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Gallatin Health Department Performs High Nationally

by Tim Hart

The Public Health Accreditation Board highlighted the Gallatin City-County Health Department as one of the highest performing health departments in the United States. The department serves the greater Bozeman and Gallatin Valley area and it was only one of 75 departments to receive the accreditation.

The Gallatin City-County Health department stood out for providing accessibility to medical services for its residents and for coordinating between departments and services. The department also ran seminars for local health providers, working to boost awareness for any social services available to the public and to non-profits.

Having a high-level Health Department helps make all medical services in Bozeman and the Gallatin County better, faster and more reliable. An accreditation such as this one come from many years of consistent, good work from the Health Department. Recently, both Bozeman and Livingston (Park County) have made major additions to their medical facilities. Coupled with the Gallatin County being honored by the University of Wisconsin as the healthiest county in the state, the Gallatin County is shaping up to be a very healthy home.
 

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/health/bozeman-area-health-department-named-among-best-in-nation/article_23a2d59a-3dc3-5eff-9dbc-cea1a8e52b10.html

Homebuilders and Homebuyers Going Green

by Tim Hart

Homebuilders have been incorporating sustainable features and getting more green certifications to respond to a growing buyer demand for green homes. Having a ‘green home’ can be beneficial for lowering utility costs, raising its resale value, and of course easing a buyer’s environmental conscience. As buyer demand has increased, builders have been doing more and more to sell green.

Recent data is based on analysis of the builder 100 list which ranks only the top builders in the country (but for some odd reason is greater than 100).  Of the builders who responded, 110 builders reported they met green standards in 2012, whereas 149 reported they met green standards in 2014. Now that number is small, but again, these are builders turning out high numbers of homes for high profit margins.

A 2014 article also saw a similar trend. According to a Smart Market Report, 34% of builders said they expected to have 60% of their projects to be green certified by 2018. Multi-family builders expecting 90% of their homes to be green certified is thought to triple from 2014 to 2018 (6% to 18%).

Builders have said that buyers are more and more willing to pay extra for green features. In 2013, 79% of remodelers and builders said homebuyers are willing to by anywhere from 3 to 5% more for a green home.

Energy costs, green-product availability and a continuing shift by many towards environmental sustainability have lead to the increased demand. Locally and nationally, homeowners have been looking for alternatives to their high utility costs. For buyers, sellers and investors, going green may provide energy savings while also keeping up with modern trends—helping raise the total value of their property.

 

Source: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2015/05/08/builders-try-lure-buyers-green

http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/06/12/builders-widen-stock-green-homes-2018

 

Pet Friendly Bozeman Adds New 20+ Acre Dog Park

by Tim Hart

The Gallatin County and Run Dog Run, a local non-profit, will be creating a new off-leash dog park that organizers are calling the best dog park in Montana. The new park will be in Gallatin Regional Park and will be 23 acres in total. The first phase, which is on track to be completed by September 2015, will be 13 acres in size.

According to those working on the project, the new park will be a thick slice of doggy heaven. The park will include ponds, docks for diving and playing fetch, berms, shaded areas and hills. The whole park will be fully fenced, allowing dog owners to take their dogs off leash without worry about nearby traffic etc.

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.

With the west side of Bozeman still experiencing rapid growth, all Bozeman dog owners as well as dog owners looking to move to Bozeman will be relieved and pleased to hear that the city has provided multiple places across town for dog owners to exercise their pets. Having a pet, for many, is a staple within any household. Having a town and neighborhood that are dog friendly can do a lot for a homebuyer choosing one city or neighborhood over another. For buyers and sellers alike, having solid park infrastructure with pet friendly areas can be a major asset when it comes time to list a property for sale.

 

Source: http://www.kbzk.com/story/29079094/work-underway-on-montanas-best-off-leash-dog-park-in-bozeman

 

All Cash Home Sales Trending Down

by Tim Hart

All Cash transactions on existing home sales accounted for 24% of sales in March. That number fell by 33% in comparison to March 2014 numbers. In general, smaller amounts of all cash deals suggest that investors are not as active and that the slack has been picked up by long-term homeowners.

The drop in all cash sales relates to the drop in investor activity. As distressed properties for sale have decreased and home prices have gone up, investors have been seeing thinner profit margins of late. Distressed sales took a 10% share of home sales in March, which was down from 14% in 2014. As an investor, it’s harder to get a screaming home deal when sellers are not backed into a financial corner and forced to sell.

