Farmland to Flats | Housing Changes Across Montana

Farmland to Flats | Housing Changes Across Montana

Maggie Collister | Sterling Advisory Services
In an unexpected twist, Montana, renowned for its sprawling ranches, finds itself amidst an apartment boom.

Communities across Montana have witnessed a surge, with one in every three permitted housing units in 2023 being an apartment statewide. The trend intensifies in Missoula, where two out of three permitted housing units take on apartment forms. Even in Bozeman, land where cattle currently graze is now designated for high-density apartment developments.

Disrupting The Cycle

The traditional cycle of renting for a short span before transitioning to homeownership is undergoing a radical shift. Young adults and families are deferring home purchases. In 1981, the median age of a homebuyer stood at 31; by 2021, this had risen significantly to 47 years.

Evolving Needs of Renters

This transformation implies changing rental dynamics and a greater diversity of needs. Older individuals are increasingly entering the rental market, each with distinct requirements that set them apart from their younger counterparts.

Insights from a Survey

Montana isn’t the only region experiencing the apartment boom; this phenomenon resonates across the nation. A recent survey conducted by Real Page delved into the attitudes of renters across generations, illuminating noteworthy differences.

Apartment Hunt

Older residents meticulously examine neighborhoods, particularly focusing on crime statistics. Meanwhile, younger renters pay closer attention to lease agreements. Online ratings and reviews are a common focal point for most renters, serving as powerful tools for property managers to entice renters of all ages. Some things are universal across all ages. Most tenants want ample parking or a garage, and a quiet environment.

Modern Communication

Traditional face-to-face interactions with management have given way to modern communication channels. Even baby boomers prefer messaging, text, or chat as their primary means of communication.

Lease Renewals

In general, older renters exhibit a greater inclination to renew leases, while younger counterparts often seek newer complexes with upgraded amenities. Across the board, the decision to relocate frequently stems from sluggish property management response times or disruptive neighbors.

Diverse Housing Options

The cornerstone of multifamily development, one and two-bedroom walk-up garden-style apartments, have been the norm for years. However, such options fall short for families and older tenants in terms of space and accessibility.

Tailored Solutions

For families, “build to rent” communities offer an enticing alternative. Resembling traditional subdivisions, these managed rental homes provide yards, garages, and privacy, fostering a child-friendly environment. In Bozeman, The Grange at Urban+Farm offers single-family and townhomes in a neighborhood setting.

Seniors, on the other hand, have options like The Hogan in Missoula. This age-restricted building prioritizes community, boasting abundant shared areas, elevator access, and convenient proximity to services.

In Conclusion

The trend toward prolonged rental stays is undeniable. As household sizes increase and older individuals gravitate towards renting, their unique preferences demand attention. In a market flooded with conventional walk-up apartments, catering to distinct renter profiles can set projects apart and capture attention.