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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.

 

Source:

http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/education/bozeman-schools-buy-more-chromebooks-for-kids/article_3784f35e-5efd-11e4-9fbd-2ba682ad497d.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_953010&utm_campaign=blox

Fifteen-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Hits Lowest Since 2013

by Tim Hart

 

For homebuyers looking to refinance their mortgage, great news came surrounding 15 year mortgage interest rates. The average rate for a 15 year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 3.08%, the lowest level since June of 2013. The rate fell by 0.1 percent compared to last week and has dropped significantly compared to the 3.36% that it started at earlier in the month. Rates on 30 year loans also dipped 0.05% and has dipped below 4 % for the first time since June 2013.

With a struggling economy, investors have avoided investing overseas and instead have turned to government bonds and mortgage-backed securities, lowering interest rates.

Homeowners with recent mortgages can refinance their thirty-year loan for the 15 year loan, at its current rate. Homeowners should be aware that their payments will not go down in a refinance and in general they will almost always go up. According to CNN money, for anyone with a mortgage balance of $200,000, they can expect to pay about $340 a month more than in a 30-year mortgage. However, instead of making a $1075 payment for 25 more years, they could instead pay $1,423 over 15 years. A homeowner could potentially save $137,000 in interest over the lifetime of the loan.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/23/real_estate/rates-drop-again/index.html

New Construction Hits Six Year High

by Tim Hart

The annual sale rate for new, single-family residences rose to a six year high, thanks to solid real estate sales in September. Sales increased 0.2% and adjusted the annual rate to 467,000 new units sold in 2014. The annual rate has not been that high since July of 2008. The rate had a chance to be even higher, but August real estate sales were also revised from 504,000 units down to 466,000, lowering the average.

Compared to September of 2013, sales of new single-family homes went up seventeen percent. Now, coupled with the 30 year fixed rate mortgage falling to its lowest level since June 2013, many experts expect to see the rate get even higher by the end of the year. Slow wage growth continues to hold back the housing market a little bit, but even previously owned single-family homes found their highest sales for 2014 in September as well. At the current sales pace, it would take 5.3 months to clear the supply of new real estate built in September. In general, a six month supply is considered an ideal balance between supply and demand, implying volatility still exists in the current market.

But, as builders’ and developers' confidence continue to grow, they will continue buying more land and building more houses. A lot of times that can lead to lower prices for new home buyers. Compared to September 2013, the median new home price in September 2014 fell 4 percent, down to 259,000 dollars. Now may be the time for buyers looking for a new home to take advantage of real estate competition to find a great deal on a brand new home.

 

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102118682

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.

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/dog-friendly-recreation-area-gets-new-trail/article_d7b81d90-5b08-11e4-95b9-abef471ea2bb.html

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?

Source: http://www.realtor.com/news/new-15-year-mortgage-with-zero-down-payment-debuts/

 

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.

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/exempt-well-ruling-goes-against-unrestrained-development/article_47b8c4fa-58b1-11e4-88be-b34d014024f4.html

 

 

City to Place More Focus on Small City Parks

by Tim Hart

The Bozeman city commission heard recommendations from the Park and Recreation department concerning the lack of small city parks in easily accessible areas. The city already had a plan in place to increase the amount of parkland in Bozeman, but most of their efforts focused on real estate developments on the edges of town.

However, the Parks and Recreation Department reminded the city that Bozeman has become much more dense, with the small infill developments being approved by the city. An infill project is a small real estate development of 30 or less units that basically fills the “open holes” within the city itself. Unfortunately, when developers fill these spaces with new homes, the land that had been considered public domain before, now ceases to provide any park services to the community. In addition to this, when the city becomes more dense, added strain is put on the already existing parks in the area.

When developers fill these holes and do not leave at least an acre for public park space, the city can take cash instead of the land. Mayor Krauss made his position clear that he would much rather take the land than the money, even for appreciation values, if nothing else.

