Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 35

Bozeman's New "Midtown" Gets Started

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman has gone forward with plans to input a new urban renewal district on the North 7th area to beautify and densify the district.

The area, now rebranded as Midtown or Midtown Bozeman, has struggled with its lack of connection to the other parts of Bozeman and it’s urban, box-store feel. The area grew during the 60’s and 70’s, and has a basis in automobile transportation. For this reason, most of North Seventh has strip-mall style commercial businesses.

In the proposed plan, the district would try to foster developments that attract both commercial and residential patrons, ideally in mixed-use buildings. Bozeman wants to create the district so it also can become a center of activity, adding new conference and event venues. Bozeman has already worked on upgrading the fiber-optic cables in Bozeman and this new project would add cable to the Midtown Bozeman area.

Commissioners will use a TIF (a tax increment finance district) to help beautify the area and make aesthetic improvements. By using a TIF, Bozemanites will not see their taxes increase unless they are within the district. Bozeman used TIF funds in 2015 to fund the expansion of one of its downtown elementary schools, Hawthorne.

A similar urban renewal plan was put in place for Bozeman’s downtown in 1995, a change that has been considered a huge success since its implementation.



Building on Bozeman Main Street Renovated and Open for Business

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

An older building on the corner of Grand and Main Street in Bozeman finished their renovations in late October and is once again open for business. The building, known as the Dutton Building, sits near the entrance into Bozeman and will help add more visual appeal to Bozeman’s downtown.

The building had housed several restaurants over the past few years. After a few of them went out of business, the owners took the opportunity to tear down and renovate 2/3 of the building while adding a second floor.

The City Beautification Advisory Board bestowed and award on the building for its appearance and fit into Bozeman’s downtown atmosphere while the Downtown Bozeman Partnership said the building helps create a new visual entrance into town.

Renovation on the building was all privately funded. Businesses inside say renovations have helped drive additional, different customers to them. The owners are looking for additional businesses for their second floor.



Bozeman Commission Passes Inclusionary Zoning Plan

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

After nearly a year of discussion and research from residents, consultants and builders alike, and after a voted delay in September, the Bozeman City Commission decided to move forward with a two-stage plan to help lower home values in Bozeman.  The plan, ideally, will help Bozemanites with modest means better afford to buy homes within the city limits.

Although the areas surrounding Bozeman have more reasonable home and rent values and although Bozeman’s cost of living is not outrageously above national averages, the city made it clear, by their decision, that they want Bozeman itself to remain a diverse and affordable place to live. Opponents to the plan did not want to hamper down a recently recovered housing market. Builders, who require on average 22 subcontractors to build a home, also felt the plan put too much financial risk on their shoulders.

The proposal has two phases to try to get builders and developers to start building affordable homes—one voluntary and one mandatory. The mandatory phase would only come into use should the voluntary phase not produce 54 affordable homes within the next two years.  Only the mandatory phase includes plans for inclusionary zoning – the most controversial aspect of the new ordinance.

The voluntary phase, as mentioned, requires that at least 54 affordable homes be built in 2 years within Bozeman city limits. During the voluntary phase, the city would try to entice builders to add affordable homes into their existing plans by including incentives like reduced lot size requirements, relaxed parking standards, expedited plan review and impact fee subsidies, incentives the city already may have added anyways. The voluntary phase also requires that at least 14 affordable homes are built by September 2016, otherwise, it would revert to the mandatory phase after only one year.

If the voluntary phase fails, then the city would move to a mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinance. In this phase, subdivisions would be required to either make 1 out of ever 10 units affordable to Bozeman residents making 80% of Bozeman’s median income or to make 3 out of every 10 affordable to residents making the median income.

Please read Eric Dietrich’s great follow up article going into the nitty gritty details of the new zoning ordinance here.

The new plan should help lower home values in Bozeman, helping free up more buyers in Bozeman’s housing market. How it will affect sellers and builders is yet to be determined. Rental values might also be impacted. High rents have been keeping investment properties in Bozeman at very high values. With additional homes on the market, both rental values and investment property values may decrease, helping keep renters in home while also helping them jump into homeownership.





Bozeman Schools Gain 1,000 Students Over 6 Years

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

If anyone needed additional proof of Bozeman’s growth and the growth of its schools, October’s official enrollment count from the Bozeman School District showcased that growth in the last few years.

Since 2009, Bozeman schools have risen from an enrollment of 5,481 students to 6,505 students today—representing more than 1,000 additional students.

