Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 251

New Apartments Add Inventory to Bozeman Rental Market

by Tim Hart

Developers and city officials broke ground last week on a new, awaited apartment complex designed to help add more rental inventory to the Bozeman market. The complex will now bring 48 new rental units to the Bozeman area to the previously planned 47.

The project has been sponsored by the Montana Board of Housing to give low-income residents a chance to rent the new units alongside those who can already compete at full market value.  The MBH will give tax credits to the developers so they can in turn offer a few units to select families at up to 50% below market rent. The City of Bozeman continues to strive to have Bozeman be affordable to all residents and affordable housing projects like this, help keep people from being ‘priced out’ of their living arrangements.

In addition to increasing the number of subsidized, affordable units in Bozeman, the new apartment complex will add general apartment inventory. Having additional units in Bozeman will help increase rent competition, potentially lowering costs for tenants. Much like last year, Bozeman’s vacancy rate is essentially at 0 percent, which has lead to the sharp rise in rental costs around town. The overall population growth of Bozeman, as well as the growth of Montana State University, have both put a lot of stress of the remaining rental home inventory in the area.

Bozeman has approved both residential and commercial projects, whether full subdivisions or multi-family style living, all in an effort to increase the inventory and amenity spread of Bozeman. Bozeman continues to work hard to stay up with current growth and is still focused on keeping housing affordable in the area.




Bozeman School Board to Set Budget

by Tim Hart

Tonight, the Bozeman School Board will vote on whether to raise local property taxes to approve the $72 million in spending budgeted for this school year in Bozeman. Approving $72 million in spending would be up 3.4% from last year.

Enrollment for the Bozeman School District is expected to increase by 170 students, or 2.7 percent. The expected total will be 6,464 students—a new record for Bozeman school enrollment numbers. The new budget would add 10 new elementary teachers and 1 high school teacher to better address the growing student population. The school board will also increase their reserves to better tackle the proposed Sacajawea Middle School expansion and second High School. The district’s upgrade of Hawthorne Elementary, will use a TIF, and not raise taxes on those in the district.

In order to pay for the spending increases, 31 million will need to be raised from taxpayers. The process has been complicated because of the Department of Revenue’s property tax reappraisal. Property values only dropped by 3% from when the recession began in 2008—far better than the expected 11% drop that some predicted—but balancing the budget has been more difficult with shifting property values. If the budget is approved, each property owner in the Elementary district will see their taxes raise by 7.45 mills and those in the High School district will see their taxes raise by 3.79 mills.

A tax increase approved by voters as well as the Montana’s Legislature’s increased state spending on schools have also contributed to the budget. The total elementary budget would go up to $45.4 million and the high school budget would go up $26.8 million. The district has been awarded a plethora of awards in the last year, whether financial, academic, student based, or from an outside ranking system.




Rental Market Hit New Highs in June

by Tim Hart

Rental prices continue to grow in the United States Housing Market making many wonder when and where the tipping point may come. The national effective growth rate for rental values went up by 5.1% in June to a 47 month high. Effective rent growths have also been at 5% for 5 consecutive months, a streak not seen since April 2009.

Tight occupancy has pushed rent even higher as the intense competition has allowed landlords to consistently raise rates while still finding tenants. The US rental occupancy rate now sits at 95.3 percent. Although renters have struggled to keep up with the recent price growth, they’ve still made the payments work—but for how long renters can afford these high rates is to be seen.

The US Housing market may be catching up from the housing recession, when a very small number of apartments were made. Now, renters can only hope the recent economic growth will help builders increase home inventory and drive landlord competition to lower prices. Even despite low mortgage rates, the rising home values have kept many renters away from buying a home. Oddly, buying has been cheaper than renting in 66% of the national housing market, yet renters continue to pay steep prices for a place to stay.

In Bozeman, the local real estate market has acted as a sort of microchasm for trends seen in the US housing market. Bozeman continues to try to add additional inventory to keep rent prices low and have also looked into lowering lot sizes to increase the number homes they can build on a space of land.




Plans forming for Bozeman’s Second High School

by Tim Hart

By Fall of 2020, high school age students in Bozeman may not all be attending the same school for the first time in the town’s history. Starting this year, plans for a second high school will be taken on in earnest, and Bozeman School District officials hope to present a finalized plan to voters by November 2016.

In order to have a finalized plan by then, school officials will need to put plans in place that work with their budget and local Bozemanites’ hopes for the school. This school year will be focused on open dialogue and communication between the district and the public to put together a high school that will satisfy all parties.

