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Ask a Builder: Missoula Housing Outlook

Headshot Ryan Frey
Ryan Frey, Saddle Mountain Construction

Montana Builder on the outlook for housing in Missoula and changing consumer preferences 

“A lot of smart people have been working on this for years.” That’s what Ryan Frey with Saddle Mountain Construction says of Missoula’s housing crunch. As a home and commercial builder with 20+ years of experience, he’s intimately familiar with the ongoing slog toward housing solutions in Missoula.  

Click here for background on why construction costs have risen so abruptly. 

Frey detailed reasons for rising construction costs in Montana – labor shortages, supply chain issues, and manufacturer delays.

What is the outlook for the Missoula housing market?

In such a volatile market, homebuilders and developers take on substantial risk with every project. “As a small business owner, I could lose a lot if a project goes sideways. My house, my car – it’s all on the line,” he says. “The risk of costs skyrocketing is very much a reality right now.”

But even with the stark realities out ahead, Frey isn’t all gloom and doom. “We’re part of this community, too. We like providing housing for our neighbors.” He notes that lumber and steel prices are projected to rebound to more normal rates as the supply levels out – though that will likely happen closer to year-end. Business Insider noted that there is already some reprieve in the lumber market. 

Missoula’s growing population and space constraints mean housing costs will likely stay high. But some changing preferences are keeping costs in check for homeowners. Get the latest report on multifamily housing here

Changing Preferences

Frey notes that traditional single-family homeownership notions are evolving. “Buyers are tending toward smaller footprints. We’re seeing increased interest in proximity to parks and trails and low-maintenance living,” he says. 

And he’s right – the pendulum has swung from McMansions of the ’90s and early aughts, giving way to a more modern, smaller footprint. A recent survey by Sterling CRE showed interest in less-traditional housing. Several respondents were interested in options besides single-family homes, such as pod-style housing, co-operative housing developments, co-housing, and tiny homes. 

As Missoula rights itself from COVID-19 related delays, more multifamily and residential development is in the pipeline. 

“It doesn’t happen overnight, but as much as we can, we’re working to stay predictable for buyers and get projects off the ground more quickly.” 

Contact Ryan Frey at 406-241-4546 or visit https://saddlemountainconstruction.com/

Click here for current CRE listings.