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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.

 

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/education/showtime-willson-auditorium-set-to-reopen/article_a35ba981-b6c4-5f47-872f-4b12d7bb33b3.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_801085&utm_campaign=blox

 

Bozeman Building Still Booming

by Tim Hart

According to the Department of Community Development’s Annual Report, Bozeman has seen a huge spike in building permits over the past two years.

639 single-family resident permits were filed in Bozeman in the last two years. That number is more than 2008 to 2011 combined. 40 duplex permits were filed in 2014. 44 were filed from 2009 to 2013. 27 triplex permits were filed in 2014. 18 were filed from 2008 to 2013.

The report has shown most of the growth on the western end of town but growth is also present to the south as well. Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, among their other construction projects, may soon be developing the open space acreage around them. Preliminary plans include 300 homes with park and wetland additions.

When seeing numbers like this, its hard to say Bozeman is not doing enough to keep up with their lack of home inventory. As both home prices and rental prices have gone up and vacancies for both have gone down, its clear the builders are working as hard as ever to get people into homes in Bozeman. Whether they will be able to keep up with Bozeman’s growing reputation and tourism numbers is to be seen.

 

Source: http://www.kbzk.com/story/28186330/bozeman-building-boom-spreads-in-all-directions

http://www.bozeman.net/Smarty/files/dd/dd78ab4b-2733-4d86-af27-5a5ce25a2f10.pdf

 

 

Bill Covers Montana School Inflation Costs

by Tim Hart

A 54 million dollar bill to cover the costs of inflation for Montana public schools passed through the legislature this past week. The bill keeps the funding for Montana public schools at the same level as previous years, by adjusting for inflation. The state will increase education funds by 2.3% and 1.8% over the next two years.

By passing the bill, the legislature has relieved many school officials from the stress of budgeting their next school year without knowing exactly how much funds they will receive.

For Bozeman Public Schools specifically, school officials have worked hard to achieve additional funding through grants and other programs, including their recent 3.3 million dollar award to fund new mental health programs in schools and their 1.3 million grant to improve student performance in mathematics. However, these people still need help from the state to maintain these programs and maintain the quality of their education overall.

As Bozeman has expanded, the local schools have hit new enrollment records, making it even more important to maintain funding and stay up with inflating costs. If the Bozeman School District wants to expand one of its middle schools and bring in new public preschool programs, proper funding will be a necessity.

Bozeman’s hard work to receive and deserve the funding from the Montana Legislature, along with its efforts to achieve additional grants has helped contribute to a 4% graduation rate improvement, the highest ACT scores in the state, and some of the highest AP exam scores in the nation.

Of course, all local, public schools in the area will see the benefits of the bill's passing. Gallatin County schools still remain top class institutions and will continue attracting new families to the area.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/education/montana-school-inflation-bill-passes-in-record-time/article_5a440b5c-3cad-5169-8cd5-1aa887ac153f.html

 

United States Home Sales Down 4.9% in January

by Tim Hart

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing home sales fell 4.9% in January. Sales have not been so low since April of last year.

The United States has added 1 million new jobs over the past 3 months, but the improvement in wages and labor has not had the impact on the housing market for which experts had hoped. Low mortgage rates and job growth were expected to draw buyers back to the home market.

Now, experts are wondering if a spring sale rush will be had or whether United States real estate may be in for a slow 2015. Currently, home inventory is low in the nation, holding at a 4.7 month supply (home inventory is measured in how long the current homes on the market would be expected to last – i.e. 4.7 months). According to experts, a balanced market will have around a 6 month supply of homes.

Limited supply inevitably leads to higher priced homes. Over the past year, home prices in the United States have risen by 6.2 percent. Oftentimes, buyers will try to hold out when supply is low, in the hopes that better options will soon be appearing on the market.  Mortgage applications fell 13.2% in January, despite the low interest rates attempts to entice these buyers. Unfortunately, when there is a smaller buyer base, builders are less willing to improve home inventory numbers without the guarantee of finding a buyer, keeping prices high. 

