Bozeman Montana Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

Listing Advice: Compare/Contrast Your Listing with Others!

by Tim Hart

Selling your home can begin with a shot in the dark as to find just where in the market your listing fits. It does not need to be that way. Sellers can educate themselves prior to finding an agent so that they can enter the market at a price point that is the ideal balance between competitive and reasonable!

Location, location, location. Location matters and places your listing in an extremely unique bracket. Find other listings that have been in your area in order to see what they are selling or were sold at.

Home Type. Single family, duplex, ect… Home style, home material, size, bedroom-to-bathroom ratio, amenities, updates all play a vital role in finding the proper homes to compare your listing to.

Sale Date. The market changes frequently. Don’t choose a listing that sold two years ago to compare yours to. This will skew the overall current market image too much.

AGENTS. Use them! Agents pay attention to everything above as well as countless other trends that they deal with everyday. Insider insights an agent can provide are priceless.

Finding your listing’s perfect price point can be an informed process, but it is also a guess and check situation. Be ready to make adjustments along the way! Ultimately, your listing is unique and the more informed you are about the market, the more efficiently your agent can work with you to navigate the sale of your listing.



Understanding the Debate: Home Ownership v. Renting

by Tim Hart

Home Ownership Matters:

Renting versus buying—this is one of the classic debates today. Truth be told, each has their own advantages depending on the life of the person grappling with the debate. The following are the clear advantages to HOME OWNERSHIP:

AMERICAN JOBS. Home sales generate 2.5 private-sector jobs in an average year. Each sale is known to touch 80 occupations.

US ECONOMY. $60,000 is pushed into the economy for the purchase of furniture, home-improvement projects, and other related items. The housing market accounts for 15% of the GDP. Six out of eight recessions were ended largely due to home buying.

YOUR MONEY. The tax deduction savings that accompany home ownership are off-setting benefit that pushes owning a home beyond renting. Mortgage interest deductions, home equity loans, and many more options exist to assist buying a home.

“Home ownership has a significant impact on net worth, educational achievement, civic participation, health, and overall quality of life. And, home ownership helps create jobs—lots of them—right here at home.
Stay in the know on this debate by subscribing to the HouseLogic newsletter and following us on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up in the “Stay Connected” box at the top of this page.


Longing for the Simple Life

by Tim Hart

Here is a great blog article written by Jeff Spadafora  Director of Coaching and Product Development at the organization HalfTime @ 

 One of the best ways to build capacity in our lives is to simplify our lives.

After several low cost probes and a part-time consulting role with the Halftime organization, I was ready to make the transition from business to full-time ministry. We decided to take a 6-week family summer vacation in France to recharge and reorient our family to this exciting change.

The problem was money. I was staring at a 50% pay cut with my new ministry salary so the typical airfare/hotel/rental car vacation would blow our budget. Necessity being the mother of invention, we decided to try a home exchange and quickly found a French family interested in swapping. We swapped our houses and cars as well. We flew us­ing frequent flier miles. All told, the trip cost us $0 (you read that right). Sure, we had to buy groceries and pay for a few touristy things, but we would have done that back home in Colorado anyway.

You may be saying, “What about your stuff back home? What if something gets damaged or stolen?” We made some provisions to mitigate that risk and felt the $20,000+ savings was worth it.

What really struck me about this experience was that living in a 1200 square foot apartment in downtown Paris and a 1300 square foot farm house with no TV or wi-fi in the south of France was delightful. The small size of the homes moved our family of five physically closer to one another. The result was we talked and laughed and played and dreamed more. Back in Colorado, our much larger house spreads us out so we tend to be isolated unless it’s dinner time. When it comes to square foot­age, I can unequivocally say less is more.

We’ve since travelled virtually free with other home exchanges and the biggest blessings have come from things other than saving money. Staying in a home in a real neighborhood gives us the opportunity to be immersed in the local culture and get to know families in the areas we have visited. Thanks to Facebook, my kids have lifelong friends in countries all around the world that they would not have if we went to hotels and all-inclusive resorts overrun with Americans.

