Bozeman Montana Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19

MSU May Build Parking Garage

by Tim Hart

In lieu of the new 50 million dollar College of Engineering building moving into the Montana State neighborhoo, MSU may need to find more parking spaces. MSU has decided to put the new engineering building across from the Student Union Building, but currently, that space contains 400 parking spaces. Planners want to replace the lost 400 spaces with an additional 600, but the location has yet to be determined. MSU wants the new engineering building to become the pseudo-center of campus life, but in order to do that, MSU will have to play musical chairs with their parking areas.

Builders and planners have laid out a few plans, all with benefits and drawbacks. One of the ideas garnering more steam would be to build a parking garage. The parking garage would be 600 spaces and 3 to 4 stories high. The cost of the garage would be 12 million dollars and would cost $20,000 per space. The parking garage would add Streamline and Skyline bus stops as well as a bike storage and repair center to better become the transportation center of campus.

Another idea that has been suggested is to just build a 600 person standard lot. A standard lot would be much cheaper ($2,500 a lot) but would also have to be located much farther away. Currently, planners have considered putting the spaces out by the MSU Football Stadium.

More than likely, money will be raised by raising the prices of parking permits and day parking. No official decision has been made in regard to either plan.

MSU continues look forward and continues to improve its existing campus while adding new methods to continue improving. MSU’s current positive momentum can be attributed to their forward thinking. MSU has recently seen a myriad of new records, awards and programs that validate their hard work and planning.



Previously Owned Home Sales Rise in October

by Tim Hart

Recent numbers compiled by the National Association of Realtors have shown a rise in previously owned home sales for the month of October. Sales of these homes rose 1.5% to an annual rate of 5.26 million dollars. October was the second straight month where the annual rate trended up and its upward pace has not been this fast since September 2013.

The combination of improving inventory, stable price growth and low interest rates continue to make buying pre-owned homes easier. The average interest rate for the full month of October fell to 4.03%, the lowest it has been since June 2013. The average had also fallen from September, where the average rate had been 4.16%.

As the market has recovered, the frenetic pace in some real estate markets has slowed in rate. With more relaxed and longer term buyers coming to the market, properties have been staying on the market longer. October averaged 63 days compared to 56 in September. Yet, one third of homes sold in October were on the market for less than a month, showing that the market is still moving quickly in a lot of cases.


BHS Honored for High AP Exam Scores

by Tim Hart

Bozeman High School has been honored as one of 547 school districts in both the US and Canada for student performance in Advanced Placement Exams. Advanced Placement (AP) courses are college level courses, given to high achieving high school students. The courses use college-level textbooks and have national exams that if students pass, can sometimes offer college credit. The students at Bozeman High School performed so well in these national exams, they were honored this week for their performance.

The Bozeman High School District was the only school district to win in the state of Montana. Bozeman’s pass rate was 86.3% in 2013. To be honored, schools had to have 70% of their class pass. In order to pass, students need to earn a score of 3 or higher (out of 5).

Since 2012, BHS has increased the number of students taking AP classes. From 2013 to 2014, the number has jumped from 872 tests taken, to over 1,000. Currently BHS offers 17 AP classes and the school holds a lot of pride around the availability of these classes to all its students. Many schools limit AP classes to only their best and brightest. In most cases, they don’t allow other students into these classes, in order to win awards like the one mentioned today. Bozeman, however, allows all students, no matter their grades in normal classes, to enroll in AP classes. And yet the school continues to perform alongside schools that only allow their smartest students to attempt Advanced Placement courses.

The Bozeman School District should be applauded for its continued efforts to improve the education and lives of its students. Per usual, the school leans towards the inclusion of all in any of their educational programs. High student performance, great new programs, and continued work to improve the school system should continue to attract new families to Bozeman.


Shoppers Buying Hardwood Floors and Appliances Online

by Tim Hart

Homeowners have moved online when it comes to major home improvement purchases. Retailers throughout the US have noticed a definitive jump in sales for online sales of appliances, flooring, and other home improvement items. The Home Depot saw a 40% jump in the 3rd quarter online sales, with a high amount of those sales including major purchases. The Home Depot had already seen its online sales grow 50% in the year before. Customers have ordered everthing from washer/dryers to complete flooring jobs for their homes.

