Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - One of the advantages of having the Missoula Economic Partnership as the driving force behind KGVO’s newest program called 'Missoula ECON 101’ is the amazing guests that CEO Grant Kier brings into the studio each month.

On Tuesday, Kier brought Justin Metcalf with Evergreen Development Partners and Chris Anderson, President and CEO of the DJ&A Engineering Firm as his guests to discuss the severe housing crunch in Missoula and some possible solutions.

Meet the Unholy Trinity of Housing in Missoula

Metcalf spoke of the unholy trinity in Missoula housing: price, wages, and interest rates.

“You know, the unattainable price points that we're seeing today are the inability of a first-time homebuyer to get into a market. You know, it's influenced predominantly by three things, price, interest rates, and wages, right? And in Montana, we started out with a very poor baseline, you know we’re 18th in median home value and 40th in median household income. I'm laser-focused on Missoula. So I'm going to talk about that here.”

Metcalf said he and other builders in Missoula have been searching for the best way to build an affordable home.

Building a 3 Bedroom Home in Missoula for $350,000 is Not Attainable Right Now

“We've seen unchecked growth in the price in the price of construction materials to build a home, and that that is the primary driver that you can't really overcome,” he said. “We've got a whole team right now trying to figure out how to build a single family three bedroom home at a $350,000 to $400,000 price point, and we're not there yet, and we've been working on it for a year and a half and we're looking at different ways of how to do that. We've looked at panelized construction. We've looked at it absolutely everything.”

Another guest on Missoula ECON 101 was Chris Anderson, President and CEO of the DJ&A Engineering firm, who proposed a different method of developing affordable housing.

“For the last two months we've been toying around with a product right now,” said Anderson. “Rather than building a 1,500 square foot, three bedroom two and a half bath home, which by today's standards is a small three bedroom. We're looking at a 1,200 square foot, two bedroom, two bath home, and when you buy it, it comes with the plans to add on an on suite master bedroom on the main floor, and the plans to build out the ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) above the garage. So, as you go through your life, you can build equity into your home.”

One Company has an Incentive Program for new Employees

Anderson also described an incentive program for new employees at his business to help them afford a home in Missoula.

“One program that we've instituted recently is a first-time Homebuyers Assistance Program,” he said. “So first-time homebuyers within our organization can apply for first-time homebuyer assistance, and if they're approved for that, we give them $15,000 upfront to help them with their down payment, of a home. Then, over the next five years, they pay that back interest-free with bonuses that we give to them. We have a generous bonus program in our company and they pay that back over a period of five years.”

Click here to listen to the entire hour of Missoula ECON 101.

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