Average Home Sales Price drops 12%

Aerial view of Seeley Lake, courtesy Clearwater River Realty. After years of escalating values, home sales softened last year as it did in all of Missoula County.


by Suzanne Vernon
For the Pathfinder
February 12, 1998

The average sales price of a home last year in the Seeley Lake area dropped by 12.2% compared to 1996, according to statistics from the Missoula County Multiple Listing Service. At the same time, bare land prices continued to increase.

In 1996, the average price of a home that sold in the Seeley Lake area was $115,206. That number dropped to $101,122 in 1997.

"It's been a buyer's market, I think," Bud Berckmoes of Seeley Condon Realty said recently. Many sellers have lowered the prices on their homes, he said, in response to a slower market with fewer buyers.

Statistics from the Multiple Listing Service cover properties sold in the Missoula County portions of the Clearwater and Swan Valleys between Highway 200 and the Lake County line. Information from the Multiple Listing Service may not reflect all of the real estate activity in the Seeley Lake area.

The number of listings for homes in the Seeley Lake area was up in 1997, but sales were down, according to the Multiple Listing Service. In 1997, 81 property sales (including both homes and bare land) were reported in the Seeley Lake area, compared to 94 in 1996, and most area realtors reported normal sales activity for homes priced at about $100,000.

"Lower priced homes still seem to be getting normal activity, up to about $120,000," according to Charlee Parker of Great Bear Properties.

While statistics show that 42 homes sold here in 1997, only three lakefront homes listed with the Multiple Listing Service sold in 1997. The average price of those lakefront homes was $216,666.

Property sales may be picking up now, however. All area realtors reported an increase in activity in the fourth quarter of 1997, a trend that appears to be continuing this winter.

Kevin Wetherell of Clearwater River Realty, said that he expects to see an increase in sales this year over 1997 because of the drop in mortgage rates, combined with the recent changes in IRS capital gains taxes. As homeowners become aware of the new options, market activity will increase, he said.

Although home prices are somewhat lower compared to previous years, land prices still remain high. The average price of a parcel of bare land that sold in the Seeley Lake area nearly doubled in 1997 to $84,500, compared to the 1996 average of $44,300. Realtors caution that the 1997 "average" may be skewed somewhat, because more large parcels of land (40 acres or more) sold in the Seeley Lake area in 1997, compared to 1996.
Area realtors attribute the increase to demand.

"Most buyers relocating here want land as they are most interested in beginning their own dream of building their new home the way that they want," according to Kevin Wetherell. Wetherell noted that the majority of people looking for property in the Seeley Lake area come here from the Rocky Mountain states, especially Washington, a pattern similar to previous years.

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