Seventy percent of investor purchases in March were made in all cash.

Having lower all cash sales suggests that distressed property sales may also be going down. Sellers have seen improvement in their financial standing since 2008, but particularly of late. Most sellers’ finances now afford them the ability to sell their home when they want to, not when they have to—creating a more balanced housing market with less crazy deals.


Even as cash deals have gone down, the housing market continues to improve, suggesting that the market’s recovery is due in large part to increased activity among long term homebuyers. More people have been willing to get financing on a home, particularly with current low mortgage rates. Cash sales may be decreasing but their smaller market share may also be from traditional financed sales grabbing a larger share of the market in 2015.

 

Source: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2015/05/11/cash-sales-are-weakening

 

Job Growth Bounces Back in April

by Tim Hart

The US continued to add jobs in April—great news for the economy overall as well as the housing industry specifically. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported payroll employment expanded by 223,000 in April.

After a stagnant March, when only 85,000 jobs were added over the month, experts were worried that job growth had slowed. However, 266,000 jobs were also added in February 2015, suggesting that March may just have been a small blip on the job growth radar.

The unemployment rate fell from 5.5% in March down to 5.4% in April. In total, about 26,000 unemployed Americans found work in April.

The Federal Reserve will still need to see more evidence of an economic recovery before they move forward with raising interest rates—something they have expressed interest in doing sometime in Summer of 2015. Once the Fed raises interest rates, mortgage rates will have to follow suit.

For homebuyers, having low interest rates will generally make more people eligible to purchase a home. However, a full economic recovery will do so much more to in terms of providing financial wiggle room to Americans. Yes, homebuyers may pay higher interest rates in a strong economy, but their proportional inflow to outflow ratio of money will be far more favorable when they are being paid well and consistently. Job growth and low unemployment numbers are always good news for housing. With that being said, for anyone who can afford to buy a home and also has financial security, it will be hard to ever find interest rates so low in the future.

 

Source: http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/05/the-employment-situation-in-april-worse-in-march-better-in-april/

 

New Construction Too Expensive?

by Tim Hart

According to a new analysis by economist Tom Lawler, new construction homes are far more expensive than they should be. Lawler compared prices for new construction in 2015 compared to new construction costs in 1970. Right now, new construction costs double what they sold for in 1970 and here’s the bad news—inflation is included.

Right now, new construction sells for an average of $343,000. Lawler believes home price growth should have only risen by 23 percent since 1970 to now. According to his line of thinking, current new homes on the market should be selling for around $199,000.

What is causing the rise in new construction costs? Homes themselves are getting bigger. Half of homes built last year had more than 2,415 square feet of space. In 1970 that median point fell at 1,560 square feet. The difference? About 55 percent. As homes have gotten bigger, their prices have gone up (duh!) but size may not fully explain the rising prices.

Over this same stretch of time, builders have trended downwards in the number of homes they are building. For most builders, building fewer, bigger homes can lead to higher profit margins and assuming there are people with the money to buy such a home, there would be no reason not to build bigger. Of course, when they build less homes, there will be less inventory on the market, raising prices on the new construction that is available.

 

Source: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2015/04/30/why-new-home-prices-are-surging

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/04/28/why-new-homes-have-become-more-expensive-theyre-much-bigger/

 

 

After receiving awards for the highest ACT scores in the state and having some of the highest AP exam scores in the nation, Bozeman High School students book ended their school year with another award.

The students who run, create and design the high school student newspaper, Hawk Talk, won the Pacesetter award for best high school student newspaper in the state. In addition to the overall award, individual writers were also honored for their hard work. 8 other awards were presented to these high school journalists including 4 first place finishes in enterprise reporting, opinion, news and feature writing. Another student took 2nd place for a sports feature.

Bozeman students and administrators alike have been receiving a multitude of awards and grants this year—a great reward for their hard work. Bozeman Schools continue to see their enrollment increase and having a top high school in the district does a lot to attract new families to Bozeman. Montana State University and the primary and secondary schools in town continue to be one of the main attractors for out of town and state homebuyers.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/dailyfeatures/bozeman-high-s-hawk-tawk-newspaper-named-best-in-state/article_d392c344-3948-5987-b1e7-c3b406140cc4.html

 

Potential New Development off Manley Road?

by Tim Hart

Tonight, Bozeman City Commissioners will decide whether re-zoning a piece of land out in the Manley Road area for residential use is feasible and makes sense for the city moving forward. If they decide yes, the owner of the land will move forward developing the area.

