Updated July 2020
- One quarter of all homes in Montana were constructed since 2000.
- Nearly half of homes built from 1990 to 2018 were constructed on large lots with average lot sizes exceeding 10 acres.
- Since 1990, 1.3 million acres of undeveloped land in Montana have been converted to housing.
- The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a real estate surge, potentially accelerating the loss of open space.
Four Montana counties driving home construction
Most counties seeing new construction on large lots
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One-quarter of all homes in Montana were constructed since 2000. The number of single-family homes in Montana grew by more than 50% from 1990 to 2018.
The four most populated counties—Gallatin County (Bozeman), Flathead County (Kalispell), Yellowstone County (Billings), and Missoula County (Missoula)—account for more than half of Montana home construction since 2000. See this sortable data table for detailed information by county.
More than 60% of homes constructed in Montana were built outside of incorporated areas, and nearly half of homes were constructed on large lots of more than 10 acres.
Since 1990, 1.3 million acres of undeveloped land have been converted to housing, an area larger than Glacier National Park.
Loss of Open Space Impacts Montana’s Future, Quality of Life
Montana home construction starts declined during the Great Recession. Since then, the state has rebounded and continues to attract new residents. Home construction has picked up again--primarily in fast-growing cities, but much of it in more rural areas of Montana as well.
The coronavirus pandemic has created a "frenzy" in the Montana real estate market, as out-of-state buyers flock to the state to escape urban areas and virus hot spots. The increased demand for Montana housing may accelerate new home construction and loss of open space.
The tendency to build on large residential lots—with parcels of 10, 20, and even 40 acres in size—is quickly changing Montana’s culture, economy, and natural resources. Large lot development poses challenges for wildlife, water quality, and the state's heritage of wide open lands.
Fortunately, vast areas of undeveloped land remain and Montanans can contain the negative impacts of growth through careful discussion, coordination, and planning.
Data sources and methods. Housing data from the Montana Department of Revenue's Property Assessment Division and were summarized to quarter-section (160 acres). See the data table for county-level information.
Update (July 16, 2020): This post updates earlier research on home construction across Montana.