Two companies are applying for tax abatements from the county and city.

Montana Sun LLC is seeking abatements for its $100 million, 80 megawatt solar generated power facility that will begin construction in October on Alkali Creek Road. The project is that of Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company, which will sell power to NorthWestern Energy.

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. High Country is also seeking tax relief for a $50 million investment in a bottling plant on Harnish Road.

There are two programs under which the county and city have historically encouraged economic growth and development by reducing property taxes for a period of time on an investment a company makes to expand or establish itself. Dianne Lehm, Director of Community Development for Big Sky Economic Development, explained that the county commissioners will decide under which of two available options to make the abatement decision.

The 10-year program, called the New & Expanding Industry Tax Incentive Program, allows the taxable value of the real property to be reduced by 50 percent in the first 5 years. In years 6-10, the tax obligation incrementally increases by 10 percent a year and the savings decreases until the full 100% liability is required and the abatement expires in year 10. The state legislature recently allowed local government the discretion to reduce taxes by 50 percent or by 75 percent with an incremental 15 percent increase over the last five years.

Another available option of the program is a five abatement which allows tax reductions on remodeling, reconstruction, and/or expansion of existing real property when a project makes improvements exceeding $500,000 to the property.  Property taxes on the value of improvements may be reduced by 100 percent for the first five years, after which property returns to its full taxable value.

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. High Country hopes to expand its operations in Billings in a facility to be built on 10.5 acres south of I-90 near the Zoo Drive Exit, the Harnish Trade Center. They have requested that the City of Billings annex the area and to help pay for 4,300 feet of extended utilities to the site. Big Sky Economic Development has offered a grant of up to $250,000 from its Opportunity Fund to help pay for the extension of lines, which would also assist other future development.

The City Council will take up the issue, in a few weeks, of spending another $250,000 to help support the project, while most of the $1.5 million cost for the installation of water and sewer will fall to the company.

The project proposal is for a 110,000-square-foot distribution center with a 30,000 square-foot manufacturing facility. Joe Easton, director of property development for Coca-Cola Bottling Co. High Country, explained that the expansion would mean that Billings would become a bottling plant from which their products will be distributed to the region they serve which besides Montana includes Minnesota, Colorado, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah. Currently their 450 products are bottled elsewhere and distributed to Billings.

Coca-Cola High Country is a Rapid City -based company, owned by the third generation of the Messenger Family. The company acquired the Billings center in 2014, which has had a warehouse on 1st Avenue South in Billings since 1959.

Right now, the Billings center employees 60 full-time workers, but with the expansion, the number of employees is expected to increase by 50, including 40 manufacturing jobs, paying $24/hour, and other management jobs paying $100,000-plus benefits.

Montana Sun expects to start construction in October with the aim of being completed in about a year. The company believes the construction will create about 200 temporary jobs.

The project is one of many throughout the country owned by Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company, a company launched in by Robert Hokin, in 2011. Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company is a publicly reporting, non-traded limited liability company that acquires and manages income-generating renewable energy and other energy-related businesses. The company has over a billion dollars invested in solar facilities in a number of states.


Decker Holdings, LLC/Jones Construction, Inc., 3545 Hesper Rd, Com Addition, $2,500,000

City Of Billings (Airport)/Anchor Electric Contracting Corp, 284 Southview Dr, Com Addition $29,000

Shannon Widdicombe Sprague Construction Roofing Division, 113 Custer Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding $16,000

Opportunity Bank Of Montana/Dick Anderson Construction, 1639 Main St, Com New Office/Bank, $2,300,000

City Of Billings/K2 Civil Inc, 4854 Midland Rd, Com New Other, $500,000

Pentex Restaurants Group/Hardy Construction Co., 4720 King Ave E, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar,    $1,050,000

City Of Billings (Airport),Box1735 Highway 3, Com Remodel,  $40,000

Shiloh Silver Screen Partners, 1027 Shiloh Crossing Blvd, Com Remodel,  $117,000

St Vincent Healthcare, 1233 N 30th St, Com Remodel,  $450,000

Golini Real Estate LLC/Neumann Construction, 2376 Main St, Com Remodel, $74,800

Ryan Stieg/Jones Construction, Inc, 1411 38th St W, Com Remodel, $64,880

Rimrock Owner LP/Neumann Construction, 300 S 24th St W, Com Remodel, $38,200 Commercial

