Billings returns to top tier of hot housing market list

Billings returns to top tier of hot housing market list

Roger Pettingell Sarasota Real Estate

Billings is climbing the charts again.

Montana’s largest city jumped four spots between April and July on The Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com Emerging Markets Index, landing in fifth place

Billings came out just ahead of Raleigh, N.C. and just behind Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Hoosier state got a bit of love from the index this summer; landing at the top was Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana. 

Rounding out the top five was Burlington, N.C., in second and Johnson City, Tennessee, in third. 

“Our success is no flash in the pan,” Bill Cole, Billings mayor, said in a statement. “Billings has finished in the top 10 four times since The Wall Street Journal began this quarterly ranking in 2021.” 

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Billings first appeared on the Journal’s market index in April, 2021, at No. 4 and jumped to No. 1 by July. When the spring list was published earlier this year, Billings was ranked ninth.

Billings has had a hot housing market for two years, jump-started by the pandemic. 

In 2021, 24% of all real estate transactions in the state were paid in cash. Most buyers have been coming from out of state as homeowners leave high-priced urban markets and buy relatively cheap in Montana.

Billings is consistently highlighted on the index for its low unemployment, affordability and booming housing market, which keeps it competitive among other similarly-sized cities in the country.

The state of the national economy and how its refracted at a local level plays a big role in how these cities rank. 

“The summer index’s top-ranked housing markets have diversified economies and low unemployment, a prerequisite for a healthy housing market,” according to the Dow Jones report on the list. “The top metros offer a wide range of job opportunities, higher wages and shorter work commutes at a time when the cost of gasoline reached new highs.”

Cole sees it as proof that Billings can compete on a national stage. He pointed out that Billings is the only city in the northwest to make the top 10 this summer.

“The Wall Street Journal rankings compare the 300 largest metro areas in the United States. The fact that Billings has consistently ranked so high for so long is great news,” he said. “The rest of the country is waking up to what we knew all along.”


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