Bozeman Montana Real Estate Blog and Information

Real Estate Advice, News, and Reports

Hart Real Estate Solutions

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 580

A Skeptic Outlook for $125 Million Proposal for Two Bozeman High Schools

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman’s $125 million plan for a second high school and improvements to the existing one is awaiting voter approval in the upcoming May 2nd election, and the outlook doesn’t look so good.

Voters normally approve Bozeman School District’s development plans, and by big margins. In the last seven school construction bond proposals, ($36 million for Bozeman High School, $16 million for Sacajawea Middle School, $5.5 million for Hawthorne Elementary, $17.5 million and $26.3 million to build Hyalite Elementary and Meadowlark Elementary, and two bonds of $14.1 million and $5.75 to build the new Chief Joseph Middle School) each were approved by margins as high as 62 to 70 percent.

It seems, however, that voters are changing pace. In the last November election, voters of Gallatin County rejected the $71.5 million proposal for a new courts and law enforcement facility. The proposal lost by 3 percent (47% approved by city and county voters).

Even more discouraging to the School Board is the results from a recent poll conducted by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. While it was an unscientific online poll, it revealed that out of 1,500 responses, 54 percent disapproved of the project (811 disapproved, 591 approved, and 99 were undecided).

Why the Opposition?

In a recent meeting with a room full of retirees, attendees expressed their concern that the project would spend unnecessary tax dollars. One gentleman criticized the plan for not saving money by sharing sports facilities with Montana State University. $2.5 million of the proposed plan would go toward upgrading Bozeman High’s current stadium, and more would go toward a large gym for the new high school.  

Countering the skepticism, Rob Watson, the school superintendent, explained that the School Board already cut the original estimate down from $144 million, and added that MSU couldn’t guarantee that the high schools could use its facilities.

What Will This Project Cost Taxpayers?

The cost to taxpayers for the $125 million plan would be about a 9 percent increase in property tax over a 20-year period for homeowners in the Bozeman elementary school district. As the city grows with more businesses and homes, however, the cost should decrease as more property owners share the expense.

The School Board Says Bozeman Needs This Project

The School Board urges voters to approve this project, explaining that the current high school is reaching its 2,400-student capacity and is deteriorating. Trustee Wendy Tage says that the glass-walled lobby in front of the cafeteria “could fall over in an earthquake.” And the amount of repair and maintenance that is needed for Bozeman High School would be like, as Parent Matt Kraska says, “polishing a turd.”

If this bond doesn’t get passed, the School Board would have no choice to go back to the drawing board and modify its plan for the next election in November. Watson says that if they must, they could either plan a smaller design for the new high school or make fewer improvements the current one, but something needs to be done nonetheless.

 

Below is where the new Bozeman high school would be located, on the corner of West Oak and Cottonwood Road.

Follow us on Facebook, or sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive exclusive information about the housing market, real estate tips and advice, and local news and development.


Related Articles:

Another Mid-Rise Building Approved for Bozeman

 

What is Parking Worth in Downtown Bozeman?

 

Mortgage Rates Fall By Largest Weekly Margin Over Two Months

Another Mid-Rise Building Approved for Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The lots currently occupied by the vacant old Pizza Hut at 716 W. Babcock Street and the home next to it may soon be the site of another four-story apartment building in Bozeman. The SOBO Lofts, or South Bozeman Lofts, is planned to hold 42 one-bedroom apartments and 3,000 square feet of commercial space facing Babcock Street.

The project came by surprise as it was approved by Bozeman planning director Marty Matsen without a public hearing before the Bozeman City Commission. Meanwhile, a heated debate over another mid-rise building is already underway for the Black-Olive proposal downtown. It will be interesting to see how the neighbors respond when they see this building go up.  

Here’s a map of all the mid-rise buildings that are currently planned or being constructed in Bozeman: 

 

Matsen said that the SOBO Lofts plans abides by Bozeman’s zoning code, which does not merit a hearing before city commissioners. The SOBO building is planned to be 50 feet high, and include 52 parking spaces, which Matsen says is well within the zoning requirements. In this B-2M zoning district, buildings are restricted to 60 feet in height. However, some residents have expressed concern about overflow parking and the scale of the building conflicting with the character of the neighborhood.

Projects that do not conflict with zoning codes are only reviewed by the city planning department, and approved by the planning director. Matsen also pointed out that the proposal was presented to a public hearing with the Design Review Board and was granted a unanimous approval, but it wasn’t as well attended as the packed meetings for the Black-Olive proposal.

What About the Black-Olive Project?