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1585 Governors Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $6,000

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1585 Governors Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $10,000

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1585 Governors Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $4,000

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 750 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $25,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 736 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $25,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 706 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $20,840

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 751 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 751 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $7,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 735 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 707 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $22,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1572 Nottingham Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1573 Nottingham Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1573 Nottingham Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $5,000

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1551 Nottingham Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1574 Guinevere Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1575 Guinevere Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $22,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1575 Guinevere Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $7,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 665 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $22,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1576 Lancelot Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1576 Lancelot Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $5,000

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1550 Lancelot Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1577 Lancelot Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 1577 Lancelot Pl, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $7,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 641 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $22,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 605 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 605 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $7,000

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 621 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $22,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC  , 621 Nottingham Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $7,000

Fletcher & Miller Family Trust/Kirkness Exteriors, 423 Lordwith Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $65,119

Black Holdings LLC /Kirkness Exteriors, 807 Grand Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $5,000

Angela’s Piazza Inc/Lynnrich Inc. 420 Grand Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $6,319

Jela LLC ,3605 Hesper Rd, $500,000

Apex Properties LLC/Storage Ke Construction LLC, 560 Charles St, Com New Warehouse, $770,695

Swenson, Randall D (1/2 Int), 1547 41st St W, Com Remodel, $46,550

Yellowstone Health Partnership /T.W. Clark Construction LLC  , 123 S 27th St, Com Remodel, $58,375

JDWw Property LLC /Scotty’s Construction, 4912 Laurel Rd, Com Remodel, $5,000


Whisler, Kelsey R/Ben Hill Designs, 626 S 38th St W, Res New Accessory Structure, $12,900

Mitchell, W Scott, 2929 Rockrim Ln, Res New Accessory Structure, $100,000

Ironwood Land LLC  /Wells Built Inc. 6047 Canyonwoods Dr, $413,074

McCall  Development Inc/McCall  Development, 1656 Annas Garden Ln, Res New Single Family, 191,176

McCall  Homes/McCall  Development, 6114 Norma Jean Ln, Res New Single Family, $343,639

Magnus Land Development LLC  /Brown Builders Inc. 6325 Beckville Ln, Res New Two Family, $301,076

Magnus Land Development LLC  /Brown Builders Inc., 6330 Beckville, Res New Two Family,  $301,076

Magnus Land Development LLC  /Brown Builders Inc., 6321 Beckville Ln, Res New Two Family, $301,076.0

Zimny, Gerard P & Michelle A , 4009 Laredo Pl, Res New Single Family, $83,698

DCL Ventures LLC/Zuhaus Construction LLC, 5325 Riesling Ln, Res New Single Family,  $450,000

Wagenhals Enterprises Inc/Wagenhals Enterprises Inc, 1102 Daylight Ln, Res New Single Family,  $280,000

The Home Builders Association/Bonini Enterprises LLC, 4157 Banbury Pl, Res New Single Family, $313,410

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6147 Norma Jean Ln, Res New Single Family, $231,994

Bob Pentecost/Bob Pentecost Const, 542 Winged Foot Dr, Res New Single Family, $450,000

Redlich, Bradley K , 1013 McKenney Rd, Res New Two Family, $200,000

By Evelyn Pyburn

Remember when some folks were resistant to the installation of “smart meters” that made monitoring electrical usage so easy? Remember their “paranoid” concerns about how smart meters might be eventually adopted to control people’s use of electricity? You know — Big Brother stepping in and declaring that you could only use so much electricity a day and if you consumed more they would be able to shut you off. Silly of those tin-hat people to think that government would do such a thing, right?

Despite the fact that Big Brother was already coercing manufactures of appliances into making more expensive, ostensibly more energy-efficient appliances, regardless of what consumers wanted, most people pointed to the nay-sayers and made fun of them as being paranoid conspiracy kooks.

That wasn’t very long ago.