The Bozeman School District plans on asking voters to approve a 60 to 80 million dollar project. The school has a soft deadline of 2020 to complete the school because that is when Bozeman High School’s enrollment is expected to eclipse 2,400 students. Bozeman’s overall enrollment has been increasing yearly and hit an all time new high in 2015. Once Bozeman High School reaches 2,400 students, school officials plan on splitting those students between 2 high schools, both with the capacity to hold up to 1,500 students.

Already topics of debate surrounding the highschool are forming. Will the new high school be very similar to the current one? Will it function just to increase space and carry the same curriculum as Bozeman High? Is there any interest in creating a new, more focused high school to offer students a chance to focus on a specific craft? Will the new high school include some form of cutting edge project, whether infrastructural or educational? All of these questions will need to be addressed in 2015. Any Bozeman resident who feels strongly on any topic should make a point to have their opinion known before year’s end. Already, ideas have been presented to the school to build a magnet high school of 400 to 500 students, while Bozeman High remained more traditional.

The two high schools will still need to decide logistical questions as well—like whether they will share a stadium moving forward, or whether one school might build an auditorium for both.

The school will hire a consultant to put together plans for a new high school rather than school officials based on the consultant’s expertise and ability to put all focus on this project.

It is very exciting to see plans for the new high school starting to develop. The High School’s recent growth really provides evidence for Bozeman’s continued growth. Bozeman School District schools have been some of the best in the state, if not the best, even with the recent growth.  Bozeman continues to be very attractive to young families as evidenced by the district’s enrollment increases.




For those still wondering if buyer confidence has returned to the United States Housing Market, they will be relieved when they read the new survey for released by Bankrate. According to their survey, real estate now ranks as the number one investment choice for Americans.

The company asked people how they would choose to invest their money if they had extra cash lying around. Twenty seven percent of Americans chose some form of property investment – the highest ranked answer of all other options. With signs of a normalizing real estate market, buyers are feeling confident that once again, real estate will turn in some high returns.

Buyer confidence has been climbing steadily in the last years. However, most articles discussing buyer confidence compared real estate confidence to previous years. This survey shows that confidence in real estate has now reached a point that it is also starting to compete (and beat!) other industries.

CDs and other cash investments, last year’s top answer, came in second at 23 percent. Seventeen percent of Americans would put their money in the stock market, 14% chose gold and other precious metals, and 5% chose investing in the bond market.

Coupled with low mortgage rates, high rental rates and low vacancy rates, its easy to see why an investor can see a lot of potential in real estate based investments.

Americans living in the West (35%) and urban (31%) areas showed the highest preference towards making a real estate based investment.

The South preferred real estate and cash investments. The Midwest preferred cash and stocks over real estate.




Gallatin County Market Update - August 2015

by Tim Hart

This month, we will compare single-family residence sales in all of Gallatin County for 2013, 2014 and 2015 through the second quarter. Here are a few stats for Gallatin County single-family residences:

  • Total Quarter 1 and 2 sales increased by 9.39% from 2013 to 2014 (554 sold in 2013, 606 sold in 2014)
  • Total Quarter 1 and 2 sales increased by 10.09% from 2014 to 2015 (606 sold in 2014, 667 sold in 2015)
  • Quarter 1 and 2 dollar volume increased by 23.12% from 2013 to 2014 ($198,018,584 in 2013, 243,809,312 in 2014)
  • Quarter 1 and 2 dollar volume increased by 18.74% from 2014 to 2015 (243,809,312 in 2014, 289,510,813 in 2015)
  • Homes stayed on the market 37.62% shorter in 2014 than in 2013 (155.5 days on the market in 2013, 97.5 days on the market in 2014)
  • Homes have been staying on the market 1.54% longer in 2015 (99 days on the market in 2015, 97.5 days on market in 2014)

Summary – Through Quarter 2, numbers suggest the Gallatin County Housing Market is growing and healthy. I want to note that Quarter 2 dollar volume in 2015 ($186,513,135) came very close to the 2013 Quarter 1 and 2 combined volumes ($198,018,584). More homes are being sold at higher prices across the valley. The overall Gallatin County market is very healthy.

Amidst a growing Gallatin Valley, Bozeman Deaconess Hospital will be expanding from its Bozeman location to better serve the greater area. The hospital has plans to expand to new campuses in Belgrade and Big Sky, while also adding to its Bozeman location. In addition to real estate based expansions, the hospital will also be expanding and improving its rural response to heart based medical issues thanks to a recent grant from the American Heart Association.

The hospital has 3 expansion projects currently across the Gallatin Valley.

Bozeman Deaconess moved forward with their plans to better address the growing West end of Bozeman and a fast growing Belgrade by adding a new location in Belgrade. The new location has broken ground and is expected to be completed by the Summer of 2016. The hospital is planning on building a two story, 37,000 sq. ft building on 9.4 acres on the southeast corner of Jackrabbit and Alaska Frontage Road. The new location will provide space for 20 medical providers and will include family medicine, urgent care and clinical and physical therapy groups.

