Bozeman Montana Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 17

Bozeman Growth and City Streets

by Tim Hart

Bozeman has been growing and the local city streets may need some time to catch up. Bozeman’s population now sits at 39,860 people, up from 31,545 in 2003. Since 1996, Bozeman has added 12,000 new residents who now call the Gallatin Valley home. As Bozeman’s population has grown, the number of cars using its roads has also increased. Recently, the City of Bozeman has turned its focus towards fixing and maintaining streets in light of its recent growth.

Since 1996, Bozeman’s planning department has issued 9,300 completed building permits. Nearly two-thirds of these permits were residential and commercial construction. When a developer breaks ground for a new subdivision, the city often requests they address their impact on the rest of Bozeman’s infrastructure through impact fees. Currently, the city has about $10 million pooled from impact fees, but taxes and other assessments will be needed to fully maintain Bozeman’s streets.

So far, it is believed that $2 Million dollars extra will be needed yearly to stay up with chip sealing and repaving. According to Public Works Director Craig Woolard, every dollar spent in preventative maintenance is equal to $6 to $10 in costs that would be needed to repair a deteriorated road. Raising taxes would help bring in the needed money to avoid deterring projects until it is too late for minor work.

The City Commissioners are considering a 12.2% increase to the existing street maintenance fees. For the average city resident, this would increase taxes by $37.86 a year. That number represents 1/5 of the total tax hike, showing Bozeman’s increased focus on city streets. Bozeman may also create a new assessment on arterial streets that could bring in $575,000+ dollars in additional revenue.

As Bozeman has grown, it has gone through both pains and gains. Keeping ahead on street maintenance will help keep Bozeman a beautiful, convenient place to call home. Taking care of the bumps and bruises while they are small will keep them from becoming something more pervasive in the future. Taking care of small pains, will help the city make big gains as it continues to grow.




Bozeman Tourism High and Growing

by Tim Hart

Tourists and visitors looking to visit the greater Bozeman area continue to come in larger numbers. Hotels, vacation rentals and traditional bed and breakfasts have all seen marked growth in their bookings for the 2015 summer.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, most rooms in Bozeman will be full every weekend through June, July and August assuming they haven’t been filled already. Some hotels are even booking into next year. Even with the new hotels moving in downtown, hotels are still seeing low vacancies.

Visitation statewide is expected to be up 2 percent this year. Last year, Bozeman had 40% of the 11 million visitors who visited Montana in 2014, so local Bozemanites should notice the tourism growth.

Bozeman has always attracted a large portion of out of state residents due to its proximity to public lands, Yellowstone and great local skiing. Last year, Yellowstone saw a large uptick in visitors during its high season and Big Sky saw above average tourism last year. Bozeman proper, meanwhile, was highlighted as a top 25 ski destination in the world. According to the University of Montana’s Institute on Tourism and Recreation Research, nearly 665 million non-resident dollars were taken in between 2012 and 2013 and Bozeman certainly has seen a good portion of these funds.

Many visitors to Bozeman have been looking for alternatives when taking vacation. Annual occupancy rates have gone up yearly since 2009 (42.5%) to now (51%). As less homes have less tenants and less vacation based tenants, with more owners taking up available real estate to visitors, many tourists have turned to AirBnB and other accommodation services to find a room. Air BnB for example, is an online community where owner occupied homes rent out space to tenants for short durations, much like how a bed and breakfast would function. Now, there are over 800 listings from Air BnB in Montana.

Investment opportunities may be available to homeowners looking for additional income streams. As more tourists need space in Bozeman, more opportunities will open up for locals. Bozeman’s high tourism provides a great base of people visiting the area while bringing in money to its residents. Bozeman’s location sells more than vacations though, and the town’s growth shows how sought after the Gallatin Valley has become.




Gallatin Health Department Performs High Nationally

by Tim Hart

The Public Health Accreditation Board highlighted the Gallatin City-County Health Department as one of the highest performing health departments in the United States. The department serves the greater Bozeman and Gallatin Valley area and it was only one of 75 departments to receive the accreditation.

The Gallatin City-County Health department stood out for providing accessibility to medical services for its residents and for coordinating between departments and services. The department also ran seminars for local health providers, working to boost awareness for any social services available to the public and to non-profits.

Having a high-level Health Department helps make all medical services in Bozeman and the Gallatin County better, faster and more reliable. An accreditation such as this one come from many years of consistent, good work from the Health Department. Recently, both Bozeman and Livingston (Park County) have made major additions to their medical facilities. Coupled with the Gallatin County being honored by the University of Wisconsin as the healthiest county in the state, the Gallatin County is shaping up to be a very healthy home.