One has to wonder how “off” the paranoia was given the most recent news about six states that have adopted restrictions prohibiting gamers from being able to use, or even purchasing, high-end games that use a lot of energy.  Hmmm, isn’t that what the tin-hat people were worried about— government regulating power consumption? Government controlling lives.

People looking to buy and ship to California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont or Washington, an Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 Gaming Desktop from Dell’s website are informed that their orders cannot be fulfilled, because those states will not permit its shipment. (Yes, we are talking about in the US, ostensibly a country of free minds, free choices and free markets.)

According to Dell, the restraints are being coerced by the implementation of laws like California’s “Energy Commission (CEC) Tier 2” mandatory energy efficiency standards for PCs—including desktops, AIOs, and mobile gaming systems.

The regulations require desktop computers and mobile gaming systems manufactured on or after July 1, 2021, to comply with so-called Tier 2 performance requirements, which limit annual energy consumption to no more than 75 kWh/year.

Does that mean if you use more energy than that, the power will be cut off from your home?  What if you use more energy than what is deemed acceptable for your size of household by some future edict of government? Will your power be shut off? How else can government expect to enforce such restrictions?

To be in compliance with the Tier 2 requirements, desktop computers with an ES of 250 or less must have an annual energy consumption of less than 50 kWh/year, while those with an ES score of between 250 and 425 have a cap of 60 kWh/year. How soon before other states adopt such restrictions?

In 2016, California became the first U.S. state to approve “energy efficiency standards for computers and monitors,” with claims it would save 2.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and, of course, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.  This is how this “scientific” scare is used to control the activities of citizens.

This is what the “global warming initiative” looks like. This is why they have such an abiding interest in this one aspect of “science.”

Being able to control people is the impetus of the Left’s interest in science as it pertains to climate change. Their attack on our use of energy would make one believe we are running out of energy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The only way we are running out of energy is because of political policies that prohibit and inhibit its production, distribution and use – and, yes, even innovation. It has nothing to do with the science of it all and potential impacts, it’s about being able to control you and me.

There is much science, good and bad, that has profound effects on our lives, about which there is almost no publicity  – in fact, most Left science zealots don’t even know about it. Most “science” is  not conducive as leverage to scare citizens into political compliance so there is no interest in it.

COVID-19 is a great example of what stimulates the scientific curiosity of the Left. There are other diseases and other issues of science that pose risks to human beings, but about which we hear not a word.

Sadly some advancing technology is becoming a handy tool to wield control.  “Smart meters” are a great tool. They are a wonderful innovation for efficiencies and cost savings, but these six states are blatantly demonstrating they are also a tool that if used perversely can intimidate and bully people for political causes about which we know not.

The tools could still be used and the threat of losing control of our lives because of them could be mostly mitigated if citizens (consumers) were allowed the choice of whether they want them. Most people would opt in, but just the possibility of saying no to them – even in the future – would mitigate Big Brother’s power.

Just as no one should be forced to wear a mask, take a vaccine, keep silent, go to church or not go to church, eat beef or not eat beef – no one should be coerced into whether they want a tool attached to their home that could be used by government or anyone else to monitor their use of energy or to curb their use of energy if the powers- that -be deem it.

Small nonfarm businesses in 18 Montana counties and neighboring counties in Idaho and Wyoming are now eligible to apply for low interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced Director Tanya N. Garfield of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West. These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by drought in the following primary counties that began July 6, 2021. 

Primary Montana counties:  Carbon, Gallatin, Madison, Park, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Treasure and Yellowstone;

Neighboring Montana counties:  Beaverhead, Big Horn, Broadwater, Golden Valley, Jefferson, Meagher, Musselshell, Rosebud, Silver Bow and Wheatland;

Neighboring Idaho county:  Fremont;

Neighboring Wyoming counties:  Big Horn, Park and Teton.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Garfield said.

Small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 2.88 percent for businesses and 2 percent for private nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Garfield said.

By law, SBA makes Economic Injury Disaster Loans available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. The Secretary declared this disaster on July 12, 2021.

Applicants may apply online, download applications at Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply for economic injury is March 14, 2022.

