Missoula’s Neighborhood Trends, Lewis & Clark

The south-central area of Missoula in the valley is widely referred to as the “Lewis and Clark” neighborhood as the elementary school servicing most all of that area is Lewis and Clark Elementary.  This area features mostly 60’s through 80’s built homes, many are ranchers of varying sizes, but many of which are larger than those you’d find in the South Hills area.  Additionally there is some over-lap just to the west of Russell Street but to the east of Brooks that is included in this area as well.


Starting with 2010 I’m getting a return of 48 total sales with a median sales price of $220,000.  These 48 sales took on average 92 days to sell.  The median list price for these homes was $229,450 which returns that homes were selling for 96% of their original listing price.  There was just 1 foreclosure sales in the area.


Hopping forward to 2011, sales slid down just a bit to 45 total units with a median sales price of $206,000.  These sales took on average 102 days to sell.  The median listing price for these homes was at $220,000 so homes were selling at 94% of their original listing price.  The amount of foreclosure sales doubled!  From 1… to 2.


So volume is about the same but the median sales price really came down in this area.  It would appear to me that the activity followed in line with similar style homes in the South Hills area and this neighborhood was forced to make a bit of a larger adjustment to keep pace.  Foreclosures didn’t really impact this area at all.  The overall volume represents a fairly small amount of Missoula’s total market, and this neighborhood traditionally doesn’t have a lot of homes for sale throughout the year.


Looking forward to 2012 the interesting thing to keep an eye on will be the values.  If surrounding areas (mostly the South Hills) have their median dip under $200,000 then this area might have to follow similar suit to keep pace.  Right now inventory/absorption in this area is really low at 2.67 months!  I’d say that if someone has a house to sell right now in the Lewis and Clark area you might want to test the waters as activity might be quick, however watch your pricing that will be key

Posted on January 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |

Missoula’s Neighborhood Trends, Farviews and South Hills

When standing in the Missoula valley these two areas make up most all of the hillside homes you’ll see on the south end of the valley that have been built up mostly before the mid-1980’s.  A little more south and west you’ll find the newer neighborhoods in Linda Vista and Maloney Ranch, I’ll report them in a separate post.  Generally it seems that Missoula started expanding first in the Farviews area in the 50’s and 60’s and then moved across to the South Hills area in the 70’s and 80’s.  The styles of homes follow suit.  Farviews boasts a lot of homes with flat roofs, giant 2-level fireplaces, smaller kitchens, and many homes with wet-bars in the basement.  Moving over to the South Hills we get a lot of basic split-level homes and 1-level ranchers.


In 2010 we saw 127 total residential sales in these combined areas with a median sales price of $209,900.  The average time on market for these homes that sold was 108 days.  The median list price on the 127 sales was at $212,500 showing a pretty strong final sales price at 99% of your original listing price.  I’m seeing that there were 9 foreclosure sales in this area which makes up for 7% of the market.


On to 2011, a very small decrease in volume of sales at 124, and the median sales price slid down just a bit as well at $207,450.  The average time on market extended out a bit to 131 days.  The median list price on these sold homes was $217,250 which shows that homes were selling for almost 95% of their original listing price.  Foreclosure sales climbed up a bit as well here with 15 sales, making up 12% of the market in 2011.


This area was a popular buy in 2010 because of the mostly affordable homes found in the South Hills area that were appealing to first time home buyers.  I was a little surprised to see such a high list to sales ratio, it suggests that people were not really negotiating much but agreeing to pay pretty close to list price to get a home up there.  2011 shows a bit of a return to a normal market where sellers were having to come down nearly 5% to get their home sold and the time on market extended out a bit.  Foreclosures climbed much like all other areas and are starting to have a bigger effect on values in these areas.


The 2011 absorption rates for this area taking in the last 12 months of sales numbers shows 6.87 months worth of total inventory is currently listed for sale in these areas.  That’s fairly healthy but much like all other neighborhoods I’m thinking it’ll climb much higher as spring approaches.

Posted on January 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |

Missoula’s Neighborhood Trends, The University Area / Slant Streets

The University area is home to a wide array of older houses full of character and charm.  It’s a neighborhood that’s blended with long-time Missoula residents, families, and students attending school.  It’s actually the area I grew up in, so it holds a special place for me.  The slant streets, aptly named b/c they “slant” at an angle off Higgins avenue neighbor the University area and feature a similar mix of homes but also blends in more houses built in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s as well.  Both neighborhoods largely feature boulevard areas with maple trees that can be found on the historic register in town, many are now over 100 years old!


