Big Sky, Smaller Houses: Montana Housing Market Sees Largest Decline in Square Footage

Sunday Nov. 19th, 2023

Rising home prices coupled with inflated costs per square foot have significantly impacted the real estate market across the United States over the past five years. According to a recent report by, home buyers can now afford much less house for their money compared to just a half-decade ago.

The analysis looked at the median listing price per square foot data from 2018 to 2023 to determine how much less house a typical $500,000 budget can afford in each state. The results show that some states have been hit especially hard by the shrinking housing market.

Montana saw the biggest decrease as housing affordability dropped by over 50%. Here the median price per square foot doubled from $161 to $323 within five years. New York, Maine, Tennessee, and New Hampshire rounded out the top 5 states with the highest percentage of square feet lost over the 5-year period.

While the causes are complex, limited housing inventory, historically low mortgage rates, and an influx of out-of-state buyers migrating to certain regions =- all these factors have contributed to the leap in prices per square foot.

Today buyers have to settle for much smaller homes, forego extra space, and manage expectations compared to what their budgets could afford just a few years ago.

The data highlights how significantly and rapidly home prices can change.

While the housing market may eventually stabilize, the inflated prices per square foot have certainly made homeownership less attainable for many Americans in the short-term. Even a high budget of $500,000 no longer buys nearly as much house as it once did.