Real Estate Information Archive


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Bozeman Fiber Optic Network Receives Big Boost

by Tim Hart

Bozeman’s attempt to lay fiber optic wire in town to improve internet prices, speeds and reliability for local business received a big boost from eight local banks recently. Bozeman Fiber Inc, the non-profit put in charge of the fiber optic project by the City of Bozeman, announced it has successfully negotiated 3.85 million in private financing.

The non-profit intends to develop an open-access network for private internet providers in Bozeman. They were put in charge of the project after the City of Bozeman moved away from earlier suggestions that would make the new cable public. Under the current plan, the project will provide the infrastructure and private internet providers can lease it at a certain price. Ideally, the project would help foster more competition as it would allow smaller companies to compete with larger national providers.

The non-profit believe they will start work in Spring 2016. Bozeman continues to invest in technology to stay ahead of the curve. Staying competitive in the tech world will help to continue driving more businesses and economic prosperity to Bozeman.




Property Taxes Rising Suggests an Improved Economy

by Tim Hart

Property tax collections increased by 3 percent over the past year. Collections increased by 13 billion dollars to a total of 503 billion collected. The figures include both commercial and residential property taxes.

Property taxes might be rising thanks to improving home values. State and local governments might be re-appraising homes to raise their listed value. Whether it has happened enough in different towns and states to affect the national average is unclear.

Interestingly, property taxes have taken up a smaller percentage of total tax collections than in recession years. In 2010, property taxes held 44.9% of the total share whereas now they hold 38.9% of the total. According to the National Association of Home Builders, that proportion is very close to the pre-housing boom levels seen in 2001 to 2003.

This trend would suggest that non property taxes have grown significantly faster over this time than property-based taxes, meaning that Americans are taking in more income and are generally having better economic success than in years previous. As everyone’s financial situation improves, it would make sense for the housing market to see similar results as it tries to creep back to a normal, healthy market.





Bozeman Montana Schools Look to Expand

by Tim Hart

On November 3rd, voters will decide whether to expand the Sacajawea Middle School and Hawthorne Elementary School. School officials believe that with Bozeman’s growth over the past years, now is the time to expand these schools to better address the growing Bozeman population.

School officials will put a proposal to expand the Sacajawea Middle School before voters, costing 16 million dollars. They had considered building a new school, but the costs could have been nearly double.

The middle school has struggled with space issues. The school uses one gym for 700 students, its orchestra and band rooms are a little small and additional classrooms are needed as well. With the 16 million dollar bond, the school would build a new 8th grade wing, add classrooms to the 6th and 7th grade wings, add half a gym w/ additional health enhancement classrooms and add additional locker space.

The bond would cost a homeowner with a $240,000 property an additional $34.57 a year.

Bozeman officials will also put a proposal before voters to expand Hawthorne Elementary School. Hawthorn currently has two portable classrooms and a portable music room that would be replaced with a new, two-story wing.

The project is expected to cost 5.5 million, but school officials will use a Tax Increment Finance District to cover the debt—so ideally this project will not cost tax payers additional money. It would have cost a tax payer with a $240,000 property approximately $13.65 a year.

The School District has already moved ahead with selecting architects for the project. They want to get the ball rolling so they can be ready if the proposal passes. They are in negotiations with A&E Architects for the Sacajawea Middle School expansion (they helped build the new Chief Joseph Middle School) and Comma-Q Architecture for the work on Hawthorne.

Bozeman Schools have also started looking into the construction of a second high school, which is farther down the pipeline, but will be a needed project in the future





Montana’s Smartest Highschoolers Choose MSU, Again

by Tim Hart

Just like last year and the year before, the smartest Montana High Schoolers are choosing Montana State University Bozeman.

Montana awarded 204 scholarships to the state school of each high schooler’s choice. 134 chose Montana State, representing two thirds of those who accepted. 37% of those students will be entering engineering.

In order to qualify, residents must have a 3.4 grade point average. After that, the state ranks them by their school ranking and ACT scores to differentiate the top students.

Having top students continue to choose MSU is great news for the school as well as Bozeman. Attracting the best talent will help MSU grow its own reputation, attracting more students, more jobs and more money to the area. As students graduate, they might also choose to stay in Bozeman, giving boosts to the labor and housing markets respectively.





Home Buyer Testimonial for Tim Hart - October 2015

by Tim Hart

Finding a house in Bozeman from Temple, TX, appeared complicated.  My possibilities for being on the ground in Bozeman (with my wife) would be limited.  I needed more than just help.  I needed someone who would listen to my needs, be respectful of my budget, and who cared more about the best fit for us than the best deal for him.  I needed someone I could trust, someone who was willing to do (more than) a little extra.

