March 22nd, 2023

Why Are Houses So Expensive In Bozeman?

Bozeman Home Building Boom

Why Are Homes Expensive In Bozeman, Montana? Let’s Count The Reasons…

Houses are still expensive in Bozeman in 2023 due to the low availability of land , the high cost of land , the high cost of labor , the high cost of building materials , and the limited supply of homes for sale .

Five simple reasons why houses are so (remain) expensive in Bozeman.

Reason 1. Availability of Land Is Low in Bozeman

Houses are so expensive in Bozeman because of the diminishing amount of land for sale in Bozeman.

Chart 1: Consider the availability of land under ½ acre–9–in greater Bozeman–includes inside and outside city limits.

Photo Availability of land remains low in Bozeman in 2023.
Chart 1: Availability of land remains low in Bozeman in 2023.

Also, looking at quarter, the availability of lots under 1-acre–33–has been bouncing around below 30 since late 2020, when there were 2 lots for sale.

In Q1 2021 there were only 2 lots under 1 acre for sale, a decline of ⇓ 261 lots or ⇓ 99%.

The number of lots for sale under ½ acres began rising late-2018, peaked at the end of 2019 at 264, and has been below 175, even below 10 or less, since.

The amount of available ¼ acre lots dropped from 54 parcels in January 2020 to 8 parcels in June 2022, a ⇓ 200% decrease in a little over 2 years.

In the ¼ to ½ acre lot range, there were only 4 lots for sale in greater Bozeman in June 2022.

And, there were just 13 lots for sale in greater Bozeman from ½ to 1 acre. In this price range, for sale numbers increased 116% from August 2021 to June 2022.

Today, in every size range of land for sale in Bozeman, there are 85 parcels listed, 29 in the city and 56 outside the city.

Reason 2. Cost of Land is High in Bozeman

As a result of low availability of land in Bozeman, land is costly, contributing to why houses are expensive in Bozeman.

Photo The shifting cost of land in Bozeman.
Chart 2: The shifting cost of land in Bozeman.

Chart 2: The overall, average price of land in greater Bozeman has been steadily rising since early 2017.

And, since the pandemic–around March 2020–prices have skyrocketed.

After Covid began, the median price for Bozeman land started increasing and only began decreasing 6months ago, but land remains expensive.

The price for Bozeman land rose significantly from $174,000 in June 2020 to June 2022’s $400,000, which was a ⇑ $226,000 or a ⇑ 129.9% increase in 24 months.

In early 2023, the median price for all sizes of land is $420,000.

In June 2022, land prices flattened for all sizes of land.

Inside the city of Bozeman, land prices were stagnant from mid-2018 to mid-2021, beginning a dramatic rise in Q1 2021.

Since then, median prices increased from $131,700 in June 2021 to June 2022’s $306,500, a ⇑ $174,800 or a ⇑ 132.7% increase.

Today, nearing Q2, 2023, land costs 286,500 in the city of Bozeman.

Outside the city, during the same period, the price rose from $325,000 to June 2022’s $526,000, an increase of ⇑ $201,000 or ⇑ 61.8%.

Today, on the edge of Q2, 2023, land costs $622,000 outside the city of Bozeman.

Photo Bozeman Montana construction worker labor shortage is why houses are expensive in Bozeman.
Bozeman Construction Worker Labor Shortage

Reason 3. High Labor Costs in Bozeman

Though laborer jobs exist, because the building trade is in overdrive, competition for “good” laborers is high among builders, pushing hourly wages to record highs in Bozeman.

According to one luxury home builder in Bozeman, framers are making up to $55/hour and a finish carpenter can make $45/hour in Bozeman.

According to Bozeman Job Service, an inexperienced laborer can make from $15-$25/hour.

Subcontractors have difficulty finding and keeping crews, as competition for workers weakens loyalty and drives up wages.

These and lesser reasons are contributing to why houses are so expensive in Bozeman, Montana.

Reason 4. The Cost of Building Materials Continues to Rise Across the U.S.

Photo US Lumber Prices 2019 to 2022.
Chart 3: US Lumber Prices 2019 to 2022.

Chart 3: Reason 4: In March 2023, lumber prices have dropped significantly to $444/1000 board feet.

Compare this to May 2021 when the price for lumber was a whopping $1684/1000 board feet (1″x12″x12″), an all-time record.

The forecast was for prices to begin decreasing spring 2021, and prices fell below $1000/1000 board feet in mid-June 2021.

Demand for homes in Bozeman is still high and land remains at a premium, if you can find it.

Across all U.S. markets, lumber mills have been unable to run at full capacity due to Covid, thus the record high price for lumber in 2021. 

Photo Year-over-year decreasing number of homes to purchase in Bozeman until early 2022.
Chart 4: Year-over-year decreasing number of homes to purchase in Bozeman until early 2022.

Home building costs vary depending on many factors: square footage, room configuration, price of land, types of finishes, level of appliances, and anything else that goes above and beyond the basics of a home.

Reason 5. Competition Remains High For A Limited Number of Homes

Chart 4: Reason 5: Availability of homes in the Bozeman area has been decreasing for many years, from 395, May 2020 to 136 in June of 2022, decrease of ⇓ 259 or a ⇓ 190.4% decrease in 2 years.

Nearing the end of Q1, 2023, we are back up, at 182 at the end of Q1, 2023. 

The decade-long, downward slide in homes for sale increased significantly in May 2020, as refugees from Covid arrived and purchased homes in Bozeman.

This steep decline in homes for sale flattened in late summer 2021, but remains very low, contributing to why homes are expensive in Bozeman.

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Taunya Fagan

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