While the Black-Olive project was also within zoning requirements, it was unique in that the City Commission reclaimed authority over the city planning director’s approval after concerned neighbors appealed the planning director’s approval (A public hearing before the commission is scheduled for April 3rd). The same can be done for the SOBO Lofts if an “aggrieved party” appeals the decision to the City Commission—for a fee of $8,700.

The developer behind the SOBO project, Rob Pertzborn, from Intrinsik Architecture, says they are moving forward with the project, but he has not yet confirmed a date to begin construction. His next step is to apply for a demolition permit, then develop construction designs and seek bids from contractors.

 

Follow us on Facebook, or sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive exclusive information about the housing market, real estate tips and advice, and local news and development.


Related Articles:

What Is Parking Worth in Downtown Bozeman?

 

Mortgage Rates Fall By Largest Weekly Margin Over Two Months

 

How Homebuyers Win in a Seller's Market

 

 

Mortgage Rates Fall By Largest Weekly Margin Over Two Months

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

As of March 23, the average mortgage rates have just fallen by the greatest weekly margin over the last two months, according to Freddi Mac’s mortgage rate survey.

  • From last week, 30-year fixed mortgage rates declined by 7 basis points from 4.30 percent to 4.23 percent this week. At this same time last year, these rates were at a lower 3.71 percent.
  •  
  • 15-year fixed mortgage rates also declined, by 0.05 percent from 3.50 percent to 3.45 percent this week. At this same time last year, these rates were at a lower 2.96 percent.
  •  
  • 5-year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) declined by 0.04 percent, down from 3.28 to 3.24 percent this week. At this same time last year, these rates were at a lower 2.89 percent.

Mortgage Rate Graph

This data was pulled from Freddie Mac weekly survey data for 2017. While we attempt to provide reliable, useful information, we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, current or suitable for any particular purpose. Estimates are subject to change without notice.

 

With such a dramatic change in direction soon after experiencing a jump in rates last week, Freddie Mac notes that this is a sign of continued uncertainty in the market. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) projected a steady climb in mortgage rates through 2017 and 2018, so this might be a better time to lock in on a mortgage rate while it’s lower if you have been looking to buy a home.

 

Follow us on Facebook, or sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive exclusive information about the housing market, real estate tips and advice, and local news and development.


Related Articles:

Survey Finds Seceding Buyer Confidence in the Real Estate Market

 

Montana May Soon Be the New Silicon Valley

 

Gallatin County Leads Montana’s Economy

Red Flags in the Real Estate Market

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The real estate market is similar to the stock market—it’s a roller coaster. Prices fluctuate, demand is seasonal, and a lot of money can be made by those who know how to play the game.

Tracking the trends and market conditions of your local area is key to anticipating opportunities and threats in the real estate market. Here are some of the biggest factors to look for to help you make smart, informed decisions, whether buying or selling a home.

Months of Supply, or Days on Market (DOM), determines whether the market favors buyers or sellers. As the phrase implies, months of supply indicates the average number of months it takes for a house to sell. Greater than 6 months of supply is considered a buyer’s market, less than 4 months is considered a seller’s market, and anywhere between the two is considered a balanced market.

Number of Closed Sales is a great way to get a feel of how “hot” the market is. Following the trend for closed sales is helpful for understanding the seasonality of your local market. Summer months are typically much busier than winter months.

Mortgage Rates is a major factor in determining buyer demand. The rule of thumb is that as rates go up, buyer demand goes down. In particular, if mortgage rates and housing prices outpace income levels (which is a national trend today), buyer demand will likely decline as home affordability becomes an issue. The Fed funds rate is also an indicator for which direction mortgage rates will go, and the Federal Reserve normally announces what the Fed funds rate will be in the coming years.  

New Construction is a big player (especially today) in determining price levels and available inventory. Currently, much of the nation (including here in Bozeman, Montana) is experiencing a housing shortage, causing prices to rise and intense competition among homebuyers. The construction industry is still recovering from the housing crisis, and is struggling to keep up with demand as millennials enter their prime home buying years.

Local Development is vital to uncover opportunity. Much like a business, real estate investment is all about location, location, location. Development such as new roads, schools, and shopping centers are all signs that property values may increase. A growing community (like Bozeman, Montana) can be very profitable you invest early.

Housing Affordability in city limits is an indicator for future development in outlying areas. Much like what we’re experiencing here in Bozeman, as properties in town become limited and overpriced, you can expect the outer fringes to soon be in high demand.    

Staying informed with these trends will help equip you with the best decisions going into the real estate market. Anticipating which direction the market will turn will not only uncover investment opportunity, but also help insulate you from any threats (like the recent housing crisis).

