By Will McDermott
Home sales and prices
North Dakota home sales prices increased steadily over the past three
years. According to data from the North Dakota Association of Realtors
(NDAR) state median sales prices rose from $175,000 in first-quarter
2013 to $200,000 this past first quarter.
These prices gains came even as listings edged up slightly. NDAR data
showed 3,827 new active and pending listings for first-quarter 2013
and 3,941 new active and pending listings this past first quarter. This
steady statewide price increase is reinforced by Zillow median list
prices, which increased consistently from $180,000 in January 2013 to
$234,000 this past February.
Zillow median home list prices have been much more volatile in the
heart of North Dakota’s oil industry, however. Williston median list prices bounced up and down from $277,000 to $399,000 over the past two
years, almost mirroring the average monthly price of North Dakota’s
crude oil. This correlation could indicate drastic decreases in Williston
home values in the near future.
CEO, North Dakota Association of Realtors
“There is the misperception that it is only the western part of
the state that has strong markets due to the oil activity but
yet the eastern part is strong. At this current time the Red
River Valley — Fargo and Grand Forks — are coming into
spring probably the strongest in the state.”
North Dakota Crude Oil and Williston Home Prices
Sources: Zillow, U. S. Energy Information Administration
What the locals say
Williston median list price
North Dakota crude oil prices (per barrel)
Oil and gas production made North Dakota recession-proof
North Dakota never felt the effects of the Great Recession, riding a wave
of oil production to unprecedented state prosperity during the economic
downturn. A 2014 American Enterprise Institute (AEI) report shows North
Dakota’s per capita income ranked second in the nation in 2013 — a far
cry from the state’s 40th place ranking seven years earlier. North Dakota’s
personal income grew by 7. 6 percent in 2013 and 6. 4 percent in 2014, both
According to a Bureau of Economic Analysis report, mining operations and
construction jobs accounted for more than 45 percent of North Dakota’s income growth in 2014. This growth has had predictable impacts on population and housing growth. According to U.S. Census data, North Dakota’s
population increased 9. 9 percent between 2010 and 2014, three times higher than the national average.
Housing starts also skyrocketed. According to a Federal Reserve Economic
Data report, state housing starts — which hovered around 200 per month
for decades — rose steadily between 2010 and 2014, hitting 1,233 in February of 2014, and averaging almost 600 per month that year. Even with more
homes, housing prices rose statewide. The North Dakota Association of
Realtors reports median sales prices increased 14. 3 percent between 2013
and 2015. In the core oil-producing counties, median list prices saw dramatic
swings, according to Zillow.
Employment opportunities in and around the oil industry have kept the
state’s unemployment rate low. According to the U.S. Department of Labor,
the state’s unemployment rate never exceeded 4. 3 percent during the recession. Even Fargo and Bismarck, which are outside the oil-producing counties,
only peaked at 5 percent and 5. 2 percent in unemployment rates, respectively. The AEI report says the state’s oil rush “created a jobs boom with more
openings than available unemployed workers.”
A Job Service North Dakota (JSND) report on the state’s oil and gas economy backs up the AEI statement, reporting unemployment at 1.8 percent in
the core oil-producing counties this past February. The JSND report shows a
21. 9 percent increase in employment across the state from 2008 to 2013.
The core oil-producing counties saw a whopping 96. 3 percent employment
increase in this same period.