By Amanda Eggert EBS Senior Editor

BIG SKY – Available inventory in Gallatin County’s real estate market in April was 37 percent lower than in April 2016, while the average sales price increased by nearly the same amount, according to the most recent statistics available.

The average sales price for a single-family home in Gallatin County in April was $524,323, compared to $354,900 in April 2016. The condo and townhome market is increasing at a similar pace, with the average sales price jumping from $254,929 to $343,417 in the space of a year.

The data, released in the Gallatin Association of Realtor’s most recent report, was compiled using figures from the Multiple Listing Service, a database that collects information on home sales.

Steve Candler, CEO of the Gallatin Association of Realtors, an organization that provides professional development for realtors in southwest Montana, said the numbers are reflective of local trends like population growth in the county, as well as national trends like a shortage of new inventory entering the market.

“We might think that we’re isolated here from what’s going on in the rest of the country, [but] this is happening all over,” Candler said. Specifically, Candler points to a shortage of houses on the market and the nation-wide trend of rising real estate prices.

“We do have new houses, [but] obviously not enough,” Candler said. He theorizes that many individuals in the family-owned building industry left the business after the Great Recession and have not come back.

According to a May 24 press release by the National Association of Realtors, “stubbornly low supply levels held down existing-home sales in April and also pushed the median number of days a home was on the market to a new low of 29 days.”

The report also notes that the median existing single-family home price for real estate properties throughout the country rose 6 percent since April of last year to $246,000.

“A healthy market is about a six-month supply of inventory and we’re at about 2.4 months in condos and town homes and three [months] on single family houses [in Gallatin County],” Candler said, adding that there were 388 single family homes for sale in Gallatin County this April, compared to 528 during the same month last year.

Given the current real estate climate, Candler said it’s more of a seller’s market.

Still, Candler said there are strong incentives for buyers too: low interest rates, the fact that southwest Montana’s lifestyle is still hugely attractive, and a get into the market while you can mentality.

“There’s a uniqueness to this area that doesn’t exist in other areas of the country,” he said. “For some, there’s this certainty in the market … knowing that an investment in the Gallatin County market is going to do well.”