The Bozeman hospital also has plans to build a 4 bed, 51,000 square foot hospital in Big Sky by the end of the year. Earlier this year, the hospital also announced that it will be adding a 5 story medical office building to its main Bozeman location. That project should be ready by spring of 2016. These expansions will only help the hospital better serve all the patients living in the greater Bozeman area, both suburban and rural.

The hospital also announced this month that they have been awarded a $109,700 grant from the American Heart Association to continue improving the outcomes of heart attack patients in rural Montana. The grant aims at improving care and response times for patients outside of bigger Montana towns. The money will help implement a system-wide data tool to measure and improve procedures, provide medical experts with additional training and education, improve coordination between rural emergency services and rapid transport, while also supporting a public education campaign on heart attacks.

As the hospital services continue to expand, they continue to help make the greater Bozeman area a safe place where all residents can be provided quick, high quality care. Minimizing potential risks and shortening travel distances that come with an outdoor or rural lifestyle makes Bozeman all the more attractive as a lifelong destination.




Bozeman Looks to Expand and Upgrade Elementary School

by Tim Hart

The Bozeman School District continues to work hard improving an already wonderful school system. Officials will put a proposed expansion for Hawthorne Elementary School on the November ballot, asking for 5.5 million to improve the school. Even more interesting, the district believes they can gather the needed funds without raising property taxes on Bozeman residents.

Current plans include replacing old classrooms and improving the cafeteria in Hawthorne Elementary, all while creating more space for the school overall. The portable classrooms that were installed in the 1980’s will be removed and replaced with a new two-story addition. The cafeteria will also move from the basement to the first floor and be fully updated. Finally, some playground space that was used for portable classrooms will now be opened up once those are removed.

In order to get the needed funding for these improvements, school officials plan on using tax-increment financing, or a TIF, to raise funds without increasing property taxes. The downtown TIF was originally used to help create the parking garage near Main Street, but the extra reserves were reverted back to school funding. Money cannot be used outside of the district it taxes, so Hawthorne became the natural choice for these funds. Normally, school funding needs to come from the voter approval of some form of bond, which would raise taxes—this scenario will avoid the tax increase.

Bozeman continues to have some of the best public schools around. Their high school was recently honored as the best in the state. Keeping up to date with improvements will keep it so and keep Bozeman as attractive as it is to new potential residents.




Walkable Communities Most Popular for Millenials

by Tim Hart

The walkability of cities and towns in the United States has become increasingly important for homebuyers – particularly its youngest generation. According to a new study released by the Transportation Research and Education Center at Portland State University, millenials show a strong preference to having a home that’s within walking distance of local amenities. These home buyers, those aged 18 to 34, preferred walking over driving by 12 percentage points.

All age groups saw walkability as a major asset in choosing a home—so much so that 48% of all respondents wanted a small home and yard within walking distance of activities, rather than a large home and yard that required driving to get to events and destinations—assuming prices were similar. Home sellers should keep this in mind when they go to list a smaller home with a great location—make sure not to forget one of the home’s best qualities!

Americans in general also looked for more transportation choices when choosing their new neighborhood. Eighty-five percent of American buyers looked for sidewalks to make sure their home would be walking friendly.

Women in particular showed a strong attraction to walkability, with 61% of those surveyed putting it as an important aspect of their home search.

For a smaller town like Bozeman, having close, walkable neighborhoods will continue to attract homebuyers to Bozeman. Not only can a person walk through the City of Bozeman in complete ease, but the city’s massive trail system provides even more options for the active homebuyer. Bozeman was ranked as the 11th most livable mid-sized town in the US, with transportation as a major factor in the rankings. It sounds like Bozeman is on the right path to keeping itself a walking friendly place that will continue to attract new residents to the area.




Local Restaurant to be On National Cooking Show

by Tim Hart

For anyone who loves the Cooking Channel, they will get to see a Bozeman restaurant featured on one of its national shows. The Western Café, a steadfast of downtown since the 1930’s, was selected to appear on the channel as a great mom and pop operation that also utilized local Bozeman ingredients.

The café will appear on the Cooking Channel’s show, Pizza Masters. In this case, the Pizza Masters were apparently less interested in pizza, because they asked the café to show them how to make the café’s famous cinnamon rolls along with their biscuits and gravy. The Pizza Masters chose the location for its great food, décor and local atmosphere.

For any non-local visitors to town, the Western Café can be a great place to enjoy some old-time western cooking. As Bozeman has grown, it has done a great job keeping the small mountain town feel that has become so attractive to out of state visitors.




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 251