MISSOULA — Real estate agents are saying people are more interested in moving to Montana right now because they want to escape the COVID-19 pandemic.
Real estate is seeing all kinds of changes during the pandemic -- from virtual showings to people deciding not to sell their homes.
Now that the state of Montana is reopened, real estate agents say they’re seeing an increase in interest from out of state buyers.
“People are looking for that space, the beauty of Montana, and less congestion,” said Missoula Organization of Realtors President DJ Smith.
Smith said there is always an increase in home-buying interest during the summer, but pandemic restrictions in other places are pushing people to really make the move.
According to Montana Regional MLS data, people are buying more homes in Missoula County.
Statistics show that in May of 2019, there were almost 1,700 closed sales while May 2020 saw almost 1,800.
Meanwhile, Flathead County saw closed sales jump from over 1,900 in May 2019 to just over 2,100 this May.
Montana is a non-disclosure state, meaning data for the number of out of state buyers to in-state buyers is not available.
But Smith said, anecdotally, the pandemic seems to be the last straw for some home buyers: “They were already deciding to come to Montana, or other surrounding areas, and this was just an accelerant of their plans.”
Cindy and Pablo Rodriguez have been planning to leave California for a couple of years. “Here in L.A. it’s tough to raise a child nowadays, and with the whole COVID thing, it triggered a lot of thinking for us,” said Pablo.
Cindy said, "At the end of the day we’re moving for our son.” Their son is two years old, and Cindy said they want to give him a better life in Montana.
They recently put an offer in on a house in Billings. The couple says they look forward to recreating outdoors, meeting new people, and giving their son a chance to make new friends.
Their agent, Nancy Brook, says she’s gotten calls from people in New York, California, Washington, and Colorado looking to move.
She said she expects this trend to continue. “As long as interest rates are low, as long as Montana has a better economy than other places in the United States, I anticipate that more and more people are going to relocate to our state.”
Smith said an influx in people could lead to issues like increased costs.
He also said some people looking for homes in Missoula have noticed a lack of inventory, a problem he says existed before the pandemic.