Appliance and home improvement products have outpaced the industry average in all four quarters. In quarter 3, the growth rate of home improvement products was 17%, compared to the 11% seen in the overall retail industry. Online furniture sales have also increased and they are expected to rise 15.2% over the next year.

Why consumers have made the switch to online home product shopping may lie in its ease of use. Many major stores like Home Depot offer free delivery and take away services for their appliances. Yet, for flooring work, apparently customers do not feel obligated to touch, feel and see the wood before its installed. A lot of homeowners may be avoiding the sales atmosphere of a normal store by educating themselves on the products in a safer, obligation free environment. Either way, stores have needed to adapt quickly to the changing environment. Home Depot has added increased storage in over 550 stores, to deal with their increased online orders.


Bozeman public schools will once again be on the forefronts of national studies, as they have once again been selected to take part national research. Bozeman has already been selected for a highly competitive mental health program/study this year. Great news reached the district, when they found out that once again they had been selected for a prestigious program.

This study will take 72 Bozeman teachers through an intensive program to improve math teaching. The study is being led by researches at Montana State University, George Mason University, and Harvey Mudd College. The survey has been funded by the National Science Foundation, who offered a grant of 1.3 million dollars.

The project will study 3 public school districts—Bozeman, Fairfax County, and Pomona California. The project will take three years and will focus on teachers’ uses of mathematical modeling and how it affects student performance. Preliminary research has shown that students who work with real world problems feel less anxious about math and will be more likely to view the subject as useful and relevant. The universities hope to see improvement in around 4,000 students between the three districts.

Once again, the Bozeman School District has been selected for a high level educational study. The national radar continues to hover and focus on Bozeman for its outstanding academics, particularly as a public system. Winning such studies will only help make Bozeman faculty all the better at offering Bozeman children the highest quality education possible. Any parent looking at Bozeman should consider the positive momentum that the school district has built and how that may propel Bozeman as an educational haven in the future.




HOA’s in Big Sky Upgrading to Bear-Resistant Trash Cans

by Tim Hart

Three homeowner associations in Big Sky, the Big Sky Owner’s Association, Spanish Peaks Homeowners’ Association and Town Center Homeowners’ Association, will be making the switch to bear resistant trash cans to help improve the number of bears accidentally straying into Big Sky. Trash tends to be the number one attractor of bears, so Republic Services have tried to fix the issue by releasing their new Kodiac Bear Resistant Trash Cans. (Don’t worry! The trash can is just named Kodiac. It is not specific only to Kodiac bears!) Republic services will go through Big Sky and replace the standard blue bins with the new, black, bear resistant bins (again don't worry! They are the color black and can defend off other species of bears as well). The associations who have made the change will see a $6.40 price increase per month for the new cans.

In general, if a bear discovers a food source to be had, it will take advantage. However, if a bear becomes too reliant on city food sources, it can become too bold. Last year, 12 bears were removed from the greater Big Sky area. Nine were black bears that were relocated by the city, two were roadkill and one was poached.

Republic Services hope their new trash cans will help keep bears away from the city, off roads and out of harm’s way. Residents can also feel safer and more comfortable knowing bears will be less likely to make an unexpected house call. Many residents can probably rest easier knowing their trash can will now also be out of harm’s way and that they won’t wake in the morning to find a mess outside their home.

The bear story in Big Sky sheds a lot of light on HOAs and the type of residential concerns they address. Anyone looking to purchase real estate in the Bozeman or Big Sky area should make sure that their HOA’s values and goals match their own values and goals. HOAs can enact positive changes very quickly throughout a neighborhood, as seen in how these three HOAs addressed the growing bear issue However, residents should make sure they know the general perspective of their HOA so such decisions do not take them by surprise.



City of Bozeman Helps Businesses Save Money and Energy

by Tim Hart

The city of Bozeman will help businesses keep the cold out and the warm in while trying to save everyone a dollar along the way. The City of Bozeman Energy Project is a new program designed to help businesses lower their utility costs. The project offers businesses a free energy audit from Northwestern Energy. During the audit, NW Energy goes over the energy issues currently present in the business but they also offer strategies to bring down energy use. If the city’s businesses reduced their energy output by 10%, it would cumulatively save $2.6 million a year.