For exclusive information and statistics in your local market, you can contact a Realtor® for the most recent market conditions. Subscribe to our newsletter, and once a month, we’ll send you local market reports and news updates for the Bozeman, Montana area. 


Related Articles:

Montana May Soon Be the New Silicon Valley

 

Survey Finds Seceding Buyer Confidence in the Real Estate Market

 

How Homebuyers Win in a Seller's Market

How Homebuyers Win in a Seller's Market

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

With limited inventory, and no clear signs that new construction will be catching up any time soon, homebuyers are forced to face a seller’s market. In a seller’s market, competition among buyers is strong, and the pressure is on to place an offer before someone else does. However, there are a few key steps you can take for a competitive edge in a seller’s market.

Know Your Local Market. It’s crucial to know local market conditions, more than ever in a seller’s market. You should get a firm grip on housing prices, inventory levels, information about different neighborhoods, development plans around town, and as much information as you can find (Sign up for our newsletter and, once a month, we’ll send you market reports for the Bozeman, Montana area). Realtors® are also a valuable resource for exclusive insights about market conditions, and can serve as your trusted guides in the real estate market.

Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage. This is huge, but surprisingly ignored by most buyers. From what we’ve experienced as Realtors®, most buyers will start shopping around with an estimate from an online mortgage calculator. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but online mortgage calculators can greatly exaggerate what you can truly afford.

If you’re serious about buying, don’t rely on what you find online. Contact a loan officer and get pre-qualified before you start shopping around. This has several major advantages, including:

#1 Saving Time. It would be a big disappointment if you come across a home that you absolutely love, but is sold before you’re ready to make an offer. Having your finances in order will streamline the process, and allow you to place an offer before other buyers.

#2 Signals to Sellers That You’re Serious. Any offer that isn’t backed by a pre-approved mortgage will likely be ignored. Having proof of financing in-hand shows sellers that your offer is serious, giving you the advantage over other buyers that skipped this pre-emptive step.

#3 Knowing Your Budget. This may be stating the obvious, but it’s important to get an accurate estimate of what you can afford—buying a home is no small deal! A pre-approval from a loan officer is the really the only way to get an accurate estimate, not online mortgage calculators.

Start Shopping Early. While it may be a seller’s market, it can be seasonal. The winter months are typically much slower than the summer months, so buyers may find better leverage and negotiating power earlier in the year. The downside, however, is that slower periods typically means less houses on the market, so you’ll have less to choose from.

Act Fast. In our market, we’ve personally seen listings sell within just hours after being active. This is why the previous tips are so crucial—you need to be ready. When you see a house that you love, and absolutely must have, don’t expect the seller to wait for you. Be prepared to drop everything you’re doing and go see the property, and don’t spend too much making your decision. While you should never buy on impulse, you also need to be diligent if you plan on scoring your dream home in a seller’s market.


Related Articles:

Survey Finds Seceding Buyer Confidence in the Real Estate Market

 

What is Parking Worth in Downtown Bozeman?

 

Montana May Soon Be the New Silicon Valley

Survey Finds Seceding Buyer Confidence in the Real Estate Market

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) forecasts a negligible increase in existing home sales going into 2017. According to survey findings from a total of 2,776 household respondents from the fourth quarter of 2016, consumers are losing confidence that now is a good time to buy a home.

Much of the skepticism in the market is held by renters. According to the survey, 11 percent of renters lost confidence in buying a home last year. Last quarter, 57 percent of renters believed it was a good time to buy a home, down from 68 percent in 2015.

Homeowners, on the other hand, seem to be more optimistic, with 78 percent of homeowners believing that now is a good time to buy a home. At the same time, the majority of homeowners (62 percent) believe that it is also a good time to sell.

The Contributing Factors

There are several factors that are likely contributing to the seceding buyer confidence—rising mortgage rates, steady price growth, and limited inventory, countered by an optimistic economic outlook.  

Rising Mortgage Rates—With the considerable increase in mortgage rates after the election, buyers may be reluctant to lock themselves in on a higher interest rate than they could have had. However, with expectations of a continued climb in mortgage rates through 2017 and 2018, it might be a better decision to buy now rather than later.

Steady Price Growth—There has been a steady price growth since the housing crisis, with national averages finally back to pre-recession levels. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, says there is declining affordability in many areas of the country. With rents and home prices rising faster than income levels, more buyers are falling out of reach of their dream home.

Limited Inventory—A declining supply of inventory is another major issue, one that largely contributes to price increases. The rate of new construction is falling short of demand, by what Yun estimates to be about 3 million homes. How the construction industry accommodates for the rising demand as millennials reach their prime home buying years will shape the market in the years to come.