The 6.5 acre piece of land in question has had some zoning confusion to say the least—a very boring sounding topic that somehow can end up quite fascinating. Currently, the city has that land designated for future use as parkland. However, the County has the land designated for light industrial use (pretty mutually exclusive from parkland). The best part, neither have actually incorporated the land at all. The city would need to annex the land to develop it and moving to a residential designation would allow them to do so.

The piece of land is surrounded on 3 sides by city limits and access to the nearby recreation area and pond is protected by a permanent easement.

Now, if the situation didn’t sound complicated enough, this very same piece of land used to be used as a dumpsite from 1962 to 1970. Coupled with the poor recent history with dumpsites, what may have been a hard decision for the City of Bozeman got a lot harder. Environmental concerns will be a major factor on whether the new development is approved.

For this specific scenario, we can only hope the city makes a decision that will bring the highest benefit to its residents in the long run and that recent concerns, whether its the dump or current home inventory, will not affect the decision, no matter which way they ultimately decide to go.

From a real estate perspective, this story is a great reminder why its so important to cross every i and dot every t when performing due diligence on any information surrounding a property. How is it zoned? Are there any easements? How was the land used in the past? Some pieces of land (and sometimes homes too!) have had long, deep histories where others may have little to none. With as much land as there is Montana, we get the best of both untouched land and land with deep history.  Make sure you are buying what you want and that you have a realtor who can make sure you are buying a good product.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/bozeman-commission-to-consider-zoning-change-for-development-near-old/article_8b0ccbac-2541-58e7-933d-3aeda25cb4d2.html

Renters across the United States have been struggling to deal with rising rental prices and now 1 in 4 uses at least half their income towards their rent and utility bills. Sometimes, this kind of statistic may be warped due to the high percentage of Americans living in sought after cities like New York and San Francisco. But it’s not just a few states that are pulling down the nation. Minus Alaska, South Dakota and Wyoming, every state had at least 20% of its residents using more than half their income to rent.

In census data taken by Enterprise Community Partners, the number of renters who felt some form of strain from growing home expenses has grown 26 percent since 2007. That’s 11.25 million additional home renters.

Income rates have not grown at the same pace as rental rates, making it one of the key factors driving rental affordability. Income for renters only grew at 11% in the last 5 years whereas rent has risen by 15% on average over the same time period.

Another factor has been that vacancy rates have been falling for rentals since 2013. At the start of 2015, rental vacancy was at 6.93%--far lower than the 10.9% vacancy rate seen in the third quarter of 2013. In Bozeman specifically, rental rates were effectively zero at the start of Fall semester for Montana State University in 2014.

Renting continues to be an issue for the United States, Montana and the Gallatin Valley alike. Hopefully, more than a few of these renters will be able to transition to homeownership, helping free up rentals for others while lowering the demand.

 

Source: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2015/05/04/more-renters-are-in-financial-trouble

http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2015/03/17/why-renters-may-be-in-trouble

http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/04/homeownership-rate-falls-below-64/

 

After two years of construction, the new College of Business will open on Thursday for MSU students and the public alike. The building will help open up study space for a rising student population while improving the college’s and overall University’s reputation in business and entrepreneurship.

Jabs Hall, the name of the new building, cost 18.5 million to complete. It will be home for (on average) around 1,250 business majors for Fall 2015.

MSU has been hard at work to expand and improve campus. Bozeman and MSU have been attracting more young students than they ever have before. In order to keep up, MSU has been hard at work on expanding and improving the campus. MSU is currently working on the new Engineering building, which it plans to be the new campus hub. Due to the new building wiping out a major parking area, MSU has also had to line up a new parking garage in the coming future.

Jabs Hall stands out from most of the other buildings on campus for its environmental efficiency—a winner with students, environmentalists and tax payers alike! It is the 2nd building to win the LEED “gold” certification due to its green and earth friendly features. The building will maintain its heat from 52 geothermal wells  while cooling itself with night air. All of the lights are energy efficient and all the countertops in the building are made from recycled materials.

MSU continues to make efforts improving their reputation as a center for education in Montana. They have been hard at work improving their business, medical and engineering programs while expanding for the new students attracted by these changes. Things continue to look up for MSU and therefore Bozeman!

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/montana_state_university/msu-s-new-jabs-hall-wins-praise-from-public/article_c4422bc3-8439-5869-866a-2cd8a7825969.html

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 400

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