It’s great to see Bozeman focus on reducing its carbon footprint and creating a more efficient city. But it doesn’t stop there folks! Why stop at commercial buildings when we could apply these practices to residential real estate as well? Although it will not be free, performing an energy audit on your home can also help you create a more efficient household. Is heating the hot tub affordable in the winter? Are you insulating your home sufficiently? An energy audit can help answer those questions and help save you money on your utility bill.

The City of Bozeman Energy Project has already found that many businesses have outdated lighting. Lighting retrofits can save a lot of energy and adding new efficient bulbs can really add up over time. These rules also apply to the home. Make sure to walk through your home and see if you are missing any easy energy/money savers.



Bozeman Deaconess Hospital has started a 15 million dollar addition that will better address the needs of Bozeman residents while also preparing the next generation of doctors for the area.

The hospital broke ground two weeks ago and it plans on the building being 5 stories high and 88,508 square feet. The basic shell of the building should be ready by December of 2015 and then its interior should finish within the following six months. The hospital may not have to fit the entire bill assuming MSU can approve the leasing of a portion of the building for its growing medical programs.

Montana State University is awaiting approval to lease space in the new addition for its growing WWAMI doctor-training program. Currently, they are awaiting approval from the Board of Regents to make sure they have adequate funds to lease the space.

MSU’s WWAMI program gives prospective medical students a chance to live and breath the medical world from a variety of perspectives. In their first year, MSU students would study at the school, they would attend the University of Washington in their second year, and then go to clinical training sites for their 3rd and 4th years. MSU hopes that Bozeman Deaconess can become one of these clinical training sites in the future. The University of Washington has given their approval for Bozeman Deaconess to become a clinical training site.

Leasing space from Bozeman Deaconess will help better involve practicing doctors in the training of medical students. 1 out of 7 doctors can thank the WWAMI program for allowing them to practice in the state of Montana and surely would be willing to pay the help forward to future doctors. MSU would lease the 12,000 square feet of space for $16 a foot, or $192,000 a year.

MSU continues to build its academic reputation in a variety of different subjects while growing its student population. MSU's effect on Bozeman real estate shouldn't be underestimated. Renters and investors continue to see the effects of MSU. As the medical school in MSU grows, so will MSU’s reputation. MSU will hope to continue to attract the nation’s best and brightest with their continued academic focus. Having more doctors coming to Bozeman can only be good news and should continue to attract out of towners looking to move, while calming their concerns for medical care in a rural area like Montana.



Belgrade Raising Standards for City Streets

by Tim Hart

The Belgrade City Council voted on and approved a resolution to raise the benchmark for city streets, improving the function of future roads in a growing town. After approving a road improvement plan this summer, today's approved resolution will keep quality high in the future. From now on, any newly constructed or reconstructed roads will need more designations for pedestrians and bikers, while also adding more curbs, gutters and sidewalks. Any minor construction, such as chip sealing, will not need to meet the new requirements.

The official resolution does not designate specific numbers that need to be met i.e. number of gutters per block, but instead states that the necessary features need to be addressed by the city before approval. The city will review building proposals on a project by project basis to best determine the proper amenities construction teams would need to add. The city needs to find the best type of road, given each unique situation and the resolution helps them make the right road the first time.

For those living in Belgrade, the resolution makes sure that their tax dollars are not being wasted on roads that need to be widened, fixed, improved etc. just a few years down the line.



Million Dollar Home Sales Increasing

by Tim Hart

Over the 2014 year in the United States, the number of 1 million dollar plus home sales rose by 8 percent. Million dollar and up homes have seen a much faster recovery than any other price point. In fact, sales for million dollar and up homes are now almost comparable to prices seen during the housing peak in 2007.

Housing analysts believe one reason why the surge has occurred has been the increase in jumbo loans being given to high priced buyers. A jumbo loan is a loan that exceeds $417,000, or in very high priced areas, $625,000. Total dollar volume for jumbo lending has grown to 20% of the total of all home loans. Jumbo loaning hasn’t been this popular since 2002.

In general, most of these million dollar homes are often sold in very small geographical areas. In many cases, the location actually creates the million dollar home. For example, the coast of Washington state has many million dollar plus homes, but it is on the waterfront, in the heart of Seattle, where even the most humble of homes can rise above a million. Big Sky, in a way, follows a similar pattern but is not at such high volumes.

Rising sales and rising prices at any price level is good news. Hopefully, the rise in million dollar home sales is a preview for what may be coming at lower price points.




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19