Real Estate Information Archive


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Home Buyer Demand Rising In Real Estate Housing Market

by Tim Hart

Home buyers may soon look like the picture above, as they wait to see that perfect home listing. Ok, maybe not to that degree, but of late, buyers have been lining up to get their chance in the US housing market.

Buyer demand has increased over March and into April across the United States due to low mortgage rates and more, new constructions start-ups adding cheaper inventory to the market.

Mortgage applications rose in the week ending April 4th for the 3rd consecutive week. Applications rose by 7% week over week and were up 12% from the same week in 2014. Mortgage applications are the best barometer for homebuyer demand, so seeing an increase in applications is always positive.

Applications rose by 17% from March compared to February as well. Most attribute the rise in mortgage activity to be due in part to the low mortgage rates seen recently (3.66% for a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage).

Buyer demand has also increased for new construction. Many buyers have opted to wait for a new home, rather than competing with other buyers on an existing home. New construction homes sales have gone up recently because they have found a price point that is appealing for many buyers.




The Gallatin County and southwest Montana, along with a few select regions in the state, have helped raise the average wage for the state and lower unemployment numbers.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle analyzed numbers released by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry and split the state into its major regions.

The Billings region, lead Montana with an average wage of $40,733 in 2013. Southwestern Montana came in just behind that with an average wage of $39,698. In Gallatin County, 66% of its residents earned their income through a wage or salary disbursement.

Despite the Gallatin County leading the state in economic growth, the average wage still came in second to the Billings region. Perhaps the slightly lower wages reflect the consequences of being a major tourist hub for the state. In an area with high tourism, many retail and service industry jobs that pay minimum or close to minimum wage will find greater success. The minimum wage was raised from $7.90 an hour to $8.05 an hour across the state at the beginning of 2015.

The highest earners in the state were physicians and surgeons at $243,000 per year. The lowest average wage came from gaming dealers—at $18,150 a year.

Montana and the Gallatin County both had unemployment rates below national averages. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the United States currently sits at 5.7 percent. Currently, 4.4% of Montanans are unemployed. In Gallatin County, only 3.6% of people are unemployed.






Classifying the 2015 Home Buyer

by Tim Hart

What drives homebuyers in 2015? Where are they coming from and where do they want to go? And as I’m sure you are asking yourself right now, why does any of this even matter so long as my house sells?

Well, any home seller who understands what type of buyer he/she will ultimately sell their home to, can then fix and adjust the home to make it appeal to the highest amount of buyers, raising its market demand.

The National Association of Realtors recently released their Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trend report, outlining, among many other topics, the general outlook of United States homebuyers.

Generation Y, those aged 35 and under comprise the largest share of home buyers at 32 percent, more than all baby boomers combined. Their average income is $76,900 a year. It should be noted that the median age for these home buyers was 29, meaning that those home buyers are generally closer to 35 than to 18 when they are ready to make a purchase. Sixty nine percent of Generation Y buyers are first time buyers and 39% of them were driven to purchase a home for the desire to finally own their own home. For buyers aged 33 and under, 59% of them are purchasing a home to leave a rental situation.

Generation X, those aged 35-49, comprise 27% of homebuyers in the United States. On average, they make $104,600 a year. Generation X buyers, in general, are shopping for more than just themselves. Generation X buyers are usually shopping for families. As the presence of children in the home peaks for a buyer aged 35-49, homes aiming to sell to Generation X’s will need to be child friendly, with additional bedrooms and possibly a bonus room.

As age increases, homebuyers are far more likely to already be homeowners. Below age 33, homebuyers are generally leaving a rental situation. For homebuyers over 50, more than half owned their previous residence. Whether that means they are buying a second home, are downsizing or have other reasons to move, these buyers will generally be more seasoned, discerning and will expect more from their home.

Young boomers or people aged 50 – 59, comprise 15% of the buyer’s market. They are likely to move for job relocation or to downsize their home. Younger boomers make an average of 96.6 k per, the first age group where median income goes down from the previous generation as oppose to up.

Older boomers, people aged 60 to 68, move for retirement or to be closer to friends and family. As age increases, the rate of owning more than one home also increases.

If you have considered selling your home in the past, you may not have considered this question: What type of buyer will my home more than likely sell to and how can I make it even more attractive to that person? Once you have found that answer, you are well on your way to listing a highly sought after home.