The commissioners verbally agreed that all subdivisions need to contribute land, first and foremost, but that they would accept cash when no better alternative was available. But, no official decision has been made regarding the issue, and the Parks and Recreation Department will return with more specifics before an official decision is made.

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/bozeman-city-commission-emphasizes-subdivision-parkland-over-payment/article_eaea21b6-58dc-11e4-87ef-ab2091686222.html

Mortgage Rates Drop Below 4 Percent

by Tim Hart

The interest rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage loan dropped below 4% for the first time since June of 2013. The rate hit 3.97% this last week and now has become a more opportune time to consider purchasing real estate. The drop has been a much larger drop than other adjustments taken this year.

According to CNN real estate, the drop in rates have come because investors have been buying US treasury bonds in droves over the last week. In general, mortgage rates usually move in sync with the 10 year bond note, so when the yield fell to 1.86%, it seemed natural that fixed-mortgage rates would drop as well. Investors have moved to purchasing bonds because of the economic unrest in Europe. Rates have actually lowered because of investors actions, where most experts expected mortgage rates to rise after the Fed pulled back on its economic stimulus.

If you are considering purchasing real estate in Bozeman, Belgrade, Big Sky or the greater Gallatin Valley, lower rates may have made you far more eligible to buy than you may have been even a week ago. Over 30 years, even the smallest adjustments in mortgage rates can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/16/real_estate/mortgages-rates-drop/index.html

Bozeman Considering Building a New Convention Center

by Tim Hart

The city of Bozeman is considering building a new convention center for the area’s residents. Those living in Bozeman, or looking to purchase real estate in Bozeman, will see changes take place on North 7th Avenue, assuming the plan is approved.  The plan would be put into the already established urban renewal project in the area. Currently, the city is accessing the feasibility of the plan before giving it the true go-ahead. The city will assess nearby properties and decide whether to include them into the new district, or draw new lines. The city is looking at two parcels of land, one north of the Holiday Inn and another just south of Baxter Lane.

The addition of a city center continues a growing trend to truly make Bozeman the center of all events, services and activities in the Gallatin Valley. Please see these other articles on the other building projects currently going on like the future aquatics center, sports complex, the cannery district improvements, and airport expansion. For anyone looking into real estate, this is great news, because in general, these major hubs will continue to see more foot traffic and with more traffic comes real estate buyers and sellers.

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/bozeman-looking-to-pave-way-for-convention-center-near-north/article_e1a04886-535c-11e4-8799-2753b7164e2a.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_953010&utm_campaign=blox

Boise’s Tiny House Tour Aims at a Different Kind of Buyer

by Tim Hart

I read a really fun article in the paper the other day about a real estate tour in Boise, Idaho with a different flavor from most home tours. The tour, unlike most ‘Parade of Homes’ style tours, focused on tiny homes, all under 1000 square feet. Gone are the days of 10,000 square foot mansions—well—maybe not but it certainly offered an alternative!

The tour started last year with the efforts of Boise High School Orchestra students, who were hoping to fundraise money for a trip to Spain.  The students were tired of the standard fundraisers like bake sales and car washes and turned to the city’s unique architecture in an attempt to garner the necessary funds for the trip. The students organized a “Tiny Home Tour” that offered Boise residents a chance to see how  the owner’s of these homes lived on the inside—for a small fee of course. The students had hoped for around 100 tourees, but they had more than 350 people sign up for it.

This year, the school will feature 10 homes, all of which are under 1,000 square feet. The tour includes homes built as far back as 1935 and homes as small as 400 square feet. One home actually came in a make-it-yourself catalog that came in a mail order kit. Tourees can expect to see some strange advantages to these tiny homes, including ornate, large yards even with small lots. Some owners have even said they can clean they entire house in 20 minutes. Not bad!

I would love to see a tour like this for Bozeman Real Estate. The houses don’t necessarily have to be tiny, but I love seeing how unique some of these older, smaller properties can be.

Source: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/10/tiny_homes_featured_in_boise_h.html

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 50

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