Bozeman Montana Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 32

Allowing MLS to Take the Lead

by Tim Hart

 “The power balance in the real estate world is shifting faster than ever. Travel titans, search engines, investment oracles and government entities all want to change the way we do business. Most just want to control a larger piece of the pie.” (Source)


In the everyday functioning of a real estate office, attracting and retaining agents is a top priority. Real estate, although a volatilemarket, is a rather stable numbers game when it comes to the number of agents entering versus retiring. With that being said, the ability of a broker or agent to increase sales production and income often comes at the expense of competing agents and brokers.

The common element in this competitive personal marketplace is the multiple listing service [MLS]. “The multiple listing service could be called the referee for our regional activities.” (Source) MLS standardizes practices and creates/enforces a plethora of rules. Some agents appreciate the consistency. Some agents loathe the rules impeding into their business. That very tension is where the greatest value of MLS is hidden. An authoritative entity used for the creation of industry wide standards is crippled if it is not also give the ability to enforce. Because of this, MLS is a uniquely powered organization. Realtor organizations, a variety of brokerages, part-time and full time agents, and the MLS staff all work together to generate consistency within real estate listings—the driving force for all real estate movement.

As the real estate industry is becoming increasingly more technologically driven, the tech driven entrepreneurs within the agent community seem to be leaning more toward unified solutions grounded in the network already in place—MLS.


The future of MLS may very well be a more regulated national oversight service. Many pressures on the real estate community are encouraging MLS to get more teeth. The alternative would be that brokers could forge different agreements with the same portals like multiple buyers competing for a home. Everyone could begin undercutting everyone else. There would be no uniformity of goal. So keep your eye on the real estate Multiple Listing Service… I am interested to see where this goes. 


Selling Your Home in a Rising Rate Market

by Tim Hart

This past year has brought with it significant improvements to the wounded market we all lived through last year. With this healing process, the world of a seller became an ease as the constraints of limited inventory, low prices, and low mortgage rates all converged. Slowly listing prices began to rise and now, mortgage rates are following suit. “There’s no one in the business right now who doesn’t think the market hasn’t taken a step back. The evidence is all around us,” said Glenn Kelman, chief executive of real-estate brokerage Redfin. (SOURCE) A good rule to follow is that 1% increase in mortgage rates will equate to a 10% reduction in affordability or purchasing power a buyer has. The most recent leaps in rates have made homes just about 10% more expensive to buyers who need to finance their purchase.

So how do you sell your home in this market condition?

  • First, you must remember, even at 5%, rates are still low and homes are still affordable when you look at historical standards. With that being said, this is a stock to the buyer’s side of the market. Buyers oftentimes shop for a home based upon their monthly mortgage payment which does mean they will be looking at a slightly lower price range for their purchase—but at this point, the market feels they buyers are still actively looking so be sure if you are on the fence, you get your house on the market!
  • It is all about balance. The market that will take the biggest hit is most likely to be the high end of the market. Oh the other side of the spectrum, the market that will perhaps most benefit from this new market environment would be that of the real estate investors. Investors who have been taking advantage of the low rates and buying properties to rent will see the influx of renters come back to the market as they see their buying potential dwindle. Because of both these factors, home inventory will finally catch up to the demand and the market will stabilize so that both buyer and seller alike are entering a more stabilized marketplace.
  • The hit to home prices is still out there in the future and has not happened yet. It is more of a shockwave impact where the news hit, sellers and buyers have time adjust and react and then the market adjustments happen. Here in Montana we get an even bigger buffer zone because we are always a few months behind the national trends. If you are looking to buy or sell right now, the market is still in a very advantageous place for you. In fact, pending home sales are reaching new highs.

“The number of pending home sales seen through the end of May increased 6.7 percent from April and 12.1 percent on an annual basis, bringing the current level seen nationwide to its highest point since December 2006, just prior to the start of the housing meltdown beginning in earnest, according to the latest Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors.” (SOURCE)


Want to be Happier & Healthier—Buy a Home

by Tim Hart

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has done a recent study on Habitat for Humanity families evaluating the amount a family’s life changes when they move into a home. The results ultimately found that families who own a home are healthier, happier and more financially secure.

  • 89% said their lives improved since they moved into their homes.
  • 86% said they’re happier since owning a home.
  • Children’s school performance improved, they saw signs of increased confidence, improved behavior and enjoyment for studying and social activities.
  • 75% said their health had improved since becoming home owners.

"There is evidence from numerous studies that attest to the benefits [of home ownership] accruing to many segments of society,” according to Canadian researchers. “Home ownership boosts the educational performance of children, induces higher participation in civic and volunteering activity, improves health care outcomes, lowers crime rates and lessens welfare dependency."


