Real Estate Information Archive


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Bozeman's New "Midtown" Gets Started

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman has gone forward with plans to input a new urban renewal district on the North 7th area to beautify and densify the district.

The area, now rebranded as Midtown or Midtown Bozeman, has struggled with its lack of connection to the other parts of Bozeman and it’s urban, box-store feel. The area grew during the 60’s and 70’s, and has a basis in automobile transportation. For this reason, most of North Seventh has strip-mall style commercial businesses.

In the proposed plan, the district would try to foster developments that attract both commercial and residential patrons, ideally in mixed-use buildings. Bozeman wants to create the district so it also can become a center of activity, adding new conference and event venues. Bozeman has already worked on upgrading the fiber-optic cables in Bozeman and this new project would add cable to the Midtown Bozeman area.

Commissioners will use a TIF (a tax increment finance district) to help beautify the area and make aesthetic improvements. By using a TIF, Bozemanites will not see their taxes increase unless they are within the district. Bozeman used TIF funds in 2015 to fund the expansion of one of its downtown elementary schools, Hawthorne.

A similar urban renewal plan was put in place for Bozeman’s downtown in 1995, a change that has been considered a huge success since its implementation.



Building on Bozeman Main Street Renovated and Open for Business

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

An older building on the corner of Grand and Main Street in Bozeman finished their renovations in late October and is once again open for business. The building, known as the Dutton Building, sits near the entrance into Bozeman and will help add more visual appeal to Bozeman’s downtown.

The building had housed several restaurants over the past few years. After a few of them went out of business, the owners took the opportunity to tear down and renovate 2/3 of the building while adding a second floor.

The City Beautification Advisory Board bestowed and award on the building for its appearance and fit into Bozeman’s downtown atmosphere while the Downtown Bozeman Partnership said the building helps create a new visual entrance into town.

Renovation on the building was all privately funded. Businesses inside say renovations have helped drive additional, different customers to them. The owners are looking for additional businesses for their second floor.



Bozeman Commission Passes Inclusionary Zoning Plan

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

After nearly a year of discussion and research from residents, consultants and builders alike, and after a voted delay in September, the Bozeman City Commission decided to move forward with a two-stage plan to help lower home values in Bozeman.  The plan, ideally, will help Bozemanites with modest means better afford to buy homes within the city limits.

Although the areas surrounding Bozeman have more reasonable home and rent values and although Bozeman’s cost of living is not outrageously above national averages, the city made it clear, by their decision, that they want Bozeman itself to remain a diverse and affordable place to live. Opponents to the plan did not want to hamper down a recently recovered housing market. Builders, who require on average 22 subcontractors to build a home, also felt the plan put too much financial risk on their shoulders.

The proposal has two phases to try to get builders and developers to start building affordable homes—one voluntary and one mandatory. The mandatory phase would only come into use should the voluntary phase not produce 54 affordable homes within the next two years.  Only the mandatory phase includes plans for inclusionary zoning – the most controversial aspect of the new ordinance.

The voluntary phase, as mentioned, requires that at least 54 affordable homes be built in 2 years within Bozeman city limits. During the voluntary phase, the city would try to entice builders to add affordable homes into their existing plans by including incentives like reduced lot size requirements, relaxed parking standards, expedited plan review and impact fee subsidies, incentives the city already may have added anyways. The voluntary phase also requires that at least 14 affordable homes are built by September 2016, otherwise, it would revert to the mandatory phase after only one year.

If the voluntary phase fails, then the city would move to a mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinance. In this phase, subdivisions would be required to either make 1 out of ever 10 units affordable to Bozeman residents making 80% of Bozeman’s median income or to make 3 out of every 10 affordable to residents making the median income.

Please read Eric Dietrich’s great follow up article going into the nitty gritty details of the new zoning ordinance here.

The new plan should help lower home values in Bozeman, helping free up more buyers in Bozeman’s housing market. How it will affect sellers and builders is yet to be determined. Rental values might also be impacted. High rents have been keeping investment properties in Bozeman at very high values. With additional homes on the market, both rental values and investment property values may decrease, helping keep renters in home while also helping them jump into homeownership.





