Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 32

Counties with More Public Lands See Highest Growth in State

by Tim Hart

According to a report released by Headwaters Economics, counties with large amounts of public lands have been seeing higher economic growth than counties without. Luckily, Gallatin County is among the leaders in both public land and a fast growing economy.

Gallatin County had the highest rate of population growth from 2003 to 2012 and it drew more than 18,000 new residents during that time. The Headwaters report pointed to the quality and quantity of public lands as a big reason for the growth.

The report found that nearly two thirds of the growth in per capita personal income came from only 7 counties in Montana. Gallatin County was among them, but the correlation suggests that the public land in and around the county may actually be what is attracting new residents, businesses and money. This past summer, Yellowstone National Park has seen higher summer visitation rates. State Parks also saw a sharp rise in attendance.

Montana industries also took a noteworthy shift from mining, manufacturing and forestry and have shifted towards real estate, technical and professional service jobs. Higher paid and higher paying professionals are coming to the valley in a big way. The growth of real estate shows that people are buying and selling homes at an increased rate. As more people are becoming agents, that only shows how many out of staters have their eye on Montana.




State Park Attendance Up Again

by Tim Hart

Montana State Parks had more than 2.2 million visitors in 2014. Visitor totals grew by 3 percent, more than 40,000 more than in 2013. Not only that, but Montana State Parks broke the record for most visitors in their history for the second straight year.

In general, most visitors to the state parks were Montana residents—80% in fact. However, in the Southwest region of Montana (that’s us!) nearly 345,000 visitors were nonresidents. Those numbers are inclusive of the greater Yellowstone area, but not the National Park proper, which sees even higher visitation numbers. After some quick math, that meant 15.6% of the total 20% of nonresidents visiting Montana were actually visiting the Southwest Montana area. Over the past decade, state park numbers have increased by nearly 33 percent.

The percentage of nonresident visitors to Southwest Montana really stood out to me. Southwest Montana, Yellowstone, and the greater Gallatin Valley continue to see increased exposure on the national consciousness, for both its summer and winter outdoor opportunities. As more tourists continue to visit, more of these people may find themselves falling in love with the area, a feeling us Montana residents know too well.  The Gallatin Valley continues growing in part because in part, it sells itself so well to its visitors.



Bozeman Becoming a Ski Hub for Nation, World

by Tim Hart

Bozeman, Montana has fast become a winter sports haven for the nation and even the world. Within the last two months, Bozeman has seen major steps forward in both its Alpine and Nordic ski reputation.

Bozeman was honored by National Geographic as one of the top 25 best ski towns in the world. That’s right, not the nation, but the world.

Bozeman shared the honor with towns such as Whistler, Canada; Chamonix France; Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; Aspen, Colorado; and Zermatt, Switzerland.

According to National Geographic, Bozeman stood out as the adventure capital of the Northern Rockies. The magazine enjoyed the working town feel of Bozeman, as oppose to other ski resort towns.

But Bozeman still offers the best of both worlds, with its two very different ski areas. Bridger Bowl, the non-profit, local ski area with its intense vertical and the famous Ridge offers a more day-to-day feel. Big Sky, on the other hand, offers the family vacation route, wining and dining its patrons every step of the way.

National Geographic also pointed to Bozeman’s surrounding mountains. Places like Hyalite also offer great winter activities like skiing, snow-shoeing, hiking and ice climbing.

In other news, Bozeman’s Nordic reputation may fast improve, thanks to the hard work of passionate locals. This past month, a non-profit organization called the Bridger Biathlon Club has reached two agreements to buy both the Crosscut Ranch and Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center. The organization plans on building a world-class Nordic Ski venue designed to attract everyone from locals to Olympic athletes.

The Bridger Biathlon Club bought Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center with the intention of continuing and expanding its Nordic operations. The organization has also signed a 3-year lease and purchase agreement for the nearby Crosscut Ranch with Jackson Financial Group. Jackson Financial Group had purchased the 259-acre ranch in a March auction. Over the past 25 years, the Crosscut Ranch could have had many different futures. At one point, the ranch had been on the track towards becoming a 2,500-unit subdivision.

Now, with both areas combined, the new cross country ski area will become one of the better cross country areas around, with more than 500 acres of total land. The Bridger Biathlon Club hopes to raise 10 million dollars by Nov. 15th 2017 to finalize the purchase and improve the surrounding infrastructure.

The biathlon club has already installed the newest, highest quality biathlon range at Bohart to make the area into a state-of-the-art training facility for high performing athletes. Biathlon combines cross-country skiing with target shooting and the sport has seen a rise in popularity due to its recent exposure in Olympic broadcasts. The range at Bohart has 12 Olympic targets and two Paralympic targets. 