The Gallatin Valley has been a micro chasm for these national trends, though the valley’s real estate market is definitely healthier than many US markets and improving quickly. Through the one third way mark of Quarter 1, Gallatin Valley home sales are projected to come in 38 home sales below last year’s first quarter total. However, average sales price has risen by $29,487 dollars since 2014—a large number indeed.

As supply has been limited of late in the area, it is no surprise to see the Gallatin Valley following similar national patterns. Gallatin Valley has struggled with home inventory, but it has struggled due to the area's increasing popularity (as oppose to a lack of buyer demand slowing production). However, construction in the area appears to be growing and healthy while the city has addressed expanding home inventory in both its rental and sales real estate markets. Both should improve the overall availability of homes in Gallatin County and continue the area’s higher paced recovery rate compared to the state and the nation.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/ap_news/business/us-home-sales-plunge-percent-in-january/article_2754146c-31c6-5b37-bc88-1c9e4d172006.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_802944&utm_campaign=blox

 

https://gallatinrealtors.com/uploads/statistics/1_15_Market_Stats_Gallatin_County_Residential.pdf

 

Bozeman Improves Safety with Recent Projects

by Tim Hart

Two recent projects taking place in Bozeman have highlighted the city’s recent efforts to better address the health and safety of its residents.

The Bozeman Police Foundation has spent nearly $6,000 to improve safety around Bozeman. One of the projects added flashing beacons to several crosswalks around Sacajawea Middle School and Whittier Elementary School. The new beacons should help drivers see and react to children crossing the street better than ever before.

Crossing guards have always helped children cross the road during times of high traffic, like in the mornings and after school. However, during off hours and  the times in between classes, those crosswalks do not have guards on patrol. Now, with flashing lights, the kids can cross the street safer and cars will be well aware when someone tries to cross the street.

Bozeman has been updating signage in town for the last year or so to better address the needs of its people.

In other news, the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital has seen its 15 million dollar expansion move faster than expected, due to favorable weather. The hospital will be putting in a new 5 story, 80,000 sq. ft building to help the hospital keep up with a growing Gallatin Valley population. The new building will be for offices, but it will help the hospital run smoother while better addressing the health and safety of Bozeman people.

Livingston has also taken on the construction of a new hospital, really showcasing the population growth of Southwest Montana.

 

 

Sources: http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/bozeman-school-crosswalks-get-new-makeover/31202248

http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/construction-on-new-medical-office-at-bozeman-deaconess-underway/31243572

 

Gallatin County Leading All Montana Counties in Economic Growth

by Tim Hart

Gallatin County has lead all Montana counties in economic growth in the past few years, according to a recent economic outlook presentation by the University of Montana. Already one of the fastest growing counties population wise, the county has seen growth in wages, tourism, manufacturing, energy and housing markets, suggesting a solid economic outlook for the county as a whole.

The county posted the highest real wage growth in the state from 2013 to 2014. Growing wages help all economic industries move in a positive direction because people have more ability to extend their checkbook into industries they may not have been a part of before.

For the housing industry, higher wages help push first time homebuyers over the edge into the buy side of the housing market as oppose to the rent side. The housing market in Gallatin County saw growth and has been projected to continue growing. 2014 real estate numbers confirm this growth.

However, the report showed the state may also be struggling with similar housing issues that Gallatin County has seen in the past. The lack of affordable houses and the lack of first time homebuyers in Montana continues to hold back the housing market from its fullest potential. Economists have been baffled by the lack of home purchases being made by the millennial generation throughout the US, though they have predicted a sharp rise in their presence on the housing market soon.

Gallatin County has struggled with a lack of home inventory and high rental prices due to the large influx of MSU students, creating a great situation for those already with homes or investment properties, but leaving little homes available for purchase. But on the positive side, sales have been steady and construction in the area has rebounded since 2008.