My point is not to be a spokesperson for home exchanges, but to show you one example of how downsizing aspects in our life has always led to great, unexpected blessings. For us, and many Halftimers I know, scaling down has been more like trading up.

What else have we downsized? We got rid of our horses. Michelle and I enjoyed them but our kids didn’t and it created a time-divide in our family. And it’s been a blessing to have two families who have fallen on hard times be able to store things in our barn.  Ask anyone who’s gotten rid of stuff they owned (or were owned by) and they’ll tell you about the freedom they feel.

I am not suggesting nice things are bad. It depends on how you relate to your nice things. Do they promote and enable the important spiritual and relational things you want out of life? Or do they create clutter and busyness, and prevent you from engaging in what you really care about?

The places to look for simplicity don’t stop with homes, vacations, hobbies, and “stuff”. What about your kids’ activities? I know of several families running their children ragged playing 3 sports at time (I’m not exaggerating) for fear that if they don’t show commitment to the team, they won’t get playing time or that college schol­arship. My son made the top baseball team in our town when he was 9. They played 55 games that summer! It nearly destroyed our family being split up every weekend. The next year he played on a team that played 16 games – normal.

How about your car(s)? Is it leased and plummeting in value everyday? Or did you put a down payment on it and now find yourself saddled with steep monthly payments? Many people come to us at Halftime dreaming of a life of significance but their financial obligations are so high, if they take their foot off the money-making pedal the world will come crashing down.

I knew a prominent judge who received a phone call from the President of the United States one day, asking him to consider a Supreme Court Justice nomination. He had to decline because his super-successful law practice had caused him to inch up his lifestyle and debt over the years -- almost impercepti­bly --- and he couldn’t afford to take the most prestigious job in his profession. I asked a friend of mine why he was putting up with the board of directors’ pressure, 14 hour days and the crazy travel. He told me “that’s the price of wealth and wealth equals freedom.” He (and me at one time) had been sold a bill of goods. All of us could be free in the next 5 minutes if we weren’t so attached to status and stuff. My hope for my friend is that he can sell his company before he has a heart attack, gets dumped by his wife or estranges his kids. He estimates he needs just 5 more years. Time will tell.

My encouragement is to not strive for simplicity in your finances and calendar because it’s in vogue or seems spiritual. You’ll end up angry if you do it for reasons like that.

The trick is to truly find joy in slowing down and simplifying your life so that your mind and heart are freed up along with your finances and calendar.

What can simplicity result in?

-       Joy in being released from financial obligations so you can focus on what really matters to you.

-      Joy in deep, extended reflection and communion with God — as opposed to a 20-minute “quiet time” jammed into your day. You can’t get your assignment from God if you don’t carve out the time to listen to Him.

-     Joy in friendships. For many, their whole lives are about work and family (this was and still is a problem for me). Getting reconnected with guy friends has been a huge source of joy for me and many Half­timers I know. I find it takes more effort and intention than it did when I was younger, but its well worth it.

-    Joy in generosity. Over the years, using our second house in the ski country had become a chore. By far, the best part of owning it was blessing others by letting them use it with their families.

-    Joy in being in God’s creation. Taking my dogs for a walk in the woods with my wife after a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm is a treat. Get outside.

If things like this don’t sound appealing, you won’t succeed in simplifying your life. It’s impossible to be moti­vated to attain something that’s not appealing to you. On the other hand, if you get a taste of the peace that comes from things above, you’ll break down walls to get more of it.

Simplicity is more than tactics leading to an organized garage, a less frenzied calendar, or lower debt. It’s about a deep de­sire to create mental, emotional and spiritual room to breathe easy. It’s an emotional detachment from things and results and a reattachment to God and people. One helpful way to think about simplicity is to no longer see it as an all or nothing proposition: Try implementing a few things and see if simplicity has an effect on you as it has had on me. Six years into my second half, I’m no longer riddled with anxiety when some of my hours, and even days, aren’t super-efficient, productive or pragmatic. In fact, I relish them now.