Year over year, 211 more students are enrolled in Bozeman schools than in 2014.

The headcounts set records in eight elementary schools and both middle schools. Bozeman middle schools gained 97 students, up 7% from last year, while Bozeman elementary schools have gained 91 students, up 3% from last year.

Luckily, Bozeman voters approved two bonds in the November 2015 elections to expand Hawthorne Elementary School and Sacajawea Middle School.

Bozeman High School, currently the best ranked high school in Montana, added 13 students. Next year Bozeman will have its largest freshman class yet at 626 students. The district has already formed an advisory group and will work to find the consultants and architects necessary to begin building a second high school.




Gallatin County Housing Market Update - November 2015

by Tim Hart

This month, we will compare Condo and Townhome sales in the Gallatin County for the first three quarters of 2015. Here are a few stats for Gallatin County townhomes and condominiums:

  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, total home sales increased by 77.50%(120 sold in Quarter 1, 213 sold in Quarter 2)
  • From Quarter 2 to Quarter 3, total home sales increased by 5.16% (213 sold in Quarter 2, 224 in Quarter 3)
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 3, total home sales increased by 86.67%


  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, dollar volume increased by 65.66% ($33,245,180 in Quarter 1, $55,075,255 in Quarter 2)
  • From Quarter 2 to Quarter 3, dollar volume increased by 5.11% ($55,075,255 in Quarter 2, $57,889,875 in Quarter 3)
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 3, dollar volume is projected to increase by 74.13%


  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, homes spent 18.46% longer time on the market (65 DOM in Quarter 1, 77 DOM in Quarter 2)
  • From Quarter 2 to Quarter 3, homes spent 23.38% shorter time on the market (77 DOM in Quarter 2, 59 DOM in Quarter 3)
  • From Quarter 1 to Quarter 3 homes spent 9.23% shorter time on the market.


Summary – Sales and dollar volume continue to grow for townhomes and condominiums. Increased home sales and dollar volume imply more homes on the market at higher prices. They have been going quicker as the year has progressed, suggesting more buyers are jumping into the market. Overall, the market appears to be deepening as more homes are listed and more buyers start their search.

YMCA Community Center Progressing in Bozeman

by Tim Hart

With initial plans being submitted to the City Planning office for a new YMCA community center, it appears the project only needs to secure funding in order to move forward with plans.

The building, designed to be 20,000 square feet, will be approximately a 6 million dollar project, slightly up from March projections of 5.5 Million dollars. In March, the Gallatin Valley YMCA had raised 2.5 million for the project. Now, they have secured $300,000 in additional donations and are 1.2 million short of the 4 million needed to move forward on the project. The 4 million dollars would be used to secure construction financing while also being used to seek grant support from other foundations.

Initially, the YMCA had plans to team up with the City of Bozeman to also include a new aquatics center for West Bozeman residents. However, that plan has been put on hold as city officials have now started work on passing a bond for a new, shared Law and Justice Center for the city and Gallatin County. The community center will be built in a way that will allow an aquatic center to connect at some point in the future.

Bozeman continues to put in the necessary infrastructure as it expands to the west. West end Bozeman residents will be happy to hear that these sort of projects are in the pipeline and will help them keep their travel distances to a minimum in Bozeman.



Bozeman Montana Airport Surpasses 1 Million Visitors

by Tim Hart

The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport surpassed 1 million total passengers over a 12 month period. From September 2014 to 2015, 1,000,483 passengers either boarded or exited a plane in Bozeman.

The airport saw a 4.4% increase compared to September 2013 to 2014 numbers.

In 2014, Bozeman had the busiest Montana airport, despite not having the highest population. The proximity of nearby attractions has really helped boost Bozeman’s tourism and economy.

In order to better host their rising totals, the airport has drafted plans to expand the airport in the next 5 to 10 years. The airport would like to add a second paved runway, expand the terminal, add a new parking garage and add a new de-icing area.

The airport and Bozeman both help each other and grow with each other. The airport attracts people, allowing Bozeman to sell itself, but oftentimes these visitors return again or sometimes become permanent residents. Once the airport expands, local residents can expect more tourists and more people looking to stay for an extended time.



Bozeman Montana Schools Look to Expand

by Tim Hart

On November 3rd, voters will decide whether to expand the Sacajawea Middle School and Hawthorne Elementary School. School officials believe that with Bozeman’s growth over the past years, now is the time to expand these schools to better address the growing Bozeman population.

