Looking for a boom market? Try the Bakken and North Dakota

The Bakken area of North Dakota is booming. That’s largely thanks to the wells that, because of the rise of fracking, are producing so much oil.

It’s little surprise, then, that the Opportunities in North Dakota, the Bakken & the Williston Basin Conference held July 18 in Chicago was so well-attended. The event, which attracted more than 250 attendees, was held by Midwest Real Estate News, Minnesota Real Estate Journal and Illinois Real Estate Journal, and highlighted the many development and investment opportunities available throughout North Dakota and the oil-rich Bakken.

Towns in and around the Bakken are seeing their populations skyrocket. Many are dealing with severe housing shortages thanks to this. And everywhere, it seems, developers are building new hotels and apartment units.

But even with the plentiful opportunities in the Bakken, not every developer or investor is ready to send money to North Dakota. Some need more convincing that today’s oil boom isn’t just a fad.

They want reassurance that the growth in North Dakota won’t screech to a halt as oil wells dry up.

“Some people do ask me, ‘When will this stop?’ They envision a day in the future when tumbleweeds are blowing through,” said Justin Glasgow, director of real estate investment banking at Robert W. Baird & Co.

This reticence isn’t surprising. Investors are taught to sink their dollars into so-called gateway markets, big cities that have diverse economies. Minot, N.D., for instance, doesn’t seem to fit that definition.

“Guys look at you like you’re crazy when you talk about Minot,” Glasgow said. “You have to reassure them that this is a long-term play.”

As John Zimmerman, founder and managing member of Intervention Energy said during the conference, “This is an industry we are talking about here, not a boom.”

The comfort level among investors, though, is building, said both Glasgow and Zimmerman. And if attendance at the Chicago conference was any indication, it’s building quickly. More than 200 people attended the conference, many flying in from across the United States to learn about opportunities in North Dakota.

“A year ago, I was still building my confidence in this area,” Glasgow said. “That’s changing now, though. I am meeting with a lot of potential investors. They are all interested in this area. They know what an opportunity exists in this region.”

Interested in learning more about the Bakken? Check out the next issue of Minnesota Real Estate Journal. It will feature coverage of the Chicago conference and the opportunities that exist today in North Dakota and the Bakken.

— Dan Rafter

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