Bozeman Montana Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14

More Affordable Housing Coming to Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman is growing exponentially— this is no surprise. What might be surprising though is how quickly it is predicted to grow by 2045. Between 2000 and 2016, Gallatin County added roughly 2,200 new residents each year. From 2017 to 2045, Gallatin County is expected to gain nearly 55,000 new residents, with 50% of these residents expected to live in the City of Bozeman.

It’s been a seller’s market in Bozeman for some time now, with both available inventory and housing affordability increasingly becoming more of an issue in our market. The greater Bozeman area has experienced an average 8.3% increase in median sales price over the last 5 years. Currently, the median home price in Bozeman is $398,000— meaning that a household needs to earn at least $68,400 per year, or $32/hour for one earner, in order for this home to be considered affordable at the 30% of income affordability standard. While the median household income in our area is $68,000 (indicating that home prices are in line with incomes), this statistic doesn’t account for the quality of the housing that is available at this price.

However, with the city’s prices on track to surpass wages, and so many people moving to the area over the next few decades, the need for more affordable housing options is critical. The latest affordable housing project is being led by HRDC, and will be constructed on a parcel of land that partially wraps around Baxter Square Park (just under 3 acres), a quarter mile northwest of the North 27th Ave and Baxter Lane intersection. The 24 townhomes will be available to families who earn between $30,000 and $40,000/year, and those who are interested must financially qualify and complete HRDC education and home buying courses.

The Location Dilemma

Years ago, previous developers created a human-made pond adjacent to the future location of the new affordable townhomes. Their project was stalled in 2008 after the recession and was never fully completed. Over the past decade Cattail Creek merged with the pond, creating an expanse of wetlands in the area, resulting in a difficult location to build on.

Originally, HRDC had plans for a few single homes— they’ve since asked city commissioners to approve constructing the new affordable units closer to the pond, in addition to reducing both the size of the lots and the amount of space between homes and the streets. HRDC also proposed the creation of dog stations, individual lot fencing, and enhanced building signs for each of the units. City commissioners approved the project on February 26th, as it falls in line with their preference for constructing more homes on less space as Bozeman continually adds several thousand new residents every year. 

Future Location for Affordable Townhomes (Approximate)


Next Steps

If Bozeman continues to grow as quickly as it is predicted to (an additional 27,500 residents by 2045), then projection estimates will demand 12,700 new housing units over the 2017 through 2045 time period. In order to construct all of these units, developers need between 1,800 and 3,100 acres— the current supply in city limits for residential development is 1,300 acres.

While some of these new 12,700 units will be single-family homes, others will be multi-family buildings, townhomes and duplexes. Some will be affordable housing opportunities, and others won’t be.  At any rate, Bozeman IS growing, and quickly. Whether growth means that we expand up, or expand out, expansion of some sort and the addition of more affordable housing options will be necessary over the next few decades as our city prepares for massive growth.

Another Mid-Rise Building Proposed for Downtown Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Last fall, construction on the controversial Black-Olive building was approved by Bozeman City Commissioners after more than a year of discussions, meetings, and revised design plans. Many Bozeman residents (and in particular, those who live downtown) were and still are concerned that the building will ruin Bozeman’s small-town charm, while others believe that the solution for our rapidly growing community is to “build up” instead of “build out”.

Andy Holloran, the same developer behind Black-Olive, has recently proposed plans for a five-story, 50-unit building on the corner of Lamme and Willson, across the street from the old Deaconess Hospital building. The new mid-rise (currently being called the One 11 Lofts) is expected to include 4 studios, 24 one-bedroom, 11 two-bedrooms, and 11 three-bedroom units. Based on its proposed location, the building is zoned in the city’s Central Business District— which means that the ground floor may or may not include commercial space for businesses.

Will Parking Be an Issue?

One of the major reasons why Black-Olive was originally denied was due to a lack of sufficient parking being included in the first round of design plans— only 37 on-site parking spaces for 56 apartments. Neighbors in the vicinity to Black-Olive were concerned about residents filling up already crowded street parking in front of their homes.

The One 11 building plans currently include 53 parking spaces for the 50 units, which is within the city’s requirements of a single space per unit. Most of these parking spaces will be located within an enclosed garage on the building’s first floor, with 6 spaces on the street outside. So far, the amount of parking provided in Holloran’s first draft of plans is significantly larger than that of Black-Olive.