Decrease in Foreclosure Sale Timelines

by Tim Hart

Decrease in Foreclosure Sale Timelines

Foreclosures are speeding up. JPMorgan, Chase, and Wells Fargo trimmed their foreclosure periods by 100 days as 2011 drew to a close. The backlog built-up dam finally broke says a Moody’s Investors Service report. Yet there is a long way to go before the inventories of REO’s are sorted through.

The more efficient foreclosure process boasts stats like:

“Chase averaged 264 days from referral to foreclosure sale in the third quarter for subprime mortgages — a big drop from the 412 days it averaged three months prior to that. Chase boasted the shortest time of any of the big five mortgage servicers. Wells Fargo also greatly reduced its foreclosure timeline to 314 days from 454 days compared to the previous quarter.” 

The delays are still there for mortgage lenders, realtors, and aspiring home owners, but this is improvement.

Source: “Chase, Wells Slash Foreclosure Timelines but REO Lingers,” HousingWire (Jan. 23, 2012)

The E-C-O-N-O-M-Y: How We Should Feel About It

by Chad Schauers

For too long, the state of the economy has been measured with one index or another telling us how we should feel about it.  

The Empire State Manufacturing Index, The Producer Price Index, The retail sales report, Housing Starts, The Beige Book, The Dow and countless others.  Yes, all of these types of reports can help us to face facts and make decisions based on some of those economic conditions, but they can not be the "be all, end all" for any of us.  The effect is similar to stepping on the scale.  When we take the effort to step on the scale to weigh-in regularly: it is much less of a surprise.  We can recognize trends and make adjustments to our lifestyle to achieve an ideal weight.  When we check in on the economy through the numerous reports available, it can be helpful as well.  

Unfortunately, drama sells news so drama is reported.  Too much of what was reported to us for so long generated so much fear that we have been conditioned to flinch with every bit of economic news that is reported.  Some shiny spots this week: The consumer confidence report.  This report is created through interviews of everyone from people on the street, business owners and even examines factory orders and interviews purchasing managers.  It is then assigned a number.  That number is higher now than it has been for a very long time.  Also, the number of foreclosures appears to be slowing down.  Banks will spend several years processing all of the mess of foreclosures hitting the market...but there may just be an end in sight.  In this, the election year: we hope to see the big media machine reporting on shreds of positive news.  Hopefully they do.  

Chad Schauers
Montana Mortgage Lender, Bozeman, Montana

NMLS# 583046


Tim Hart



Rental Program Urged By The Fed

by Tim Hart

The Federal Reserve has called on lawmakers to help with the ailing housing market. The Fed gave lawmakers the task of instilling more aggressive actions to prevent home values from plummeting further. Suggestions within this new surge include an idea that a government program may start renting out single-family homes in foreclosure. An REO rental program by the government-sponsored enterprises may cost mortgage servicers and bond investors; the it is the benefits in the long run that need to be weighed.  

"Some actions that cause greater losses to be sustained by the GSE in the near term might be in the interest of taxpayers to pursue if those actions result in a quicker and more vigorous economic recovery."

Furthermore, renting out some of Fannie Mae’s REO inventory could end in a better loss recovery than selling the property. Purhaps this is the way to create a more stable housing market bubble. 

State of Distressed Properties in 2012

by Tim Hart

State of Distressed Properties in 2012

Predictions are always hard to make and distressed sales are no different. Factors like home values, employment, and consumer confidence will all be determinants of the rising or falling housing market. That is the only thing that is certain.

“Foreclosures aren’t going away right now,” says Andy Firoved, CEO of CounselorDirect, a technology company that specializes in automating processes for various government foreclosure-prevention programs. “We’re going to have a certain level. The question is, how many?”  

These are the predictions made by Firoved:

#1-Government home ownership assistance programs will get more effective.

The goal of helping home owners has hit every road block from job losses to overly bureaucratic processes. In contrast, newer initiatives such as the “Hardest Hit” mortgage assistance programs and the revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), will be able to dig in more due to the plans of better promotions and administration.

“The word is getting out, and people are starting to get assistance,” Fivored says. “These programs are starting to find higher-level efficiencies as well.”

#2-The amount of evictions will stay the same or go down.