Homebuilders and Homebuyers Going Green

by Tim Hart

Homebuilders have been incorporating sustainable features and getting more green certifications to respond to a growing buyer demand for green homes. Having a ‘green home’ can be beneficial for lowering utility costs, raising its resale value, and of course easing a buyer’s environmental conscience. As buyer demand has increased, builders have been doing more and more to sell green.

Recent data is based on analysis of the builder 100 list which ranks only the top builders in the country (but for some odd reason is greater than 100).  Of the builders who responded, 110 builders reported they met green standards in 2012, whereas 149 reported they met green standards in 2014. Now that number is small, but again, these are builders turning out high numbers of homes for high profit margins.

A 2014 article also saw a similar trend. According to a Smart Market Report, 34% of builders said they expected to have 60% of their projects to be green certified by 2018. Multi-family builders expecting 90% of their homes to be green certified is thought to triple from 2014 to 2018 (6% to 18%).

Builders have said that buyers are more and more willing to pay extra for green features. In 2013, 79% of remodelers and builders said homebuyers are willing to by anywhere from 3 to 5% more for a green home.

Energy costs, green-product availability and a continuing shift by many towards environmental sustainability have lead to the increased demand. Locally and nationally, homeowners have been looking for alternatives to their high utility costs. For buyers, sellers and investors, going green may provide energy savings while also keeping up with modern trends—helping raise the total value of their property.




Pet Friendly Bozeman Adds New 20+ Acre Dog Park

by Tim Hart

The Gallatin County and Run Dog Run, a local non-profit, will be creating a new off-leash dog park that organizers are calling the best dog park in Montana. The new park will be in Gallatin Regional Park and will be 23 acres in total. The first phase, which is on track to be completed by September 2015, will be 13 acres in size.

According to those working on the project, the new park will be a thick slice of doggy heaven. The park will include ponds, docks for diving and playing fetch, berms, shaded areas and hills. The whole park will be fully fenced, allowing dog owners to take their dogs off leash without worry about nearby traffic etc.

With dog-related improvements throughout Bozeman over the past year, the city and county have really made a true effort to turn Bozeman into doggy paradise. Run Dog Run has helped start 4 off leash dog parks in Bozeman, including the recent 2-acre off-leash park at Rocky Creek Farm. The Gallatin Valley Land Trust also worked on improving and expanding Snowfill, the off-leash dog park north of town.

With the west side of Bozeman still experiencing rapid growth, all Bozeman dog owners as well as dog owners looking to move to Bozeman will be relieved and pleased to hear that the city has provided multiple places across town for dog owners to exercise their pets. Having a pet, for many, is a staple within any household. Having a town and neighborhood that are dog friendly can do a lot for a homebuyer choosing one city or neighborhood over another. For buyers and sellers alike, having solid park infrastructure with pet friendly areas can be a major asset when it comes time to list a property for sale.




All Cash Home Sales Trending Down

by Tim Hart

All Cash transactions on existing home sales accounted for 24% of sales in March. That number fell by 33% in comparison to March 2014 numbers. In general, smaller amounts of all cash deals suggest that investors are not as active and that the slack has been picked up by long-term homeowners.

The drop in all cash sales relates to the drop in investor activity. As distressed properties for sale have decreased and home prices have gone up, investors have been seeing thinner profit margins of late. Distressed sales took a 10% share of home sales in March, which was down from 14% in 2014. As an investor, it’s harder to get a screaming home deal when sellers are not backed into a financial corner and forced to sell.

Seventy percent of investor purchases in March were made in all cash.

Having lower all cash sales suggests that distressed property sales may also be going down. Sellers have seen improvement in their financial standing since 2008, but particularly of late. Most sellers’ finances now afford them the ability to sell their home when they want to, not when they have to—creating a more balanced housing market with less crazy deals.

Even as cash deals have gone down, the housing market continues to improve, suggesting that the market’s recovery is due in large part to increased activity among long term homebuyers. More people have been willing to get financing on a home, particularly with current low mortgage rates. Cash sales may be decreasing but their smaller market share may also be from traditional financed sales grabbing a larger share of the market in 2015.




Job Growth Bounces Back in April

by Tim Hart

The US continued to add jobs in April—great news for the economy overall as well as the housing industry specifically. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported payroll employment expanded by 223,000 in April.