Starting with 2010 I’m pulling 82 residential sales in this area with a median sales price of $228,500.  Of these 82 sales their average time on market was 111 days.  The median list price was $237,200 which shows that homes in this area which sold were getting exactly 96% of their original list price when selling.  In 2010 there were just 3 foreclosure sales in this area.


Jumping forward to 2011 there were 72 residential sales in the area with a median of $226,750.  The houses that sold spent an average time on market of 109 days.  The median list price was $234,450 showing that the homes which sold were getting 97% of their original list price.  Foreclosure sales jumped up a bit to 8 in 2011.


These numbers don’t come as a big surprise to me mostly because the “top end” of Missoula’s market has been battered for at least 3 years now and the University Area itself has traditionally been one of the more expensive places to buy.  Anyone who lives in this area can attest that finding an 80+ year old home in the U-area for under even $300,000 is still an incredibly difficult task.  The sales reported followed the trend most of Missoula has seen, the lower priced homes (more found in the slant streets and the further southern end of the university area) has pushed the median down.  Volume is slightly down, the median is just a hair lower, this area is almost totally built out and has been for a while so both of those numbers make good sense.   The amount of foreclosures is a slight surprise to me, even though it’s just 11% of the total sales in this area that’s higher than other parts of town which are considered lower income in general per the latest census data.


Pulling the 2011 absorption rates I’m seeing a 12-month trend of 7.33 months of inventory currently listed for sale in this area.  I expect in the next 2 to 3 months that will rise into double-digit figures as the anticipated “spring market” will see many more houses come up for sale in this area.


Looking forward I’m not seeing a lot of changes happening in these areas, the “top end” will continue to struggle and the lower priced homes will move well in a decent time-frame if priced accordingly.  It will be interesting to see if foreclosures keep rising, right now just over 1 in 10 sales in this area are foreclosures, if that rises over 20% then they’ll begin to be a real big factor in this area’s values

Posted on January 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |

Missoula’s neighborhood trends, the downtown / northside / old westside

Looking at the 2010 market first off I see that there were 52 residential sales with a median sales price of $175,000. The time on market for these sold homes only was 137 days. The median list price for these sold homes was $179,450 showing that these homes were selling for about 97% of their original list price. In 2010 there was just 1 foreclosure sale in this area.


Fast forward to 2011 and we have 58 residential sales with a median sales price of $152,950. The time on market for these sold homes only was 122 days. The median list price was $159,900 so we see that for the sold homes only they were selling for 95.6% of their original listing price. 2011 saw a rise in foreclosures, there were 6 foreclosure sales in this area.


So comparing 2010 to 2011 I’m seeing lots of similarities to the Rattlesnake market report that I just completed as well. We’ve got a slight uptick in volume of sales but a drop in median values. Volume was up 11.5% while median sales price dropped by 12.6%… a pretty sharp decrease. Foreclosure sales have a bit of an impact here on this but not a large one. Time on market dropped back a bit and we see that those who sold their homes had to reduce their prices a little further than they did in the year past. This makes sense to me comparing 2011 to 2010 simply because this was one area that was highly influenced by the first time home buyer tax credit. In 2010 buyers were rushing to get homes and paying a little more by the late spring just to tie a house up, in 2011 there was no incentive to buy homes so the market returned to a more “normal” stage. What’s good to see is that the 2011 volume was up despite no tax-credit incentives to buy though.


Once again, I can’t pull the 2010 absorption rates which unfortunately is a much more true picture of the market as it takes active and under contract homes into account. Looking at the 2011 absorption rates when calculated over the last 12 months I’m pulling a current number of 7.86 months worth of inventory listed for sale. This is probably a very low and optimistic number right now as there are presumably a lot of homes waiting to hit the market until spring arrives.


Looking forward I think that foreclosures in this area could come up and start to play a bigger role in 2011. Additionally many of these houses that were selling above their probable fair market value in 2010 have adjusted back down in 2011, that could continue on for 2012 and maybe beyond. Activity should stay roughly the same and until national financing rules change all of the built-up condos in this area will remain as rentals.