Tourism spending in the Gallatin County was nothing short of spectacular. The county made up nearly half of all non-resident dollars in the state, totaling more than 666 million dollars. Those numbers come from 2012 to 2013. Perhaps, Gallatin County's access to public lands has been the driving factor for the high tourism numbers. Yellowstone and the local state parks have both seen rises in attendance since then and a few new hotels have also moved into the area. As more people visit Montana, more of them will also stay in Montana—a positive omen for real estate in the Gallatin County.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/economy/statewide-economic-report-shows-gallatin-out-in-front/article_015fdaf6-c125-5fcb-891b-d99283be09e2.html

 

Home Rent Lower in Areas Surrounding Bozeman

by Tim Hart

I read a great article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle today and I wanted to pass along some interesting numbers regarding rentals in the city limits of Bozeman compared to those outside of it. Long story short—it will be cheaper to rent outside of Bozeman compared to inside it.

The numbers were acquired by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and they explain how they found them below:

 

“The numbers included in this analysis are based on 114 rental advertisements posted to Bozeman Craigslist between Feb. 1 and Feb.16, as well as classified ads placed in the Chronicle’s Sunday edition Feb. 15. Postings advertising individual rooms for rent, as well as most duplicate postings, were excluded.”

 

According to these numbers, the median per bedroom monthly price of a rental unit was $513. For Belgrade, Livingston, Four Corners and Gallatin Gateway, the median bedroom rent was $450. That totals a $756 dollar/year difference in renting in Bozeman compared to out of Bozeman.

For a 3 bedroom unit, the average rent in Bozeman was $1,300 a month compared to 1,200 a month elsewhere. When comparing median home prices between Bozeman and Belgrade, $325,350 and $223,000 respectively, Bozeman actually comes off well in terms of their direct proportion of cost to rent. From an investment perspective, it leads one to believe that higher profit margins may be had in the Belgrade rental market.

But don’t go buying up all the homes in Belgrade quite yet, because here is a great fact that shows how quickly Bozeman rent has climbed in the last years. Only last summer in Bozeman, a 3 bedroom unit cost around $950 a month--$450 less than current rental rates. For six months, that is an exceptional difference. If an investor can find a good deal on a home, the increasing rental rate could really change his/her fortunes.

For renters, however, Bozeman still remains a tough rental market. However, the city continues adding home inventory, making subdivisions and creating affordable housing to address the issue.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/rent-too-high-look-outside-bozeman-city-limits/article_66ac83ed-200a-5cef-b375-2c32a8468050.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_683269&utm_campaign=blox

In a report released by a local research group, Prospera Business Network, Bozeman is barely above the average cost of living of the national average in 2014. According to Prospera Business Network, Bozeman scored a 100.8 index cost of living score—or in other words, they were 0.8% above the average.

The data was drawn from an unweighted average from the first three quarters of 2014 from 281 participating towns and cities. The report took data from six categories—housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. The report also broke down the cost of living by each category—something both home buyers and real estate agents may find more useful.

Housing: Bozeman scored an index score of 113.2, meaning houses cost 13.2% higher than the national average for 2014. This has both positive and negative elements. The negative is obvious—home prices are higher so it will cost a bit more to live in Bozeman than in other places. The positives lie in the implications of having higher prices. First, Bozeman has recovered faster from the housing recession than a majority of US towns. Second, Bozeman is attracting higher paying jobs that bring higher prices than the majority of the US. Third, Bozeman buyer demand has noticeably increased which has driven up home prices, showing just how marketable Bozeman has become. The outdoor aspects of Bozeman, its arts and culture and its reputation as an easy to live in town continue to draw interest from visitors.

The report released some interesting numbers as well. The average home price for a 2,400 square foot home on an 8,000 square foot lot in Bozeman was $353,777. The average monthly rent for a 950 square foot home in Bozeman was $917 a month. Those rent prices sure explain why renting has become so difficult in Bozeman.

Minus groceries and health care, Bozeman scored below the national average.

Transportation: 7.5% below national average

Utilities: 12% below national average

Misc. Goods and Services – 3.9% below national average.

Groceries – 2% above national average.

Health Care – 5.9% above national average.

Compared to some cities in the US, Bozeman is extremely affordable. Bozeman’s score of 100.8 looks pretty good compared to San Francisco, 303.9, and Manhattan, NY 439.5.

Here is a list of other cities in the survey that represented costs of living above and below Bozeman’s cost of living.

