It was this time a couple years ago when the world, and Powell along with it, found itself in the throes of a pandemic. With so many people out of work and everyone facing an uncertain future, the …
It was this time a couple years ago when the world, and Powell along with it, found itself in the throes of a pandemic. With so many people out of work and everyone facing an uncertain future, the expectation was the housing market would slow to a crawl.
What no one could foresee at the time was that the quality of life in other states, especially in metropolitan areas, would deteriorate to such an extent that people would seek out a better life here in Wyoming. Two years running, the market here remains strong.
Eric Paul, broker/owner of Heart Mountain Realty, said it remains a strange time in real estate. The inventory remains low, and people from Colorado and California are looking for homes in Powell, though he’s seeing fewer people lately from the big city areas, Paul said.
Some people are taking advantage of telework options that have opened up in the COVID era. Others grew up in Powell and they’re coming back home.
They’re “taking advantage of the opportunity to come home and raise their families here,” Paul said.
John Parsons, co-owner of 307 Real Estate, agrees the market hasn’t slowed down.
“It’s still going really well,” Parsons said, and with more homebuyers than homes on the market, “it’s still a seller’s market.”
He said that’s the case across all the 307 Real Estate offices, including Buffalo and Sheridan.
Buyers are coming in for Wyoming’s safe neighborhoods and good schools. With so many of them, the buyers are having to be creative with their offers.
“People are rushing to get their piece of paradise,” Parsons said.
Paul said that he’s seeing a rise in interest specifically in Powell homes. In the past, some of the buyers looking at Powell had been priced out of the Cody market. Now, people are being drawn to the friendly atmosphere of the town.
“I feel like Powell’s getting discovered a little bit,” Paul said, adding that it’s a recent trend. So it may not continue.
The inventory of homes for sale remains low. The multiple listing service (MLS) that Heart Mountain Realty uses, which basically covers Big Horn and Park counties, currently has around 70 listings. Powell usually has around 13 to 15 active listings, whereas it used to be closer to 70 or 80.
Holly Griffin, broker/owner of The Real Estate Connection, said the only change in inventory is with the higher priced homes. At $1 million or higher, they tend to stay on the market longer, and sometimes sellers are having to come down in price. In 2020, some of those homes were selling sight unseen.
Below that price, houses are still off the market nearly as fast as they go on.
Parsons hasn’t seen an increase in building. Because of escalating material costs and supply chain issues, projects are moving slow or getting canceled, but contractors are as busy as ever.
“They’re breaking ground on houses. You can see it everywhere,” Parsons said.
A lot of housing construction in the Basin is done by local builders, which is good for quality, yet because they’re smaller companies, they only build a few homes per year.
“We have more quality than quantity, and that can be a good thing,” Parsons said.
As inflation further adds to increased prices and interest rates come up, Griffin said she expects that the market will start to cool.
“I feel there’s a change in the air. Things may start slowing down,” she said.
Parsons said higher interest rates will hit first-time homebuyers the hardest, and with the rates remaining in the 4% to 5% range, it’s “still inexpensive money.”
If it goes higher, that’ll start to slow the market down.
“We’ve had hockey stick growth and price appreciation this past year. I think that will start to plateau. We can’t continue at this rate forever,” Parsons said.
Paul said that will help bring the housing inventory up, which will help stabilize the market.
Many of the out-of-state people moving into the area are retirees, meaning they’re residents who shop at local businesses but don’t work at any.
Unemployment in Park County — and throughout Wyoming for that matter — remains pretty low, and there are a lot of help wanted signs in windows.
Much of that service-level labor are renters, and that market is as tight as ever. Paul said, with Albertsons and Dairy Queen planning new stores in Powell, the demand for labor will only grow.
Heart Mountain Realty communicates with property management companies and posts on its Facebook page available rentals. They might have one or two, Paul said, and they’re usually gone in a week.
Larry Hedderman, broker/owner of the Wyoming Real Estate Network, said he hasn’t seen just a whole lot of changes in the Powell rental market. It’s as tight as it’s ever been.
Wyoming Real Estate Network manages over 40 rental properties.
“Our phone rings every day,” Hedderman said.
He points out that most rentals in town are on a month-to-month basis, which is a sign of a tight rental market. Landlords find it easy to get renters, and it’s easier to get rid of bad ones if they don’t have a lease. Likewise, renters find it easier to move when their situations change, whether it’s a breakup or a job change.
The Real Estate Connection manages about 100 rental properties. Griffin said there have been some changes in the market from what it was five years ago – but not by a lot.
Rental properties maintain steady 100% occupancy rates. Five years ago, they’d have some remain vacant for a while.
Griffin said she is seeing some renters moving to the area from out of state. Some are looking for rentals in Powell as the Cody market is much more expensive. They’ll rent a place in town and drive 20 miles to work.
Others are looking to buy houses but need a rental until they find a home. Sometimes, the rental market is so tight, they end up buying before they find a place to rent.
Griffin said five years ago, they’d also see vacancies in the summer when the college students went away. There’s really no perceptible difference between the seasons now.
What is clear is that the area’s rental and housing markets remain hot. Unless interest rates bring demand down or builders catch up to the demand, inventories are going to remain slim for the foreseeable future.