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Housing options remain limited in Missoula

Housing limited in Missoula
Posted at 3:03 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 17:03:33-04

Back in June, we told you about an influx in homebuyers looking to move to Montana. Now, real estate agents say there might not be enough realty for everyone.

Erin and Josiah Russell live in a Missoula townhouse with their five kids.

“Everybody’s situation is different, but we’re just trying to move on with our life, in spite of the things going on around us,” said Erin. “We’ve seen a lot of good places, just nothing that’s been a good fit for us yet.”

Josiah added they want more space, and a bigger yard to play games in, "we’re kinda in the point where in the kitchen and the dining room area, we’re literally bumping into each other.”

But they've been looking since Memorial Day, and can’t seem to find something suitable. Realtors say that’s because in Missoula there isn’t enough housing inventory. Missoula Organization of Realtors president DJ Smith says lack of inventory of affordable housing is a longstanding local issue, that is being highlighted by COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a crisis before COVID. I think what COVID has done is illustrated that it’s going to be something that our community has to address," Smith explained. "We're having this influx. And if we want to keep our families and our kids in Missoula, we're going to have to do more for inventory."

A recently released Missoula Organization of Realtors housing report shows that Missoula saw a 37% increase in new construction sales last year, as well as a slight increase in homes sold, from 1,482 in 2018 to 1,504 in 2019. That's coupled with limited new development -- less than 500 new units -- the lowest in six years.

Smith added that the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping people from selling. “We've definitely seen a decrease in people willing to put their houses on the market.”

For an area like Missoula, that already had limited availability, this could have a lasting impact. “It’s driving up prices,” explained Smith.

The Russells still said they trust they’ll find a home that fits them.

“We’ll all get through this. It’s a little rocky road, but it’s not bad. We’ll be all right as a community and as a family,” said Josiah.

They hope to sell their townhouse after finding a new home to move into.