2014  Annual Average Cost of Living Index
  Composite Score Grocery Items Housing Utilities Transportation Health Goods & Services
 
City
 
San Francisco, CA 167.5 123.5 303.8 101.5 110.5 119 116.5
Grand Junction, CO 97.4 94.7 101.7 85.1 102.2 104.8 96
Twin Falls, ID 91.8 90.8 79 91.5 110.1 93.2 96.4
Bozeman, MT  100.8 102 113.2 88 92.5  105.9 96.1
Manhattan, NY 222.6 135.2 439.5 136.6 125.3 112.4 150.8
 
Portland, OR 125.1 114.4 160.9 90.8 111.7 114.3 116.2
Pierre, SD 102.3 111.3 113.5 89.9 91 95 97.7
Harlingen, TX 81.4 86.1 69.9 96.4 87.7 97.8 80
 
Cedar City, UT 89 98.7 76.1 86.5 96.6 88.3 94.1
Olympia, WA 101.1 102.7 99.2 83.6 113.5 122.2 100.9

 

 

Source: https://www.prosperabusinessnetwork.org/bozeman-cost-living

 

As Bozeman City Commisioners have discussed their priorities for the 2015 year, infrastructural improvements to the city has been high on the list in light of the city’s and surrounding area's growth. Bozeman has looked into upgrading their storm water utility system and enacted a few small changes already. In addition, the city has turned its focus on city street maintenance due to higher traffic and delayed projects. Both improvements will come with a significant cost, but the cost will prove necessary so long as new residents continue to buy and add new homes to the greater Bozeman area.

Late January, the city placed new separation technology at the City Shops Complex to remove trash and debris from storm water before its runoff flows into the Bozeman Creek. The City will also look to fund around 1.2 million dollars annually to repair failed infrastructure, add treatment systems and maintain and operate the storm water utility system. Such improvements should help Bozeman keep up with its current growth, as more and more people have started looking for homes and real estate in the Bozeman area.

The city also wants to stay up to speed on its road maintenance. Bozeman wants to upgrade older streets that have been deferred in the past and they also want to complete additional major road projects to improve traffic flow in town. Bozeman's public bus system recently topped its 2 millionth rider, showing the increased need for solid transportation infrastructure. Based only on roads that have already been planned, nearly 60 million would be needed to finish these tasks. An additional 20 million would be needed to reconstruct old or out of date streets.

Although such costs hurt upfront, it’s important for any city to maintain solid infrastructure, especially as it grows. Bozeman has even added the internet to its list of infrastructural improvements, in an effort to stay up to date with the changing times. Keeping a town in high quality will continue attracting the people, jobs and money needed to keep Bozeman’s economy thriving.

As new neighborhoods, homes and condos are being built around Bozeman, the city will need streets to serve these people. Although a storm water utility system may not feel like a top priority for a town, if Bozeman underprepared for the elements, it may end up costing them more than if the correct infrastructure had been put in in the first place.

 

Source: http://www.kbzk.com/news/city-upgrades-stormwater-utility-system/

Counties with More Public Lands See Highest Growth in State

by Tim Hart

According to a report released by Headwaters Economics, counties with large amounts of public lands have been seeing higher economic growth than counties without. Luckily, Gallatin County is among the leaders in both public land and a fast growing economy.

Gallatin County had the highest rate of population growth from 2003 to 2012 and it drew more than 18,000 new residents during that time. The Headwaters report pointed to the quality and quantity of public lands as a big reason for the growth.

The report found that nearly two thirds of the growth in per capita personal income came from only 7 counties in Montana. Gallatin County was among them, but the correlation suggests that the public land in and around the county may actually be what is attracting new residents, businesses and money. This past summer, Yellowstone National Park has seen higher summer visitation rates. State Parks also saw a sharp rise in attendance.

Montana industries also took a noteworthy shift from mining, manufacturing and forestry and have shifted towards real estate, technical and professional service jobs. Higher paid and higher paying professionals are coming to the valley in a big way. The growth of real estate shows that people are buying and selling homes at an increased rate. As more people are becoming agents, that only shows how many out of staters have their eye on Montana.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/economy/montana-gallatin-county-reaping-benefit-of-public-lands/article_33796fee-6c0f-580d-b3ae-45d5370464cc.html

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 207