Chap Godsey moved to the Whitefish area after college in 1995. Having considered other mountain towns, he and his wife decided on Whitefish because of the strong sense of community and the easy access to magnificent mountains and lakes. Godsey has been working in real estate in the Whitefish area since 1997, and he has seen many changes take root in that time. Excited about the direction the Flathead Valley is moving, he identifies the new schools, the Whitefish Performing Arts Center, new trails, improvements and an expansion at Whitefish Mountain Resort, and real estate improvements in town as signs of the ever-increasing promise of the Flathead Valley area. WHJ invited Chad to offer some insights into the local real estate market.
WHJ: When buyers are comparing various resort markets, what sells them on the Flathead Valley?
CHAP GODSEY: I’m sure that people in all resort areas feel their area is unique. And when people consider buying in a resort community, they often compare resorts. Having been here for nearly 20 years, I know there is definitely something special, beyond its natural beauty, which sets the Flathead Valley apart from the rest. We have something here for everyone to enjoy— endless outdoor recreation with first-class skiing, golfing, fishing, biking, hiking—you name it, we have it. Several quaint mountain towns fill the valley with down-to-earth, friendly residents, great restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and culture. Access to the valley is easy with a near-by airport. Last, but definitely not least, having Glacier National Park right out the back door—over 1 million acres of preserved wilderness offering countless adventures—gives us something that most other resort areas don’t have.
WHJ: In mountain town communities, what role do real estate agents play?
GODSEY: In a resort or mountain town, local agents have a wealth of experience and knowledge about the marketplace. That’s especially important because so much of our clientele is not local. Out-of-town buyers know this is an outstanding place to be, but accomplishing that is easier said than done. They need help determining the location of the Flathead Valley they want, judging appropriate property values, understanding local laws that might affect their intended use. We can help them connect with a reliable builder or lender, and the list goes on. Clients also look to us as a liaison to the community. Many times, we are the first people they get to know, and the suggestions we can give them about the valley are important in helping them get going with enjoying their new purchase. Being new to an area can sometimes be overwhelming and just knowing things like the best restaurants, hikes, fishing spots, etc., can go a long way. For out-of-town owners, selling a property from afar is no easy task either. We are able to provide the information necessary to give them a good understanding of the current marketplace and the best price to generate interest and sell their homes. We are also here and can keep an eye on their property to let them know when things like plowing, landscaping, and maintenance need to be done so that it remains in the best condition for showings. This is important because the condition will directly affect the final sale price. There are also US tax laws that have a huge impact when the seller is Canadian or of other foreign nationality, and we know how to coordinate the sale to minimize the impact it may have for the seller as well as the buyer. This is crucial as we have many Canadian owners here.
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WHJ: What direction is the market moving as far as price? Is it straight across the board? What are the drivers?
GODSEY: As a whole, I think that price will only see a very slight increase over the next year and won’t be nearly as substantial as what we have seen over the last two years. It won’t be straight across the board but carried by the properties and price points that are in high demand. I believe the strongest parts of the market will remain the lower- to middle-priced residential and recreation properties along with commercial properties and the softest parts will be the high- end residential and recreational properties due to the surplus of inventory. I think most of the market will be driven by local buyers and US buyer. We will see an impact from the downward shift in value of the Canadian dollar vs US dollar over the last 18 months along with the recent drop in oil prices could lessen the number of Canadians who are able to buy and more who choose to sell.
WHJ: What can buyers provide to help real estate agents in finding that dream home?
GODSEY: Buyers and agents need to work hand in hand when it comes to finding that dream home. For starters, a buyer should pick an agent that they are comfortable working with and stick with them. Buyers will get much better service from an agent who knows their client is serious about buying a property as well as serious about working with them. Buyers should provide their agent with as much information as possible specifying what they want, when they want it, and even what they can compromise on from their wish list. From there, buyers need to have open and straight forward dialogue with their agent regarding their feedback of properties that they have been shown or sent information on. Lastly, a buyer should let their agent know of any properties that they have found on their own that are of interest and have their agent schedule a showing or obtain answers to any of their questions about it. Through all of this teamwork, a buyer will find the right home.
WHJ: What excites you about the Flathead Valley market?
GODSEY: I have been a real estate agent in Whitefish for 18 years, and my outlook on this town going forward is very positive. Over the past few years, amazing things have happened which are keeping this town on the right track to continue its success. A new Whitefish high school and a new Whitefish middle school, a Performing Arts Center, a new hospital and new fire and police stations are all significant investments in this community. Add to that the Whitefish Mountain Resort upgrades and expansion, the Whitefish Trail and city bike trail system, East and West 2nd street/ HWY 93 reconstruction, a new City Hall to be built, the boutique hotel going in downtown along with several other new buildings downtown, previously empty subdivisions filling up, pro baseball team coming to town, and the list goes on. There are many people, both local and non-local, who want to see this special town thrive. With a long-term outlook in mind, I don’t see how you could go wrong investing in any kind of real estate in Whitefish.