A Brighter Economic Outlook—The economy seems to be holding things together in the real estate market. Yun says that 2017 is expected to bring about 2 million new jobs. Unemployment levels have fallen to 4.7 percent last year, and is expected to be 4.5 percent through 2017 and 2018. According to a recent forecast from The Federal Open Market Committee projects that the U.S. GDP will rise to 2.1 percent this year.

With more jobs, and more millennials coming to market, Yun is hopeful that buyer demand will remain steady through the affordability tensions brought by rising mortgage rates and prices outpacing income growth.

With so many different factors affecting local markets, it would be wise to get in touch with a real estate agent for the best, and most informed decision about buying or selling. As NAR President William E. Brown says, “A Realtor® will have their pulse on current market conditions and can ensure a buyer is only searching for and making offers on a home that fits within the budget."

 


Related Articles:

Montana May Soon Be the New Silicon Valley

 

What is Parking Worth in Downtown Bozeman?

 

Google Express Comes to Bozeman

What is Parking Worth in Downtown Bozeman?

by Hart Real Estate Solutions


Downtown Bozeman

As Bozeman continues to grow, parking becomes a major impediment to development. Specifically in the downtown area, where an empty lot can be worth nearly as much as the average home in Bozeman, parking spaces are valuable real estate.  

Between the growing downtown community and Montana State University, residents in Bozeman’s historic downtown neighborhoods are finding their streets lined with parked cars. Some downtown residents are even having trouble parking in front of their own home.

The development proposal for the “Northside Lofts,” another five-story building with 41 housing units, was denied because of this issue. There is just not enough parking available for added housing.

Why Not Just Build More Parking Garages?

For the same reason an empty lot downtown is going for $345,000, a single parking space (18’ by 9’, or 162 square feet) costs roughly $7,400. Including the 12’ of additional space for backing out, the true land cost of a parking space runs at more than $12,000. These estimates don’t even consider construction costs.

And stacking up multiple parking spaces on the same parcel does not help either. The same sized parking space in a parking building would cost an astounding $35,000, according to a city parking consultant.

Why Would This Matter to You?

Of course, parking costs are passed down to your housing costs. By the city development code, all housing projects within most of Bozeman’s zoning districts are required to provide at least one parking space per bedroom.

Breaking down the math, for a condo worth $221,250 (the median price of a condo sold in 2016), the cost of two parking spaces on the surface would cost roughly 10.8% of the home’s value! Underground parking would be even worse, reaching approximately 30% for the same space.    

How the city plans to accommodate parking as Bozeman continues to grow will determine the direction of downtown development projects. Neighbors in the shadow of downtown’s mid-rise buildings are lobbying to city planners with concerns with not only the parking issue, but also that the scale of these buildings are out of place with Bozeman’s small town charm.

Interestingly, there may be possible solutions in the works with the up-bringing of self-driving cars and car sharing similar to Uber. While it may not be practical in far outlying areas, downtown may be a great place to implement a public transportation system to reduce, or possibly eliminate, the need for parking. 


Related Articles:

Google Express Comes to Bozeman

 

Montana May Soon Be The New Silicon Valley

 

You Better Get Your Passport—The TSA Won't Accept Driver's Licenses From These 5 States

Google Express Comes to Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Montanan’s now have nothing to complain about winters. Well…at least nothing about running errands in cold weather. Google Express, an online shopping service, just recently launched in the Gallatin Valley.

Instead of embracing the cold and running errands around town in the winter (or any other day), you can just order what you need online and have it delivered! Convenient if you’re tired of making routine trips to stores around town in bad weather.

With Google Express, Bozemanites now have an alternative to shopping in-person. This service you to shop online from a variety of local grocery and retail stores, including Costco, Whole Foods, Walgreens, Toys “R” Us, PetSmart, and even Fry’s Electronics.

For $10 a month, or $95 a year, members can order as many times they want for fast and free delivery! Non-members will be charged $4.99 per store for eligible orders. Depending on the area and retailer, delivery times can range from 1 to 3 days. This service is price competitive with other companies such as Amazon, which offers a similar service for $99 a year.

Google Express also launched in several other states across the Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and in the Southeast, including Kentucky, Utah, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Looks like Google is making some big moves in the market. It’ll be exciting to see what the company comes up with next.


Related Articles:

Crepes and Waffles Coming Soon to Downtown Bozeman!

