KALISPELL — Thanks to tourism and many other factors, Flathead County is a very desirable place for people to settle down.
“I don’t want the community to feel like well everyone from every out of state is moving to Kalispell Montana, but you know we always have people moving home you know aging parents that need help and my classmates are starting to move home right so they because they finally reached a place in their life where they can move back home," said Chuck Olson Real Estate broker Wendy Brown -- who is also a member of the Northwest Montana Association of Realtors (NMAR).
The NMAR says that anyone who wanted to move to Montana during 2020, made that decision this year. “Anyone that had Montana on the mind this year rather than waiting so just like anything else and they did in other markets too, anybody who was going to buy a new car bought that car this year," said NMAR member Zac Andrews.
The average cost of a home in Flathead County is $626,000 -- which is nearly 70% more than Missoula County -- but with low inventory in the area, it pushed many people to build their own homes.
“So we had an influx of people and we already relatively low inventory. So a lot of times that will push people into land and building but we also have [a] scarcity of materials, so the cost of buildings are buildings a lot higher and so that push people back into existing even quicker and so it's just kind of building on itself," said Andrews.
Due to the influx of people moving into the Flathead Valley realtors saw a 31% increase of home sales from 2019 to 2020.
“The Flathead has seen a resumption of the faster than average housing price growth the poster child remains Bozeman but that's a spot that a lot of Montana cities actually don't want to be in," said Patrick Barkey, the Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.
But what makes the Flathead so popular for people wanting to move? “This area is more popular because it offers more, we have more lakes and more rivers we have arguably more aesthetic forests and things like that than a lot of other places in the state," said Andrews.
But with higher prices of housing, sellers, primarily in the older generation are getting wealthier by selling their homes. “There is a generational thing going on here, and we boomers are much more likely to have homes and we have been on this nice little roller coaster where our wealth is going up, up, up without us having to do much about it," said Barkey.
The Northwest Montana Association of Realtors reports that sales of luxury homes in the Flathead Valley have doubled and expect the numbers to increase again in 2021.