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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 24

 

Bozeman public schools will once again be on the forefronts of national studies, as they have once again been selected to take part national research. Bozeman has already been selected for a highly competitive mental health program/study this year. Great news reached the district, when they found out that once again they had been selected for a prestigious program.

This study will take 72 Bozeman teachers through an intensive program to improve math teaching. The study is being led by researches at Montana State University, George Mason University, and Harvey Mudd College. The survey has been funded by the National Science Foundation, who offered a grant of 1.3 million dollars.

The project will study 3 public school districts—Bozeman, Fairfax County, and Pomona California. The project will take three years and will focus on teachers’ uses of mathematical modeling and how it affects student performance. Preliminary research has shown that students who work with real world problems feel less anxious about math and will be more likely to view the subject as useful and relevant. The universities hope to see improvement in around 4,000 students between the three districts.

Once again, the Bozeman School District has been selected for a high level educational study. The national radar continues to hover and focus on Bozeman for its outstanding academics, particularly as a public system. Winning such studies will only help make Bozeman faculty all the better at offering Bozeman children the highest quality education possible. Any parent looking at Bozeman should consider the positive momentum that the school district has built and how that may propel Bozeman as an educational haven in the future.

 

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/montana_state_university/bozeman-students-teachers-taking-part-in-major-national-math-study/article_a566f430-704b-11e4-9ee0-a308a06a60d0.html

HOA’s in Big Sky Upgrading to Bear-Resistant Trash Cans

by Tim Hart

Three homeowner associations in Big Sky, the Big Sky Owner’s Association, Spanish Peaks Homeowners’ Association and Town Center Homeowners’ Association, will be making the switch to bear resistant trash cans to help improve the number of bears accidentally straying into Big Sky. Trash tends to be the number one attractor of bears, so Republic Services have tried to fix the issue by releasing their new Kodiac Bear Resistant Trash Cans. (Don’t worry! The trash can is just named Kodiac. It is not specific only to Kodiac bears!) Republic services will go through Big Sky and replace the standard blue bins with the new, black, bear resistant bins (again don't worry! They are the color black and can defend off other species of bears as well). The associations who have made the change will see a $6.40 price increase per month for the new cans.

In general, if a bear discovers a food source to be had, it will take advantage. However, if a bear becomes too reliant on city food sources, it can become too bold. Last year, 12 bears were removed from the greater Big Sky area. Nine were black bears that were relocated by the city, two were roadkill and one was poached.

Republic Services hope their new trash cans will help keep bears away from the city, off roads and out of harm’s way. Residents can also feel safer and more comfortable knowing bears will be less likely to make an unexpected house call. Many residents can probably rest easier knowing their trash can will now also be out of harm’s way and that they won’t wake in the morning to find a mess outside their home.

The bear story in Big Sky sheds a lot of light on HOAs and the type of residential concerns they address. Anyone looking to purchase real estate in the Bozeman or Big Sky area should make sure that their HOA’s values and goals match their own values and goals. HOAs can enact positive changes very quickly throughout a neighborhood, as seen in how these three HOAs addressed the growing bear issue However, residents should make sure they know the general perspective of their HOA so such decisions do not take them by surprise.

 

Source: http://www.lonepeaklookout.com/news/article_17bee3e8-6062-11e4-a1e5-af9f9c41a3d5.html

City of Bozeman Helps Businesses Save Money and Energy

by Tim Hart

The city of Bozeman will help businesses keep the cold out and the warm in while trying to save everyone a dollar along the way. The City of Bozeman Energy Project is a new program designed to help businesses lower their utility costs. The project offers businesses a free energy audit from Northwestern Energy. During the audit, NW Energy goes over the energy issues currently present in the business but they also offer strategies to bring down energy use. If the city’s businesses reduced their energy output by 10%, it would cumulatively save $2.6 million a year.

It’s great to see Bozeman focus on reducing its carbon footprint and creating a more efficient city. But it doesn’t stop there folks! Why stop at commercial buildings when we could apply these practices to residential real estate as well? Although it will not be free, performing an energy audit on your home can also help you create a more efficient household. Is heating the hot tub affordable in the winter? Are you insulating your home sufficiently? An energy audit can help answer those questions and help save you money on your utility bill.

The City of Bozeman Energy Project has already found that many businesses have outdated lighting. Lighting retrofits can save a lot of energy and adding new efficient bulbs can really add up over time. These rules also apply to the home. Make sure to walk through your home and see if you are missing any easy energy/money savers.

Source: http://www.kbzk.com/news/the-city-of-bozeman-hopes-to-save-businesses-money-and-energy/

 

Renters Continue to Face Affordability Issues

by Tim Hart

Across the US, rent prices continue to rise. As demand for rental space rises, renters are finding themselves getting priced out of their markets. Bozeman has already seen its rental market all but disappear from the influx of MSU students, but as rent rates continue to rise and mortgage rates continue to fall, more and more people are finding themselves on the buy side of the “rent vs. buy” argument.

In the US, rental rates have risen by 6 percent over one year. In major metropolitan areas like San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, tenants are paying far more than 30 percent of their wages to rent. Many property management companies in the Bozeman area limit their tenants to have their rent be 30% of their wages and will almost never accept anybody going higher. However, when demand is high, its not hard to replace tenants, and many landlords are more than willing take on the risk of a renter splurging on their home choice.

In booming college towns, this trend is exasperated because of the high influx of students.  Having a lease expire just as college students return to school provides plenty of opportunity to update and raise lease rates, especially in the frantic summer months when thousands of students are looking for housing at once.

From a landlord’s perspective, the market lends itself toward investment purchases, with consistent renters and rising prices. But from the renter’s perspective, if they are anywhere near to buying, now may be the time to take the next step towards home ownership. By buying now, renters can get out from under the worry of being priced out of their market. Maybe 10 or 20 years down the line, they can rent the property out for prices they would have still been paying if they had rented. Either way, anyone considering buying a home as an alternative to rent, now may be the time to reevaluate finances and decide if the plunge may be worth it.

 

Source: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/11/10/renters-face-affordability-crisis?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DailyRealEstateNews+%28Daily+Real+Estate+News%29

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

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 24

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