Real Estate Information Archive


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FHA Lowering Mortgage Insurance Rates

by Tim Hart

The Federal Housing Administration announced that it will lower the cost of its mortgage insurance for potential borrowers. The White House released a statement that they will lower the mortgage insurance rates from 1.35% of the loan’s value, down to 0.85 percent. Mortgage insurance is designed to keep lenders safe whenever a borrower defaults on their loan.

The change to the mortgage insurance rates could save a first-time homebuyer $900 a year on their payments. For a lot of buyers sitting on the fence, this may be the starting gun for which they were waiting. The White House believes that more than 250,000 additional, potential home buyers will now be able to purchase a home and stay within their means. Homeowners who already have an FHA loan will have the opportunity to refinance and also see similar savings.

The FHA had raised mortgage insurance after the 2008 recession. However, rising home values, a larger, wealthier workforce, and declining foreclosure numbers gave them the confidence to let off slightly on the reins of the housing market.

How many buyers will be enticed into buying is yet to be seen, but anyone looking for or has an FHA loan should discuss the changes with their lender and see what potential savings could be had.



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.

The City of Bozeman hopes to alleviate the very full rental and affordable housing situation in the coming year through regulation changes and increasing inventory. The Bozeman Department of Community Development has begun a review of current home building standards while starting development of new subdivisions and apartment complexes.

A rental housing survey released this year reported that the vacancy rate in Bozeman was essentially zero at the time MSU students came back for fall semester. Gallatin County saw a huge population growth rate from 2002-2012 when it grew 32 percent. In a report released this month, it was one of the fastest growing counties in the Western United States. Coupled with MSU’s largest student body in its history, Bozeman found itself at rental capacity.

Cheaper housing also became less affordable due to demand from first time buyers who saw mortgage rates and rental rates become close enough to take the plunge. Investors hoping to open up some home space in a “no vacancy” rental market also pushed demand higher on the cheaper housing in the area.

The city will research the possibility of deferring or subsidizing impact fees on homes, allowing more flexible dimensions, and reviewing current mobile home ordinances to help lower the costs of home ownership in town. Several subdivisions have also begun development in the outskirts of town to increase the total inventory of available homes to the city’s residents, while subsidized affordable housing has also been employed in several cases. The city hopes that changes in regulations, increased construction and new subdivisions will help avoid the situation seen this past September.



Mortgage Rates Hit New Low for 2014

by Tim Hart

Mortgage Rates hit a new yearly low for 2014, a positive sign for potential home buyers. With the year fast coming to a close, this is the lowest mortgage rate seen in quite some time. Mortgage rates hit 3.89% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the lowest since May 2013.

Rates dipped amid lower than expected home sales. Demand seems to be holding steady but would have been better if not for lagging wage growth.

The 15 year fixed-rate mortgage also dipped to 3.1%, close to numbers seen in late October.

Despite lower rates, applications were down 7.3%. For home-buyers who may not have been able to afford or qualify for a home mortgage, or had held off for other reasons, now may be the time to re-evaluate how the drop in rates may affect them.


Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Announce 3% Down Payment Loan

by Tim Hart


The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced its attempt to better increase mortgage credit availability to US borrowers in October. Now, with the recent announcement of a 3% Down Payment loan by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it seems the FHFA’s efforts have paid off.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced new 97 loan-to-value mortgages that will be available to first time homeowners. The new loans help credit-worthy borrowers without capital get a home loan. The loan should help buyers who want to own a home and can afford monthly payments but cannot pay for the down payment and closing costs.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac don’t foresee the loan becoming a major part of their business. The loans target a very specific borrower in their eyes and the loan will be awarded with this specificity in mind. With that being said, the loan should appeal to a lot of millenials, who as of yet, have not been buying up real estate like previous generations. Many economists have predicted millenials becoming major players in the real estate world in the coming years and steps like the one taken by the FHFA to broaden credit requirements should help bring these buyers to the table.