After a stagnant March, when only 85,000 jobs were added over the month, experts were worried that job growth had slowed. However, 266,000 jobs were also added in February 2015, suggesting that March may just have been a small blip on the job growth radar.

The unemployment rate fell from 5.5% in March down to 5.4% in April. In total, about 26,000 unemployed Americans found work in April.

The Federal Reserve will still need to see more evidence of an economic recovery before they move forward with raising interest rates—something they have expressed interest in doing sometime in Summer of 2015. Once the Fed raises interest rates, mortgage rates will have to follow suit.

For homebuyers, having low interest rates will generally make more people eligible to purchase a home. However, a full economic recovery will do so much more to in terms of providing financial wiggle room to Americans. Yes, homebuyers may pay higher interest rates in a strong economy, but their proportional inflow to outflow ratio of money will be far more favorable when they are being paid well and consistently. Job growth and low unemployment numbers are always good news for housing. With that being said, for anyone who can afford to buy a home and also has financial security, it will be hard to ever find interest rates so low in the future.




New Construction Too Expensive?

by Tim Hart

According to a new analysis by economist Tom Lawler, new construction homes are far more expensive than they should be. Lawler compared prices for new construction in 2015 compared to new construction costs in 1970. Right now, new construction costs double what they sold for in 1970 and here’s the bad news—inflation is included.

Right now, new construction sells for an average of $343,000. Lawler believes home price growth should have only risen by 23 percent since 1970 to now. According to his line of thinking, current new homes on the market should be selling for around $199,000.

What is causing the rise in new construction costs? Homes themselves are getting bigger. Half of homes built last year had more than 2,415 square feet of space. In 1970 that median point fell at 1,560 square feet. The difference? About 55 percent. As homes have gotten bigger, their prices have gone up (duh!) but size may not fully explain the rising prices.

Over this same stretch of time, builders have trended downwards in the number of homes they are building. For most builders, building fewer, bigger homes can lead to higher profit margins and assuming there are people with the money to buy such a home, there would be no reason not to build bigger. Of course, when they build less homes, there will be less inventory on the market, raising prices on the new construction that is available.





After receiving awards for the highest ACT scores in the state and having some of the highest AP exam scores in the nation, Bozeman High School students book ended their school year with another award.

The students who run, create and design the high school student newspaper, Hawk Talk, won the Pacesetter award for best high school student newspaper in the state. In addition to the overall award, individual writers were also honored for their hard work. 8 other awards were presented to these high school journalists including 4 first place finishes in enterprise reporting, opinion, news and feature writing. Another student took 2nd place for a sports feature.

Bozeman students and administrators alike have been receiving a multitude of awards and grants this year—a great reward for their hard work. Bozeman Schools continue to see their enrollment increase and having a top high school in the district does a lot to attract new families to Bozeman. Montana State University and the primary and secondary schools in town continue to be one of the main attractors for out of town and state homebuyers.




Potential New Development off Manley Road?

by Tim Hart

Tonight, Bozeman City Commissioners will decide whether re-zoning a piece of land out in the Manley Road area for residential use is feasible and makes sense for the city moving forward. If they decide yes, the owner of the land will move forward developing the area.

The 6.5 acre piece of land in question has had some zoning confusion to say the least—a very boring sounding topic that somehow can end up quite fascinating. Currently, the city has that land designated for future use as parkland. However, the County has the land designated for light industrial use (pretty mutually exclusive from parkland). The best part, neither have actually incorporated the land at all. The city would need to annex the land to develop it and moving to a residential designation would allow them to do so.

The piece of land is surrounded on 3 sides by city limits and access to the nearby recreation area and pond is protected by a permanent easement.

Now, if the situation didn’t sound complicated enough, this very same piece of land used to be used as a dumpsite from 1962 to 1970. Coupled with the poor recent history with dumpsites, what may have been a hard decision for the City of Bozeman got a lot harder. Environmental concerns will be a major factor on whether the new development is approved.

For this specific scenario, we can only hope the city makes a decision that will bring the highest benefit to its residents in the long run and that recent concerns, whether its the dump or current home inventory, will not affect the decision, no matter which way they ultimately decide to go.

From a real estate perspective, this story is a great reminder why its so important to cross every i and dot every t when performing due diligence on any information surrounding a property. How is it zoned? Are there any easements? How was the land used in the past? Some pieces of land (and sometimes homes too!) have had long, deep histories where others may have little to none. With as much land as there is Montana, we get the best of both untouched land and land with deep history.  Make sure you are buying what you want and that you have a realtor who can make sure you are buying a good product.



Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 17