Bozeman Schools Gain 1,000 Students Over 6 Years

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

If anyone needed additional proof of Bozeman’s growth and the growth of its schools, October’s official enrollment count from the Bozeman School District showcased that growth in the last few years.

Since 2009, Bozeman schools have risen from an enrollment of 5,481 students to 6,505 students today—representing more than 1,000 additional students.

Year over year, 211 more students are enrolled in Bozeman schools than in 2014.

The headcounts set records in eight elementary schools and both middle schools. Bozeman middle schools gained 97 students, up 7% from last year, while Bozeman elementary schools have gained 91 students, up 3% from last year.

Luckily, Bozeman voters approved two bonds in the November 2015 elections to expand Hawthorne Elementary School and Sacajawea Middle School.

Bozeman High School, currently the best ranked high school in Montana, added 13 students. Next year Bozeman will have its largest freshman class yet at 626 students. The district has already formed an advisory group and will work to find the consultants and architects necessary to begin building a second high school.




Study Recommends Bozeman Montana Update Historic District Regulations

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

A study commissioned by the City of Bozeman in April has concluded that the city should reconsider the intensity of its regulations in its Conservation Overlay District. Downtown residents within the district, currently have to apply for a certificate of appropriateness before being allowed to make exterior modifications to any properties. The study concluded that although district regulations had helped preserve historic buildings in the area, it was also a major contributor to the lack of infill development in the city, keeping home inventory low and affecting home affordability in Bozeman.

According to the study, there are not any detached, single-family homes in the conservation district  that are affordable to residents making 80% or less of the city’s median income. The study believes that by allowing and welcoming infill development, Bozeman can keep its historic charm while helping lower home prices downtown.

The study noted that vacant lots are scarce in town and suggested Bozeman start offering incentives like smaller lots, ground accessory dwelling units (normally ADUs are above garages etc, but do provide rental income to the homeowner and another bedroom for a Bozemanite.

The study believed that by replacing the overarching district with a collection of districts would help provide more specific regulations to neighborhoods. With code relaxations, 35 properties within the district would be eligible for renovation, expansion and densification.

As the overlay district, in a sense, operates as the city’s Home Owner’s Association, the study’s findings are not surprising. Although the study still suggests keeping control in the hands of the city, essentially, each historic district would operate as regulator for the quality and consistency of specific neighborhoods, like an HOA would. That would allow the city to lower standards in one area, while maintaining them in another, helping them preserve historic homes while also increasing downtown density.




Bozeman Montana School Expansion Bond Passes

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The Bozeman School district received great news from the Bozeman community on November 3rd, when voters passed 21.5 million dollars worth of bonds to expand both the Hawthorne Elementary School and Sacajawea Middle School.

Now, district officials can turn their sites towards a second high school in Bozeman.

As Bozeman grows, the community will need to continue funding the schools to help them address the rising student population and keep Bozeman the wonderful community that has attracted so many new residents.




Bozeman Commissioners Use Eminent Domain for Traffic Improvement

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

After flirting with eminent domain for the second time in a year, this time, commissioners approved and will move forward with plans to use eminent domain to acquire an easement at the corner of Davis and Baxter Lanes.

The city has been trying to widen the two roads and add crosswalks and signals to the intersection. More often than not, owners adjacent to these streets would lose part of their land to the road expansion. Usually, the city and property owners can strike a deal in payment for land, but sometimes owners do not want to give up a piece of their property.

Eminent domain is when a government body forcibly purchases private land from an individual for the overall benefit of the public.

In this case, the owner’s of a 5 acre parcel at 5001 E Baxter Lane, did not want to sell 19,000 square feet of land to the city for the $38,400 dollars offered. When the owner’s did not accept the city’s offer, City Commissioners chose to use eminent domain to force the sale of the land, allowing them to improve the congestion.

Commissioners did say they believed that eminent domain was the only option remaining to them in order to fix the intersection and its heavy traffic. Here lies an example of the growing pains Bozeman will continue to face as it expands.



