Fact Check

3-Bedroom 'Ordinary House in Rural Montana' Listed for $1.1M?

The 1,800-square-foot house is located in Whitefish, which has a population of less than 9,000.

Published April 1, 2024

 (Heather Reddig)
Image Via Heather Reddig
Claim:
The asking price of a three-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot house in Whitefish, Montana, was genuinely listed as $1.1 million in 2024.
Context

The house was listed for $1.1 million in early 2024. However, it was taken off the market in March for the seller "to do upgrades," the listing agent told Snopes. The agent said they expect the house to go back on the market later in 2024. It was unknown if the listing price would change when that happens.

Described as an "ordinary house in rural Montana," the asking price of a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Whitefish has shocked some corners of the internet. Said to include a "trove of treasures" in the basement, the blue-and-white house in the northwestern town (which has a population of less than 9,000) was supposedly listed for sale at $1.1 million.

In February 2024, Whitefish real estate agent Kirk Rossiter posted a reel (archive) on Instagram describing the home, and that video quickly captured onlookers' attention. It had been viewed more than 7.4 million times at the time of this publication. Posts on other social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram, also featured the house, and major news outlets, including Business Insider and The Daily Mail, wrote about it.

(Screengrab/Instagram)

Some incredulous Instagram users commented on what they perceived to be a high price tag for the home. "Click bait. Absolutely untrue. Is thus your strategy to get clicks?" wrote one.

Others appeared more accepting of the $1.1 million price tag, noting how housing prices in small, rural towns such as Whitefish increased after the COVID-19 pandemic. "I'm not even from Montana and I get why people who are actually from there hate transplants," wrote one user. 

Despite some commenters' claim that the house's purported listing was a "scam," it was not. Its listing price was genuinely $1.1 million in 2024. For that reason, we rated this claim "True."

However, while the house was listed temporarily for $1.1 million, the listing agent told Snopes that it was taken off the market in March for the seller "to do upgrades." Further details about the updates were unknown — as well as if, or to what extent, they could affect the home's price.

According to the now-deleted listing, the $1.1 million price tag included "a trove of treasures that will seamlessly transfer to the new owner 2 weeks prior to closing." It was unknown what those "treasures" were, exactly. Heather Reddig, the listing agent, told Snopes the haul consisted of the seller's father's "sentimental items," though she didn't go into further details. 

Reddig said the reason for the price was simple: "Location, location, location."

Zoning Is 'Intended for Higher-Density Residential Purposes'

Reddig posted a YouTube video tour of the house on Feb. 28, 2024 (archive). She described it as "boasting views" of the surrounding area and having a location that offers "endless adventure." 

Flathead County property records (archive) said the house, built in 1955, was just over 1,800 square feet. Its picturesque Rocky Mountain location is tucked along the winding Whitefish River and a quick walk from both downtown and Whitefish Lake. Also, the house is just a 30-minute drive from Glacier National Park.

According to Reddig, the property is currently zoned as a district "intended for higher-density residential purposes."

In other words, a developer could buy the property, demolish the home, and build a multifamily housing unit, such as a duplex, on the site.

'Bit of an Extreme Example' of Housing Conditions

Housing availability and access in Whitefish, a ski town, is a contentious issue with out-of-state buyers and short-term vacation rentals saturating the market. 

For example, Whitefish's Planning and Building Department reported (archive) before 2019, the median house price was $492,500. By 2022, that price increased to more than $1 million. In 2023, housing prices dropped to just under $900,000 — still nearly double the median price just four years earlier. 

(City of Whitefish)

To address current conditions, which some people describe as a housing-affordability crisisthe city requires short-term rentals (rental housing units that are used for stays 30 days or less) to operate only in certain areas of town. The property in question is not located (archive) in a zone that allows such rentals.

"Whitefish is the haven for short-term rentals, and that's actually one of the problems that people are upset about in the area," Rossiter said in a phone interview with Snopes. "Because so many people are moving to the area and converting houses to short-term rentals, there are few options on the market for people who can't afford a higher-priced property."

Rossiter said when he first saw the $1.1 million listing for the three-bedroom house, he thought it was a "bit of an extreme example of the Whitefish housing prices." 

Sources

ArcGIS Web Application. https://cityofwhitefish.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=2efe5bdac0f64c6dba05d709256afd2e. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

"City of Whitefish Looking for Solutions to Solve Housing Crisis." KPAX News, 4 Nov. 2023, https://www.kpax.com/news/local-news/flathead-county/city-of-whitefish-looking-for-solutions-to-solve-housing-crisis.

Glacier, Mailing Address: PO Box 128 West, and MT 59936 Phone: 406-888-7800 Contact Us. Fact Sheet - Glacier National Park (U.S. National Park Service). https://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/news/fact-sheet.htm. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

"Heather Reddig Realtor - Turning Dreams into Reality." Heather Reddig - Montana Real Estate Kalispell Whitefish, https://heatherreddig.com/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.instagram.com%2Frossiter_realty%2F&is_from_rle. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

---. https://www.instagram.com/p/C3oLprxvoNW/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

Layer: Whitefish Zoning Use (ID: 4). https://maps.flathead.mt.gov/server/rest/services/IMA/Zoning/MapServer/4. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

Lloyd, Alcynna. "People Are Incredulous That an Ordinary House in Rural Montana Is on the Market for over $1 Million." Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/whitefish-montana-house-listed-for-over-a-million-dollars-2024-3. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

PrintPropertyRecordCard. https://svc.mt.gov/msl/MTCadastral/PrintPropertyRecordCard/GetPropertyRecordCardData?Geocode=07429236233180000&year=2023. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

Short-Term Rental | Whitefish, MT. https://www.cityofwhitefish.org/187/Short-Term-Rental. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

What Is Rural? | National Agricultural Library. https://www.nal.usda.gov/rural-development-communities/what-is-rural#:~:text=The%20Census%20Bureau%20defines%20rural,population%20of%2050%2C000%20or%20more. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

Whitefish, Montana Home for Sale 428 O'Brien Ave. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b_zuBiK5gg. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

Madison Dapcevich is a freelance contributor for Snopes.