June 27th, 2022

Why Are Houses So Expensive In Bozeman?

Bozeman Home Building Boom

Why Are Homes Expensive In Bozeman, Montana?

June 2022: Houses are so expensive in Bozeman because of the low availability of land , high cost of land , high cost of labor , high cost of building materials , limited supply of homes for sale .

Photo the decreasing availability of land is why houses are expensive in Bozeman, Montana.
Chart 1: Availability of land is low in Bozeman.

Five Simple Reasons Why Houses Are So Expensive In Bozeman

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: (disregard “homes” in title)  Consider the availability of land under ¼ acre in greater Bozeman–includes inside and outside city limits.

Availability of lots under 1-acre has been on the decline since March 2016, when there were 360 lots for sale. Today, in June 2022–more than 5 years later–there are only 26 for sale, a decline of ⇓ 334 lots or ⇓ 128.5%.

The number of lots for sale under ¼ acres began rising a bit in mid-2018 until mid-2021, after which it dropped for a few months but is on the rise again.

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 are only 4 lots for sale in greater Bozeman.

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

In every size range of land for sale in greater Bozeman, there are 67 parcels listed in June 2022, 17 in the city and 56 outside the city.

Photo of graph of rising cost of land in Bozeman, MT.
Chart 2: The rising cost of land in Bozeman.

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.

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

And, since the pandemic–about 2 years–prices have skyrocketed.

Ironically, after Covid began, the median price for all Bozeman land was slowly rising until mid-2020. Then it rose significantly from $174,000 in June 2020 to the present $400,000, which is ⇑ $226,000 or a ⇑ 129.9% increase in 24 months.

In June 2022, Bozeman land prices have 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 have increased from $131,700 last June to today’s $306,500, a ⇑ $174,800 or a ⇑ 132.7% increase.

Outside the city, during the last year, the price rose from $325,000 to the present $526,000, an increase of ⇑ $201,000 or ⇑ 61.8%.

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

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.

Photo US Lumber Prices 2019 to 2022
US Lumber Prices 2019 to 2022

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

Chart 3: Today, in June 2022, lumber prices have begun rising again; it’s now $611/1000 board feet; last June, lumber prices were $650/1000 board feet.

In May 2021, the price for lumber was $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 very high and land is 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.

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.

Photo Year-over-year decreasing number of homes to buy is why houses are expensive in Bozeman.
Chart 4: Year-over-year decreasing number of homes to purchase in Bozeman.

Hot Market: High Competition For Limited Number of Homes

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

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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