by Travis Mateer
The title of this post is a question because I’m good with words, NOT numbers, and speaking as a wordsmith there’s something immediately suspicious to me about this recent headline: Data collection finds just 6% increase in Missoula’s out-of-state homebuyers in 2020.
I get EVEN MORE suspicious when I read the following preemptive excuse making to combat the alleged problem of “noise” surrounding our town’s ZOOMING to new heights of housing unaffordability:
While data surrounding migration can be tricky to collect, the Missoula Organization of Realtors recently aggregated figures from Missoula’s mortgage lenders and where their customers were coming from.
“We’ve always gone back to use Census data for migration data, but it has an 18 month lag around it,” said Jim Bachand, CEO of the Missoula Organization of Realtors. “We felt like there was so much noise about being a Zoom city, we needed better data quality around it.”
Is it really that we need BETTER data, or is it that we need FASTER data from a smaller sample size that can provide some better optics for those aiding and abetting Missoula’s rapid transformation?
Here’s more from the link:
The figures, presented in this year’s housing report, found that one lender was behind nearly 15% of all home purchases in 2019 and 16% in 2020.
The lender originated 224 home purchases in 2019 with 12.9% of them, or 29 sales, made to out-of-state buyers. The figure ticked up during the pandemic when the same lender originated 272 home purchases with 18.7% of them, or 51 sales, made to out-of-state buyers.
“This is enough statistically valid data to give it direction,” said Bachand. “When we were done with this data on the migration side of it, we did a litmus test [within the industry] and they felt it was about right.”
The roughly 6% increase during the pandemic was regarded as an accurate figure by the industry in Missoula.
This is some mighty fine statistical alchemy we got going here, but I doubt it will be potent enough to alleviate the anxiety and frustration of who can afford to buy into this market and who can’t.
Those who CAN afford to get into a home in Missoula are sometimes Montanans returning to the state from making money elsewhere. I believe that is the story of Missoula City Council Veep, Gwen Jones, who moved back to Montana after working in California as a lawyer.
And because of that whole “zoom” thing, sometimes they’re bringing their jobs with them:
One of the region’s largest mortgage lenders reported a small increase in the number of home buyers arriving from outside Montana over the past year, though the increase dispels the myth that out-of-state newcomers are snatching up all of Missoula’s available homes.
Realtors in Missoula reported similar trends, citing a small increase in out-of-state buyers but nothing overwhelming. They suggested that many of those buyers were former Montanans returning home with a good-paying job.
I’m so glad Montana realtors are putting some effort into “dispelling myths” about who is moving to Missoula. As they sell paradise lot by lot at astronomically inflated prices I’m sure it helps to tout any amount of Montana provenance they can find to create some better optics around successful people like Gwen Jones who have returned home to give back to our humble little community.