Gallatin County Housing Market Update - November 2015

by Tim Hart

This month, we will compare Condo and Townhome sales in the Gallatin County for the first three quarters of 2015. Here are a few stats for Gallatin County townhomes and condominiums:

  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, total home sales increased by 77.50%(120 sold in Quarter 1, 213 sold in Quarter 2)
  • From Quarter 2 to Quarter 3, total home sales increased by 5.16% (213 sold in Quarter 2, 224 in Quarter 3)
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 3, total home sales increased by 86.67%


  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, dollar volume increased by 65.66% ($33,245,180 in Quarter 1, $55,075,255 in Quarter 2)
  • From Quarter 2 to Quarter 3, dollar volume increased by 5.11% ($55,075,255 in Quarter 2, $57,889,875 in Quarter 3)
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 3, dollar volume is projected to increase by 74.13%


  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, homes spent 18.46% longer time on the market (65 DOM in Quarter 1, 77 DOM in Quarter 2)
  • From Quarter 2 to Quarter 3, homes spent 23.38% shorter time on the market (77 DOM in Quarter 2, 59 DOM in Quarter 3)
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 3 homes spent 9.23% shorter time on the market.


Summary – Sales and dollar volume continue to grow for townhomes and condominiums. Increased home sales and dollar volume imply more homes on the market at higher prices. They have been going quicker as the year has progressed, suggesting more buyers are jumping into the market. Overall, the market appears to be deepening as more homes are listed and more buyers start their search.

Bozeman Outpaces All Montana Cities in Utility Hook Ups

by Tim Hart

Bozeman and neighboring towns within the greater Bozeman district have outpaced all other Montana cities in utility hook up orders in 2015. As new utility hook ups are one of the best ways to measure a town’s growth, its clear the Gallatin Valley is attracting new residents.

The data was taken from a report measuring electric and gas connections from 2013 through this year. Utility hook ups have increased year-over-year since 2013. Bozeman outpaced Butte and Helena with approximately 1,000 new electric connections in 2015. Billings only had around half the number of connections made. There have also been 600 gas hook ups so far this year, compared to 400 in 2013.

Bozeman and the greater area are in a construction boom and have been for a few years now.

Interestingly, construction growth receded slightly in 2015. 94 single family home permits were issued through September 2014, but this year only 81 permits have been approved. Of course, these numbers are in direct comparison and were major steps up from the number of permits approved during the recession. In addition, the number of permit applications has gone up drastically, even if they are not meeting approval requirements.

As Bozeman grows, it will need to be managed by city officials. However, the recent economic and real estate growth has been much needed, so Bozeman will need to find a fine line between solid economic growth while maintaining the beautiful open spaces that attract so many to the Gallatin Valley.




Get an Energy Audit to Improve Home Efficiency

by Tim Hart

I read a great article by Troy Carter of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, outlining the importance of getting an Energy Audit to improve home efficiency. In his article, he interviewed local experts, getting their advice on how to make homes more efficient while keeping the investment worthwhile.

Obviously, the easiest, cheapest and most efficient way to save money over the winter is to change your lifestyle. Wearing sweaters and turning down thermostats will do the most to keep payments low while using less energy.

All homes are different and therefore need to be evaluated on an individual basis to determine how they might be made more efficient. In a recent study, the University of Chicago suggested that most weatherization upgrades do little to improve returns on the investment.

However, it may be the case that these homes did not correctly diagnose how to best upgrade their home, instead spending on more expensive, ineffective upgrades. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 90% of detached, single-family homes are under insulated. If all homes had proper insulation, electricity use would decrease by 5% and natural gas use would decrease by 10 percent.

But how can homeowners better diagnose issues with their home? An energy efficiency audit. Auditors can use little tricks to find leaks and issues within the home.

One local energy auditor suggested that homes built pre-1960’s consider air sealing. Many older homes do not have the air and water barriers that are required today (Tyvek home wrap). These older homes oftentimes do not have insulation either. Current approved insulation has an R value of 3 per inch (learn more about R values here) so older insulation may simply be out of date.

For middle age homes, auditors would more than likely perform a depressurization. That process simulates 20 mph winds on all sides of the home, allowing experts to diagnose where potential leaks might be coming from.

With new construction, ideally there should not be much to do, but mistakes are made on all homes, and an energy audit might help a new construction owner diagnose a potential mistake.

Improving home efficiency will at the very least help protect the earth and environment even more. Potential returns on investment, for many, would be an added bonus.




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 472