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) has invited the public to comment on a proposal to improve two intersections on Laurel Road; the two intersections are located at Moore Lane and Parkway Lane.

Proposed work includes updated lighting and signal equipment for vehicles and pedestrians. In addition, new signage will also be installed at the intersections. The purpose of the project is to update the signal equipment to allow for safe and efficient signal operations.

The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2022.

An important part of properly planning for future projects is partnering with the community. The Montana Department of Transportation welcomes the public to provide ideas and comments on the proposed project. Comments may be submitted online at http:// www.mdt. mdt/ comment_form. shtml or in writing to Montana Department of Transportation, Billings office at PO Box 20437, Billings, MT  59104-0437. Note that comments are for project UPN 9568000.

The public is encouraged to contact Project Design Engineer LeRoy Wosoba at (406) 444-1280 or Billings Preconstruction Engineer Mike Taylor at (406) 657-0233 for additional information.

Grow America Builders, LLC, a national, full-service, cannabis design-build construction firm based in Highwood, IL, has announced the start of construction on a new cultivation facility and dispensary for Holy Grail Botanicals (Holy Grail) in Billings.

David Fettner, managing partner of GAB said that they have “a top notch team to construct the optimal building for cultivation of premium cannabis.”  They are working with consultant, GoVan Seeds.

Construction has already commenced and is expected to be completed by mid-October.

The Holy Grail facility, (no location address provided) will offer “plenty of canopy space for tier one growing as well as space to expand into tier two by the end of the year. There is also back office space for processing, a secure vault and a highly advanced security system. The facility will also house a retail dispensary where consumers will be able to order delivery, or walk in.”

Grow America Builders is one of the only national construction companies solely focused on the cannabis industry and specializes in cultivation centers, processing laboratories and retail dispensaries. It is owned by partners David Fetner and Mike Kaulentis.

Christian S. Kendall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Denbury Inc., will be the guest speaker at the annual Montana Petroleum Industry’s Appeciation Day Luncheon on Sept. 1, in Billings at the Doubletree Hotel, 3rd Floor, 11:30 am.

Kendall also serves as a member of Denbury’s Board of Directors. He joined Denbury as Chief Operating Officer in September 2015 and was named President in October 2016. He was appointed to his current role as a Director and CEO, July 1, 2017. Prior to joining Denbury, Chris was with Noble Energy for 14 years prior to that, holding a wide range of domestic leadership positions, primarily in the Eastern Mediterranean, Latin America, and the Gulf of Mexico.

The luncheon is part of Montana Petroleum Association’s annual conference, which will be held in Billings Aug. 30 – Sept. 1.

Features of the conference include discussions about “Montana’s Tax Picture, Government Revenue vs. Tax Equity,” with Brendan Beatty, Director, MT Department of Revenue; Bob Story, Executive Director, Montana Taxpayers’ Association; and Kurt Alme, Montana State Budget Director.

Also a panel discussion on “Methane Monitoring and Control” and on “Regulatory Update will be held.

For more information email:

New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s New American Driving Survey (2020) showed the average number of all daily car trips at the start of the pandemic dropped by 45% as COVID-19 and associated restrictions led to a drastic drop in road travel.  Daily trips rebounded in May and June but remained 20-25% below their 2019 levels during the remainder of 2020. 

According to the research in April 2020: 

* Trips by all modes of transportation plunged by 40% 

* The average number of daily trips for all modes of transportation fell from 3.7 trips per day (2019) to 2.2 trips.

Other key findings: 

* Daily Car trips:  Fell from 3.2 pre-pandemic to 1.8 in April 2020, before rebounding slightly to 2.6 trips for the rest of 2020.

* Travel by Urban Areas: Daily trips dropped 42% (compared to 25% for those living in Suburban areas), before leveling off to a 20%-30% reduction. 

* Travel by transit, taxi, or rideshare: The proportion of people who reported making any trips by transit, taxi, or rideshare plummeted from 5.5% pre-pandemic to 1.7% in April of 2020, before leveling off at approximately 2.4% for the remainder of the year.