After all the upgrades are completed, the cross-country ski area is on track to become a world class training facility, making the rocky west a much more viable option for Olympic winter sport training.

Now, with talks of a new, premier ice climbing/event center potentially being built at the Fairgrounds, coupled with the town’s recent indoctrination into the Ice Climbing World Cup circuit, Bozeman seems fast on its way to becoming the snow and ice sport capital of the Northwest.

The Bridger Canyon will now have Bridger Bowl and the new cross-country ski area literally a ski run away from each other (though probably an alpine one!). Coupled with Bozeman’s access to Big Sky and West Yellowstone, its hard not to see why Bozeman’s winter sport reputation has grown. Such a reputation can do a lot to attract visitors, athletes, students and families. Those looking to move to Bozeman may now be persuaded to make the plunge, now finding the area surrounded by such activity and buzz around winter sports.




Under a new proposal brought to the Bozeman City Commission, Bozeman may dig public cable lines to address the poor service and high prices of private internet/cable providers. Advocates pushing a publicly owned fiber-optic cable network say that digging public lines would increase competition among internet providers, helping improve their services and prices.

The city would not provide Internet access directly but would install a common network that could be leased by private companies. Without needing heavy, upfront capital, the addition of small, private companies into the market could increase the current competition.

As more businesses store their valuable information online, having affordable, reliable connections becomes all the more important. Considering two thirds of businesses surveyed by advocates of the new proposal were dissatisfied by their internet service, increased competition may lead to better internet quality in Bozeman.

Advocates suggest that the Internet has become an essential utility and requires proper infrastructure in the city to support it. In their minds, the Internet should be dealt with in the same manner as roads and sewers.

Currently, 143 cities in the US have implemented some form of public fiber-optic cable policy. The project, if approved, would be funded with private donations and tax increment finance district funds that have been allocated for economic development. The city would not need a bond or additional money from the city’s general fund.

Once again, it’s great to see the City of Bozeman focusing and planning for the future. By listening to such proposals, even if they ultimately are not approved, Bozeman can stay on the forefronts of technology and continue being the easy, enjoyable city it has become to its residents.



Bozeman Market Update - Condos and Townhomes January 2015

by Tim Hart

This month, we will highlight townhome and condo sales through November in Bozeman. Here are a few stats for all Bozeman condos and townhomes:

  • Unit sales increased from 2013 to 2014 by 16.98%. (371 sold in 2013, 434 sold in 2014)
  • Dollar volume increased from 2013 to 2014 by 34.23% ($68,926,687 in 2013, $92,523,141 in 2014)
  • Average sales price also rose from 2013 to 2014 by 14.75% ($185,786 in 2013, $213,187 in 2014)

Summary –Bozeman has seen increases in townhomes and condos across the board. With more unit sales going at higher prices, Bozeman’s condo and townhome market is healthy and growing.

This month, we will highlight single-family residence Quarter 3 sales in the Gallatin County. We will compare quarter 3 numbers from 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Here are a few stats for all of Gallatin County single-family residences:

  • Unit sales increased in Quarter 3 from 2012 to 2013 by 16.83% (346 sold in 2012, 416 sold in 2013)
  • Unit sales increased in Quarter 3 from 2013 to 2014 by 7.56% (416 sold in 2013, 450 sold in 2014)
  • Unit sales increased in Quarter 3 over the 2012 to 2014 span by 23.1%
  • Dollar volume increased in Quarter 3 from 2012 to 2013 by 23.09% ($115,083,995 in 2012, $141,655,926 in 2013)
  • Dollar volume increased in Quarter 3 from 2013 to 2014 by 30.1% ($141,644,926 in 2013, $185,465,117 in 2014)
  • Dollar volume increased in Quarter 3 over the 2012 to 2014 span by 38.0%
  • For all of 2014 through 9/30/2014
    • Sold volume at $429,274, 429 and 1056 units

Summary – Gallatin County and the Bozeman area continues to trend up in a key housing indicator – single-family homes for the last two years.   The Gallatin Valley is growing at a healthy pace.

Bozeman Purchases More Chrome Books for Students

by Tim Hart

Bozeman’s school computers just got a little more reflective as educators have made the switch to Chrome (yes, I know they aren’t actually chrome but I couldn’t help myself). Bozeman elementary schools will receive 330 new Chrome books for their students following its approval from the Bozeman School Board on Tuesday. Board members voted 7-0 to spend $111,061 on the new computers with funds from the technology property tax levy.

The Bozeman School District has set a goal to have at least 1 set of Chrome Books for every 4th and 5th grade class in every elementary school. Although, they haven’t reached that goal, the Board got 330 computers closer.