Cannery District Project Scheduled for Fall Opening

by Tim Hart

The Cannery building, the focal point of the Cannery District, will be set to open for business starting this fall. After jumping through hoops and dealing with discussions of a possible city annexation, the owners are now ready to move on the Cannery Building itself. The owners already have a variety of businesses set up to lease the space once the building is ready.

Currently crews are working on bringing the 4-story Cannery building up to new guidelines and code and expect the building to be ready on time.

The owner’s goal is to bring centrality and vibrancy to the district. As of now, the building will be welcoming a barbershop, an architect, a physical therapy group and a marketing technology firm. The owner’s hope to have a restaurant on the bottom floor and one spot is still currently available.

The building is the first phase of a 4 phase Cannery Renewal Project. By project’s finish, the Cannery District should have 15 buildings in total, costing roughly 15 million dollars.

YMCA Moving Forward with 5.5 Million Center

by Tim Hart

The Gallatin YMCA will move forward with their plans to construct a 5.5 million dollar athletic facility just north of Gallatin Regional Park in Bozeman. According to preliminary plans, the building would be 24,000 square feet and would include weight and cardio centers, locker rooms, a community program area and administrative space.

The 7-acre site was purchased by the YMCA, thanks to a large donation in 2008. However, after the recession tightened up funding, the project has been on the back burner ever since.

Recently, the YMCA restarted their attempts to get the facility running. They have been requesting donations from the community and so far, have raised 2.5 million for the first phase of the project.  In summer 2014, to lighten their load, they paired with the City of Bozeman to build a new aquatics center. But once the bond approving a new law and justice center fell through, the aquatic center moved down on the city’s priorities.

The YMCA serves 5,800 kids annually. That number has grown by 540% since 2010. Bozeman continues to attract new families, looking to raise their children in a positive environment. The YMCA’s recent growth helps support that claim.

As Bozeman continues to grow and continues to stay such a family friendly environment, residents should expect more, similar projects to better address their family needs in the future.




Bozeman School District Enrollment Increases

by Tim Hart

The Bozeman School District will be adding 170 more students next year, highlighting Bozeman and the surrounding area’s continued growth. Last year, Bozeman schools had their highest enrollment ever and it looks like the record won’t make it through the calendar year.

In addition to the 170 new students, administrators will hire 11 more teachers to better educate the additional students. In order to make those hires, the 2015 legislature will need to pass the public schools bill in April. Luckily, the bill dealing with inflation costs has already passed.

Elementary and middle schools will increase by 167 students next year. That is a 3.8% increase from the 2014 to 2015 school year when 4,321 students were enrolled in elementary and middle schools. The high school only added 3 new students. From a real estate perspective, the enrollment totals suggests that Bozeman is still very much a family town—and new families looking to move here, tend to make that move early. With the nearby schools, public lands and outdoor activities, its easy to see why Bozeman would be a big draw for young families looking to live in Bozeman for an extended time.

As enrollment increases, Bozemanites may have concerns that the quality of the education may be diluted. However, this year suggests otherwise. Bozeman High School was honored for its students high Advanced Placement Exam scores and ACT scores. The high school was also awarded two grants for studies in mental health and mathematics. Longfellow, one of the local elementary schools, won a department of education honor as a Blue Ribbon School.

The Bozeman School District still remains the gold standard for schools in the area. It is no wonder that more and more families move to Bozeman to educate their children in such a positive learning environment.





Jumbo Borrowers Have High Activity and Large Benefits

by Tim Hart

Jumbo borrowers were more active and received far more benefits than the average homebuyer in 2014. Over the year, jumbo borrowers saw lower mortgage rates than normal borrowers or, at the very least, smaller down payments and private mortgage insurance requirements.

At the beginning of 2014, fixed jumbo mortgage rates started at 4.59 percent. Between August and September, jumbo loan mortgage rates were actually below the already very low rates from standard mortgages. In late September 2014, a jumbo loan borrower could expect to pay around 4.24% interest compared to a standard fixed rate mortgage borrower paying 4.36 percent. In the week ending  January 30th, 2015, the jumbo rate hit historic lows of 3.92 percent.

Jumbo borrowers have seen increased benefits over the last year. Banks and credit unions have offered down payments less than twenty percent while others have offered not private mortgage insurance costs. Both can really free up the eligibility of a jumbo borrower.