* Commuter Travel: Work-related travel by all transportation modes dropped by 40% in April 2020, likely reflecting a mix of layoffs, job losses, and telecommuting. Commuting trips made by workers on days when they worked decreased by approximately 22%. For the remainder of the year, commuting trips were approximately 26% below pre-pandemic levels. 

Car Fatalities Rise despite less travel in 2020

Despite fewer cars on the road and more people staying home, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently estimated that 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020 — an increase of about 7.2% over 2019 and the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007.

The most recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Traffic Safety Culture Index found that drivers perceive distracted, aggressive and impaired driving as dangerous. Yet, many drivers admitted to engaging in at least one of these behaviors in the 30 days prior to the survey.

Commercial and New Residential

RPR Properties LLC/T.W. Construction, 704 N 30th St, Com Addition, $367,000

Billings 401 LLC/Bradford Roof Management Inc, 401 N 31st St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $9,350

Lutheran Retirement Home Inc/Bradford Roof Management Inc, 3940 Rimrock Rd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $6,140

Wal-Mart Real Estate Business, 2525 King Ave W, Com Remodel, $200,000

Amerco Real Estate Company, 1515 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $12,000

McCall Development Inc/Olympus Technical Services, 6200 S Frontage Rd, Demolition Permit Commercial, $36,800

LAS Properties LLC, 1325 5th St W,  Com Footing/Foundation,  $77,400

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1625 Annafeld Pkwy E, Com Footing/Foundation, $125,692

Van Binsbergen, Greg & Carla/Jones Construction, Inc, 1411 38th St W, Com New Store/Strip Center, $440,000

Double Duece Ventures LLC/Double Duece Ventures LLC, 71 25th St W,  Com Remodel, $15,000

Harkless, Steven R, 206 N 18th St, Com Remodel, $15,000

Yellowstone Art Center Foundation/Hardy Construction Co., 401 N 27th St, Com Remodel, $45,000

Josh Benson/Cucancic Construction Inc.  3189 King Ave W, Com Remodel – Change In Use, 120,000

Unicor Partners, 2695 King Ave W, Com Remodel – Change In Use,$28,900

School District No 2/Empire Roofing Inc, 1201 Kootenai Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $117,390

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC, 1585 Governors Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC, 1545 Governors Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $26,500

IRET Properties/Drytech Co LLC, 1515 Governors Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,$26,500

Montana Power Building LLC/Lennick Bros. Roofing & Sheetmetal, 2123 1st Ave N, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $8,000

McCall/McCall Development, 6123 Mollie Rose Ln, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $960,000

NA/McCall Development, 1624 St George Blvd, Com New Other, $40,000

NA/McCall Development, 1624 St George Blvd, Com New Other, $50,000

Rocky Vista University/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 4130 Monad Rd, Com New Other, $9,000,000

Las Properties LLC/Dick Anderson Construction, 1325 5th St W, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar, $200,000

Rimrock II, LLC/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 3045 King Ave W, Com Remodel, $20,000


Robert Lively/MJH Construction, 6321 Ridge Stone Dr S, Res New Single Family, $300,000

Robert Lively/MJH Construction, 6311 Ridge Stone Dr S, Res New Single Family,  $300,000

Mike Glennon/Schaefer Construction, 1424 Las Palmas Ave, Res New Single Family,   $220,600

Copper Ridge West Inc/Bob Pentecost Construction, 7003 Copper View Way, Res New Single Family, $420,000

Copper Ridge West Inc/Bob Pentecost Construction, 7015 Copper View Way, Res New Single Family, $460,000

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1931 Annas Garden Ln, Res New Single Family, $477,720

Reichenbach Properties, LLC/Kay Homebuilders LLC, 2032 Gayle Dr, Res New Single Family, $325,000

Taylor, Zachary J/Trent Buscher Construction, 3150 Falcon Cir, Res New Single Family,   $250,000

NA/Trent Buscher Construction, 3152 Falcon Circle, Res New Single Family, $271,884

Morel, Elizabeth, 216 Parkhill Dr, Res New Accessory Structure, $30,000

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6123 Mollie Rose Ln, Res New Accessory Structure, $60,000

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6135 Mollie Rose Ln, Res New Single Family, $0