When I met Tim Hart I sensed that I had found my man, and my experience with him over the past year have proved him to be the best agent I could have possibly had.  My first encounter with Tim was through his website, one of the most most user-friendly sites I had found in my frantic searching.  The website led to phone conversations.  I finally got to meet him personally and felt completely at peace with his style.  He is extremely knowledgeable of the market in this area and knows each neighborhood's distinct characteristics.  After a couple of viewings he had an uncanny sense of what we were looking for.  If we insisted on viewing a property that he was not optimistic about our satisfaction, his instincts proved true every time.  And yet he was patient and NEVER pushy.  He gave us the time we needed to make decisions that pleased us.  We love our new place!

However, finding the house we wanted was only the beginning.  Perhaps people relocating across town have a much simpler time of transition and need little extra assistance.  We were 1500 miles away and totally handicapped when imagining how to put everything together.  Tim made it happen.  First, we had trouble with our mortgage broker.  We had been approved through underwriting for a mortgage amount above what we were going to need.  It seemed simple.  But then the broker hit us with the news that they couldn't finance the home because it was a part of a condominium complex that was only 63% complete.  The home is actually part of a duplex in a neighborhood with a broad Home Owners Association that functions as a condo. The final project will be the addition of more quality homes like ours.  It didn't matter.  We were stuck.  Tim to the rescue!  He got us in Contact with a local bank's mortgage broker and everything eventually came together.  He also managed the local connections for inspector, appraiser, blind contractors, and cabinet contractor (we had requested additional cabinets as a condition of sale).  He even introduced us to managers of a couple of furniture stores and gave us a tour of The Ridge Athletic Center!  An issue I would have never thought of for the inspector was a Radon gas test.  Tim insisted on it.  Good thing!  Our basement had levels above the recommended level and Tim had us include a Radon gas exhaust system as a condition of sale.  Now we are safe as well.

Tim is a professional, but also a great human being.  He cares about people and he works hard easing their load during the stressful times of transition.  I have worked with good agents several times in Texas and Saskatchewan, but Tim Hart has been the one with whom I have felt the most comfortable. I feel like I am more than just a client.  I not only have a new home in Bozeman, I have a new friend! 

~Bill Fowler

How Lasers Affect Real Estate

by Tim Hart

This month, I wanted to highlight an investment Bozeman made in 1993 that now seems to have impacted Bozeman’s economic outlook for the better. We never know where our hard work might pay off down the line and how it might change Bozeman’s future.

I read a great article this month by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle about the growth of Optics Technology in Bozeman. The optics industry works with lasers, high tech cameras and other similar technologies to create better products, medicines etc.  In 1993, the first real investment into Optics Technology in Bozeman was made. Local companies, the State of Montana, MSU, and the National Science Foundation teamed up to raise 3 million in optics research in Bozeman. By 1995, MSU had its own Optics Technology Center.

Since then, MSU has had 15 spinoff companies come directly from their programs, whether through new technologies invented on campus or by students who trained at the University and began their own company. According to the Bozeman Chronicle, there are now 30 optics companies in Bozeman, employing some 500 people most of whom earn higher than Bozeman’s average wage. Without the investment made in 1993, it is hard to say whether any of the growth of Optics Technology would have been possible. It is much easier to say that the growth of these local companies have provided an economic boost to Bozeman.

But the best news continues to be that Bozeman has worked hard to reinvest back into the sciences and that similar breakthroughs might be possible in Bozeman’s future.

Both the state government and the National Science Foundation again have offered major grants to MSU for continued scientific development in the area.

The National Science Foundation awarded a 3 million dollar grant to expand the nanotechnology center at MSU. The grant will give MSU the ability to put all of their associated labs in one location. Currently MSU has 5 nanotechnology labs. The money will be distributed over 5 years will also provide funds to upgrade and buy new equipment.

On top of this, MSU received 4.6 million in grants from the State of Montana. In total, MSU scientists have won 8.9 million of the 12.9 million that has been offered this year, with only 2 million dollars left outstanding. MSU worked very hard to achieve the grants they received, putting in 150 of the 200 proposals reviewed by the state. The 4.6 million in grants will go to infectious disease research in both humans and ranch animals, mental health research, energy research and research to better recover metals from wastewater.

Continuing to win grants like these and continuing to pursue them with the veracity seen in 2015 will help keep Bozeman on the forefronts of technological advances. It seems pretty apparent that research like this can drive future economic prosperity. Economic prosperity will help drive more people to Bozeman. So although lasers and nanotechnology feel very far from real estate, they might be closer together than people might initially think.








Tim's Know Your Homes 101 - Chalet

by Tim Hart

The Chalet-style home, as Americans know it today, was inspired by the Chalets of Switzerland. Sometimes, the architectural style is even referred to as Swiss Chalet, over the more standard Chalet.