Next Steps

Though construction on Black-Olive will begin in May, the One 11 plan is under review by the city. Planning documents describe the building as featuring corrugated metal, wood paneling, a flat roof and light-colored brickwork, ultimately giving it a “timeless and contextual quality”. Will this mid-rise threaten Bozeman’s small-town charm and obstruct mountain views? Or will it help maintain downtown’s sense of historic value while still offering a solution to limited housing in the area? For now, all we can do is wait to see how the city responds to the proposal.


Proposed Location for One 11 Building

A New Solution: Bozeman’s First Affordable Housing Director

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman’s Affordable Housing Action Plan pinpointed several major strategies to implement over a 5-year timespan (2012-2016). Its purpose was to work on providing more affordable housing units and down payment assistance for both renters and homeowners alike. While this plan outlined several goals that were partially met by the end of 2016, affordable housing in Bozeman is still a significant issue that needs continued attention and work in the future.

In 2010, 28% of homeowners and 49% of renters in Bozeman were living in unaffordable housing, when using the widely accepted benchmark amount of <33% of total income for homeowners and <30% of total income for renters. It’s important to note, however, that there is no universal home price or rent benchmark that defines “affordable”— this varies by income level and should be based on ability to pay.

 By 2015, at least 4,000 of the city’s 8,400 renters were paying rents at or above the 30% threshold, while a third of homeowners were paying at least that much, if not more.

Is Something Being Done to Help?

With these statistics not having improved much in recent years, the City of Bozeman has decided to hire its first affordable housing director. The person who will fill this new position (expected to begin by the end of January) will be responsible for generating solutions to help reduce the gap between the cost of housing and how much many Bozeman residents can afford to pay.

Six months ago, Bozeman planning adopted a new rule that mandated that builders and developers would have to either sell 3 in 10 homes in new developments at $260,000 or less, OR 1 in 10 homes at $215,000 or less, subject to change based number of bedrooms per unit. The city has been trying to keep up with this rule, which is where the need for an affordable housing director stems from.

Additionally, the new director will help to track housing projects from the time a building permit is issued to the time that someone closes on their home, in order to ensure that this 6-month-old rule is followed from start to end.

As 2018 unfolds, it will be interesting to see how this new position begins to change the affordable housing market and what impacts it will have on many of Bozeman’s renters and homeowners who are currently above the income threshold for housing. 

New Short-Term Rental Rules Adopted in Bozeman City Limits

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman City Commissioners adopted an ordinance on September 11th that includes new rules and regulations for the estimated 500-550 short-term rentals in Bozeman through platforms including Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway. A short-term rental (STR) is defined as the rental of rooms or dwellings to paying guests anywhere from 1 to 29 days.

What’s the Gist?

This ordinance was adopted with a 3-2 vote by city commissioners—commissioners also passed the new fees that homeowners will pay in order to continue using their property as an STR. There is now an annual $250 registration fee, in addition to a one-time fire inspection fee of $225. In addition, some homeowners may find themselves paying an administrative conditional use permit of $1,508. Commissioner Chris Mehl states that there may be adjustments to these fees in the future, as the city commissioners will have the chance to look at and assess the fees every year.

What Else?

The new fees will be used to balance the program’s cost— they will cover resources needed to process applications, respond to complaints, monitor regulations and inspect rentals. Many older homes that are being used as short-term rentals do not have the same fire-safety features that newer homes have.

While some are concerned that the new mandatory fees will have a negative impact on homeowners who use their properties as short-term rentals in order to generate additional income, Mayor Carson Taylor supports the fee increases because they are important to overall public safety.

Additionally, the new ordinance will forbid STRs that aren’t owner-occupied at any time within Bozeman’s residential districts. In this case, owner-occupied indicates that the owner occupies the dwelling for more than 50% of the calendar year. People who have been operating in these areas prior to January 1st will have the option to be grandfathered in.

When Does This All Start?

These rules will go into effect starting December 1st, and once the ordinance is passed (30 days from September 11th), homeowners will be given a 60-day grace period to meet compliance.

What makes Bozeman both unique and a desirable place to live all comes down to quality—quality of the community, quality of housing and ultimately the quality of the people who live and work here. The intended purpose of this ordinance, while seen as frustrating and expensive to some homeowners, may help contribute to the quality of life that is so valued here in Bozeman, and continue to make living and visiting here so enjoyable.

