lots keep small Montana town residents optimistic.

On Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 19:56
Missoula, MT

While real estate nationwide has not been a walk in the park over the last year, Missoulians have found their scenic setting and planned communities pair well with homeowners who want to be able to take a literal walk in the park.

The median home price in 2007 was $219,550. While the area has been affected by the downtown experienced across the nation, Missoula’s real estate has felt less impact than other areas. In concluding their 2008 housing report, the Missoula Organization of Realtors acknowledged nationwide real estate challenges but added, “Yet, we would assert that the Missoula market has at least two significant advantages working in our favor.

The first is quite practical: If any downturn we may experience lags the national market, we have more time to find solutions. The second is less tangible, but we’d hope no less real: We are resilient people with the blessing of a diverse economy.”

A strategy for development

Using land located within existing infrastructure, designing planned communities and identifying innovative building solutions demonstrate the community’s commitment to addressing varying housing needs and preferences. In Missoula, people find a number of housing options, neighborhoods and amenities such as parks, recreational opportunities, and hiking and biking trails to meet the demand for housing in an active, small city. Empty lots have continued to sell, although they are smaller than they have been in recent years. Missoula enjoys slow but steady population growth among college students and full-time residents and rental housing is a hot commodity in college towns like Missoula, where two-bedroom units are particularly popular. Neighborhoods such as Riverfront offer housing on the edge of the Hip Strip, a retail center featuring boutiques and restaurants. Homeowners are close to outdoor recreation opportunities as well as the city’s baseball stadium, home of minor-league team, Missoula Osprey (and where their namesakes sometimes are seen to nest).