Montana’s Population Surge

The recent 2020 US Census report reported what many of us have been feeling: Montana is experiencing a population surge. Curious what this means for those living here – or aspiring to move here – and the local Real Estate market? Read on.

2020 US Census: Overview

Flathead County104,35790,92814.8%

The US population grew at a healthy rate (7.4%) but slower than the growth (9.7%) seen between the 2000 and 2010 Census.

Here in Montana, we finally topped the million mark, a big feat for such a large state. However, cows still outnumber humans, almost 3:1.

In Flathead County, specifically, we saw a growth rate (14.8%) faster than both the US and Montana. Flathead County saw the 2nd highest growth of counties in Montana over 12,000 population, only behind Gallatin County (home to Bozeman), which saw an almost 33% increase in their population. Yellowstone County (home to Montana’s most populous town, Billings (population: 109,000)) remained the largest county in the state, with an 11.3% increase from 2010.

Montana’s Most Populous Counties


Ten counties grew faster than Montana’s statewide increase of 9.7%:

  • Gallatin (32.9%)
  • Carter (22%)
  • Broadwater (20.7%)
  • Richland (17.9%)
  • Flathead (14.8%)
  • Madison (12.1%)
  • Lewis & Clark (12%)
  • Yellowstone (11.3%)
  • Park (9.9%)
  • Ravalli (9.9%)

Flathead County

Flathead County grew by 16,759 residents between 2010 and 2020. Its vacancy rate was reported at 14.8%, higher than the US (9.7%) and Montana overall (13%). Roughly half of Flathead County’s growth occurred within the city limits of Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls.

Whitefish saw a population increase of 21.9%, adding an additional 1,394 residents resulting in a population of 7,751*.

Kalispell gained 4,631 residents between 2010 and 2020, resulting in a population increase of 23%. Kalispell’s population now sits at 24,558*.

Columbia Falls added 620 people, a 13% increase, for a population of 5,308*.

*Note: the numbers for Whitefish, Kalispell and Columbia Falls were reported by the Daily Interlake, with a caveat that US Census data might be slightly off due to a variety of reasons. Other reports estimate Whitefish’s population at 8,915, Kalispell’s at 25,857 and Columbia Falls at 6,464. Regardless of where the official numbers stand, Whitefish, Kalispell and Columbia Falls have all grown significantly over the past decade.

What This Means For Real Estate

With the onslaught of new residents to the Flathead Valley, housing prices, like many other parts of the country, have increased. Everyone – families, retirees and investors alike – want a piece of the Montana dream and its limitless recreation, lakes, skiing, hunting, hiking, Glacier National Park, Whitefish Mountain Resort, Flathead Lake and Whitefish Lake (to name a few).

In this case, it’s simple economics: low supply and high demand meant increased prices across the board. From the below graphs, you can see that homes for sale in Flathead County have steadily decreased over the past few years while the Average Sales Price of homes over the same period has steadily increased.

Homes for Sale in Flathead County (each data point is 3 months of activity)
Average Sales Price of Homes in Flathead County (each data point is 3 months of activity)

What Does This Mean For Me?

For those who own property in the Flathead Valley, your property values have continued to increase this past year. Want to talk or brainstorm about ways to leverage your equity? Contact us, we’d love to hear about your goals and help you develop a plan to achieve them. Whether that means connecting you with local contractors to help with home improvement projects or leveraging the equity to purchase an investment property, we are ready to help.

For those considering selling your property, there is still a plethora of buyers looking to purchase in the Valley. With few homes available and eager buyers waiting, sellers who list this fall will have an advantage when negotiating. If you are even curious what your property might list for in today’s market, let our team walk you through the current market and comparable properties that have sold in the recent months. Simply contact us here and we’ll be in touch.

If you are a buyer still looking for that perfect family home, legacy property or investment condo – be patient. New listings continue to hit the market daily. Working with an Agent whose hyper-local knowledge and deep connections in the Valley will help you stay abreast to new listings and craft a strong, strategic offer that can rise to the top. With a team approach, Revel agents work together for your benefit to find – and land – you the perfect property. Contact us if you would like to talk more.

The Montana Dream

From the gorgeous sunrises over Glacier National Park, a mid-lunch hike (or sneaking in a few runs on Big Mountain) and the sunsets over Whitefish Lake – we are reminded daily that we truly live the dream here in Montana. While the secret might be out, as seen from the 2020 census results, there is still opportunity in Big Sky Country. We’d love to chat about what that might mean for you – contact us and let’s talk over a drink here in the office.

Feature Photo: The City Beach neighborhood of Whitefish, Montana, photographed in August, 2021

Picture of Kyna Williams

Kyna Williams

Kyna Williams has spent her entire career telling stories for world-renowned brands like Nike and Underwood wine-in-a-can. Now, she joins Revel as CMO and COO. On any given day, you can find Kyna negotiating ad buys, brewing a pot of coffee or assisting agents with their listing presentations.
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