Today we are pleased to present: a market analysis for Northwest Montana and Part 1 of our initial analysis of New Zealand.
Northwest Montana Market Analysis
This analysis is presented by the newest Approved Retreat Realtor, Viola K. Moss in Libby, Montana. Congratulations Viola!
The market for properties in beautiful northwestern Montana continues to compete for retreat-minded buyers. As the real estate market goes, the good news is that this is the second most desired location in the nation (after the southwestern Arizona area); the bad news is that many have to sell their current property to relocate here. Here in Lincoln County, I have personally seen prices quadruple since 1999 and double in the last three years.
Last year, appraisals could hardly keep up with the increased market demand sales. As a domino effect this year resulting from the real estate downward spiral in the rest of the nation and because people from other areas have to normally sell to make their purchase here, prices have seemed to have leveled out this summer. Additionally, there is more inventory on the market. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a lot of inventory compared to other markets, but for this area, inventory has increased and is still rapidly increasing.
Why the larger inventory? First, it is because Sellers saw the rapid increase in value and have decided to take advantage of the market. Thus, they are putting their properties on the market. Many of these are retirees or near that stage in life when they want to relocate closer to their children and grandchildren. (Many of whom live in western Washington.)
The second reason is because timber companies are selling off large tracts of land (which causes the local logging/timber mill economy to go next to nil) and because investors seeing the money to be made have bought large tracts of land and are subdividing it.
The bad news is that many of these new parcels which are sorely needed come with restrictive covenants. This is where I get the notoriety of being the “chicken realtor” as it seems I always have clients looking for property wherein one can raise chickens and small livestock. I find it increasingly difficult to locate homes for my clients and, more so, vacant land that does not have restrictive covenants these days.
We need people who are survival and back-to-practical purposes minded who will demand these types of properties. Otherwise, we will end up with retirees who just want increased infrastructure, services and taxes to support all this with their Baby Boomer retirements and investments. This is all at the expense of those who are still the working class and who want the freedoms and pleasures of rural to remote living. Believe me, I’m a Baby Boomer too and I know how this can ruin a community. I sat back and watched rural agricultural Central Florida turn into the likes of Los Angeles within a 15 year period. Old timers who have their places paid for can’t afford their property taxes or the crime that comes with this mentality. In fact, in many places in Florida, it is illegal to have a family sized homestead (with livestock) even if you have the acreage and it is zoned Agricultural. I see a huge potential for this trend to occur in Montana, Idaho and Washington. So we need to keep the survival-minded people coming to prevent any demographic shift.
Public vs. Private Land, the Real Crunch
Historically, only 7% to10% if the land here is privately owned. This low level of inventory kept prices escalating. Now that this is the #2 destination in Montana (second only to the more snowy Kalispell area) prices are leveling out. Over 80% of the buyers are from out of state and are baby boomers. Most are looking to retire but there are many in this group who are moving their families to get out of the rat race and get a better quality of life and education for their families. In fact, many of these people are motivated from personal and religious beliefs that things are going to get nasty in this country and they want to be out and away from the mainstream population. I personally know many families that are here today as a direct result of revelations from God.
The average sold to list price for this area is 94%, marking the beginning of a transition from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. However, many sellers are not desperate or very motivated and are just biding their time trying to take advantage of the market. If they are able to wait it out they will probably get their asking price.
The average price for homes this past year was $162,000 with 198 closings. The land sale average price was $139,000 for 114 land deals.
Currently, the residential inventory of listings stands at 189 with only 25% of these being parcels 10 acres or more. Vacant land inventory is 285 with 30% being parcels of 10 or more acres. I have noticed that many times, if one is looking for land value, it is better for per acre cost to buy a home with lots of land and simply ignore the home if you don’t like it. Land parcels get more bang for the buck here! Additionally, properties with springs, rivers, creeks, lakes, et cetera get premium top dollar and normally have more covenants unless they are older, bigger parcels.
The land in this region is very desirable for remote location, access to water, and ability to be self-sufficient. One of our best kept secrets in northwestern Montana (along with North Idaho) is that the winter weather is moderate!
Retreat Realtor Viola K. Moss can be e-mailed at MtnMama@kvis.net. She covers the Northwestern portion of Montana including the Yaak River Valley, Troy, Libby, Heron, Noxon, Trout Creek, Thompson Falls and all of Lincoln County. – V.K.M.
