Area home sales return to pre-recession levels


By Samantha Hill
Enterprise Staff Writer 

The number of people buying homes has returned to pre-recession levels and the cost of homes is rising in Park County. 

In a recent report by the Gallatin Association of Realtors taking all the data from home buying in the county, over 239 homes were sold in 2015, the highest it has been since before the 2008 recession. The number has increased steadily since 2013.

According to Maverick Realty owner Michelle Becker, the highest sales volume in the county was in 2005 with 256 sales. 

However, the cost of a home in 2005 was almost $50,000 less than it was in 2015. The median cost of homes is also returning after it hit a high in 2008 with $221,000. Prices decreased to $146,500 at its lowest in 2012. It steadily began to rise, hitting $219,000 in 2015.

While Livingston played a major contributor to the decline in Park County home prices during the recession, Shields Valley and Paradise Valley have seen more fluctuation since 2007. In both areas, sales dropped after 2007, then rose again in 2010 before falling and hit a final upswing in 2015. 

ERA Landmark Manager Tom Gehan said he believes people have been buying more homes in 2015 because the interest rates are good, and people’s jobs and credit are improving. 

Gehan said the market for houses in Park County will continue to rise because the economy is thriving and there has been some demand from those commuting to Bozeman for work. 

Becker agreed that growth in Bozeman is playing a factor in Park County’s growing real estate market. 

People from the Gallatin County area made up about 11 percent of the sales between 2014 and 2015, she said. 

Becker said cost plays a major factor in the decision to purchase a home in Livingston versus Bozeman. 

The median cost of a home in the Bozeman area is $362,000, which is 55 percent higher than the median cost of a home in Livingston at $200,000. 

Although the demand for houses have increased, demand for townhouses and condos has gone down. In 2007, there were 39 sold but since then it has decreased to 12 in 2015. Gehan said this is because there isn’t a high demand for those types of houses in Park County. 

“People can get houses with their own backyard — they will take that,” Gehan said.