July 22, 2021
In the latest index rankings published on Tuesday, July 20, smaller cities dominate. The number two metro area is Coeur d’Alene, the lakeside Idaho city that held the top position when the index premiered in April.
Rounding out the top five are Fort Wayne, Indiana; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Raleigh, North Carolina.
The index identifies the top metro areas for home buyers seeking an appreciating housing market and appealing lifestyle amenities. This quarter’s version added the new criteria of real-estate taxes, which caused some areas in the Northeast, Midwest, and Texas with higher property taxes to fall in the rankings.
Billings is the biggest city in Montana, with a metro-area population of about 184,000. This quarter, Billings rose from the fourth spot to the first, due to its low unemployment, affordability and booming housing market. Billings had a 3% unemployment rate in May, or about half the national rate.
Much of the strength in the Billings housing market has been driven by out-of-state buyers—from coastal states, from California and Washington to Kentucky and Texas, says Deb Parker, broker owner of Parker & Co. Real Estate Services in Billings. Many move to the area because they have the flexibility to work remotely, she said.
About 65% of page views on Billings property listings came from outside the metro area in the second quarter, up from about 57% a year earlier, according to Realtor.com.
Smaller markets in Montana, including Bozeman, also saw an influx of buyers during the pandemic. Some of the top reasons out-of-state buyers chose Montana were safety and security, concerns about COVID-19, and the state’s smaller population, according to a survey of Montana real-estate agents by Montana State University .
The average single-family home-sale price in Billings and the surrounding area was $376,248 in June, up 32% from a year earlier, according to the Billings Association of Realtors.
Research contact: @WSJ