Home prices continue to climb in Whitefish

Cougar Ridge Whitefish

By DANIEL MCKAY, Whitefish Pilot, June 21, 2016

Home prices in Whitefish continued to rise in the first half of 2016, raising concerns of affordability in the future.

According to a report from Kelley Appraisal of Kalispell, 133 homes in Whitefish have sold so far this year, a 10.8 percent increase compared to the first half of 2015. However, the median price for Whitefish homes also rose from $312,500 last year to $316,361 in 2016, continuing a steady increase that began in 2013. These figures include 3.5 miles outside of the Whitefish city limits. Kelley did not compile sales for only within city limits.

The steady rise in home prices is a result of low interest rates, Jim Kelley, who compiled the report said, which is a cause for concern. If increases continue, the median price of homes will keep inching toward the high of $328,500 in 2007.

“I think it raises some red flags. Interest rate are at record lows,” he said. “At some point they’re going to increase and that’s going to affect affordability.”

“Whitefish is just doing everything it can to price itself out of the market, for everybody except people outside of the state who have the money to buy something.”

Wendy Brown, president of the Northwest Montana Association of Realtors, said price increases in Whitefish will likely continue as long as people are willing to pay high prices.

“It’s a highly desired area and people are willing to pay those prices. And in Whitefish specifically, there’s just not a lot of housing available, so obviously supply and demand plays a part,” she said.

Kelley said only about 14 percent of current active listings are at or below the median sold price, meaning prospective homeowners are looking at prices above the median for the majority of listings. On the positive side, Kelley said the amount of new construction is increasing, as the costs of building versus buying begin to level out.

Four lakeshore homes have sold in Whitefish this year at a median price of $1.5 million, a 31.5 percent increase from last year’s price. Three lakefront homes were sold in the first half of 2015 and nine sold in the entire year.

In most of Flathead County residential sales dropped while prices continued to rise. While more homes sold in Whitefish and Lakeside, that wasn’t the case in Kalispell, Columbia Falls and Bigfork. According to the report, foreclosure notices in the county continued to decrease as well, the exception being a small increase in June. Residentails ales in the county decreased slightly from 743 to 740 in the first half of 2015, but the median home price was $246,637, a 4.7 percent increase. Home sales in Kalisepll also fell two percent, while the median price rose to $212,250.

The median home prcie rose everywhere but Columbia Falls. Seventy-eight homes have sold in Columbia Falls this year, down five from this time last year. The median price of homes there has also fallen 3.8 percent to $197,250.

Brown said the lack of sub-$200,000 housing options in Whtieish has continued to funnel prospective homeowners into Columbia Falls instead.

The full report is available at www.kelleyappraisal.net.