As the benefits have risen, jumbo borrower activity has followed suit. Jumbo loans took up 19% of the mortgage market in 2014, up from 14.4% in 2013, and the highest percentage since 2002. More borrowers became eligible and took out jumbo loans in 2014 and the average age of a jumbo borrower fell from 46 to 44 years old.

As banks have loosened their jumbo loan requirements, they have seen more jumbo buyers coming to the market. With more jumbo borrowers coming out of the woodwork, the banks have been able to continue loosening requirements and lowering rates. So far, the activity of higher end buyers coming out of the housing recession has been




This month, we will highlight Condominium and Townhome sales comparisons of 2012, 2013 and 2014 in the Gallatin County. Here are a few stats for Gallatin County condos and townhomes homes that stood out:

  • Unit sales increased from 2012 to 2013 by 14.85% (532 sold in 2012, 611 sold in 2013)
  • Unit sales increased from 2013 to 2014 by 13.75% (611 sold in 2013, 695 sold in 2014)
  • Unit sales increased from 2012 to 2014 by 30.64%
  • Dollar volume increased from 2012 to 2013 by 42.80% ($101,214,358 sold in 2012, $144,528,512 sold in 2013)
  • Dollar volume increased from 2013 to 2014 by 26.82% ($144,528,512 sold in 2013, $183,297,187 sold in 2014)
  • Dollar volume increased from 2012 to 2014 by 81.10%
  • Average sales price rose from 2012 to 2013 by 24.33% ($190,252 in 2012, $236,544 in 2013)
  • Average sales price rose from 2013 to 2014 by 11.50% ($236,544 in 2013, $263,736 in 2014)
  • Average sales price rose from 2012 to 2014 by 38.62%

Summary –The Gallatin County has seen growth in unit sales, dollar volume and average sale price for condos and townhomes. With more unit sales going at higher prices, the county’s market is growing quickly. Increasing sale prices should peak any seller’s interest.


Tim’s Know Your Homes 101 – French Eclectic

by Tim Hart

The French Eclectic home became popular in the United States in the early 20th century. It remained popular for around 30 years. These homes can resemble anything from a farmhouse to a manor, depending on their shape and size.

Americans borrowed the shapes and details of homes found in France to create the Americanized French Eclectic. Inspired by French country houses, these homes were usually built in times of prosperity. Due to the customization of these homes, French Eclectics often do not really resemble each other, hence the eclectic nature of the architectural style. To better define the French Eclectic, I’ve split the style into 3 categories.



Symmetrical – The symmetrical style is generally inspired by big manor houses. The home is based on order and balance, with prominent chimney’s, flared eaves and evenly spaced windows.





Assymetrical – the assymetrical version gives a formal aire to the property while providing an appetizing visual. Combinations of brick and stone are common. Assymetrical French Eclectics are often sprawling and impressive.




Towered – A towered French Eclectic, of course, has a large tower that anchors the home. Towered French Eclectics can appear castle like and can appear similar to the English Tudor style. Most towered homes have the tower as their main entrance, though its not always the case. Other than the tower, these homes usually are most similar to the assymetrical French Eclectic.



Take another course! If you would like to read about other home styles, click these links to find out more.





Eminent Domain in Bozeman Montana

by Tim Hart

On Tuesday, the City of Bozeman grappled with employing one of the more interesting real estate practices – eminent domain. Eminent domain is when a government body forcibly purchases private land from an individual for the overall benefit of the public. Eminent domain can be a very hot topic because it draws people’s basic political philosophies on the government’s role towards its people into a real estate conversation—two things I think most of us would like to keep at a comfortable distance from each other.

In this specific case, a property owner nearby the land in question wanted to develop his own land. The Bridger Creek HOA did not grant him an easement that would have allowed him to connect the development to city water and sewer lines and building emergency roads. The HOA said its members were not interested in having more developments nearby. When they couldn’t settle the dispute between each other, they turned to the city to solve the matter. If Bozeman were to take eminent domain over the land, then the owner would be allowed to connect his utilities to city lines.

Bozeman, however, decided not to get involved and not annex the land. The city felt that such a drastic measure did not match up with the number of citizens who may benefit down the line. However, several commissioners saw the HOA’s attempt to block the eminent domain request as a thinly veiled way to fight any future development in the area.

Eminent domain is one of the more interesting real estate topics. In general, it’s a tool best used only when necessary because more often than not someone has to come out the loser.




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 50