New Zealand (Part 1)
New Zealand is made up of two large islands, one large island to the south and a smaller island to the north. The locals refer to them as the North island and the South island, go figure.
The north is home to most of the businesses, manufacturing and industry, as well as the hub for tourism. If you want to be secluded and live off grid then you’ll want to be on the northern part of the South island. The North island has a climate similar to a mix of Hawaii and California, damp and cold is the winter and hot and humid in the summer with allot of sunshine and beautiful days. Places in the northern part of the North island like Auckland do not get any snow, unlike the southern parts of the South island that are closer to Antarctica, where there are four defined seasons and snow in winter. Pick your climate, either way New Zealand seems to have the best of it all.
The South island is where the real New Zealanders live, at least according to an agent I spoke to down there recently. This island has everything from a wine growing area to rocky, mountainous remote areas. According to the Realtor, the North West end of the island houses several private sections that are inhabited by people living off the grid and support themselves by working the land and bartering. The farther south you go the more remote and the weather patterns get more varied. As you know we preparedness minded folks like to have a lot of land, but amazingly enough most people there are happy and can support themselves with 20 acres, not 80 or 100. Real estate prices seem to be holding steady with a few corrections over the past year or so. Farm and dairy ranches started the year off slow but it seems from the reports that it is heading for a strong finish.
This site has an enormous amount of information on the housing market in New Zealand.
This New Zealand real estate site seems to offer the best overall view of the country, with the most offices and agents that could be found.
New Zealand is a huge country as islands go and we are working to find approved Realtors there, please e-mail us if you can recommend someone for the site.
As far as actually buying a retreat in New Zealand you’ll want to consider the exchange rate as well as taxes, the economy and firearms laws, all of which are covered below.
Monetary Exchange Rates
The exchange rate table will help those worldwide understand their own currency’s worth against the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). You may use this calculator to help you see what your dollar will buy.
As of this month for every $1.00 US Dollar you’ll have the buying power of $1.41 in NZD. For example a retreat listed in New Zealand for $675,000 NZD would cost you only $518,000 USD.
For those of you in Britain your Pound is worth almost 2.64 NZD! That same retreat listed at $675,000 NZD would only be only £255,690 in GBP. Hurry! Run, swim, fly, and buy!
For those of you interested in researching the ins and outs of the economy down there, a large amount of technical data regarding the economy can be found here.
Taxes in New Zealand
After researching on the NZ Tax Site it seems that the use of a sliding tax scale works well and a person making 65,000 NZD will pay 16,000 NZD in taxes, or about 25%, rather than the stated 40%. All in all, as with almost every nation out there it is better to be a business owner than a worker, so you’ll have more tax ‘loop holes’ to slide into.
Firearms in New Zealand
It appears from the research completed that owning military semi-automatic weapons is acceptable in NZ. You can preview the NZ Police site and a guide service http://nzhunt.com/laws.html for some excellent technical information.In addition here is a local gun shop with a list of nice battle rifles to purchase should you decide to move. It looks like they sell AKs, ARs, HKs, M1As and the like (with a valid ‘E’ license), and suppressors!
Although it looks like you would be better off bringing your entire collection to NZ since prices seem to be two to three times the cost in the U.S.A., even after factoring in the exchange rate. The costs of suppressors though, strangely seem to be lower.
In order to store your firearms you must use an approved secured safe or for larger collections a safe room. The room must be complete with re-bar reinforced walls, floor and ceiling as well as bars over any windows. This is more likely to be required with a “E” license which covers the black rifles and all suppressors et cetera. There are some rifles like the Saiga that can be had with the “A” license, the normal easy license to get apparently. You do have to justify your ownership, i.e. collector, investment, match shooter, whatever. But to escape escalating issues in your country of origin it seems to be worth it, even those of us from the USA, this is a good locale to bring your guns n’ gear and escape the coming Nanny (police) state.
Hopefully in the near future we will feature an in-depth market analysis written by an approved agent.
In other news, it looks like we have a new approved 130 acre retreat called Rolling Meadows, in North Carolina. This is the first of many retreats to come from Ron Thompson, currently seeking full approval from the staff here to become SurvivalRealty.com‘s sole approved Realtor in Northwest North Carolina. Ron is a former US Marine and fellow Patriot. You can see his new listing at SurvivalRealty.com very soon! If you are looking at North Carolina as a possible retreat locale you may contact him directly: Ron Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for more, next Friday! – T.S.