Real Estate Information Archive


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Bozeman Growth in Top 10 Nationally

by Tim Hart

The US Census released new population numbers that have put Bozeman into the top ten fastest growing small towns in the United States over 2014. For those keeping score, Bozeman scored 6th on the list. Williston and Dickinson North Dakota came in at 1 and 2 because of the local oil booms they have experienced.

The Gallatin County has led the state in economic growth, with Bozeman helping lead the charge for the county overall. The surrounding area's public lands have also been a major reason for the population growth. And with Bozeman's average cost of living equaling national averages and its reputation for high level schools, its easy to see why people continue to move to the area.

According to Chris Mehl, Bozeman City Commissioner, the growth has occurred in part due to a very strong retail and health care sectors, growing tourism, low unemployment and its attraction to senior citizens. Bozeman Deaconess Hospital has started work on a new addition to better address the growing population. High paying jobs and the fast growing technology industry have both attracted many to Bozeman. A small town with a very active airport are also a rare combination, according to Mehl.

Bozeman’s reputation has grown as it has appeared on a variety of national lists over the last year. Bozeman has been ranked a top 25 ski town in the world, has been ranked the 6th most artistically and culturally vibrant small town in the US, has made it into the top most livable cities list along with one of the best places to retire in the United States.

As Bozeman grows, roads, infrastructure, and utilities will be problems that will need to be addressed by the city. All will cost money, but will be necessary to keep Bozeman the attractive town it currently is to so many.




YMCA Moving Forward with 5.5 Million Center

by Tim Hart

The Gallatin YMCA will move forward with their plans to construct a 5.5 million dollar athletic facility just north of Gallatin Regional Park in Bozeman. According to preliminary plans, the building would be 24,000 square feet and would include weight and cardio centers, locker rooms, a community program area and administrative space.

The 7-acre site was purchased by the YMCA, thanks to a large donation in 2008. However, after the recession tightened up funding, the project has been on the back burner ever since.

Recently, the YMCA restarted their attempts to get the facility running. They have been requesting donations from the community and so far, have raised 2.5 million for the first phase of the project.  In summer 2014, to lighten their load, they paired with the City of Bozeman to build a new aquatics center. But once the bond approving a new law and justice center fell through, the aquatic center moved down on the city’s priorities.

The YMCA serves 5,800 kids annually. That number has grown by 540% since 2010. Bozeman continues to attract new families, looking to raise their children in a positive environment. The YMCA’s recent growth helps support that claim.

As Bozeman continues to grow and continues to stay such a family friendly environment, residents should expect more, similar projects to better address their family needs in the future.




Townhouse Construction Up in 2014

by Tim Hart

Townhouse construction has been taking a larger share of new construction start ups in the real estate world. In 2014, townhouse start ups totaled 19,000 in the fourth quarter which was 12% higher than in 2013.

Townhouse construction totals for 2014 hit 72,000, up from 68,000 last year. Builders have been building more townhomes due to the current buyer demand and buyer reliability. As home prices have risen, more buyers have had to look at multi family and attached single family options. In Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley in particular, townhome prices have surged in the last few years. (To read a 2014 market report on townhomes in the Gallatin County, click here.) The lack of rentals has also pushed many renters into the home buying search both locally and nationally.

Townhomes now take 12% of all single-family housing starts. That is their largest share of the housing market since 2012.




97% of Montana Borrowers Have Equity in their Home

by Tim Hart

If Montana already didn’t have enough positive trends for their housing market, more good news came from Realtor Magazine in mid March. The magazine released which states had the highest percentage of borrowers with positive equity in their home—and Montana ranked 3rd, at 97 percent. The magazine analyzed any property with an active mortgage in the United States to reach their numbers. Montana and the Gallatin County rebounded comparatively well from the housing crisis compared to many of the other states in the nation, but seeing how many borrowers in the state have equity in their home really cements that fact.

In the United States, 89% of homes ended 2014 with equity in their home—a great sign for the national housing market. 44.5 million homes had equity and if home prices rise by 5% another 1 million will no longer have negative equity.

Interestingly, home sale values greatly affected whether buyers have been sinking or swimming across the nation. For properties valued over $200,000, 94% of them had positive equity. For properties valued below $200,000, only 84% had equity.

5.4 million home owners are still underwater from the housing crash. The issue of negative equity continues to hold back the potential of the market but negative equity is expected to diminish in 2015. For Montana, the local market has been able to grow so much partly due to the financial freedom of buyers and sellers in the area.

