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Mineral County housing market remains hot

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | June 8, 2022 12:00 AM

The morning coffee-clutch subjects have gone from bare shelves, back to wolves. Then to the price of fuel to election predications and to the new houses being built and local subdivision rumors in the last 30 days.

The lack of housing isn’t a secret and it’s a project that the Mineral County Economic Corporation is trying to tackle. All three schools have indicated it is a big issue as recruiting teachers is ongoing and housing for them is nearly nonexistent. Building lots that have been for sale or sat empty in Superior now have activity that hasn’t been seen in years.

Justin and Casey Richardson, owners of Old Bull Construction out of Huson have just finished a housing project up Fish Creek and are now building two tiny homes two blocks from Mineral Community Hospital.

“We could have taken these two lots we own and built a 5,000 square foot home here (on 4th Avenue) but wanted to make smaller dwellings that might be in the price range of some employees at MCH or a school teacher,” said Justin. “Two lots with four smaller homes on them hoping to have them in the $300,000 range is what the area needs.”

He has also purchased property in St. Regis but that’s going to be for his personal home once retirement enters the picture. A block away on Chicago Avenue, a 3,000-plus square foot spec-home is under construction by 406 Property Works from Frenchtown.

Arron McClurg, originally from Buffalo, New York, has been here since 1998 and said the cost to build a house in the last couple of years due to building materials has skyrocketed.

“They have gone up 200-300% over the last two years. OSB (Oriented Strand Board) is a big gauge on how we price a house. Two to three years ago, OSB was around $19 a sheet (4 foot by 8 foot) and on this house, the same OSB was $49 a sheet.

Unfortunately, we must pass the cost onto the customer. This house is going to be close to $300 a square foot because of building materials,” he said once it’s completed and ready to be sold.

“In my career, I’ve never waited more than 2 weeks for windows. Now, you can wait four to six months for windows. A garage door can take 10 months.”

Even with the higher costs and delayed receivership of resources, he is buying two more lots next to the one he is building on today for building two more homes. According to McClurg, all the lots along 4th Avenue East and in the golf course subdivision have been sold.

Nearly one-third (30%) of U.S. home purchases this year were paid for with all cash. That’s up from 25.3% during all of 2020 and represents the largest share since 2014, when 30.6% of homes were purchased with all cash. This is according to a Redfin analysis of county records published from January 2001 through April 2021—the most recent month for which national data was available.

“The buyers coming here are mostly from Washington, Oregon or California as they seem to want to leave their states because of they are not happy with their government, or their area is overrun and not like it used to be,” said Judy Stang of RE/MAX Real Estate. “Lots of these buyers have cash and can work from home and their number one question is ‘How is internet service?’”

Bessie Spangler of Spangler Real Estate concurs.

“The market remains busy however, inventory is still low. I'm personally selling quite a bit of land as buyers cannot find the right home to buy and are willing to go through the building process,” she shared.

Anita Baily of Regent Realty in St. Regis has different numbers on the cash buyers.

“Pre-pandemic about 41% of sales were cash. Post-pandemic, about 43% were cash. It sure has seemed like there has been more cash buyers. But then, we've had more sales altogether,” she explained. “Post-pandemic out of state buyers to Montana buyers are about three to one. Pre-pandemic was about even. I know of two subdivisions in the works in Mineral County, in addition to Shyrock,” she concluded.

One of those subdivisions is Clark Fork Meadows. The property is between Superior and St. Regis located off the Southside Road, lying north of Interstate 90 and south of the Clark Fork River. The subdivision will result in 14 residential lots. The 14 lots range in size from 1 acre to 1.53 acres. The lots are proposed to install individual onsite wells and individual onsite sewage treatment and disposal system.

One of the reasons McClurg feels that the Superior area is booming is because Alberton has run out of room. He said there is a big subdivision going in, but nothing is for sale, yet. And those will have individual septic systems that could add $50,000 or more to build.

“Superior was the next smart move. You could drive out here in 40 minutes. It’s a beautiful drive with very little traffic and you will save about $100,000 to $150,000 on the same house if it were to be built in Missoula,” he said.

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