 

Montana May Soon Be the New Silicon Valley

 

You Better Get Your Passport—The TSA Won't Accept Driver's Licenses From These 5 States

 

 

Montana May Soon Be the New Silicon Valley

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Montana is known for its wild countryside and its many great outdoor amenities, but there’s much more going on in our state than what you may realize. Montana has made some major strides in its economic performance in recent years, with more to come.

The High-Tech Sector is Booming

The high-tech sector is growing exponentially in Montana, contributing more than $1.5 billion in revenue last year, according to a survey conducted by the Montana High Tech Business Alliance (MHTBA). That’s an increase of more than 70% in revenue from what was reported in 2015! The board chairman of the MHTBA, Greg Gianforte, says that the high-tech industry remains the fastest growing sector in Montana.

For a better perspective of this substantial growth, the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business reported from a survey that the number of high tech business alliance members doubled in its first year from 101 companies in 2014 to 202 companies in 2015.

This survey revealed an increase of nearly $200 million in revenue from 2015 to 2016 across more than 200 high tech and manufacturing alliance members. High tech companies are expected to raise Montana’s average wages this year by adding nearly 1,000 new jobs paying an average annual salary of $60,000—$20,000 more than the state’s average.

The Silicon Valley may be getting all the attention, but it seems that may soon change. In 2016, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation ranked Montana as the #1 state in the nation for entrepreneurship. There is great optimism for business ventures in Montana, particularly in Bozeman.

Successful companies like Oracle (which bought RightNow Technologies for an astounding $1.4 billion), Workiva, Foundant Technologies, Wisetail (whose owner has an inspiring start-up story to tell), Elixiter, and PFL.com, to name a few, have taken root in Bozeman and are growing rapidly.

SoFi, a finance company, announced plans in 2015 to double its workforce to 100 employees in Helena. Imagine what a company like this will bring to a small town of roughly only 30,000 people.  

The Talent is Growing

Surprisingly, Montana could be doing even better. Companies have mentioned their aspirations to grow faster in Montana, but their main inhibitor is a workforce shortage. There is plenty of work to go around, but there’s just not enough people. This is why many companies in Montana have positioned themselves near universities like MSU in Bozeman and UM in Missoula.

Fortunately, a qualified workforce seems to be ramping up. MSU has had record enrollment for 12 out of the last 14 years. And the computer science department at MSU is the fastest growing department on campus, with an amazing 40% growth from 310 to 430 majors from 2014 to 2015.

MSU has also been attracting the best and the brightest of the state. In 2016, 71% of all High School seniors that received an honors scholarship chose to enroll at MSU. And the talent is showing—the university’s average test score from last year’s freshman class broke a 27-year record, with a grade point average of 3.47.


Related Articles:

Google Express Comes to Bozeman

 

Uncertainty in the Market Amidst Diverging Mortgage and Treasury Yield Trends

 

Montana's Economy Leads The Nation

 

Gallatin County Leads Montana's Economy

Water descalers, a salt free water softener system, are relatively new technology used to soften water with a magnetic system. Rather than diluting hard water with salts, descalers transform the molecular structure of mineral deposits to a suspended state with nanotechnology. In this suspended state, minerals that cause hard water (mainly calcium, sulfur, and magnesium) are prevented from sticking to surfaces and causing lime scale buildup.

Problems with Conventional Water Softeners

Conventional water softeners add salts and chemicals that can lead to some complications that descalers avoid.

#1 One health concern from conventional water softeners is that added salts in your drinking water will increase your sodium intake, which is not what you’re looking for if you have high blood pressure or heart ailments.

#2 When added salts and chemicals are heated in your water lines, heavy metals can be leached from copper pipes and any soldered joints, which can lead to severe health problems in high concentration.

#3 The added salts and chemicals from water softeners are also corrosive, reducing the life expectancy of your plumbing and appliances.

 

Benefits of Water Descalers

Water descalers eliminates these issues. No added salts or chemicals are added to your water, providing you and your family with healthier drinking water, with less wear on your plumbing and appliances. Water descalers also do a decent job removing and preventing scale buildup—enhancing the performance of water heaters and increasing the lifespan of your water lines.

Another major benefit of this system is that it minimizes salt discharge into sewer lines and groundwater. Approximately 400 lbs of salt can be added to the ground each year because of water softeners. Salts can be detrimental to the environment, killing plants and affecting the health of animals that drink from it. It is also costly to process water with high salt content in water treatment plants, which your taxes pay for.

 

Related Articles:

Top Home Improvement Projects That Sell

 

5 Important Home Maintenance Tips

 

Uncertainty in the Market Amidst Diverging Mortgage and Treasury Yield Trends

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 580

Syndication

Categories

Archives