Infinity Home/Infinity Home LLC, 1820 W Thunder Mountain Rd,  Res New Single Family, $297,952

Infinity Home/Infinity Home LLC, 1816 W Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family,     $297,952

Buscher Construction/Buscher Construction Ltd, 3109 Falcon Circle, Res New Single Family, $307,906

CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 4665 Audubon Way, Res New Single Family, $452,558

Jason & Megan Ahlin/Capra Group, Inc., 2925 Glynn Abbey Way, Res New Single Family, $790,582

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1854 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $196,386

High Sierra II Inc/Infinity Home LLC, 2430 Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $264,184

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 913 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family,   $227,838

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 921 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family,  $227,838

HG Design/HG Designs, 1924 W Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family, $450,000

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 925 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $279,885

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 917 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $279,888

NA/Bob Pentecost Construction, 492 Winged Foot Dr, Res New Single Family, $450,000

McCall/McCall Development, 6123 Mollie Rose Ln, Res New Townhome, $40,000

McCall/McCall Development, 6123 Mollie Rose Ln, Res New Townhome, $40,000

McCall/McCall Development, 6123 Mollie Rose Ln, Res New Townhome, $40,000

McCall/McCall Development, 6123 Mollie Rose Ln, Res New Townhome, $40,000

McCall/McCall Development, 6123 Mollie Rose Ln, Res New Townhome, $40,000

McCall/McCall Development, 6123 Mollie Rose Ln, Res New Townhome, $40,000

Formation Inc/Formation Inc, 4709 Sky Vista Ct, Res New Single Family, $208,092

Habitat For Humanity Mid Yell, 1217 N Ping Cir, Res New Single Family, $220,000

Billings Top Housing Market according to WSJ

Billings is at the top of the Wall Street Journal’s list of Emerging Housing Markets. Bolstered by affordability, low unemployment, low commute time, ability to work at home, affordable taxes, and a “booming housing market,” according to the Wall Street Journal article, people are discovering Billings and it has become the top destination for people seeking to relocate.

Among reasons people are seeking smaller communities in which to live is safety and security concerns, amid the restraints and lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic in larger metropolitan areas.

About 65% of page views of Billings property listings came from outside the area in the second quarter, up from about 57% from a year earlier, according to, which is operated by News Corp, parent company of the Wall Street Journal.

People are coming to Billings from coastal states like California and Washington, as well as from Kentucky and Texas, according to Billings’ Deb Parker, broker owner of Parker & Co. Real Estate Service, who is quoted in the WSJ article. “I believe Montana’s truly been discovered,” Ms. Parker said. “I’ve never seen so much cash in our market.”

The article went on to say, about Billings, “The average single-family home-sale price in Billings and the surrounding area was $376,248 in June, up 32% from a year earlier, according to the Billings Association of Realtors.”

“As in many markets around the country, the number of homes for sale is very low. There were 392 single-family listings in the Billings area in June, down from 433 a year earlier, the association said.”

Also topping the Emerging Housing Markets Index, are Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Rapid City, S.D.; and Raleigh, N.C.

Study Counters Claim of Out-of-State Buyers

Everywhere, everywhere, everyone is claiming that Montana is being flooded with out- of- staters escaping to Montana from crowded and convoluted metropolitan areas and pushing up Montana housing prices – but then, maybe not.

While it’s too soon to get the kind of data that would tell the most accurate story, there’s one source that says that is not what’s happening. The data comes from address change requests from the US Postal Service and the United States Commercial Real Estate Services (CBRE), a national real estate research firm that publishes data on people moving from one location to another for each Metropolitan Statistical Area (of which there are only three in Montana, Missoula, Billings and Great Falls.) 

After evaluating the data, Dr. Pat Barkey, Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana says, “….there appears to be no major shift in address changes between the pre-COVID year 2019 and the pandemic year of 2020 – this may be a slightly positive trend favoring in-migration. Glancing at the figures, there appear to be minor increases of those moving to Missoula and small decreases of those moving out.”

In an article in Montana Business Quarterly, Barky explained the data is incomplete, so there is a possibility that the conclusions are not accurate but the 2020 data is comparable to that of 2019.

