“The Scenery State,” Dramatic Shift in Montana Market Values
These are some crazy numbers that came in recently. For years, Yellowstone County was the leader in total market value in Montana. Now, both Gallatin and Flathead Counties have skyrocketed past Yellowstone. Here's what else is crazy- Madison County, which is home to the Yellowstone Club (a high end exclusive development near Big Sky), now has more total market value than all of Butte- more total market value than all of Cascade County.
I remember when State Rep. Llew Jones (R) out of Conrad, Montana first used the term "Trump Bump" to describe the increase in state tax revenues that flowed in AFTER the Trump tax cuts passed. Now Llew has coined another term that I won't forget: "The Scenery State."
What does he mean by "The Scenery State?" I caught up with Rep. Jones at the Montana Equipment Dealers convention last week in Whitefish. He's referring to this dramatic shift in wealth from East to West, and from ag and industry in the East to real estate in the West.
For insight, he looked at the scenic state of Hawaii:
Rep. Llew Jones: 50-60 years ago Hawaii's biggest gross state product was agriculture. It doesn't exist on their chart today. I looked up our Ag in 1960, because that's 1962 actually the year I was born, and it was 15% of our gross state product, it's 3% now. natural resources are less than half. 70% is associated with services.
Aside from industry and ag, here's what stands out in terms of East vs. West.
Rep. Llew Jones: So the eastern third of the state, and I have a chart here that shows this, had limited market value increase. But you had places like Gallatin that went up 50 or 60%.Folks are moving into these areas, they're buying up the Airbnbs that pay $1,200 a night. We had a doubling of the number of homes worth $1.5 million or more last year. We have eight times increase in the last 10 years. It's been a fascinating shift as we become a state where people move into, and they bid up homes. But they're more interested in the Western 50% than they are in the Eastern third.
Full audio of our chat with Llew Jones:
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Gallery Credit: Jesse James