Mid-Rise Buildings to Doom Bozeman's Small-Town Charm?

by Hart Real Estate Solutions


There has been rising controversy in downtown Bozeman over development plans for mid-rise buildings in the heart of the city. City commissioners will soon make the decision whether to approve developer Andy Holloran’s proposal for his Black-Olive project, which will transform the south-east corner of Black and Olive Avenue into a three-story building with 56 apartments. 

Black-Olive Project(3-story building on black-olive avenue as of December 28, 2016 that the new apartment building is planned to replace.)

With the Element Hotel now built, the 5-West building already standing, and the Clark Hotel’s expansion underway, downtown residents are concerned that the Black Olive proposal is the breaking point that ushers “the final doom of Bozeman’s small-town charm.” Most members of the “Save Bozeman” effort are not entirely against development, but what they want is “balanced growth that benefits everybody, and not just developers.”


5 West Downtown Development

(5 West Project on Mendenhall Street under construction as of December 28, 2016.)

Several concerned residents have responded with the “Save Bozeman” effort. They made a Facebook page to coordinate their efforts and inform other residents about issues facing the community, and you might have noticed their yellow yard signs popping up around downtown neighborhoods. Stewart Mitchell, one of several coordinators behind the “Save Bozeman” effort, says their goal is to draw more members of the community into the city’s planning process.

What About The Housing Shortage?

To counter the opposition, there are some benefits of denser developments that may make the case for the Black Olive project. People want our Bozeman lifestyle, which can be credited for much of the county’s explosive growth in recent years. Unfortunately, with rising demand, comes rising prices. Housing inventory is being stripped away, and prices are climbing at such a rate that it may finally slow our city’s growth.

Having these apartment buildings spring up downtown may help to address our current housing shortage issue. More apartments will loosen up the market for renters, and keep prices within a reasonable reach. Even luxury, higher-end apartments may improve housing affordability. When luxury options are limited, wealthier renters may have to settle for mid-market options, and outbid lower-income residents who can’t compete. By meeting the demand for high-end housing, affordable housing would be left alone and made available for families who truly need them.

Another proposition to be made is that denser development may help preserve Montana’s countryside. Even if we build a financial wall around Bozeman, development would likely spread to outlying areas, encroaching further into the untouched territory that we value about Montana. “Building” up may be the alternative to “building out” with residential neighborhoods, like we’re seeing in the development of Bozeman’s west side.

State Your Opinion

There are many arguments to made on either side of this issue. Mid-rise developments will transform the city’s core, and may alter the course of the city going forward. The community deserves a fair debate over this matter. For those that are concerned and want to be more involved with the community, be sure to attend the city’s Community Forums held at the City Hall to state your opinions.

Related Article:

Development Projects In Downtown Bozeman


Saving Bozeman: There’s a generational divide on development in the heart of the city

Bozeman Bans Vacation Rentals

by Hart Real Estate Solutions


There has been some controversy among Bozeman’s downtown residents this year over the matter of allowing vacation rentals in Bozeman’s historic neighborhoods. Residents are concerned with losing our “community character,” noise disturbances, and increased traffic from the number of vacation rentals being established in their neighborhood.

On August 8th, city commissioners voted to temporarily ban new permits for short-term rentals in most neighborhoods south of downtown. The city is now working on long-term regulations, taking considerations from public listening sessions, scheduled on the evenings of this coming January, and an online survey.

A number of public meetings have been set up for early 2017 to allow the citizens a voice.

According to Eric Dietrich, a Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer, a number of listings for short-term rentals on websites like Airbnb and HomeAway have already been avoiding regulations and operating without permits in Bozeman. This is a problem that commissioners will have to address in their upcoming long-term regulations. 

This ban of short-term rental permits was originally set to last six months, expiring February 8th, with intentions to observe its effects and allow time to develop other solutions. However, Chuck Winn, the Assistant City Manager, requests to extend the period to study “best practices” from other cities’ experiences, and consider the public’s input. 


Bozeman gearing up outreach efforts on possible vacation rental regulation—by Eric Dietrich

Affordable Condos Coming To Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

As housing prices are on the rise, affordable housing in Bozeman is running scarce. Lower class families and individuals are being pushed further out of city limits as these housing options become limited. Countering this issue, the Talbach House project is providing Bozeman with a three-story condo building in a great location of a quickly developing area of the city.

