Real Estate Information Archive


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Belgrade Subdivision Reapproved by Planning Board

by Tim Hart

The Belgrade City / County Planning Board reapproved a 357 lot project this week—a project that had already been given the green light in 2006. The Ryan Glenn Estates project was once again approved, after the original project fell through during the recession. Glenn’s project went under after an Arkansas Bank that had funded the project had also folded. This subdivision is yet another recently approved development to increase home inventory and supply for the valley. Home values holding true, despite the increased inventory, reflect positively on the state of the market in Gallatin County.

With the re-approval of the subdivision, Ken Williams, one of the current owners, can now develop the land as it had been intended 9 years ago. The project will be built in 7 phases and is located at the corner of Penwell Bridge and Lagoon Roads.

The board added 3 variances to increase the city block length in the subdivision, eliminate curbs, and eliminate pedestrian ramps on the two major roads. The planning board also added a covenant eliminating future homeowners right to interfere with the nearby Gallatin Speedway. The board will also address the future of two of the lots in the development that are located on a floodplain. The board will decide whether to reshape them or eliminate them. Finally, the board wants to use cut-off street lighting to avoid light pollution in the area.

The growth of the Gallatin Valley has become increasingly evident. Subdivision projects like this one show that developers have regained their confidence that there are enough homebuyers waiting in the wings to legitimize the increase in supply. Bozeman and Belgrade’s home inventory has grown without creating many vacant lots, a positive sign for growth. Low mortgage rates and the lack of rentals in the area have created a deep source of potential buyers.



Foreclosed On Home Buyers Returning to Market

by Tim Hart

According to Realtytrac, nearly 7.3 million people who have had their homes foreclosed on during the recession will once again be able to buy a home in the next 8 years. More than 500,000 foreclosed on homeowners will be eligible for a new home loan this year.

In general, homeowners can recover from a foreclosure in as little as three years. Realtytrac gives a more conservative number—seven years—for how long it will take these people to rebuild their credit score. By doing the math, homeowners who lost their homes in 2007 and early 2008 should now be able to qualify for financing.

As previously mentioned, 500,000 of these homebuyers, a.k.a. boomerang buyers, will be able to become homeowners once again in 2015. Next year, 1 million additional homebuyers will be added to the pool. By 2018, that number increases to 1.3 million. Low mortgage rates, low mortgage insurance rates, and new low down payment mortgages have also freed up more of these homebuyers.

Oddly, these buyers will most likely be able to find homes they can afford in markets that had originally put them in their unfortunate situation. Towns and districts with high foreclosure numbers during the recession still have the most affordable home prices. Hopefully, with that negative experience still on the forefronts of our national conscience and with the new government regulations enacted since, these buyers and their lenders will not find themselves falling into the same pattern that occurred during the recession.

Assuming all goes well, having more buyers return to the market will help the housing sector of the economy grow. Home prices may rise slightly, but having a big base of homebuyers should provide more stability and confidence for builders who can increase home inventory without concern.




Mortgage Rates Hit 20 Month Low

by Tim Hart

Freddie Mac announced the average rate for a 30-year conventional loan fell to 3.73% this week. The average rate fell from last week’s number of 3.87% and from 3.89% in later December, thanks to another strong week for the domestic economy, especially in comparison to continued financial struggles in Europe and Asia.

The average rate for a 15 year fixed loan also fell this week to 3.05 percent--down from 3.15 percent. 15 year mortgages are most popular with those looking to refinance and the low rates should be noted by anyone paying a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. Many homeowners have a great opportunity to save on their mortgage.

Both mortgage rates fell due to a strong outlook on the domestic economy. Unemployment benefit requests declined this week and wages continue to see improvement. As the Holidays seemed to prove, consumer confidence has also greatly increased in the US.

As investment in Europe and Asia has struggled, many investors are turning towards purchasing government bonds and securities. Yields on securities issued by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have fallen recently, perhaps due to their current demand. These securities encompass around 60% of all US mortgages. Bond investors have accepted lower yields on these securities, allowing mortgage bankers to charge lower interest rates to their customers.

Banks have also been trying to attract milennial first time home buyers to the market, who, as of yet, have not been buying up homes like previous generations.

Again, great news for home buyers, home owners and refinancers. Interest rates really add up over the life of a loan, so this kind of adjustment can really benefit buyers years down the line. Coupled with lower mortgage insurance rates, many home buyers who were not eligible even a month ago, may now be approved for a loan.



Total Home Values Up in the US

by Tim Hart

The total value of all homes in the United States grew for a third straight year according to The total value of all homes in 2014 reached 27.5 trillion dollars, up 1.8 trillion from 2013.

In 2013, home values had grown up to 25.7 trillion, up 1.9 trillion from 2012. From 2012 to 2013, home values rose by 7.9 percent. From 2013 to 2014, home values rose by 6.7 percent.

Between 2007 and 2011, home values had lost nearly 6.3 trillion. The attached graph indicates the new growth in comparison with the recession (updated through 2013). With 2014’s continued growth, the graph reveals a positive trend.

The value of homes is increasing, whether it’s through a rising inventory of new homes or prices themselves are going up (though probably both). So long as growth can remain consistent overall, the housing market should continue stabilizing and improving.



FHA Lowering Mortgage Insurance Rates

by Tim Hart

The Federal Housing Administration announced that it will lower the cost of its mortgage insurance for potential borrowers. The White House released a statement that they will lower the mortgage insurance rates from 1.35% of the loan’s value, down to 0.85 percent. Mortgage insurance is designed to keep lenders safe whenever a borrower defaults on their loan.

