News from the Knoff Group

COVID-19 and the SW Montana real estate market

COVID 19 SW Montana

During this unprecedented time in our world, we’d like to share some of our thoughts, opinions and a little Q&A on how we think the COVID-19 crisis has affected real estate in the SW Montana including Bozeman, Belgrade, Big Sky, Livingston, Manhattan and greater Gallatin, Madison and Park Counties.

We will be updating this page as more information becomes available on this ever changing situation.

We’re here as a resource for you – please send us a message with any questions or give us a call at 406-924-9559.

Be safe, be well, stay healthy.

Sincerely,

Marcie Hahn-Knoff

Owner | Broker

Knoff Group Real Estate

How does the phased reopening of Montana’s economy – Phase 1 & Phase 2 directives affect real estate in Montana? 

Directive and plan for a phased reopening at the state level was released as of the afternoon of April 22nd. See directive here: https://covid19.mt.gov/Portals/223/Documents/04-22-20%20Directive%20and%20Appx%20-%20Reopening%20Phase%20One.pdf?ver=2020-04-22-124954-977 and phased plan here: https://covid19.mt.gov/Portals/223/Documents/Reopening%20Montana%20Phased%20Approach.pdf?ver=2020-04-22-115707-770 Plans have been adopted at the county level.

Phase 2 became effective on June 1st. The 14 day visitor quarantine expired at that time. Article outlining the plan can be found here: https://www.explorebigsky.com/phase-2-reopening-starts-june-1/34431. Yellowstone National Park opened it’s borders from the Montana side on June 1st as well. Article here: https://www.explorebigsky.com/bullock-opens-ynp-entrances-offers-gateways-monetary-aid/34572

On July 24th, Gallatin County adopted a more stringent Mask Mandate – The order requires the use of face coverings by most people within most indoor public settings, which includes mask wearing for construction sites and K-12 schools. Read more here https://www.healthygallatin.org/coronavirus-covid-19/public-health-rules/

The Montana Association of REALTORS® has mandated that masks be worn by all visitors to open houses, all attendees to showings and all visitors to real estate offices. Real estate offices, homes where an open house is taking place, in-person closings, and individual home showings all fall under the Mask Mandate. Agents, clients, and any other people present must all wear face coverings, unless they fall under an exclusion. The following are excluded from the face covering requirement under the Mask Mandate:
• Children under the age of five;
• Persons seeking to communicate with a hearing impaired person;
• Persons eating or drinking;
• Persons temporarily removing their face coverings for personal identification purposes;
• Persons with underlying medical conditions precluding the safe wearing of a face covering.

On November 6, 2020 the Gallatin County Healthy Department instituted to the following restrictions to curb the spread of CV-19:

  • Moving the mandatory closing time for bars, tasting rooms, distilleries, casinos, bowling alleys and restaurants from 12:30 a.m. to 2am., and limiting group size at tables to six people.**
  • Requiring that higher-risk businesses—gyms and fitness centers, places of assembly, bars, restaurants, distilleries, casinos—limit the number of patrons to 50 percent capacity, down from 75 percent of capacity.
  • Limiting group gatherings to no more than 25 individuals, down from 50, regardless of the ability to physically distance, for both indoor and outdoor events.
  • Exceptions will be made for businesses and organizations where social distancing is most feasible, including houses of worship and other places of assembly.

**This was augmented on February 4, 2021 to allow businesses to operate until 2am. It was 10pm from November 6-February 4.

On January 15th, 2021 a new directive was issued by newly elected Governor Greg Gianforte. This directive removed limitations on number of people allowed in social gatherings and caps on capacity/10pm closing hours for businesses. The mask mandate remains in place. The directive can be read HERE>>

On February 12th, the state wide mask mandate will be terminated as per Governor Greg Gianforte. Gallatin County and Park County continue to have mask rules in place. More info here>>

Real estate was listed as an essential service during the crisis, as were lending, title and appraisal services so we’ve been working this whole time.  This doesn’t mean it’s ‘business as usual’.  Knoff Group Real Estate is connected and available for questions. Steps are being taken to reduce the potential for transmission of the virus, including changes at title companies and banks, and the opportunity in certain situations for online closings. 

The virtual online Matterport tours that we offer on all of our built properties give buyers an opportunity to see homes without leaving their own. Video-Facetime-Zoom-Messenger tours may be arranged as well. In-person ‘no-touch’ showings with sanitizing measures have been instituted on many properties and Knoff Group Real Estate is following NAR guidelines, MAR and state and county mandates and directives for client showings and meetings.

Are properties still being bought and sold?  Yes they are. People still need to buy and sell properties, even during times of pandemic or crisis. Habitable properties are going under contract at record pace and land sales have shot up this year as well.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affect the real estate market in SW Montana?  Yes – it has.  Due to the financial fallout from COVID-19 and social distancing – self quarantining measures, many buyers took a step back from their active property hunting and many sellers have held off on bringing properties to market.  There was a short 1-2 month ‘hole’ in what our projected sales volume would have been in Quarter 2 2020. That being said, the real estate market has rebounded and is now accelerating quickly. Inventory is the biggest issue – or lack there of – that we are facing right now.

With the snap back, ground was regained and median sales prices and number of unit sold have sprung past expectations. Many buyers continue to find our SW Montana real estate market attractive due to our accessibility to rural and natural places and the lower density of our population. See this recent article from Redfin https://www.redfin.com/blog/urban-vs-rural-homebuyer-interest-coronavirus/

What makes the COVID-19 pandemic economic crisis different?  This economic crisis is tied is both a supply chain problem and a demand problem caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Real estate inventory is dwindling nationwide as sellers hold their homes off market and buyers clamor for properties – pressure has been pushing prices to new highs. The federal government has passed two stimulus bills and there are numerous other adjustments that have been made including relief for homeowners having issues paying their mortgages (see HUD statement https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_20_042).

I’ve heard that mortgage rates are great right now – is this true?  Mortgage rates have been amazingly low! It is best to speak with a professional lender that specializes in the SW Montana market to get a better picture of what is currently happening and to help you set your expectations appropriately.