Posted on January 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |

Missoula’s neighborhood trends, The Rattlesnake

First off, the beautiful Rattlesnake Valley, the mouth of which features some of the oldest homes in Missoula.  A largely residential area that has seen very little to no new construction growth.  Historically this area has held it’s values which have usually been well over the median of Missoula’s entire market.


First off lets look at 2010.  There were 50 residential sales with a median sales price of $314,950.  The average time on market for the sold listings only was 116 days.  The median listing price of homes in the Rattlesnake for 2010 was $334,000 so comparing median list to median sales you get homes selling for about 94% of their original list price based upon these 50 sales.  Of these 50 sales there was just 1 foreclosure sale.


Now fast forward to 2011.  There were 59 residential sales with a median sales price of $285,000.  The average time on market for the sold listings only was 125 days.  The median listing price of homes int he Rattlesnake for 2011 was $300,000 so if you compare median list to median sales we see that homes are selling for 95% of their original listing price.   Of these 59 sales there were just 3 foreclosure sales.


Comparing the two we see some good news and some challenging news.  First of all, activity is up by just 9 sales but since this market is smaller in volume that represents an 18% increase in overall volume.  However, what we see is a big dip in median sales price, just over a 9.5% decrease.  We did see that the time on market extended just a touch and pricing closer to the sales price improved just slightly as well.


Of course the big challenge is that I cannot go back and pull up the 2010 absorption rates, that is a much more true comparison of the markets because it takes active and under contract homes into account.  Looking at the 2011 numbers the current 12-month calculated absorption rate shows that the Rattlesnake currently has 8.5 months worth of inventory listed, a small over-supply.  However calculating absorption rates in the winter over a 12 month time-frame will usually pull more optimistic numbers because in the winter a lot of people take listings off the market and wait until the spring.


Looking forward I expect things to maintain a similar course for this area.  Sales will probably hang around similar numbers in volume.  Right now there is just 1 pending sale in the Rattlesnake so it’s a slow early start up there, but their sales usually pick up in the summer.   Foreclosures do not play a major role at all in this area and will not have a significant impact on values again, I would think.

Posted on January 4, 2012 at 6:08 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |

Year end reviews of Missoulas neighborhoods

I thought as a fun way to kick off 2012 would be to do an overview report of Missoula’s various neighborhoods to show the activity of 2011, how that compared to 2010, and give some thoughts/opinions on what those areas might expect for 2012.
The neighborhoods I’ll break apart as follows:

– Rattlesnake

– Downtown/Northside/Old Westside

– University Area / Slant Streets

– Farviews and South Hills

– Lewis and Clark / south-central area

– Central Missoula

– Miller Creek (Linda Vista and Maloney as well as Upper Miller Creek)

– Target Range

– Mullan Road & Expressway

– Grant Creek

– Lolo

– East Missoula to Clinton

– Frenchtown


I’ll probably do 2 or 3 per day and I’m hoping to have them all complete by the end of the week.


Happy New Year everyone!

Posted on January 3, 2012 at 7:30 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |

Missoula’s final 2011 absorption rates

OK from two perspectives, first we’ll do a 30 day look-back and then a 6 month look-back for a broad perspective.  As always my data comes from the Missoula Organization of Realtors MLS.  Additionally I sort our data by the brackets that MOR uses as well.
Absorption rates represent how much inventory is currently listed on the market.  What I put together is all active listings and then divide that number by the amount of sold properties.  On the 30 day look-back I pull all the sold numbers from that 30 day time span.  On the 6 month I do the same but when I take active, divide by sold, I then multiply that number by 6 which returns the 6 month absorption rate.
Generally a good market is where you see months (supply) under 6 to 8 months of supply.  8 to 12 is a bit of oversupply, and 12+ months of inventory shows signs of pretty heavy over-supply.  Ususally this time of year most all of our absorption rates are in double digits in the 10 to 18 month range as our sales trends usually slow down over the holiday seasons.