Seller Disclosures: Protecting Yourself As You Sell

by Tim Hart

When a listing file gets turned into me here at the office I oftentimes do not have the seller’s disclosures tucked away neatly inside. In fact, the seller disclosures are the primary documentation I have to ask for from the sellers as soon as an offer comes in. Why do we give the seller so much extra time with these disclosures? Well, it is because the information disclosed within a seller’s disclosure is the primary way for a seller to communicate with a buyer about all the material information, home owner’s knowledge and details about the home that can only assist in the buyer’s decision to purchase.

The seller must sign many forms to officially initiate the process of a listing. On disclosures, the seller is attesting that all the information held within is accurate to the best of their knowledge. Disclose disclose disclose.

Lawsuits stemming from nondisclosure of a property's problems are becoming a bigger issue, according to respondents in the National Association of Realtors 2011 Legal Scan survey. Of the agents who responded, about 75% ranked this issue among their "top three current and future issues."

With every detail, a seller is protecting him/herself more and preventing future lawsuits that may be brought against them if a buyer retroactively finds defects in the home. That is why we give sellers weeks to hold onto their seller’s disclosures so have time to think of major and minor repairs alike, environmental hazards, defects etc. Being upfront about anything and everything is best. It provides a seller’s representing agent to have negotiation power and not be blindsided by something that comes up.

This is just one way to make the selling process more seamless for sellers. If you are interested in potentially selling in the Gallatin Valley, give me a call today (406) 570-5730 with any questions or inquires you may have.


Bid Adieu to 3% Mortgage Rates

by Tim Hart

In this week alone, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 10 percentage points to 3.91% and are up from 3.3% seen in early May. 15-year loans are up from their 2.56% to 3.03% as well. This trend does not look like it will change. “It’s unlikely that rates will ever be that low again.” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae's chief economist.


Here are some of the reasons why:


The Fed has been stepping in and actively keeping rates at rock-bottom levels by buying up to $85 billion/month of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. This purposeful manipulation of the market has enabled lenders to sell mortgage loans at lower interest rates and recoup their money plus profits. Now with the market recovering, the Fed will stop purchasing the securities and private investors will have to pick up the slack.


Economic conditions have improved severely compared to the recession of four years ago. With the economic health on the mend, it is creating a tailwind of interest rate increased. Low rates happen in a time of distress to stimulate. Higher rates happen when the market improves in order to stabilize.


 Even if the rates increase by a percentage or two, those new numbers will be comparatively low to the average. Historically, 30-year loans are above 5.5%. “For clues to the direction of mortgage rates, look at the daily movements in 10-year Treasury bond yields. Mortgage rates track Treasury yields with the difference between them holding fairly constant. Today, Treasury bonds have been on a jumpy uphill climb, with the 10-year hitting 2.21% on May 31, its highest closing since April 2012. On Thursday, the yield was about 2.10%. Since the interest rate on a 30-year is usually 1.7 to 2 percentage points higher, it indicates that mortgages should be at between 3.82% and 4.12% this week.”


Resources for Distressed Sales Offered by U.S. Treasury

by Tim Hart

As it is well known, the housing market is uniquely bound to the U.S. Treasury. This is never more apparent than a policy found within the Treasury Department’s Office of Home Ownership. Laurie Maggiano is the architect of a plethora of the government-backed Making Home Affordable program, uniform guidelines for loan modifications, Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives short sales, and foreclosure prevention.

“Her work at Treasury has not only helped servicers and investors adopt HAFA short sales, but also led to new guidelines that include making deficiency releases and relocation money standard when it comes to these transactions. Maggiano and her team were also responsible for programs that have helped so many people across the country avoid foreclosure.”

The changes Maggiano will affect the tools provided to agents and consumers if they get bogged down in the midst of their short-sale process by:

  • adjusting short-sale timeline
  • change occupancy restrictions in addition to
  • an increase in payments to second mortgages and relation assistance to sellers.

Related Content: 

Beating the Odds on Short Sales

Expect Gradual Changes at Fannie & Freddie

FHA: Unsung Hero of the Recovery

Lenders: What’s Holding Back Loans

Bozeman Neighborhoods: Valley West—A Series

by Tim Hart

We are a community, joined together by schools, jobs, our love of the outdoors and the sharing of the services and amenities our great town has to offer.  However, we are separated in groups as we choose to live in subdivisions and neighborhoods.  I frequently find myself in a similar conversation with people new to the area.  From these conversations, I have found that the average buyer has several parameters they look at in choosing location.  Generally, the factors are price, convenience, and individual amenities of a particular home and neighborhood.   So, I thought it would be helpful to peer into some of our wonderful neighborhoods. 

I chose to evaluate Valley West first because we recently moved and call this neighborhood home.  We were drawn to the neighborhood early in its development because of the park, lake and architectural interest and diversity.  Since moving here, I realize just how convenient it is.   My third grader walks or rides his bike to school.  My teenagers drive to the high school in 6 minutes (so I am told).  Four groceries, a fish market, banks, gas stations and the mall are all within a short bike ride or up to a four minute drive.  I am also 4 minutes from my office, which comes in handy when I’m late for dinner.

