Recently, the Missoula Organization of Realtors issued a dismal forecast of available housing for new arrivals in the area, but another arriving population will have better luck; students at the University of Montana.

KGVO News reached out to UM’s Director of Strategic Communications, Dave Kuntz, who said there is a variety of housing availabilities for current and incoming students.

“At the university, we have residence halls, we have our off campus apartments, and we have other housing units,” began Kuntz. “We're certainly seeing that demand really creep up as we get ready and put plans in for next year. So as things stand now, we're very comfortable with the supply that we have for next academic year. However, the university has already taken pretty proactive steps going forward to make sure that we can expand that supply in the years ahead, knowing that the crunch is likely to last for a while and we want to be able to make sure that we're serving our students to the best extent possible.”

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Kuntz provided specific details of the work that will be done this summer to prepare more student housing.

“The first step we're taking is here at the University beginning this summer will undergo a big renovation of Knowles Hall, one of our historic residence halls here on campus to upgrade the building, as well as add some additional capacity as we extend the lifespan of that building,” he said. “We're also in the early stages of identifying likely the construction of a new residence hall here in the coming years at UM. That will be needed as we continue to see enrollment uptick and demand for the University Housing going forward.”

He provided information about more housing units being prepared for next fall and the influx of new students.

“We're repurposing some residence hall rooms that have been taken off line in previous years to get them back in the supply line before next fall, as well as some of our off campus housing units,” he said. “We’re taking the summer to launch some renovations that are needed to be able to ensure that we’re in a position to extend leases to going forward.”

Kuntz also revealed the fact that the university owns several residences near the campus that are also available for student housing.

“We do have a pretty sizable real estate asset here with our on campus residence halls,” he said. “We have our off campus apartments there along Higgins and South at the University Villages the Toole Villages and the Lewis and Clark Villages, as well as married family housing, which is called the ‘X’s’ over at the base of Mount Sentinel. In addition to that we own about 36 homes adjacent to campus on streets like Fifth and Sixth Streets.”

According to the MOR report, ‘2021 continued the trend of tight supply and decline in vacancy rates. The result was a new all-time low annual average vacancy rate of 1.3 percent.  Studios and 4-plus bedrooms in multiplexes experienced the lowest average vacancy rates at 1.1 percent and 0.0 percent respectively.

Overall, in 2021 rents increased 5.57 percent, with one bedroom multiplex apartments up 4.9 percent and two bedrooms were up 7.5 percent. Rental rate began accelerating in the second half 2021, comparing 2020 Q4 to 2021 Q4 the minimum price increase per unit is approximately $150 for apartments and approximately $300 for houses’.

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