BILLINGS - Due to its affordability and appeal to remote workers, Billings ranked No. 1 this week in the Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com Emerging Housing Markets Index.
"The index reflects how the housing boom has ignited homebuying activity in smaller to midsize cities around the U.S. The top 20 cities in the ranking have an average population size of just over 300,000," according to the Wall Street Journal.
The report mentions that Billings was previously ranked No. 4, but due to its 3% unemployment rate and current housing market it rose to No.1 beating out Coeur D'Alene Idaho.
According to Jennifer Reiser, Chief Operating Officer for the Billings Chamber of Commerce, there are many attributes that would bring people to the area.
"Billings is a business-focused, family-friendly community with a wealth of job opportunities right now. We have a diverse and resilient economy. We have quality private and public education and our residents really have a strong commitment to community," said Reiser.
Many agencies in the area have said they have never seen the market in trend in this way.
Frosty Erben, President of the Billings Associations of Realtor's, said he has seen many ebs and flows in the market during his career, but nothing like this.
"We have less than a month's worth of inventory available on the market right now. It is truly a seller's market," said Erben.
Erben said that it's determined if it is a seller's or buyer's marketing by analyzing the length of time it would take current listings to sell. If realtors were to stop selling new listings at this time and there were enough properties to last six months, then the market is balanced. If there are not enough properties to last that duration then it is a seller's market.
Erben said this lack of available properties and influx of buyers is making it hard for many to find and buy the home they want.
"There's a lot of people in the market right now. There are buyers that do want to buy a home and are frustrated with the fact that they're in competition with eight, nine, ten other people, and they've lost opportunity after opportunity after opportunity by being outbid," said Erben.
He said many people are in competition with cash offers and multiple other buyers.
At this time there are 160 properties on the market in the Billings and Laurel area, 366 in the entire MLS which spans to eastern Montana. Erben said these numbers come out to be 100 properties less than what was available this time last year.
Although the competition for a home is high in Billings as well as other areas, Mark Dawson, owner and broker of Century 21, said remote workers are still attracted to what Billings has to offer.
"We have an influx of people from out of state and even other areas within the state. We've got a good job market here, we're always low unemployment and we're on a pretty good growth curve. So, people who can work out of the home really seem to like living in Billings and you're seeing a lot more of that since a pandemic," said Dawson.