Nevada had the highest percentage of home owners still with negative equity, at 24.2 percent.




Builders Address Bozeman Home Affordability

by Tim Hart

Local Bozeman builders have tried to come up with viable solutions to the affordable housing scenario in Bozeman. Although more building permits have been issued in the last few years, many of these homes are aiming at prices above $300,000 (read some stats on 2014 single family residence homes here). As the Gallatin County has seen high economic prosperity, home prices have gone up as local buyers find themselves able to buy more expensive homes. However, several local builders have tried to come up with designs that would be both affordable and useful to future buyers.

One design has called for a 2 story economy home. The 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home would be 1,336 square feet and would come with a garage. The home design would sell on average for around $220,000.

Another design would build 720 square foot dwellings with a single bedroom and a flex space area. For this design, the builders would be able to put multiple units on a single lot and the homes would sell for $198,000 each.

Unfortunately, current city set back requirements would need to be changed to make either option possible.  A set back is the space between the home and the lot edge. Current set backs are designed to allow adequate privacy to residents while providing access for repair vehicles and equipment.

The city commission has set a May deadline for builders to brainstorm potential solutions before they move forward on the Bozeman affordable housing issue. In late February, the city postponed a potential zoning change that would require builders to build homes at certain price points on some of their lots. The city has also tried to raise home inventory and looked into lowering impact fees to lower prices. Builders will also want to decide if the options are viable – based on buyer interest in these models. Without a consistent market of buyers, homebuilders would have to take on serious financial risk building these homes. 




Bozeman School District Enrollment Increases

by Tim Hart

The Bozeman School District will be adding 170 more students next year, highlighting Bozeman and the surrounding area’s continued growth. Last year, Bozeman schools had their highest enrollment ever and it looks like the record won’t make it through the calendar year.

In addition to the 170 new students, administrators will hire 11 more teachers to better educate the additional students. In order to make those hires, the 2015 legislature will need to pass the public schools bill in April. Luckily, the bill dealing with inflation costs has already passed.

Elementary and middle schools will increase by 167 students next year. That is a 3.8% increase from the 2014 to 2015 school year when 4,321 students were enrolled in elementary and middle schools. The high school only added 3 new students. From a real estate perspective, the enrollment totals suggests that Bozeman is still very much a family town—and new families looking to move here, tend to make that move early. With the nearby schools, public lands and outdoor activities, its easy to see why Bozeman would be a big draw for young families looking to live in Bozeman for an extended time.

As enrollment increases, Bozemanites may have concerns that the quality of the education may be diluted. However, this year suggests otherwise. Bozeman High School was honored for its students high Advanced Placement Exam scores and ACT scores. The high school was also awarded two grants for studies in mental health and mathematics. Longfellow, one of the local elementary schools, won a department of education honor as a Blue Ribbon School.

The Bozeman School District still remains the gold standard for schools in the area. It is no wonder that more and more families move to Bozeman to educate their children in such a positive learning environment.





This month, we will highlight Condominium and Townhome sales comparisons of 2012, 2013 and 2014 in the Gallatin County. Here are a few stats for Gallatin County condos and townhomes homes that stood out:

  • Unit sales increased from 2012 to 2013 by 14.85% (532 sold in 2012, 611 sold in 2013)
  • Unit sales increased from 2013 to 2014 by 13.75% (611 sold in 2013, 695 sold in 2014)
  • Unit sales increased from 2012 to 2014 by 30.64%
  • Dollar volume increased from 2012 to 2013 by 42.80% ($101,214,358 sold in 2012, $144,528,512 sold in 2013)
  • Dollar volume increased from 2013 to 2014 by 26.82% ($144,528,512 sold in 2013, $183,297,187 sold in 2014)
  • Dollar volume increased from 2012 to 2014 by 81.10%
  • Average sales price rose from 2012 to 2013 by 24.33% ($190,252 in 2012, $236,544 in 2013)
  • Average sales price rose from 2013 to 2014 by 11.50% ($236,544 in 2013, $263,736 in 2014)
  • Average sales price rose from 2012 to 2014 by 38.62%

Summary –The Gallatin County has seen growth in unit sales, dollar volume and average sale price for condos and townhomes. With more unit sales going at higher prices, the county’s market is growing quickly. Increasing sale prices should peak any seller’s interest.


Montana High Tech Industry Expanding Rapidly

by Tim Hart

The High Tech and Manufacturing Industry is growing quickly in the state of Montana. The High Tech Business Alliance (HTBA), a conglomerate of high tech companies in the state of Montana, was surveyed by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) to diagnose the health of Montana’s high tech industry. Turns out, the state of the high tech industry isn’t just healthy, its skyrocketing.

