We regularly look at the most expensive MLS-listed house in each state.
The most expensive home in Montana is $20 million. For that price, a buyer will acquire 500 feet of frontage on Whitefish Lake, 35 acres of land with Swift Creek running through it, and stunning views of the serene wilderness.
Oh, yeah, there's a house, too. According to listing agent Pat Donovan, "The structure is relatively modest for the property."
Donovan said the three-bedroom home is more of a "log home" than a log cabin. It's rustic -- in the way you'd expect a home surrounded by National Park land to be -- yet contemporary and offers close to 5,000 square feet of living space.
The kitchen sparkles thanks to the stainless-steel appliances and blond wood flooring and cabinets. The great room is appropriately great and soaring, and a majestic stone fireplace looms over the living area. The home's bedrooms and bathrooms are spacious and bright, and they manage to avoid the grimness often associated with lodge-style living.
However, Donovan explains, the house isn't really the main attraction in a potential sale. It's all about the lakeside acreage. And although the current dwelling is positioned in just the right spot on the prime property, Donovan says, "I think a buyer will probably build a nicer, larger home."
As for who will spend $20 million on a home for the privilege to build an even bigger home? Donovan laughs and says, "It probably won't be someone from Montana."
The area around Whitefish Lake has had homes surpass the $20 million mark, he adds, and there was a $30 million sale on the lake last year. High-tech money from the West Coast and financial heavy hitters from the East Coast have expressed interest in his listing.
The agent knows persuading potential buyers to make their way to Montana isn't easy. "Montana's never going to be everyone's first choice of places to live," says Donovan. But for buyers with deep pockets who prefer to remain under the radar, the solitude of life in Montana can be appealing.
Plus, the lake isn't some sort of faux getaway for the fabulous. Donovan says the area isn't a place to see and be seen la celeb-packed Aspen, Telluride, or Jackson Hole. If multi-multi-millionaires do settle in the area, it's because they truly want to be left alone.
The area attracts "extremely active people" who enjoy the "outdoor paradise" surrounding the property, he says. Skiing is only five miles away, and hiking and mountain biking trails are plentiful. Anglers will be drawn to the lake in the summer, and snowmobile enthusiasts will get a giant winter play land.
Everyone he's shown the place to "recognizes the unique location and beauty of the property." We think it's simply a matter of time before a buyer makes a move to Montana's priciest property.