Home Buying in Butte: Spring 2020

 In Butte Culture

Surrounded by pristine rivers, lush forests and towering mountains, Butte is the crown jewel of Montana cities. Bordering on the Beaverhead and Deerlodge National Forests, Flint Creek Mountain Range to the north, Highland Mountains to the east, the Ruby Range to the south and adjacent to both the beautiful Big Hole and Jefferson Rivers — Buying a home in Butte makes a lot of sense. 

Beauty aside, however, the intentional diversification of Butte’s economy compounded with the city’s low cost of living have created an environment in which young families are able to thrive in their community.  Not to mention, the housing market is shockingly affordable. To showcase Butte’s low-cost housing market, we’ll look at how Butte compares to housing in another industrious regional city — Seattle, WA. 

Butte vs. Seattle Housing Comparison

Walk around the streets of historic downtown Butte and you’ll notice something right away – the housing market in Butte strongly favors buyers. If you are looking to buy a home in Butte, you will get significantly more land and a much larger house for a fraction of what you may pay in a Seattle neighborhood.  The best part is you still get to live in a picturesque mountain town with all the views, a significantly less-dense population and none of the traffic during your morning commute.

Take, for example, the house shown above. This is a home in Butte listed on Zillow in April of 2020. Built in 1910, this historic craftsman-style home is located on a large corner lot. It’s exposed cherrywood beams run throughout the living room and dining room. While only four of the bedrooms are ‘finished’, the basement also offers three non-conforming bedrooms. If carpet isn’t your preferred flooring, there is original hardwood underneath. Stories are waiting to be told in front of a wood burning fireplace in the living room. This home even boasts a laundry chute that goes directly from the top floor to the laundry area in the basement. If you want to live in the history that surrounds you, this is the home for you. The most astonishing thing about this home is the price – $280,000 for a 3,528 square foot family home. It’s home’s with prices like this that make Butte a desirable city to lay down your family’s roots.

Housing is Seattle continues to rise in price

Be careful when buying a house with a “too-good-to-be-true” price tag. Repairs and minor fixes add up.

Curb appeal is one thing, but when you look into the details of this home, your to-do list grows exponentially.

It’s nearly impossible to compare Butte’s home prices to Seattle’s. What can get you a historic family home in Butte, can only get you a studio apartment in Seattle. When searching for a <$300,000 home in Seattle, your options are limited to house-boats and 1 bedroom apartments. To even find a comparable home, we had to double our budget. The home listed above was posted to Zillow in April of 2020. Location is the big selling point for this property, being close to rail and bus amenities. However, that’s where the good parts of this property begin to fade. While this property has four bedrooms and two baths with 2,370 square feet, the amount of work needed to make it your own would be burdensome and expensive. 

Let’s break it down

More for Your Money

The first glaringly obvious difference is that of price.  While the house in Butte is priced at $79/square foot, the house in Seattle costs $253/square foot.  This means that the house in Chicago costs more than three times more per square foot than the house in Butte. While both homes are large and antiquated, the home in Seattle would require immediate repair and remodel work. Think about costs after purchase when comparing homes. 

Raising a Family

The next point to consider when thinking about housing is the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.  The Butte home contains four bedrooms with the potential of three more if you were to remodel the basement. The Seattle home also offers four bedrooms with less space in each room. Price also plays a role in family decisions. Spending less at closing means more money can be put into remodeling or other investment opportunities. 

Privacy

Lot size is another important consideration when buying a home.  While the home in Seattle sits on a lot size of 5,649 ft. the home in Butte sits on 4,486. Since the Butte property is located close to downtown, there isn’t much of a yard. The Seattle home boasts a large front yard and smaller backyard. Keep in mind that lawn maintenance takes time and money.

Location

As mentioned previously, Butte is located in scenic Western Montana. While you may be within walking distance to a bus stop or city park, you are able to see mountain ranges a mile high from your living room window in Butte. A walk in the park, or seemingly endless possibilities for outdoor recreationists: the choice is yours.

All This, And A Great Economy Too

Butte has been home to a bustling economy since the early 1800’s.  What was once no more than a gold and silver mining camp before the turn of the nineteenth century has now become a productive city in the mountains of Montana, ripe with opportunity.

Known in the past for its wildly lucrative copper mining industry, Montana Connections Business Development Park, legislators and citizens alike have taken steps in recent years to diversify Butte’s economy as big-time businesses on the cutting-edge of science and technology like Resodyn, REC Silicon and Montana Precision Products have taken up residence in the “Mining City”.  These companies have been able to profit from Butte’s highly-educated and ambitious workforce and the city’s resources as a major transportation hub in the West.

With a housing market that favors the buyer, plus a healthy economy built on steady industries, Butte is an increasingly attractive spot to put down roots for your business and family.

Want to see it for yourself? Take a look at this drone footage of Butte!

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Street view of Joe's pasty shop