houses

If you talk to a realtor, they'd most likely tell you buying a house in Great Falls could be done at a fair price and offer stability.

In fact, every house sold in Montana adds just under $70,000 dollars to the state’s economy.

However, in today's market, buying a house isn’t as easy as it looks.

“Great Falls has always been a pretty stable market, even through the housing crash,” explains Terry Thompson, the Chief Executive Officer of Great Falls Assoc. of REALTORS.

While this is true, Terry explains you won't see too many homes being built inside the city limits.

“Builders tend to build in the county in our community because of regulatory issues,” said Thompson.

These regulatory issues include lot space, zoning, and soil samples, discouraging contractors from building within the city.

However, city regulations aren't the only issues the housing market faces.

“Low supply of inventory. You know, even for our home builds that are taking place tend to be in the higher price range,” explains Thompson.

Currently, the median price range for a home in Great Falls is $187,000, which is a price tag many people are struggling to meet.

“In our own community, that's one of our struggles is to find enough affordable housing for the wages that are being paid in our community,” further explains Thompson.

With many businesses trying to grow and expand, they're faced with a simple problem.

Where will their employees live?

This leads to the classic question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg?

 Or in this case, affordable wages or more housing?

“One has to precede the other in some way shape or form. I mean, you want to bring in business and industry but they need places to live and that's always a concern,” says Thompson.

The same issue applies to renting in Great Falls.

In fact, the Great Falls Association of REALTORS reports it's better to purchase a house and pay a mortgage rather than rent a property.

“For the wages that we have in our community, I think our rents are pretty high in relation to that, and that's where the affordability factor comes in. And so there are several lenders that offer great first time buyer programs,” explains Thompson.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, roughly 66% of the Great Falls population owns a home, with 34% renting.

However, Great Falls has seen a 9% increase of houses sold compared to this time last year.

Regardless, if Great Falls ever wants to see growth, the Great Falls Association of REALTORS says the first step is housing.

“Someone has to be bold enough and brave enough to do those builds and you know, that's going to mean working with the city, or the county; in particular, our city, to open it up so that development is easier so that we can encourage businesses to come to our city,” explains Thompson.

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