Some of the data gaps result from the fact that there are only three Metropolitan Statistical Areas in Montana, also some data from small sources is redacted so as to preserve confidentiality, also there is no way to know how many people are involved in an address change.

Barkey discovered that “the number of address changes in-state dwarfs those for out-of-state locations. For example, the 11,455 address changes to Missoula from elsewhere in Montana was roughly 45 times larger than the next largest number of 486 for Washington.” The data also confirms that migration paths are a two-way street. States that are major sources of in-migrants are also major destinations for out-migrants.

The data also shows that for Missoula, in the western part of the state, Washington is the largest source-destination. Billings has a more Midwest view, with Wyoming as the largest source-destination. Finally, Great Falls looks more Southwest, with migration from California and Arizona.

Barkey explained, “Large numbers of people moving in and moving out do not mean significant changes in population. Again looking at Missoula and Washington, hundreds of people moved in and moved out, but the net changes were relatively small…”

The numbers show that “incomers is matched by a significant out migration with little net change. The number of movers, even for the largest cities, is relatively small. Most of the figures being in the tens or hundreds, even for the largest cities.”

“These city tabulations directly address the issue of whether there has been a flight from cities associated with COVID-19. The short answer is probably not, or at least not very much. There was no shift in mobility patterns and source-destination cities remained in the same rank in both 2019 and 2020. The data … may show a slight tendency toward increased net in-migration, but we really don’t know because of the large number of redactions.”

Barkey’s report follows  that of a study done by Realtors in Missoula a couple months ago, which came to similar conclusions.

In an examination of where customers of Missoula mortgage lenders are coming from indicated that much of the home buying is going on because of Montanans moving to different communities. Only about 13 – 19% of the borrowers were coming from out- of- state.

Interestingly in monitoring “home searches” by people who were looking for a new home, two percent of those exploring Missoula’s market came from Bozeman. Most were from Seattle, followed by Salt Lake City, New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Nationally Housing Market Drops

A reversal in the escalating market of home sales nationally poses a question of what that might mean locally.

This past week the news was filled with headlines that announced that sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to a 14-month low in June and sales in the prior month were weaker than initially estimated.

June marked the third straight month of decline with a drop of 6.6 percent — to the lowest level in more than a year, while the median new house price fell by 5 percent month-over-month.  The drop was concentrated in the South, the Northeast and West.

A common reason cited was the cost of lumber and shortages of other building materials.

The Commerce Department reported the third straight monthly decline in sales, following the previous week’s report that permits for future homebuilding dropped to a nine-month low in June “while home resales rebounded modestly.” Higher production costs are forcing builders to scale back, keeping supply tight and boosting home prices to the detriment of first-time buyers, said the report.

David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio said, “Until builder costs and supply-chain problems become less of an impediment, it is hard to see new sales picking up significantly in the near term.”

The 6.6 percent decline in new home sales amounts to 676,000 units. May’s sales pace was revised down to 724,000 units from the previously reported 769,000 units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which account for a small share of U.S. home sales, increasing 3 percent — or 800,000 units in June.

Instead, sales plunged 19.4% on a year-on-year basis in June, the first annual decrease since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Massive fiscal policy – ie. the disbursement of billions of dollars to citizens — and historically low mortgage rates are driving demand for housing, which was further boosted by the pandemic as millions of Americans worked from home and took online classes, said one report.

But supply has lagged behind, with builders constrained by soaring lumber prices as well as shortages of other building materials, household appliances, land and labor.

Though lumber prices have dropped sharply from May’s record highs, that is being tempered by wildfires in the Western United States and British Columbia in Canada. The backlog of single-family homes approved for construction but yet to be started surged in June to the highest level since October 2006.

Another report stated that while the housing market was one of the economy’s star performers during the pandemic, that streak will likely came to an end in the second quarter.

The rate of inflation – GDP growth – is expected to show an annualized rate of 8.6 percent with the net quarterly report — an acceleration from the first quarter’s 6.4% pace. The anticipated growth pace would be the fastest since 1983 and a peak in the current cycle.