Local housing market remains steady amid virus

Alex Mitchell Star Intern
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
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A house along Main Street sits with a sale pending sign outside on the lawn. STAR PHOTO/Alex Mitchell

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people at home for the past months, people are still moving in Miles City.

The housing market has remained steady in Miles City, according to several local real estate agencies.

At Integrity Realty, they have seen no difference in sales between past years and the present in spite of COVID-19 broker and owner Robbin Makelky said. It’s the same with Hometown Real Estate, who has sold 37 listings this year as of June 7. For comparison, they had sold 38 listings at this time last year. Hardesty & Associates Real Estate has seen better success than the past years on average, with them having pending sales on about 50% of their supply compared to about 25% to 30% in past years.

Miles City’s steadiness breaks away from national housing market trends due to the pandemic.

“We definitely don’t follow the trends for the national average,” Hardesty broker Amber Rainey said. “The national average says the housing market is down by 22%, and that’s not the case for Miles City. We’re different.”

One such difference between Miles City and the nation is the length that houses are listed on the market with houses remaining on the market 27% longer compared to last year according to realtor.com for the month of May. For instance, Hometown has seen a 2% decrease in the days listings are on market. Hometown supervising broker and owner Melynda Hould believes it is due to the economic support that Miles City has for this consistency.

“We really are in our own little piece of heaven,” she said. “We (Miles City) don’t rely on much that could have been greatly affected by COVID, and it’s because we are so government based. We have a lot of anchors such as hospitals, Pine Hills, Fort Keogh and BLM (Bureau of Land Management). People like physicians are still going to need to move in town.”

Another reason for continued housing purchasing in Miles City is that although house prices have remained the same, federal interest rates are lower and people “are coming out to take advantage of that,” according to Rainey.

Which means more appeal to move during Covid-19, and while there has been increased out-of-state interest in Montana as a place to move to during the pandemic according to the Associated Press. Miles City has not been met with the same sort of interest. Instead, agencies like Hardesty are selling homes to mostly local buyers. Out of the roughly 30 pending sales there is only one being out-of-state, who is planning to lease the building.

“A lot of locals are just upgrading to bigger houses and some people who have bigger houses, are just downsizing, because they don’t have kids living there anymore,” Rainey said.

Although houses are being purchased at about the same demand of past years, some homeowners in Miles City are choosing to hold off on listing their house.

At Hardesty, who currently has roughly 60 total listings, has about 40 less than the past few years average. Rainey explains this to “people being more comfortable in their houses after Covid-19.”

Hometown has also seen this difference with 10 less houses on the market from their 57 last year. Hould sees this as people choosing to put money into their own house during the pandemic, instead of opting to sell.

Despite that, both Rainey and Hould express hope for the housing market in Miles City after COVID-19 with them seeing the steady spring sales similar to the pre-pandemic world.

“It makes me happy to see that buyers aren’t scared even in real estate, with people losing their jobs left and right, that they still feel comfortable to make their payments,” Rainey said.

“When we had that big mortgage crisis in 2007, we had fewer foreclosures in Miles City than we have seen in the past years,” Hould said. “So there is really nothing to be said about the housing market in Miles City, only that we can manage it.”

(Contact Alex Mitchell at mcstarintern@gmail.com or 406-234-0450.)