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Bozeman High School Get Highest ACT Scores in State

by Tim Hart

Bozeman High School received the highest average score for Montana’s high schools, scoring a 23.0 Composite score. Based against Montana’s 14 other AA ranked high schools, BHS also improved its own score from 2013 to 2014. Last year, Bozeman High School scored an average of a 22.5 on the ACT. Funny enough, Bozeman’s score last year still would have been high enough to take top honors again this year. The next highest school was Missoula Hellgate, who scored a 22.1 this year.

Bozeman High School may be able to hang its hat on its new test prep system. Before, the ACT had to be paid for and taken outside of school. However, starting last year, Bozeman began administering the exam to Juniors in high school and are given a full school day to take the test. Students who may have chosen not to take the test due cost, time, or interest, now do not have to worry and can at least make the attempt at going on to higher education. Any parent moving to Montana would want to consider the fact that BHS has made higher education accessible to all Bozeman students.

Not to mention… other Gallatin County Schools scored great too!

Three Forks 22.2

Manhattan 22.0

Belgrade 21.4

Willow Creek 20.4

 

Congrats to our next generation of college students!

Mortgage Rates Hit Lowest for 2014

by Tim Hart

After mortgage rates dropped in the U.S. for the second week in a row, borrowing costs hit their lowest rate yet for 2014. This week, the average rate shifted from 4.12% to 4.1% for a 30 year fixed mortgage. Although the percentage shift may be small, when added up over 30 years, even the smallest changes can greatly impact the cost of home ownership. A 30 year rate has not been this low since the end of October last year. 15 year mortgages also saw price reductions, slipping from 3.24% to 3.23% this month. The 30 year rate has been consistently declining since it had hit a two year high of 4.58% last August. Experts foresee the lower rates supporting and fostering home demand. July trends support these expert’s claims, as previously owned homes sold at an annualized rate of 5.15 million this July, up 2.4% from June. The longer the rates stay low, the more activity can be expected in the future of the US housing market.

Source: http://realestate.msn.com/blogs/post--mortgage-rates-hit-new-2014-low

East Wilson School May Become Residential Area

by Tim Hart

 

It looks like Wilson School may see some new life as a residential area. Bridger Builders presented a case to the city to turn the area into 18 single household units. Looks like there will be a parking garage as well for new residents. I will be interested to see whether the city decides to move forward with these plans. The meeting is at 6pm on Monday the 25th.

Source: http://www.kbzk.com/news/future-plans-for-east-willson-school-to-be-presented-to-city/

New Home Construction Rising

by Tim Hart

I read an interesting article today on new construction for July. More and more people are putting their faith in the housing market. Here’s what I took out of it.

 

New home construction continued to rise in July which should continue to boost the economy in the coming months. Housing start ups climbed 16% last month to an annual rate of 1.093 million units, showing a renewed faith in the housing market. July levels hit the highest level of construction since November. Construction on new apartments has seen the greatest increase in the US. Total home construction rose 22% all the way up through July, and building permit applications.

 

http://realestate.msn.com/blogs/post--us-housing-starts-up-sharply-in-july

The Bozeman City Commission will vote on Monday night on whether to approve new changes for city street and tree maintenance fees. If passed, Bozeman homeowners will either have to pay more  or less per year, depending on where they live. The City Commission proposed a 6.39% increase to the overall maintenance budget, but not everyone will see the increases reflected in their taxes. When the city initially proposed the change, they called for a 10% increase to these taxes in order to bring in the necessary revenue. However, after implementing a new system and formula for gathering these fees, the city was able to lower the proposed increase to 6.39% while still bringing in the same revenue as before. The new formula will provide a more than $315,000 increase for street maintenance while adding $9,700 dollars to the tree maintenance budget. Some Bozeman property owners will see their bills be less than before. Fifteen percent of property owners in the City of Bozeman will see their fees increase.

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

Residential building permits and rising utility connections continue to suggest rapid growth in Bozeman. From 2008 until 2013, Bozeman dealt with around 200 residential building permits per year. In 2014, the City of Bozeman Department of Community Development expects more than 1,000 permits to be given. Other than last year, the last time residential building permits reached more than 1,000 permitted buildings in a year was 2005.

Bozeman is also beating other Montana cities for new electric and gas connections. As of early June, Bozeman had 375 new electronic connections and 175 new gas connections. Billings paled in comparison, despite having the second highest number of new electronic connections with 100. To put the growth in perspective, compared to a high growth year in 2013, Bozeman has still doubled its average new electric connections per year in 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.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 106

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