Real Estate Information Archive


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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.



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.)



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.



Big Sky business owners and community members are hoping to establish a TEDD in Big Sky to foster increased, infrastructural development. A TEDD, a targeted economic development district, is a district that is eligible to receive additional county taxes for improvement of its infrastructure. A TEDD defines where new developments must occur, based on the money it receives from the TIF system.

With a TIF, tax increment financing, the city would not see an increase in its taxes, despite increasing its development projects. Big Sky would be able to take part in this program by taking the incremental improvement in base property values and new construction from the expected taxable values and use that leftover money to fund developments within the TEDD.

According to the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, the TEDD is designed to fund projects that would normally never be started. Essentially, if the project were to fail without additional funding, then and only then, can the project really be considered eligible within the TEDD.

A TEDD and TIF in Big Sky would certainly help foster economic growth in the area. For a small tourism based town, their focus on improving their own infrastructure, shows their desire to continue growing the town of Big Sky. As the economy improves, it will become more attractive to businesses and investors (whether real estate or other), helping to get the ball moving, and growing Big Sky past just a vacation real estate destination.




The Montana Department of Transportation will donate $2.1 million dollars throughout the state in order to purchase additional vehicles and equipment. Both Bozeman and Big Sky were chosen to receive additional funding. Funding was awarded through a competitive grant application, ranking applicants by need and fund availability.

The Human Resource Development Council of Bozeman is receiving money a new 40 passenger bus as well as a new 17 passenger bus from the MDT. The agency currently runs the streamline bus service in Bozeman, a free public bus system that  has routes throughout the city. The agency also runs Galavan, a service providing transportation specifically for the elderly and disabled.

Reach Inc., a non-profit organization in Bozeman that provides a myriad of services to aduts with developmental disabilities, will receive a 5 person van.

The town of Big Sky will receive funds for a 45 passenger motor coach.

Sixteen communities in Montana will receive funding in total, including Missoula, Helena, Butte, and Whitehall. Additional facilities and carports will be built across the state with the remaining money. Earlier this year, the MDT had given $7.8 million across the state to deal with the operating costs of these transportation agencies.

For local Bozeman residents, the addition of two new busses will help alleviate logistical concerns for both Streamline and Galavan. Additional busses only add to a solid infastructure, creating a more reliable, punctual transportation service. Citizens reliant on public transportation in Bozeman can only see the additions as great news, helping to better (sorry for this one) streamline the bus system and improve its reliability.

Source: Chronicle Staff. “Agencies Receive Money for Transportation Improvements.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. 28 September 2014.

Big Sky Tourism is growing and growing quickly according to new numbers assembled by Visit Big Sky, a destination-marketing group in the area. The group compiled numbers based on the city’s total lodging tax collections because they indicate accurately the number of people staying overnight in the town. In general, the lodging tax reflects the ups and downs of the tourism industry pretty accurately.

According to these numbers, the growth rate in Big Sky is nearly 3 times as high as the rate of Montana overall after the first half of 2014. Over the last three years, lodging tax collection totals have increased by double digits. In 2013, tax collections hit 4 times the total of the state and 10 times the National Average. The Big Sky Visitor Center also noted it has seen its international traffic increase, up nearly 20 percent. The visitor center claims that international visitors are expected to spend about seven times more per day than a domestic visitor.

As tourism increases in the area, its hard to see there not being growth in other sectors as well. Big Sky has always been an ideal vacation home rental destination for property owners looking to supplement their income. Now, as tourism continues to increase, a larger market only suggests larger pie slices for all involved.


New Montesorri School Coming to Big Sky

by Tim Hart

A new school may be coming to Big Sky. The Big Sky Discovery School, a private Montesorri school, has been started by Big Sky locals Scott and Karen Maybee in an attempt to diversify the education options for Big Sky locals. The school will serve up to 12 students in first through third grade but will look to expand up to sixth grade in the next year. Both owners believe the new private school will only help enhance the quality of education available in Big Sky. As there is no Montessori school in Big Sky, Big Sky Discovery School will bring a less traditional education method to the area. The school’s calendar will mimic the local public elementary school, Ophir, but the prospect of a new school has received mixed reactions from locals. In general though, having multiple options for schooling can only help potential home-buyers feel more comfortable moving to a smaller town. The school aims to be environmentally sustainable while feeding their students only healthy, natural, organic food. The eco-friendly perspective may also align more with recently moved parents, who are looking to raise their children with these tenants in mind. Any home-buyer looking to move into Big Sky can only be heartened by having more educational options available for their children.

Gallatin County Economy Continues to Thrive

by Tim Hart

Despite the fact that Montana’s economic growth rate has slowed in recent years, Gallatin County continues to maintain high economic growth. The county’s growth was driven by wages earned in the construction, manufacturing and service industries. From 2012 to 2013, the county added 2,500 jobs. That number was more than double any other county in Montana. Unfortunately, the amount of wages brought in was proportionally low at 28 million. Experts believe the low numbers simply reflect the generally lower wages that are given to these three sectors. But, the growth in the county still dwarfed the growth in any other Montana county.

For real estate, Gallatin County continued to look strong, coming in second for the most new housing startups. Gallatin County has plenty of potential for continued growth in this sector, as this data still only reaches to 76% of the pre-recession peak.

Source: Bacaj, Jason. “Gallatin economy growing, state slowing.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. 6 August 2014.

Both Big Sky and Bridger Bowl Resorts both set records for skiers.  Bridger Bowl saw 217,000 skiers this season overturning the previous mark by 3%.  Big Sky saw more than 450,000 skier visits overturning the previous mark by over 100,000 skiers!   Snow fell early and often with snowpack levels well above 100% levels in all areas in Big Sky and the Gallatin Valley.

Taking a Ski Trip to Big Sky, MT

by Tim Hart

If you are planning a ski vacation, look no further than Big Sky, Montana.  For ski-able acreage, Big Sky boasts over 3600 acres of ski-able acreage and 4366 vertical - while Moonlight Basin boasts an additional 2000 acres of 3850 feet of vertical.

When combining Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin, Big Sky, Montana offers some of the biggest ski-able acreage in N America with just a few resorts boasting bigger numbers.

Combine the huge terrain with virtually NO lift lines and you can get hooked on Big Sky, Montana skiing quickly.  Although the amenities in Big Sky have always been known as a bit on the 'light' side, the town center is really starting to take off with a new movie theater opening in May, several music amphitheatres, a great selection of restaurants and other services.

In addition, you have Yellowstone Park's west entrance just down the road - about 48 miles, mammoth hiking and snow-shoeing; back country skiing, snowmobiling, dog sled rides, and horse driven sleigh dinners - a lifetime of memories in a week!

My recommendation is to find a great ski rental vacation home in the Mountain Village area of Big Sky - most have good-to-great ski access and jaw dropping views of Lone Mountain and the Spanish Peaks.   One ski vacation rental home to consider is the Sioux Lodge @ This Lodge features: ski access to Big Sky Resort, killer views of Lone Mountain and room for 12 in 4 beds and 3.5 baths, the Sioux provides base camp for an awesome ski vacation.

Visit Big Sky, Montana this winter for an unforgettable vacation ski destination.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10