For those first time homebuyers who wanted a home, but until now did not have enough capital to put down, now may be the time for them to re-engage their lender and see if a 3% down payment is a feasible alternative to a standard 30 year fixed rate mortgage.




Big Sky to Lead State in Student Access to Technology

by Tim Hart


The Big Sky school district laid out a plan late November to put technology in the hands of every student in the area. Big Sky would become to first district in Montana to have their technology to student ratio be 1:1 -- great news for any family looking to buy a home in Big Sky.

The district has crafted a three-part vision for how they will approach technology with their students. They want to improve education on information and media literacy, then improve the application of media and communicating with technology, and one day, they hope to have a fully digital classroom.

Once the new program is up and running Kindergarten through 3rd grade classes will have 36 iPads for daily use. Grades 4 through 8 will get Chrome Books and high school students will receive Surface Pro 3’s. Teachers hope to teach children about technology while also teaching them about safety in an ever-growing digital world.

Schools in the local area continue to put an emphasis on technology education. In an changing world, staying at the forefronts of technology will be important to any child’s later success. The continued improvement in technology in Big Sky schools should continue attracting those looking to purchase real estate in Big Sky.

(Bozeman also purchased Chrome Books for its students this semester in an effort to provide the most opportunities available for its students.)



New Livingston Hospital Coming October 2015

by Tim Hart

Fundraising efforts to help build a brand new hospital in Livingston has officially past the half-way mark, keeping construction plans on schedule for an October 2015 opening. The fundraising campaign, led by the Livingston HealthCare foundation, hopes to raise 10 million dollars to help pay construction costs on the new 125,000 square foot hospital. Livingston HealthCare hopes they can raise the targeted $10 million by that time.

The total cost of the new, two-story hospital will cost around 43.5 million dollars. The cost may have been more, had the land its being built on not been donated. The Livingston Hospital has secured 36 million from a low interest loan financed by the Department of Agriculture and can help complement their funds with $500,000 in funding from hospital reserves. However, the last 10 million, as mentioned, will need to be fundraised from anyone willing to help an important cause.

The fundraising campaign seeks 7 million to cover the remaining costs for building and equipping the hospital, along with 3 million extra to cover unforeseen costs. As of now, more than 5 million has been pledged.

Currently, construction is ongoing, on budget and on schedule for an October 2015 opening.

A new hospital in Livingston would bring a lot of benefits to current and future residents in the area. For those looking at homes for sale in Paradise Valley and the surrounding Livingston area, having larger, better hospitals to treat patients can help alleviate the worry of potential emergencies. Now, the twenty minute drive to Bozeman Deaconess may not be necessary for bigger health issues. Experts from Billings and Bozeman can also visit easier with the additional space.

In addition to the obvious benefits of a new hospital for Livingston homeowners, Livingston HealthCare is currently Park County’s largest employer. Improving the local facilities will only continue to attract the best and brightest to the area, while keeping those already working there, more than satisfied.

(Click Here to read about Bozeman's recent additions to their hospital)




December Gallatin County Market Update

by Tim Hart

This month, we will highlight townhome and condo Quarter 3 sales in the Gallatin County. Here are a few stats for all of Gallatin County condos and townhomes:

  • Unit sales remained true in Quarter 3 from 2013 to 2014. (208 sold in 2013, 208 sold in 2014)
  • Dollar volume increased in Quarter 3 from 2013 to 2014 by 18.2% ($44,963,205 in 2013, $53,127,269 in 2014)
  • Average sales price also rose in Quarter 3 from 2013 to 2014 by 18.2% ($216,169 in 2013, $255,420 in 2014)
  • Sales for all townhomes and condos in 2014 through 10/31/2014
    • Sold volume at $158,723,701 and 592 units

Summary – Gallatin County and the Bozeman area saw a definitive rise in townhome and condo prices over the last calendar year.  The Gallatin Valley appears to be growing at a healthy pace.


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 80