According to the BBER report, the industry has accounted for a large amount of the total revenue and wages in Montana.

HTBA members grossed 632 million dollars in sales, which has helped them both raise their wages and take on additional employees.

These HTBA companies paid $139 million in pay roll. Employees, on average, have been earning twice the salary as those in other industries. Currently, they are averaging $50,702 a year. Even better, many of the HTBA members are planning on raising wages by 7% in 2015.

Over 2015, these companies hope to add 400 new jobs—a 15% increase. Some companies have projected their growth rates to be 8 to 10 times higher than the state’s overall economic growth rate.

From a real estate perspective, the most eye opening quote in the report described the reason why the industry may be booming. After reading the quote, it is easy to see a parallel in what is attracting both workers and new homebuyers to town.

"HTBA members find that Montana’s quality of life its lifestyle, the work life balance available here, the recreation opportunities, and the beauty of the landscape provides them a significant advantage in business."

The same qualities mentioned above are often top attractors in real estate as well. Usually, the same qualities of an area are attracting new workers and new homeowners.

Reports released earlier this year by the University of Montana and Headwaters Economics, has shown that growth in industries like the high tech industry, have put Gallatin County as the state’s leader in economic growth. The Headwaters Report suggested that the area’s growth had a lot to do with the nearby activities and public land. Bozeman has a deep culture, with arts and events readily available. It is also a very easy town to live in and its easy to commute to outdoor destinations. And, as most of the high tech companies have found homes in either Bozeman or Missoula, it seems clear that the surrounding valleys, parks and activities do a lot to attract out of state people to Montana.

The City of Bozeman has targeted the tech industry as a crucial aspect of their economic development plan. The report was produced using a survey of 78 of the 143 members of the HTBA.




Bozeman Public Library Goes Mobile

by Tim Hart

The Bozeman Public Library looked to expand its services by going mobile. In our modern world, going mobile usually means a new app or mobile website—but not this time. No, the library is actually going mobile by creating a vehicle to take books to local Bozeman residents. The focus of the new mobile library?—to continue improving the quality of life for all local Bozemanites.

Helena, Billings and Missoula all have some form of mobile library so its great to see Bozeman hop on board. As Bozeman has expanded westward and the Gallatin County has seen a sharp rise in its population, the library has continued to try to make books available to all local residents, even as that number has grown. Belgrade’s Library, who just won an award for top small public library, has also adapted with the growing pains of a rising population.

The bookmobile, i.e. the traveling library, would better help reach out to Bozeman residents who cannot necessarily make it to the library themselves. The expansion would be very good for places like retirement communities, which often have a high ratio of consistent readers who may not be able to make it to the library. Some communities only have shuttles that visit the library once a month, so the mobile library will keep books in the hands of the more diligent readers.

The cost of the bookmobile would be approximately $600,000 but the library plans on raising their money through fundraising.




Willson Auditorium 3.5 Million Renovation Completed

by Tim Hart

The 78 year old Willson Auditorium will have some new swagger starting today. One of Bozeman’s biggest performance spaces, the auditorium had been out of commission while a 3.5 million dollar renovation that tackled everything from improved acoustics to a higher ceiling took place over the last 8 to 9 months.

Crews started working on the project in May and are set to finish today, assuming all goes to plan. Once the auditorium has gone through the necessary safety checks, there will be a performance in it on Friday.

Bozeman, which was just recently honored for being the 6th most artistically and culturally vibrant small city in the United States, has not been afraid to put the money where its mouth is, so to speak, in regards to local art. 2.5 million dollars of the total 3.5 million came from the Bozeman Schools Foundation—a local non-profit. Assuring those kind of funds demonstrates the importance of arts and culture to Bozeman residents. Knowing that the auditorium is one of Bozeman’s biggest performance spaces, local donators clearly felt strong enough about bringing consistent musical and theatrical production back to the auditorium by donating 2.5 million dollars.

The last million was funded by the Bozeman School District as a building repair fund. The local schools often use the auditorium for plays and musical recitals as well.

Improvements included new grey walls, as oppose to the old salmon, a higher ceiling, new lighting, wooden panels for acoustics and a new ventilation system to keep temperatures comfortable. Seats were re-padded and the auditorium was made much more handicap friendly.

It should be a treat to watch a performance in the new, sleek space.





Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 216