Montana’s Big Sky Country offers luxury properties, and the good news is there’s even inventory. Montana’s waterfront homes, horse ranches and ski properties are selling briskly in Whitefish and Bigfork. Yet, Montana isn’t seeing the same bidding wars that mark the hot real estate markets around the country.
Jeff Raper, the managing broker at National Parks Realty, has sold real estate in Whitefish and Bigfork for over two decades and says the areas offer the best value to buyers compared to other mountain resorts. “We have four seasons that attract buyers here,” he says. “Our market is on fire; yet, compared to other markets, we are still a great value.” According to current MLS data, in Flathead County, where Whitefish and Bigfork are located, the average single-family sale price is $1,827,591. That’s well below prices in mountain resorts like Vail and Aspen.
Your money goes a long way in the Whitefish area. National Parks Realty has listed a custom 3,834-square-foot ranch home on 40 plus acres with 950 feet of Whiteriver frontage. The asking price—$2,499,000. “We have seen a 483 percent increase in active listings from the beginning of the year,” Raper notes.
About 90 of the sales this year have been in the million-plus range. “We are a recreational resort and lifestyle-driven market,” Raper explains. He points to location, location, location: “We are close to skiing and fishing in addition to being at the west entrance of Glacier National Park. There are 13 lakes here and we are only an hour away from Costco.”
This past Memorial Day weekend, most real estate offices were closed, but agents and brokers kept busy showing property by appointment. Today, the buyer profile in Montana is a well-heeled, out-of-state type looking to make the area their full-time residence. “Sales are brisk in the luxury market. Buyers are looking for waterfront and view properties in Whitefish and Bigfork,” observes Denise Lang an agent at National Parks Realty.
Iron Horse Golf Club, minutes from Glacier National Park in Whitefish, appeals to the luxury and ultra-luxury buyer as a second or third home. A 9,800 square foot home on 2.7 acres is mountain architecture at its best. There is a creek on the property and two springs. Current prices top out at $8,500,000.
Valery Neuman, a top luxury real estate broker in the Palm Springs area, and her husband Don built their dream home at Iron Horse Golf Club several years ago. “Iron Horse is very family orientated with concierge amenities and one of the finest golf courses,” says Neuman, who makes the drive from Palm Springs to Iron Horse with her two dogs. “There is everything there from golf, tennis, hiking and nearby skiing. Yet, it’s only five minutes from the quaint town of Whitefish,” she adds. Neuman points to a waiting list to become a member there.
Travel to and from the area is convenient, which appeals to buyers. Glacier International Airport services Whitefish and Bigfork. There are direct flights on major airlines from San Diego, Denver, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Houston, and San Francisco.
Consider the Whitefish and Bigfork markets are different than the glitz of Vail and Aspen. Life moves at a slower pace there. National Parks Realty agent Mike Anderson grew up in Whitefish. “My advice to those looking to purchase property here is to first understand this is a rural market and have patience.”
As urban dwellers look for more space and real estate for their money, expect increased sales activity and prices in Whitefish and Bigfork to continue.