The change to the mortgage insurance rates could save a first-time homebuyer $900 a year on their payments. For a lot of buyers sitting on the fence, this may be the starting gun for which they were waiting. The White House believes that more than 250,000 additional, potential home buyers will now be able to purchase a home and stay within their means. Homeowners who already have an FHA loan will have the opportunity to refinance and also see similar savings.

The FHA had raised mortgage insurance after the 2008 recession. However, rising home values, a larger, wealthier workforce, and declining foreclosure numbers gave them the confidence to let off slightly on the reins of the housing market.

How many buyers will be enticed into buying is yet to be seen, but anyone looking for or has an FHA loan should discuss the changes with their lender and see what potential savings could be had.



Bozeman Market Update - Condos and Townhomes January 2015

by Tim Hart

This month, we will highlight townhome and condo sales through November in Bozeman. Here are a few stats for all Bozeman condos and townhomes:

  • Unit sales increased from 2013 to 2014 by 16.98%. (371 sold in 2013, 434 sold in 2014)
  • Dollar volume increased from 2013 to 2014 by 34.23% ($68,926,687 in 2013, $92,523,141 in 2014)
  • Average sales price also rose from 2013 to 2014 by 14.75% ($185,786 in 2013, $213,187 in 2014)

Summary –Bozeman has seen increases in townhomes and condos across the board. With more unit sales going at higher prices, Bozeman’s condo and townhome market is healthy and growing.

The City of Bozeman hopes to alleviate the very full rental and affordable housing situation in the coming year through regulation changes and increasing inventory. The Bozeman Department of Community Development has begun a review of current home building standards while starting development of new subdivisions and apartment complexes.

A rental housing survey released this year reported that the vacancy rate in Bozeman was essentially zero at the time MSU students came back for fall semester. Gallatin County saw a huge population growth rate from 2002-2012 when it grew 32 percent. In a report released this month, it was one of the fastest growing counties in the Western United States. Coupled with MSU’s largest student body in its history, Bozeman found itself at rental capacity.

Cheaper housing also became less affordable due to demand from first time buyers who saw mortgage rates and rental rates become close enough to take the plunge. Investors hoping to open up some home space in a “no vacancy” rental market also pushed demand higher on the cheaper housing in the area.

The city plans on deferring or subsidizing impact fees on homes, allowing more flexible dimensions, while reviewing current mobile home ordinances to help lower the costs of home ownership in town. Several subdivisions have also begun development in the outskirts of town to increase the total inventory of available homes to the city’s residents, while subsidized affordable housing has also been employed in several cases. The city hopes that changes in regulations, increased construction and new subdivisions will help avoid the situation seen this past September.



Finances Largely Affect Millenial Buying Trends

by Tim Hart

Millenials are buying homes that are smaller, older and less expensive than homes bought by older generations. Half the homes bought by millenials averaged less than 1,650 square feet and cost less than $148,500. As millenials are the youngest buyers on the market, the types of homes they are shopping for make sense. Young buyers generally have little to no accumulated wealth, affecting the types of homes and even the loans they will shop for.

Millenials are less likely to buy a new home (9%) than other generations would (12% average for the entire industry). Although more than two thirds of Millenial home buyers bought single-family homes, more are willing to buy multi-family homes than other generations. Nine percent of millenials bought multi-family homes compared to a six percent average for everyone else.

When asked why they were purchasing a home, most millenials had hopes of establishing their own household. Many had hopes for a larger unit and many others bought to finally become a homeowner and stop renting.


Mortgage Rates Hit New Low for 2014

by Tim Hart

Mortgage Rates hit a new yearly low for 2014, a positive sign for potential home buyers. With the year fast coming to a close, this is the lowest mortgage rate seen in quite some time. Mortgage rates hit 3.89% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the lowest since May 2013.

Rates dipped amid lower than expected home sales. Demand seems to be holding steady but would have been better if not for lagging wage growth.

The 15 year fixed-rate mortgage also dipped to 3.1%, close to numbers seen in late October.

Despite lower rates, applications were down 7.3%. For home-buyers who may not have been able to afford or qualify for a home mortgage, or had held off for other reasons, now may be the time to re-evaluate how the drop in rates may affect them.


Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Announce 3% Down Payment Loan

by Tim Hart


The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced its attempt to better increase mortgage credit availability to US borrowers in October. Now, with the recent announcement of a 3% Down Payment loan by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it seems the FHFA’s efforts have paid off.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced new 97 loan-to-value mortgages that will be available to first time homeowners. The new loans help credit-worthy borrowers without capital get a home loan. The loan should help buyers who want to own a home and can afford monthly payments but cannot pay for the down payment and closing costs.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac don’t foresee the loan becoming a major part of their business. The loans target a very specific borrower in their eyes and the loan will be awarded with this specificity in mind. With that being said, the loan should appeal to a lot of millenials, who as of yet, have not been buying up real estate like previous generations. Many economists have predicted millenials becoming major players in the real estate world in the coming years and steps like the one taken by the FHFA to broaden credit requirements should help bring these buyers to the table.

For those first time homebuyers who wanted a home, but until now did not have enough capital to put down, now may be the time for them to re-engage their lender and see if a 3% down payment is a feasible alternative to a standard 30 year fixed rate mortgage.




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 109