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Flathead real estate inching toward rebound

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Nov 12 2012 10:10:28 PM MST
WHITEFISH, Mont. -

Experts say the housing bust hit Northwest Montana the hardest when compared to other parts of the state, but things are in a bit of an upswing.

“If you price something right, there’s buyers out there,” said John Anderson, a Whitefish City Council member who sold his house in roughly two months over the summer.

Anderson is one of the lucky ones, apparently part of a gradual uptick in the real estate market. He says when he sold his house it was a huge relief, and on Monday, he showed NBC Montana the new house he has under construction.

“We’re pretty confident the real estate market is coming back in Whitefish,” said Anderson. “It’s kind of a slow but sure sector.”

Anderson added that there has been an increase in building permits issued in Whitefish.

NBC Montana spoke with Doug Zignego, a local real estate expert on Monday, as well. Zignego is part of the Northwest Montana Association of Realtors, and serves as president for the Multiple Listing Service.

“We thought that, well, maybe it’s just going to pass us by. Well, it didn’t,” said Zignego, speaking about the real estate slump. “It just came on and hit us just as hard as everyone else.

Foreclosed homes flooded the market. Zignego estimates they make up about 30 percent of the market these days, and he says some houses have been on the market for roughly six years.

“The sales stopped and then you started that house of cards falling,” said Zignego.

The good news, though, is that people are buying again, and Zignego attributes that to buyer confidence. He says the NMAR sold about 300 more homes in 2012 than 2011 and if that trend continues, the roughly six years worth of inventory can empty out and prices can go back up again.

Until then, sellers like John Anderson will try their luck.

“We built this home to retire in,” said Anderson.