It’s the Wild West with land grabs as a flood of wealthy newcomers enters Montana—a familiar storyline to those who watch Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone.” The hit TV show has prompted a growing interest in the state and its spread-out land and ranches.
But a divide is occurring between newcomers and long-time Montana residents, with complaints growing over the traffic and the rapidly rising home prices and rents that new arrivals are bringing to the area.
“We’ve had an influx of all sorts of wealthy individuals looking for ranches,” Robert Keith, founder of Beartooth Group, a boutique investment firm, told CNBC. “They’re looking to own really amazing large properties.”
Kevin Costner’s “Yellowstone,” one of the hottest streaming shows, may have inspired some of the moves as the show highlighted the area. Most of the show is taped in Montana, and the scripted drama that captures the life of the Dutton family often shows scenes of ranches and large stretches of land, from the mountains to the prairies.
The show is having an impact on the state’s economy. During the shooting of season four of the TV show last year, the production company spent $72 million in the state. Businesses in the state received a further economic boost totaling $85 million, according to a study by the University of Montana that was partly funded by Paramount.
Home prices have soared in recent years. The median cost of a single-family home in Bozeman, Mont., prior to the pandemic was less than $500,000. Now it is nearly $750,000, according to the Gallatin Association of REALTORS®. The areas of Missoula and Kalispell have seen even higher prices.
The population is rapidly growing, increasing nearly 10% from 2010 to 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The population of the state is about 1.1 million.
“A lot of our clients during the pandemic came out and found shelter at the ranches, a safe place to be and no people around,” Tim Murphy, a ranch broker from Bozeman and partner at Hall & Hall, told CNBC.