Chalets, as you have probably guessed, started in Switzerland, as a seasonal home for ranching, hunting etc. Chalet means hut of hunter in the Arpitan language. They were often inaccessible in the winter, but were used for farming and hunting purposes in the summer. Of course, as humans have modernized, they have become predominantly associated with winter and alpine activities.

Chalets are generally wooden, with gentle sloping roofs. They have wide supporting eaves for heavy snowfall and often have beams and other structural aspects exposed to the naked eye. Many Chalets have balconies or large windows to enjoy a snowy night without having to endure the cold. In Switzerland particularly, but in the United States as well, many Chalets are colored in varying, extremely bright colors.

The term Chalet has generalized over the recent years, especially with the growth of travel industry. For many, Chalet’s have little to do with their architectural style but by their function. For a long time, Chalet’s were only found in cold mountainous areas. However, the term has broadened to really any vacation home and many resorts term their vacation homes as chalets (probably to sound fancier). Nowadays, chalets are almost a catch-all for a home located near a travel destination or activity.

Take another lesson here:






French Eclectic

Spanish Mission Revival

Cape Cod


Second Empire


Prairie School

Bozeman Montana Area Housing Market Update - October 2015

by Tim Hart

This month, we will compare single-family home sales in the Bozeman area for the first three quarters of 2015. Third Quarter sales are through August 2015 and have been projected for the month of September. Here are a few stats for Bozeman area single-family residences:

  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, total home sales increased by 67.82% (174 sold in Quarter 1, 292 sold in Quarter 2)
  • From Quarter 2 to Quarter 3, total home sales are projected to increase by 13.01% (292 sold in Quarter 2, 220 through August, projected to 330)
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 3, total home sales are projected to increase by 89.66%
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, dollar volume increased by 87.20% ($71,215,358 in Quarter 1, $133,314,567 in Quarter 2)
  • From Quarter 2 to Quarter 3, dollar volume is projected to increase by 11.63% ($133,314,567 in Quarter 2, $99,209,700 through August, projected to $148,814,550)
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 3, dollar volume is projected to increase by 108.96%
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, homes spent 5.26% longer time on the market (95 DOM in Quarter 1, 100 DOM in Quarter 2)
  • From Quarter 2 to Quarter 3, homes spent 41.00% shorter time on the market (100 DOM in Quarter 2, 59 DOM through August in Quarter 3)
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 3 homes spent 33.89% shorter time on the market.

Summary – Sales and dollar volume continue to grow, suggesting the housing market is deepening while still allowing home values to rise. Single-family residences have been going quick in the third quarter of 2015, suggesting more buyers are jumping into the market. Overall, the market appears to be healthy and growing.


Rural Mortgages Get Boost from CFPB

by Tim Hart

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with changes to some current rules, will help buyers in rural areas get financed for home purchases. The CFPB made changes to its rules to increase the number of financial institutions that would be eligible to offer loans in rural areas. To do this, they broadened the definitions for lending as well as expanding the definition of a rural area.

The CFPB has expanded the definition of small creditor, raising the definition from 500 first-lien mortgage loans to 2,000, freeing up additional lenders to make rural loans.

They also expanded the definition of a rural area. They will now include all census blocks that are not in an urban area, whereas before, they had other credentials needed to classify a property as rural.

By broadening both definitions, more lenders will be able to loan and more rural buyers will qualify for financing.  Ideally, this will help entice more buyers into the housing market, further strengthening it as it recovers from the recession.




Off Leash Dog Park in Bozeman Progressing

by Tim Hart

Bozeman’s new off leash dog park has been progressing well and should be have a full, walkable loop by the start of winter. The loop should be completed by Halloween. As Bozeman’s west side continues to grow, adding another dog park will help keep Bozeman dogs happy and healthy.

Phase 1 of the park will consist of 13 acres. Run Dog Run, the non-proift heading the project broke ground in May and have been working on fundraising for the park since then. So far they have raised $30,000 for the park and received matching funds from the Land and Water Conservation fund.

The park will include trails, water and varied terrain. Ponds are slowly filling as workers excavated areas around the park. Next, workers will continue their work on the trail, replanting vegetation and fencing the park (it is off leash after all!).

Future plans include adding more intricate trails and adding a diving dock on one of the ponds.

With dog-related improvements throughout Bozeman over the past year, the city and county have really made a true effort to turn Bozeman into doggy paradise. Run Dog Run has helped start 4 off leash dog parks in Bozeman, including the recent 2-acre off-leash park at Rocky Creek Farm. The Gallatin Valley Land Trust also worked on improving and expanding Snowfill, the off-leash dog park north of town.




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 460