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A conservation easement is a legal agreement that permanently protects land from various types of development. The easement spells out the correct and incorrect uses for that land based on its owner’s conservation values. Each one is written to be unique, and specific for each plot of land. Donors of conservation easements maintain ownership over their property and subsequent owners will also retain ownership of the area.

Some people worry that a conservation easement may put them at the mercy of the government. What if the government changes their mind? Do they even have a stake in the land now? Don’t worry. A conservation easement does not let the government control how the land is used. In fact, in regards to the government, conservation easements are quite positive. They can be written off as a charitable contribution and any landowner can deduct the value of the easement from their income taxes for a set number of years. However, due to the fact that the land can no longer be developed, a conservation easement can lower the appraisal value of a property.

Below, please find examples taken from the Montana Land Reliance website that outlines the uses for a conservation easement:

The following are general examples of the types of uses that can be allowed by a conservation easement:

  • Continued agricultural and silvicultural use
  • Construction of buildings, fences, water improvements, etc., necessary for agriculture and compatible with conservation objectives
  • Sale, devise, gifting or other method of transferring parcels, subject to terms of the easement
  • Landowner control of access
  • Additional family and employee residences compatible with conservation objectives
  • Wildlife and fisheries protection, restoration and enhancement projects
  • Any and all uses not specifically prohibited

Types of uses that are generally restricted by a conservation easement include:

  • Subdivision for residential or commercial activities
  • Construction of non-agricultural buildings
  • Nonagricultural commercial activities
  • Dumping of non-compostable or toxic waste
  • Surface mining

A conservation easement assigns three "positive rights" to MLR:

  1. The right to preserve and protect the property according to mutually agreed upon terms.
  2. The right (with proper advance notification to the landowner) to enter the property to monitor activities (usually once a year).
  3. The right to "enjoin and restore," which assures that the landowner's desires, as spelled out in the easement, are enforceable.

The terms of the easement do not in any way negate or modify state or federal law. Specifically, a conservation easement cannot prevent condemnation.

In general, a conservation easement is a great weapon for private property owners who want to conserve their land, the homes they grew up in, and the Montana views they have come to know and love. These easements, although they can initially drop the property value because the land cannot be developed, can do so much to keep the value of a property high. An emptier neighborhood, a unique landscape, or even a historical tract can do a lot to raise the value of any home.

Sources: http://www.mtlandreliance.org/easment.htm; http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/article_d3484fa8-1389-11e4-adb0-001a4bcf887a.html

 

 

 

 

 

Land Trusts and How They Can Serve You

by Tim Hart

With the Montana Land Reliance opening up a new office in Bozeman, any Bozeman property owner would do well to understand what a land trust is and how it can be used. Well, a land trust is quite simple actually. A land trust is any non-profit organization that actively works to conserve land. Usually, a land trust assists private owners who want to keep their land undeveloped. They do this by attempting to conserve what the land has to offer the local area, whether it be farmland, a unique form of wildlife, or just beautiful, open space. Land trusts help private land owners navigate the confusing beauracratic world of land regulations and requirements.

As home construction has gone up, as the Bozeman economy has grown by 5% in the last year, and as Gallatin County has taken the lead in the state for economic growth, conserving the beautiful and agriculturally significant parts of Bozeman becomes more and more important.

A land trust can be used by private property owners to protect themselves, and their land, from irresponsible development. The Montana Land Reliance, for example, is a statewide organization that has conserved 275,000 acres in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. It has also conserved 35,000 acres just in the Gallatin Valley alone. The Gallatin Valley Land Trust, another local land trust, has helped conserve 67 square miles in the valley, again, by teaming with private land owners. Both land trusts hope the growth in Bozeman will not force local, long time farmers to move away from the area.

How are land trusts able to save this land? Land trusts use a legal agreement called a conservation easement. What is a conservation easement? Well lets find out in the following article!