Last 30 days: 11/21 – 12/21

$0 – $150: 75 active / 7 sold = 10.7 months

$150k – $200k: 157 active / 19 sold = 8.3 months

$200k – $275k: 143 active / 16 sold = 8.9 months

$275k – $350k: 95 active / 16 sold = 5.94 months

$350k – $425k: 52 active / 3 sold = 17.3 months

$425k+: 96 active / 2 sold = 48 months

Overall market: 618 active / 63 sold = 9.81 months

This took me generally by surprise, I figured we’d be sitting on the 12 – 18 month overall range with most all of our brackets being in the double-digit area for rates.  The total volume of 63 homes sold in Missoula is a good return, basically 2 homes per day sold over the last 30 days (and only 5 of which were foreclosure sales).  This is a positive sign heading into the new year that Missoula’s winter market is performing stronger than in year’s past.  For a quick historical reference our prior winter/4th qtr rates went 16 months in 2008, 25 months in 2009, and 16 months in 2010.

And now Last 6 months 6/21 – 12/21

$0 – $150: 75 active / 83 sold (*6) = 5.42 months

$150k – $200k: 157 active / 124 sold (*6) = 7.6 months

$200k – $275k: 143 active / 134 sold (*6) = 6.4 months

$275k – $350k: 95 active / 67 sold (*6) = 8.5 months

$350k – $425k: 52 active / 27 sold (*6) = 11.55 months

$425k+: 96 active / 16 sold (*6) = 36 months

Overall market: 618 active / 451 sold (*6) = 8.22 months

The “bigger picture” of the last 6 months doesn’t really show a stark difference compared to the last 30 days, similar trends.  It’s clear that price is key in our market right now and that the “top end” of Missoula’s real estate market still is over-crowded and slow due to very little activity at all.

Posted on December 22, 2011 at 6:06 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |

My letter to NAR regarding their errors in reporting sales numbers

Mailed yesterday:



December 21, 2011



Attn: Moe Veissi and NAR Leadership

National Association of Realtors

430 N. Michigan Ave

Chicago, IL 60611


Moe and NAR leaders;


The REALTOR® image has taken another hard hit this week thanks to the erroneous reporting of the National Association of REALTORS® over the course of 2007 through most of 2011.  The news of this error has left me frustrated and upset with NAR.  While this news does not necessarily have an impact on future of real estate sales and trends it does have a major impact on the reputable image that is being a REALTOR®.  The long standing benefit of having our trade association report data has been that of an almost neutral party reporting just the facts of the housing market.


The modern real estate consumer will take note of this large error as it presumably will receive more press over the next few weeks.  This news will further erode the public’s perception on the reliability of our data reporting and will send consumers to alternate third parties such as Zillow and Trulia who will only stand to benefit from this error.  Local and state associations do not report data with nearly the same level of sophistication that NAR does, however this news will leave the consumer second-guessing many local association reports as well.


To move forward and retain credibility I believe that NAR must consider outsourcing its data reporting to a neutral party to complete their statistical reports from the MLS.  I see this is as the only way the combined local and regional MLS data can be used and regain credibility from the public as a whole.





Brint Wahlberg

Posted on December 22, 2011 at 6:06 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |

2011 Missoula market preview

Since I can’t look at my Christmas presents early I figured I’d look at Missoula’s market summary early to see what’s waiting for the upcoming year end report.  This year has been a very interesting one and we can finally start measuring actual market recovery now that we’re comparing similar markets for most of the 3rd qtr and all of the 4th qtr of this year.


So… lets refresh, for the Missoula market (not including Lolo, Frenchtown, & surrounding areas)


– 830 residential sales

– $201,240 median sales price

– average of 122 days on market

– 46 foreclosure sales making up 5.5% of the market

2011 (YTD):

– 740 residential sales

– $206,000 median sales price

– average of 128 days on market

– 82 foreclosure sales making up 11.8% of the market

* Additionally there are currently 105 properties in the MLS that are listed as under contract, however I’d expect a majority to close in January.


So overall what does this mean?  Well it doesn’t come as a surprise that the volume of 2011 is lower than 2010’s for the main reason that 2010 was a market that was influenced by 8 months of stimulus funds that over-inflated it.  It’s also not a surprise to see a slight value recovery as last year’s stimulus pushed more first time buyers into the market which naturally moves the median sales price lower.   Foreclosures are up, practically doubled.  That’s a double-edged sword, obviously it floods the market with bargain sales that deflates value but it also provides better new entry opportunities for buyers and investors.