The most appealing aspect of these condos is that their affordable price would not be sacrificing quality. Bitnar Architects have designed these condos with a high-end interior and European-inspired elements, such as large windows. One bedroom units will hold 625-square-feet, starting at $172,000.

Other condos of the same size are priced between $285,000 and $800,000, and the median price of single-family homes in Bozeman last year was $337,000. In this comparison, this Talbach House project is looking like a great deal for affordable housing.

The goal of this building project, stated by the developer of Cadius Partners, is to satisfy the needs of affordable housing for the “growing population of younger people” who are not yet committed to settle down and get married, before moving in to a single-family home.

Being the neighbor of the new Oracle campus, another opportunity is evident to house its growing staff. These condos would be a convenient option for the company’s employees. There are few chances in one’s career to have a walking commute.

Bozeman High School Students Earn 1.7 Million in College Scholarships

by Hart Real Estate Solutions


After tracking scholarship winnings for the first time in Bozeman High School’s history, the College and Career center announced that BHS students received more than 1.7 million dollars in scholarships for college. These scholarships were application based awards, requiring hard work and consistent support from both the students and the center.

Bozeman High School’s education is considered the best in the state. But perhaps its the programs and community that encompass more than just class taking that make the high school unique. The College and Career Center is one of the auxiliary programs that seem to direct BHS students in a positive direction.

The scholarship totals only represented high schoolers who had reported their scholarship to the center, so more money may have been awarded. This year, the College and Career center worked in depth with around 60 of the 415 students (going to the center is voluntary and must be student led). A majority of the 1.7 million in scholarships came from these students. One student went in almost every day and ultimately walked away with $27,000 in scholarships.

The center is open every day at Bozeman High School from 8 am to 4 pm. Having an additional support/educational program like this in the school will get more students into college and at a better rate.

Bozeman High School continues to work hard on surrounding the school with great programs to help students excel and to keep students from falling behind. Last year, Bozeman won an award to improve its mental health programs while also taking part in a competitive study for teaching mathematics in schools.

Bozeman’s enrollment continues to increase because of its consistent excellence. It’s hard for a home buyer to NOT move to Bozeman when they start a family. The City of Bozeman just announced plans to move forward with a second high school to better address growth, allowing for the city to grow while keeping a great education system moving forward.



Cheaper For Sale/For Rent Properties To Improve Affordability in Bozeman

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Over the past few months, the City of Bozeman and local builders alike have worked hard to continue making homes more affordable in Bozeman.

For Rent

Bozeman has partnered with developers GMD Development from Seattle and Homeward out of Missoula. Together, they are building a 136 unit for rent, affordable apartment complex. Bozeman helped fund $200,000 for the project using the workforce housing levy.

The complex will be made for residents who earn 60% or less of Bozeman’s median income. Rents will range from $560 to $940 a month. The units will be subject to a rental control clause that will keep rents at the same or very near to the rates seen today. The clause will be in effect for 46 years.

According to Bozeman’s local HRDC, rental or mortgage costs should only take up 30 to 40 percent of a person’s income. In Bozeman, most residents pay around 50% of their income to rent or mortgage payments.

For Sale

Four new properties have been approved on Cottonwood Road for sale to lower income residents. The new homes will be approximately 840 square feet and cost about $200,000.

Bozeman passed new home affordability ordinances in November 2015 to incentivize builders in Bozeman to construct more affordable homes. The city has required that 14 affordable homes are built by September 2016, that 27 are built by July 2017 and that 54 are built by December 2017. If not, the city will enforce mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinances to make homes more affordable.

This project would contribute 4 new homes to that number. The city would prefer to continue offering incentives and relaxed codes to build affordable homes, rather than force another rule on the building industry. Normally, the city requires homes be built on lots of at least 5,000 square feet. Under this program, builders can lower lot sizes to 4,500 square feet. Bozeman also expedites affordable homes through the building permit process, saving developers who make affordable homes time and money.

The median price for a single family home in the Gallatin County was $330,000 in 2015.  If a person wanted to only have 30% of their income go to their mortgage payment, they would need to make around $70,000 a year.



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.





Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14