Market Update: 2023 Montana Land Values

Statistics for 2022 Montana land values and predictions for the year ahead from the annual “For Land’s Sake” presentation from Norman C. Wheeler & Associates at the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) 3rd Annual Winter Real Estate Roundup.

Market Update: 2023 Montana Land Values

The Western Ranch Brokers team joined the Montana Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) last week for their 3rd Annual Winter Real Estate Roundup featuring “For Land’s Sake”, a presentation by Norman C. Wheeler & Associates on the state of the land market in Montana. After several years of record land sales in Big Sky Country, there are many questions as to the future value of farm and ranch land in Montana. With all-time low inventory levels and steady demand, will Montana land hold its record value into 2023? What will the inventory shortage mean for total sales volume and how will it impact pricing?

Montana river running through forest

Norman C. Wheeler & Associates presented data from 2018 through 2022 to analyze the recent trends in Montana land sales, sponsored by AgWest Farm Credit. Key data points included:

For Land’s Sake 2022 Annual Presentation

51% of sales data came from Western Montana, 26% from Eastern Montana and 23% from North Central Montana.

2021 and 2022 transaction size versus sales dollar volume shows more than 50% of sales dollar volume came from transactions greater than $10M, but represented only 6% of transactions, while the majority of transactions (74%) were for land valued at less than $2.5M, but only contributed to 18% of sales dollar volume.

Average and median per acre prices (for unimproved land) have remained fairly constant from 2020 – 2022 with an average per acre price of $4,000+ and a median per acre price of approximately $2,000, both values notably higher from the two previous years (2018-2019). In demand areas such as Gallatin County and Flathead County had a large influence in the increase in per acre prices. 

Sale volume for Montana properties (40+ acres) has increased over the last 3 years, and in 2022 increased 16.42% from 2021, with a median sales price of $959,000 and average acreage of 1,120 acres. 

Sales volume of Montana land (40+ acres) in 2021 was $2.18B across 785 transactions, and in 2022 total sales volume was $952M over 381 transactions.

Reviewing real-time Montana land sales statistics for 2023 from Montana Land Source, the sales data for percent change today (March 16, 2023) as compared to 2022 shows:

Montana land statistics comparison chart
Image courtesy of Montana Land Source

View the latest Montana land sales statistics updated daily at Montana Land Source.

Year to date data from Montana Land Source reflects similar trends, showing significantly fewer sales compared to 2022, but a slight increase in the median sales price per acre and fewer days on the market for listings. In short, there are fewer properties hitting the market, but the Montana land that has been listed in 2023 is selling more quickly and has been marketed at premium pricing. Using the first few months of 2023 as an indicator of what lies in the year ahead, it’s likely that inventory levels will remain low throughout the year—despite the increase in land values and the attractive sale prices for those who do list. All good news for landowners and investors, but potentially challenging for buyers trying to enter the market in Montana or current landowners who are looking to expand their acreage.  

While not discussed in the presentation, one emerging trend noted by Western Ranch Brokers is the increase in off-market transactions. The lack of available inventory has created a highly competitive market for quality property in Montana—if buyers have a close relationship with a ranch broker, they may have the opportunity to get access to listings that haven’t hit the market yet or that will be sold privately. With seemingly unwavering demand, purchasing a property off-market offers buyers a considerable advantage. We expect to see an increase in these types of transactions throughout the year.

If you’re considering buying or selling a ranch in this competitive market, Western Ranch Brokers has the experience and market knowledge to help you successfully navigate any transaction. Contact Western Ranch Brokers for more information and to learn how we can go to work for you. 

Contact us to find out more about the Western Ranch Brokers team and how we can go to work for you.

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The information contained herein was obtained from sources deemed to be reliable. Western Ranch Brokers makes no warranties or guarantees as to the completeness or accuracy thereof.
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