 

Please read the next article on Conservation Easements as they are the method that Land Trusts use to help conserve your land. Find it here http://www.athomeinbozeman.com/blog/What-is-a-conservation-easement-and-how-do-Land-Trusts-use-them-to-conserve-private-property Plus, they are tax deductable! If you would like any more information on either of these Land Trusts, feel free to visit their websites at:

www.mtlandreliance.org

www.gvlt.org

New Pedestrian Trail Added in Northeast Bozeman

by Tim Hart

The city of Bozeman, in conjunction with Gallatin County, began construction on a new trail from North Rouse to Seventh Avenue. The city expects the project to cost $264,596 dollars and should be finished in the next few weeks. Ideally, the trail will greatly increase the safety of bikers and pedestrians in Northern Bozeman. As most trails run north to south, the east-west running trail should markedly improve transportation ease in the city. In addition to the trail on Rouse, the city has recently added trails along Norris Rd. as well as from Cougar Dr. and Cottonwood Rd. south of town. Reliable, safe trails can be a lifesaver for young families while keeping bikers off of busy main roads. Bozemanites can now look forward to relaxing evening walks or morning runs with more comfort and confidence.

Schattauer, Erin. "New Oak Street Trail Creates County-City Connection." Bozeman Daily Chronicle (2014): n. pag. Web. 11 Jul. 2014.

Three new hotels are sprouting up in downtown Bozeman.  The first hotel, named the ‘Etha’ will be an eight story, 102 room hotel above the historic National Guard Armory at 24 W. Mendenhall.  It will be viewed as much a community gathering place as a hotel with a 10,000 square foot ballroom to attract bigger groups than the hotel itself can fit.  One key to the success of the Etha will be professional management by LaTour Hotels and Resorts, a San Diego based company that specializes in operating ‘boutique’ hotels.  Most of the boutique hotels operated by LaTour are in major markets such as Salt Lake City, Seattle and Washington, DC.  Bozeman, being a small town, is unique among small markets for this concept.  But as CEO Thomas LaTour quoted  ‘Bozeman does not act or react like other small markets. There's something unique going on there. Just look at the airport. The airport activity given the size of that town is really out of whack.  When those doors swing open, it's for Bozeman.’ he said

The Etha is expected to open in the early fall, 2015.  Next month will focus on the ‘other’ big downtown hotel project.

Both Big Sky and Bridger Bowl Resorts both set records for skiers.  Bridger Bowl saw 217,000 skiers this season overturning the previous mark by 3%.  Big Sky saw more than 450,000 skier visits overturning the previous mark by over 100,000 skiers!   Snow fell early and often with snowpack levels well above 100% levels in all areas in Big Sky and the Gallatin Valley.

    Montana State University has been listed as one of the best colleges for veterans. Out of the 234 universities on the list Bozeman's MSU made it. The rankings were published in the magazine U.S. News & World Report to help veterans receive a college education. 

    According to Brenda York, director of MSU Disability, Re-entry and Veteran Services, “Montana State University has been diligently working for years to provide support to our student-veterans and help them succeed. We’re very proud of this important work, and we are pleased that our efforts have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report.” 

    To qualify for the rankings, universities and colleges had to be certified for the 9/11 GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program and Service members Opportunity Colleges Consortium. The rankings have information on universities that have federal benefits, such as, tuition and housing assistance to veterans and active service members. All of the schools that were ranked had good scores in graduation rates, faculty resources, reputation, and categories of academic excellence.

-Broker Broker Tim Hart

New Hotel in Place of Kenyon Noble Building in Downtown Bozeman

by Tim Hart

    The empty Kenyon Noble building is to be torn down and have a hotel put into its place. The building has been empty since 2006 when the business relocated to Oak Street. 25 East Mendenhall Street in Bozeman, Montana is the address of what is soon to become the new hotel. A proposal was filed for an upscale 104 room hotel that is nationally branded, however, the brand has not been released at this point in time. Kenyon Noble originally moved locations to make it possible for a performing arts center to be built but these plans were canceled shortly after. The vacant lot has finally found a viable real estate plan, the hotel is now in the proposal stage. Our home in Bozeman is growing rapidly.