Valley West offers traditional and contemporary architecture, condos and single family residences with or without attached dwelling units.  Small lots encourage neighbors to congregate in the park to get to know one another, play with their kids and walk their dogs.  Kids meet at the park to play tag and tube on the creek.  Common walk areas were designed to “flow” through the neighborhood, providing a safe and natural connection to the community.  Groups frequent the pavilion in the summer and gather for ice skating at the pond in the winter.

The neighborhood’s residents’ life stages are diverse, ranging from the college student renting an ADU to retired individuals investing their lives in the community.  Therefore, several property choices are available.  Currently on the market are 5 condos ranging in price from $143,000-$239,000 and an average price per square foot of $132.00.  There are 7 single family homes on the market, including 4 existing homes and 3 new constructions.  The prices range from $234,900 - $499,500, with an average price per square foot of $150.00.

In the last 6 months, 7 single family homes have sold, ranging in price from $184,000-$485,000.  The average sold price per square foot was $142.00.  Ten condos have sold, ranging in price from $144,750-$261,250.  Of the sold condos, the average price per square foot was $111.00. 

This is a series that will continue with blogs and newsletters.  The next article in the series will feature Harvest Creek.    If you would like to share your perspectives, I would love to include them in future articles.   If you would like to hear about a particular neighborhood, email me and I will be happy to include it.

Montana Ranch Sales: Land Value in Montana

by Tim Hart

Companies from Bozeman to Billings have seen an uptick in investing in working ranches. Cattle prices are good and the prospect of the global world developing a stronger middle class only speaks of the demand for cattle to increase in the future. Grey Fay, a Bozeman-based real estate businessman, “sees the interest in ranch purchases as a play by American billionaires to add a tangible, low-return investment to their portfolios with the idea that land values have bottomed out and could appreciate considerably in the future.” (

Seeing the investment: 

In 1972, a ranch could sell for $36/acre. In 2011, that same land sold for $500/acre. Even accounting for the inflation of the dollar through history, the land has doubled in value. Amenities on ranches extend beyond the utilitarian use of the land. Wildlife habitat, fishing, scenic views, and other nontangibles are spiking in value on top of the solid financial endeavor of running a ranch. Few investments are as secure as property and few property investments are as secure as one with the multiplicity of profitable uses as a ranch.

How does this inform Montanan values?

Places to hunt, fish, spend quality and semi-isolated time with family and friends are all strong central values of Montanans at large. With the city centers of Montana growing rapidly, the return to where Montana started speaks of how deep these important land and family ethics run. Time on a ranch is hard work and togetherness.


Trusting this strong market entirely is a bit naïve so those monitoring the market ought to remain skeptical. Fay sees ranch prices as bottomed out, but not yet appreciably rising making this moment in time as a good time to buy. Tomorrow, who knows… All that can be said is that there are “excellent opportunities everywhere right now.” (


Stalling Sellers May Miss The Boat

by Tim Hart

People, especially those who are thinking of selling, are eying the market with calculated hesitancy.  They are waiting to see by how much home prices will appreciate before they commit to the decision and plunging into the market for themselves.

Oddly enough, the time to decide may be based on when they purchased their home rather than watching the current market like a hawk. If your home was purchased during the sluggish market in the last few years, moving up in 2013 is their prime opportunity.

"Because they bought near the bottom, these home owners should have built up some good equity that can go toward the purchase of a new home, and waiting longer to build more equity likely won’t provide much advantage given that other homes that they might want to move up to will also be appreciating at roughly the same pace," Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, told HousingWire.

Home owners who wait much longer may miss their chance by being overly cautious. If you are looking to sell and then buy, waiting for prices to rise because there is no ultimate benefit. They will get more out of their home, but turn around and spend more too. In addition, the costs of financing your next home may increase in the months to come since mortgage rates are anticipated to rise from their current 3.5% to 4.4%... The time to sell may be now or else you may miss the boat...

Read more:

 “The Time to Sell Is a Waiting Game for Some,” HousingWire (March 21, 2013)

Home Owners Reluctant to Sell; Inventories Fall


Economists Making Bold Statements about Home Prices

by Tim Hart

“Home values could surge 35% without stretching housing affordability.”

Household wealth in the U.S. has climbed in the fourth quarter to the highest level in five years. Good news is abounding. Household wealth is approaching pre-recession levels and that, in conjunction with the Federal Reserve pushing to keep lending rates low, consumer confidence is surging. “Growing wealth puts households in a better position,” said Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. “They’ve acquired a lot of financial assets, and that’s a positive for spending.”

The housing market is surely making its way to recovery. Single family home prices have risen in 88% of U.S. cities. Making claims that home values is predicted to surge seems to be substantiated based upon all the evidence. "During the peak of the housing run-up, affordability was stretched as the market sold off," Dosaj, vice president of the home price index at LPS Applied Analytics, said. "As home prices dropped, affordability dropped." (




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 32