Banks are hesitant to push foreclosures and in turn evictions due to the robo-signing issue which still has not been settled. Evictions are labor-intensive, painstakingly tedious legally, and banks just don’t have the resources to evict all their borrowers.  “The problem is that there are a lot of people out there who haven’t paid their mortgage in a while, and they have gotten used to it,” he says. Although “the party’s got to stop at some point,” Fivored is guessing it’ll keep going, for the most part, through 2012.

#3-Banks will get creative with REOs and delinquent home owners.

Special deals are on the horizon. Leasing foreclosed and bank owned home to former owners or allowing foreclosed-on and delinquent borrowers to continue living in homes without making payments for a short term are the type of scenarios on the table because banks want properties to be maintained in order to hold their resale value high.

What are the predictions you see in your area for this year!?

Please share and comment.


How Low Will Mortgage Rates GO?

by Tim Hart

How Low Will Mortgage Rates GO?

This New Year may just be the one that you purchase your new home! If your resolutions are to buy, refinance, or explore your real estate options, the time is ideal. The Federal Reserve has committed to keep long-term interest rates low through next year. For nine weeks straight, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been hovering or at 4%. These are record setting lows.

“Rates are very much at the bottom,” Mr. Nothaft said. But, he added, they may start inching up in the second half of the year. “If you’re planning to refinance, do it sooner rather than later.”

So just how long will these low mortgage rates last? Freddie Mac economists forecast that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will slowly inch up 


to about 4.5% in 2012 and 5.4% by 2013. These rates are still low by historical standards. To demonstrate this, the same 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 16% in the early 80’s.

Many home buyers are not taking advantage of the low rates due to lenders tightening their underwriting standards for loans in reaction to the housing crisis. Buyers who have poor credit, low down payments, or unreliable employment are prevented from securing a loan at today’s low rates.

Let me and my team help you benefit from these low rates while they stay low. Call me at 406.570.5730 or email me for more Bozeman specific information.  

Source: “Low Mortgage Rates Likely to Continue Through 2012, Experts Say,” Los Angeles Times (Jan. 3, 2012)

Highest Impact on the Housing Market in 2011

by Tim Hart

Top Three Issues that impacted the real estate market:

1. The Robo-Signing Scandal

Breaking out in October 2010, the scandal accusing banks of approving numerous foreclosures without proper reviews continued into 2011. Banks were forced to slow their foreclosure processes down, making sure to take extra precautions. 2012 is predicted to bring a quickened pace of the foreclosure process.


2. Natural Disasters

Tornados, floods, and hurricanes brought an increased onslaught of insurance claims and insurance requirements. For home owners living in flood-prone areas, “you can’t get a mortgage if you don’t have flood insurance,” the Time magazine article notes.


3. Conforming Loan Limits

The government lowered the conforming loan limit for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as those covered by the Federal Housing Administration from $729,750 to $625,500 in most areas. In November, being urged by the real estate industry, the government raised the loan limits back up for FHA loans, leaving out the Fannie and Freddie loans.

 Mortgage lenders are willing to charge lower rates for loans that are backed by Fannie or Freddie; with a lower conforming loan limit, a small number of loans that used to qualify for federal backing no longer do.”


Source: “5 Events That Really Mattered for Housing in 2011 -- and Beyond,” Time Magazine (Dec. 29, 2011)

Bozeman: One of the Top Ranked Winter Cities

by Tim Hart

Bozeman is ranked the 3rd best winter city to live in as determined by Anchorage and Fargo lead the list. To be considered a winter city, the average January temperature had to be below freezing. The determinants of BEST included cold-weather dependent activities, affordable housing, and low unemployment rates.

“Bozeman averages more than 90 inches of snow each year, which means there’s plenty of white stuff for snowboarding, snowmobiling, cross-country and Nordic skiing,” the article states. “And when the rest of the country is celebrating the arrival of spring, Bozeman area ski resorts are still packing powder.” lists the average January low in Bozeman at 14 degrees, median home price at $201,869 and an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent.

If you want to become part of this winter wonderland, give me a call at 406.570.5730 and I can help you find your winter wonderland.   

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10