Ideally, teachers will no longer have to schedule computer time anymore, making it much easier to teach technology in the classroom. Students have been learning to write on computers, but most teachers believe kids need all the practice they can get to improve their keyboarding skills. Teachers also hope that students with disabilities such as ADD might find a potential outlet to better learn.

Schools need to continue to stay up to date on technology in order to properly educate children in technology. Its great to see Bozeman’s continued focus in providing its schools with all the tools they need to provide quality education to its students.



Snowfill Dog Park Expanding Trail System

by Tim Hart

The Gallatin Valley Land Trust has spearheaded a recent effort to expand the Snowfill Dog Park north of Bozeman. The GVLT will turn the 1.25 mile one-trail loop into a 2 trail, figure eight design. Visitors to the park in the last week have been turned away, disappointed, while trucks delivered over a mile of gravel to build the new trail. But hopefully by this weekend, the park will be up and running with the new additions in place.

The park received two grants, one from the Bozeman City Parkland Improvement grant, and the other from the Montana Recreational Trails Program grant, allowing them to fund the expansion. The park will now be able to use a much larger portion of its 37-acre park. The new trail will follow utilize the outer edges of the park much better than the current trail.

The GVLT has focused their efforts on growing the park to handle its growing popularity. As one of only six off-leash dog parks in Bozeman, the Snowfill Dog Park provides dog owners a chance to let their dogs off leash without any worry of losing them. Because of other recent improvements made on the park, the GVLT does not foresee any more improvements to the park, unless its much farther down the road. Other dog parks have and will continue to see updates in the nearer future.

Bozeman real estate home buyers who are looking to purchase property in the north of town will be happy to know that they will have a place to walk their dog, no matter its size. Having a town that cares about the health and safety of the community’s pets is an under appreciated aspect of any city and one that Bozeman excels in. The park’s off-leash rules provide freedom and less worry to dog owners, while allowing the dogs to let loose all their extra energy.


New 15 year Mortgage with No Down Payment Unveiled

by Tim Hart

A non-profit company is testing a new mortgage idea that could impact mortgages from here on out. The company is offering low to moderate income home buyers a 15 year mortgage with little to no money down. The loan, called the Wealth Building Home Loan, differs from a traditional 30 year fixed rate loan because income is weighed much more heavily than in a traditional loan. The WHBL gives a generous credit requirement and allows buyers to build their equity much faster than a standard mortgage.

But the loan truly differs from a standard loan because it focuses on paying off the principal first, not the interest. According to its creators, in the first three years 77% of each monthly mortgage payment pays off the principal, creating huge amounts of equity for home owners looking to sell in a short period of time. For a standard 30 year loan, in those years 68% of the payment goes towards paying the interest, leaving buyers with little equity comparatively.

Now obviously, there has to be some take to the give in this loan. Due to its short term and focus on principal, a WBHL will always have higher monthly payments than a standard mortgage. But the return on equity and 15 years less of monthly payments may be a worthy trade off for higher payments initially. The WBHL will have its first test run in Charlotte, North Carolina, which was chosen as the initial test market.

More recent articles on mortgages:

Mortgage Rates Below 4%

Wealthy Paying Lower Mortgage Rates

Americans Overpaying for Mortgages?



Subdivisions Will Now Need Water Rights to Drill Home Wells

by Tim Hart

A county judge has put a stop to subdivisions unrestricted use of exempt wells in the state. Jeff Sherlock nullified a 1993 Department of Natural Resources and Conservation law that allowed developers of subdivisions to drill an unlimited number of small, home wells without needing to get a water rights permit. According to the 1993 law, so long as the wells were not connected, a subdivision could pump 1,000 acre-feet of water without a permit. Farmers and ranchers using the same amount of water had to apply for a water right or permit to use state water.

The fight over subdivision water rights began in 2009 when a few Billings ranches asked for a rule change, due to a lack of available water from nearby subdivision use. Under Montana law, anyone using state water needs a water right and people with the oldest water rights get priority. However, a loophole in the books allowed wells pumping less than 10 acre-feet a year to not need permits. When the law was drafted in the 70’s, there just weren’t that many of them. But recently, subdividers had used the law as a way to avoid either paying a city for their water, or attaining a water permit.

Senior water rights holders can ask other junior water rights holders to use less water when it is short, but they have no way to make exempt wells curtail their water use. But now, the judge has ruled against the law, making subdivisions hook up to city water or get their hands on a permit.

This law will have an impact on real estate development in Bozeman and Montana. How it impacts new subdivisions is yet to be seen, but homeowners moving into these subdivisions should be aware of the updated law.




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 32