Sales see large uptick, new projects double

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Houses for sale on Granite Drive in Whitefish. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

Home sales in Whitefish last year saw a large uptick, while new residential home development more than doubled in the city.

There were 194 homes sold within the city limits last year, according to a report by Kelley Appraisal of Kalispell. That’s an almost 40 percent increase from the previous year, following two years of decreases in the number of sales in 2013 and 2014, according to Jim Kelley who compiles the annual home sales report.

According to the city of Whitefish Planning and Building Department’s annual report, there were 156 new dwelling units permitted in 2016 compared with 67 in 2015.

City Planning Director Dave Taylor said the increase in the number of permits seems to fall in-line with a recently completed workforce housing study showing the city will need 980 residential units by 2020 to keep up with current demand.

“There is currently a shortage of service workers and housing,” Taylor said in his report. “The deficit of available residential units has translated into 10 year highs in duplex and multi-family residential development, which counted for more than two-thirds or our residential new construction.”

Taylor estimates the economic investment of the residential development at over $32 million.

According to the Kelley report, this January there were 126 homes on the market within the city limits compared to 142 in January 2016.

“With 126 current listings, this represents 7.8 months of inventory compared to 6.1 months of inventory in Flathead County,” Kelley says in his report. “Last year at this time there was 12.3 months inventory in Whitefish.”

Kelley says that last year was mostly stable for sales with numbers similar to the last three years.

“Subdivision activity continues near its all-time low, but the inventory of bank-owned has mostly gone away,” he said. “There is some new interest in development, but mostly within city limits. There continues to be little interest in rural subdivision development.”

According to the city report, seven new subdivisions were approved in Whitefish last year with 51 new lots receiving preliminary plat, which is more than twice the number for 2015.

“Current planning, including subdivisions, conditional use permits, and other types of land use applications, continued to be busy in 2016,” Taylor notes.

Whitefish reported 156 building permits issued for new home construction, which includes 49 single-family residences, 16 duplex or townhouses and 91 multi-family units.

Permits for singe-family homes and duplexes stayed fairly even in 2016 as compared to the previous year. The increase came as the result of multi-family units, which had seven permits recorded in 2015 compared with the 91 in 2016.

Commercial construction continued to increase with 11 new commercial buildings, up from four in 2015. Taylor said that equates to over $19 million in estimated project costs.

The median home price in Whitefish in 2016 increased to $325,000, according to the Kelley report. This is slight increase from 2015 when the median home price was $320,000.

In Flathead County, there were 1,680 home sales in 2016 compared with 1,683 in 2015. The year 2015 was the best year for home sales since 2006 and last year was at the same level, Kelley notes.

The median price in the county finished at $255,000, which is 5.2 percent above the 2015 median of $242,500.

Columbia Falls for the sixth year in a row has seen home sales in the city limits increase or at least stay even. There were 98 homes sold in the city limits last year, which is the most ever sold in the city limits according to Kelley’s data. This follows 2015 when 90 homes were sold in the city.

The Kalispell market was up slightly — 470 homes sold, up 4.4 percent over 2015. The median price in Kalispell was $206,775.

When looking at the Whitefish market including the rural area 3.5 miles outside city limits, the volume of sales was almost even with 290 homes sold, which is two less than in 2015.

Twelve homes sold on Whitefish Lake last year, which is up slightly from the nine sold in 2015. The median price for those homes is at $1.87 million, up 2.4 percent over 2015.

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