-Broker Tim Hart 

Allowing MLS to Take the Lead

by Tim Hart

  

“The power balance in the real estate world is shifting faster than ever. Travel titans, search engines, investment oracles and government entities all want to change the way we do business. Most just want to control a larger piece of the pie.” (Source)

 

In the everyday functioning of a real estate office, attracting and retaining agents is a top priority. Real estate, although a volatilemarket, is a rather stable numbers game when it comes to the number of agents entering versus retiring. With that being said, the ability of a broker or agent to increase sales production and income often comes at the expense of competing agents and brokers.

The common element in this competitive personal marketplace is the multiple listing service [MLS]. “The multiple listing service could be called the referee for our regional activities.” (Source) MLS standardizes practices and creates/enforces a plethora of rules. Some agents appreciate the consistency. Some agents loathe the rules impeding into their business. That very tension is where the greatest value of MLS is hidden. An authoritative entity used for the creation of industry wide standards is crippled if it is not also give the ability to enforce. Because of this, MLS is a uniquely powered organization. Realtor organizations, a variety of brokerages, part-time and full time agents, and the MLS staff all work together to generate consistency within real estate listings—the driving force for all real estate movement.

As the real estate industry is becoming increasingly more technologically driven, the tech driven entrepreneurs within the agent community seem to be leaning more toward unified solutions grounded in the network already in place—MLS.

 

The future of MLS may very well be a more regulated national oversight service. Many pressures on the real estate community are encouraging MLS to get more teeth. The alternative would be that brokers could forge different agreements with the same portals like multiple buyers competing for a home. Everyone could begin undercutting everyone else. There would be no uniformity of goal. So keep your eye on the real estate Multiple Listing Service… I am interested to see where this goes. 

Investing Options: Tapping into Your Home’s Equity

by Tim Hart

When the housing market is in a full swing recovery like it is today with interest rates still historically low and inventory changing daily, it is a good time to see how you, the ‘happy in your current home and not looking to move,’ can tap into the market through investing.

Usual Methods of Real Estate Investment: These include: financing a new purchase with a mortgage or selling some stocks and bonds, taking money out of your IRA or from your 401(k). These are hit and miss and sometimes turn out to be not-so-smart moves but they seem to be the methods by which most investors fund their second (or third, or fourth…) purchases.

An Unusual Proposal: Some investors have begun to start using the equity they have built up in their own home as the launch point for an investment property! Home equity, the difference between what a person owes on their mortgage versus their home’s market value, rises with the strengthening real estate market. The increasing value of your home’s equity can be monetized through a home equity loan (a call-out refinance) allows home owners to use their current home’s value to pay for a second home. This, like the methods above, does has pros and cons to it.

  • Pros: Lenders are more willing to lend on more favorable terms because the home owner has more skin in the game. The costs on borrowing will be lower as well since this form of loan does not involve paying for title searches or the transactional cost of a new mortgage.
  • Cons: Your monthly payments will increase and if you cannot pay, you may lose your primary home to foreclosure. In addition, this is an eggs all in one basket approach—you will be investing in one type of asset.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/16/pf/expert/home-equity/index.html

New Chapter In Housing Market Recovery

by Tim Hart
 

The nation experienced a 5.24% decline in housing inventory this July. At the same time, the national median listing price increased by 5.27%.

“The recovery is entering a new phase where inventory shortfalls are no longer the driving force behind changes inhousing prices in many markets. Larger inventories, especially in the hotter markets that experienced rapid price increases in the spring, are expanding buyers’ choices and helping to moderate price increases,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc. “This month’s report also underscores the uneven nature of the housing recovery and its dependence on the strength of the local economy.”  

This new trend boasts the following highlights:

  • No More Year-Over-Year Inventory Declines

  • Local Markets Inventory Declines Decrease Leading to Slower Price Growth

  • Mortgage Rates Rise/Plateau

 

Source: http://www.realtor.com/news/housing-inventory-declines-are-easing/

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 125

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