Uncertainty continues to be the top concern as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic. States are beginning to open with Montana ready to move into phase 2 by June 1st. Everyone is eager to return to some sort of normalcy, whatever this new normal may be. It is still hard to predict what the Bozeman real estate market will look like as we enter our usual busy season, we know that while the real estate market slowed down a bit in the early days of the coronavirus, it is coming back strong. In this week's podcast, we sat down with Bozeman Real Estate Group owner, Andrew Hurlburt to discuss what the Bozeman real estate market has looked like these last few months, and what he expects to see as we move forward.
In the first few days of the pandemic reaching our country, many thought Montana may stay isolated. It escalated quickly and people began to see the severity of things. The financial market was a leading factor with the stock market taking big hits. That quickly trickled to the real estate market and most buyers and sellers hit the pause button. People were nervous and pulled listings off the market. Buyers and investors were shaken up and sidelined deals. Businesses were figuring out if and how they could move forward, while employees were unsure if they still had jobs. The initial onset was a scary time as we realized this pandemic was going to impact everyone. It was a quiet couple of weeks in the real estate world as everyone hunkered down to see how things would play out.
Even before Montana entered phase 1 of reopening, we saw the real estate market start to come back. We began to see listings and contracts pick back up. People who had pulled their listings off the market put them back on and felt comfortable having showings in their homes again. Consumer confidence returned and with that active buyers. There has been an increase in out-of-state interest as people reconsider living in hard-hit urban areas.
It's hard to say exactly what is driving the Bozeman real estate market. We are coming off what is generally the slow winter season in real estate so this is when we normally see things pick up. Compared to last year, the Bozeman market is a little slow, which is to be expected. Average home prices increased around 3.5% this year compared to last April so it is clearly still growing, just not as quickly as if you compare to years past. The previous year over year increase was around 12% so we're actually seeing more manageable growth numbers. These increases indicate that Bozeman still has a very strong, very healthy real estate market.
There has been mention in the media that more people will be looking to communities like Bend OR, Boise ID or Bozeman as this all plays out. People wanting to leave metropolitan areas for a smaller town, especially with so many people now working remotely. Bozeman is an ideal choice because we offer the quality of life of a small town while still offering amenities like nice restaurants, culture, and a big airport with direct flights to many cities. While there certainly will be some who have the desire and the means to leave metropolitan areas, only time will tell how big of an impact this will actually have on Bozeman's real estate market.
Predicting what the real estate market will look like in 2020 is tough enough, throw a pandemic in there and it's nearly impossible. There are many contributing factors that will impact how 2020 will play out. There are many already making predictions for the fall, even though we have just barely entered spring. Companies like Facebook and Google have said they will be working remotely until the new year. There are large school systems saying they for sure will back to in-class teaching come fall while others saying no way. A lot will depend on how these next months of the pandemic go, and how people react to it. These outside factors could certainly have an effect on the real estate market. However, in Bozeman, we have a lot of stabilizing factors that indicate our real estate market will remain strong.
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