School officials will put a proposal to expand the Sacajawea Middle School before voters, costing 16 million dollars. They had considered building a new school, but the costs could have been nearly double.

The middle school has struggled with space issues. The school uses one gym for 700 students, its orchestra and band rooms are a little small and additional classrooms are needed as well. With the 16 million dollar bond, the school would build a new 8th grade wing, add classrooms to the 6th and 7th grade wings, add half a gym w/ additional health enhancement classrooms and add additional locker space.

The bond would cost a homeowner with a $240,000 property an additional $34.57 a year.

Bozeman officials will also put a proposal before voters to expand Hawthorne Elementary School. Hawthorn currently has two portable classrooms and a portable music room that would be replaced with a new, two-story wing.

The project is expected to cost 5.5 million, but school officials will use a Tax Increment Finance District to cover the debt—so ideally this project will not cost tax payers additional money. It would have cost a tax payer with a $240,000 property approximately $13.65 a year.

The School District has already moved ahead with selecting architects for the project. They want to get the ball rolling so they can be ready if the proposal passes. They are in negotiations with A&E Architects for the Sacajawea Middle School expansion (they helped build the new Chief Joseph Middle School) and Comma-Q Architecture for the work on Hawthorne.

Bozeman Schools have also started looking into the construction of a second high school, which is farther down the pipeline, but will be a needed project in the future





Montana’s Smartest Highschoolers Choose MSU, Again

by Tim Hart

Just like last year and the year before, the smartest Montana High Schoolers are choosing Montana State University Bozeman.

Montana awarded 204 scholarships to the state school of each high schooler’s choice. 134 chose Montana State, representing two thirds of those who accepted. 37% of those students will be entering engineering.

In order to qualify, residents must have a 3.4 grade point average. After that, the state ranks them by their school ranking and ACT scores to differentiate the top students.

Having top students continue to choose MSU is great news for the school as well as Bozeman. Attracting the best talent will help MSU grow its own reputation, attracting more students, more jobs and more money to the area. As students graduate, they might also choose to stay in Bozeman, giving boosts to the labor and housing markets respectively.





How Lasers Affect Real Estate

by Tim Hart

This month, I wanted to highlight an investment Bozeman made in 1993 that now seems to have impacted Bozeman’s economic outlook for the better. We never know where our hard work might pay off down the line and how it might change Bozeman’s future.

I read a great article this month by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle about the growth of Optics Technology in Bozeman. The optics industry works with lasers, high tech cameras and other similar technologies to create better products, medicines etc.  In 1993, the first real investment into Optics Technology in Bozeman was made. Local companies, the State of Montana, MSU, and the National Science Foundation teamed up to raise 3 million in optics research in Bozeman. By 1995, MSU had its own Optics Technology Center.

Since then, MSU has had 15 spinoff companies come directly from their programs, whether through new technologies invented on campus or by students who trained at the University and began their own company. According to the Bozeman Chronicle, there are now 30 optics companies in Bozeman, employing some 500 people most of whom earn higher than Bozeman’s average wage. Without the investment made in 1993, it is hard to say whether any of the growth of Optics Technology would have been possible. It is much easier to say that the growth of these local companies have provided an economic boost to Bozeman.

But the best news continues to be that Bozeman has worked hard to reinvest back into the sciences and that similar breakthroughs might be possible in Bozeman’s future.

Both the state government and the National Science Foundation again have offered major grants to MSU for continued scientific development in the area.

The National Science Foundation awarded a 3 million dollar grant to expand the nanotechnology center at MSU. The grant will give MSU the ability to put all of their associated labs in one location. Currently MSU has 5 nanotechnology labs. The money will be distributed over 5 years will also provide funds to upgrade and buy new equipment.

On top of this, MSU received 4.6 million in grants from the State of Montana. In total, MSU scientists have won 8.9 million of the 12.9 million that has been offered this year, with only 2 million dollars left outstanding. MSU worked very hard to achieve the grants they received, putting in 150 of the 200 proposals reviewed by the state. The 4.6 million in grants will go to infectious disease research in both humans and ranch animals, mental health research, energy research and research to better recover metals from wastewater.

Continuing to win grants like these and continuing to pursue them with the veracity seen in 2015 will help keep Bozeman on the forefronts of technological advances. It seems pretty apparent that research like this can drive future economic prosperity. Economic prosperity will help drive more people to Bozeman. So although lasers and nanotechnology feel very far from real estate, they might be closer together than people might initially think.








Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 35