But lets look also look at September 1st through today.  Why?  Because after 9/1/2010 all sales that had tax credits tied to them were done.  So moving forward we’re comparing apples to apples.  Interest rates are marginally similar, economic conditions are mostly the same, consumer confidence overall is still pretty low.


Looking at 9/1 to 12/18 so far:



– 218 residential sales

– $215,000 median sales price

– average of 119 days on the market

– 18 foreclosure sales making up 8.25% of the market



– 209 residential sales

– $209,600 median sales price

– average of 131 days on market

– 21 foreclosure sales marking up 10% of the market


It’s very interesting to see how marginally similar our market is when you compare two non-incentivized periods.  Sales are slightly off, median is down a bit, time on market is a little longer, and foreclosures have notched up.  There’s no real eye-popping number change over these two periods but there’s definite evidence that our market is not recovering just yet.


These numbers suggest that Missoula’s market overall has not “hit bottom” and is still trying to find that point.  Foreclosures continue to rise (right now foreclosures make up only 3.5% of the current active listed inventory).  I’ll get another post out this week with absorption rates.  It looks like right now our rates for the whole market are hovering around 10 months which would be a record low for the early winter.  Usually our total market absorption rates are in the 16 to 24 month range.  This obviously suggests seller fatigue of market times, less overall activity, and more people taking their home off the market.

Posted on December 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |

How to throw away $27,000

Venting blog, consider yourself warned.


Two years ago I listed a home south of town for a couple, they were moving on a job relocation.  I’d sold the home about 10 years back, it’s a cute little one-level home out in the country on one acre.  At the time the market was going pretty crazy as people were frantically scooping up houses while the tax credits existed for first time home buyers.  This house was an ideal home for first-timers.

After some research and discussion we decided to list the home for $195,000.  The market response was slow through the winter but picked up rapidly in the spring of 2010.  As the tax credit deadline approached our number of showings went way up and finally, just two days before buyer’s had to get a sale “under contract” to get the tax credit, we got an offer.  It was $10,000 under asking and after some skillful negotiating we got the buyers to come up to $191,000 – just $4,000 off our asking.  However my seller still was unsatisfied.

On May 29th we got in a huge argument on the phone, my seller wanted $193,000 or else he’d wait for more money at a later time.  I adamantly warned him that the market was going to slow down and that in these times the first offer is usually the best.  I tried to explain to him that even if it takes him 6 more months to get that $2,000 more, he’d have already lost that much more in 6 months worth of interest paid on his mortgage.  The conversation was going nowhere.  It got to the point where I was getting very frustrated with my seller, warning him that he’s taking a very risky gamble and I think his decision to wait for this $2,000 more is a poor one.  He wouldn’t budge…

We sent a fresh counter at $193,000 as my client instructed despite my continued warnings, the buyer’s agent called me and said they were going to make an offer on another home because they wouldn’t come up another $2,000.  I’m not one to sacrifice my fees as a listing agent but I tossed that suggestion out to cut back a bit of our fees and try to meet in the middle.  The buyer’s agent wasn’t interested in doing that considering her clients had a wide selection of listings to buy.  Off they went, and quickly secured a replacement property that same day.

Over the next month my professional relationship with these sellers had declined, the showings all but stopped, we attempted a few open houses and one REALTOR(R) tour but with no luck.  My seller informed me that he felt I hadn’t done enough to get his house sold and was changing offices.  Quite frankly I was happy to be done with it since I knew in my heart they’d made a huge mistake with that prior client.

Fast forward to one month ago.  A new sale hits the MLS, it’s that cute little house, finally sold with the firm that the seller chose after deciding to terminate with us.  The sales price?  $167,000 with $3,000 in seller’s proceeds paying closing costs.  My initial reaction was one of “I told you so,” however once I got to thinking about it, I was just sick.  My (former) client’s refusal to listen to professional advice cost him $27,000 and another year’s worth of stress of still owning a home in a state he no longer worked in.

This story is one I’ve shared a bunch recently and I use it as a general example with my current seller clients to warn them of the dangers over knit-picking on contracts when you’re down to a couple thousand dollars.  It still frustrates me to think of it, but I’m happy to share the story in hopes that it’ll help some sellers to make more informed decisions in this market.

Posted on December 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm
Wahlberg Team | Posted in Uncategorized |