Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 145

Building on Bozeman Main Street Renovated and Open for Business

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

An older building on the corner of Grand and Main Street in Bozeman finished their renovations in late October and is once again open for business. The building, known as the Dutton Building, sits near the entrance into Bozeman and will help add more visual appeal to Bozeman’s downtown.

The building had housed several restaurants over the past few years. After a few of them went out of business, the owners took the opportunity to tear down and renovate 2/3 of the building while adding a second floor.

The City Beautification Advisory Board bestowed and award on the building for its appearance and fit into Bozeman’s downtown atmosphere while the Downtown Bozeman Partnership said the building helps create a new visual entrance into town.

Renovation on the building was all privately funded. Businesses inside say renovations have helped drive additional, different customers to them. The owners are looking for additional businesses for their second floor.



Bozeman Montana School Expansion Bond Passes

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The Bozeman School district received great news from the Bozeman community on November 3rd, when voters passed 21.5 million dollars worth of bonds to expand both the Hawthorne Elementary School and Sacajawea Middle School.

Now, district officials can turn their sites towards a second high school in Bozeman.

As Bozeman grows, the community will need to continue funding the schools to help them address the rising student population and keep Bozeman the wonderful community that has attracted so many new residents.




New Bozeman Neighborhood: The Lakes at Valley West

by Tim Hart

The final plat of Valley West Subdivision’s final phase was approved on October 5th, allowing development to begin on Bozeman’s west side. The Lakes at Valley West, as the final phase is called, has been under formal review for the past year. Now with approval, it will bring approximately 60 homes and 2 lakes to the already thriving subdivision.

Valley West has been one of the fastest growing and most active subdivisions in Bozeman. The final phase will help provide amenities to the current neighborhood while also increasing home inventory in the Bozeman area.

Bozeman, like the United States overall, has dealt with rising values and a very competitive rental market. Across the nation, builders have been trying to increase home inventory to help alleviate rising home values. With both rental values reaching an all time high as well as rental vacancies reaching an all time low, increasing the number of homes available should help increase competition.

Bozeman has approved additional neighborhoods, apartment complexes and multi-use properties to try to increase local inventory. Bozeman has also looked into trimming lot sizes to make the home building process more affordable. Currently, commissioners have put an inclusionary zoning proposal on hold as well.




Bozeman Montana Airport Surpasses 1 Million Visitors

by Tim Hart

The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport surpassed 1 million total passengers over a 12 month period. From September 2014 to 2015, 1,000,483 passengers either boarded or exited a plane in Bozeman.

The airport saw a 4.4% increase compared to September 2013 to 2014 numbers.

In 2014, Bozeman had the busiest Montana airport, despite not having the highest population. The proximity of nearby attractions has really helped boost Bozeman’s tourism and economy.

In order to better host their rising totals, the airport has drafted plans to expand the airport in the next 5 to 10 years. The airport would like to add a second paved runway, expand the terminal, add a new parking garage and add a new de-icing area.

The airport and Bozeman both help each other and grow with each other. The airport attracts people, allowing Bozeman to sell itself, but oftentimes these visitors return again or sometimes become permanent residents. Once the airport expands, local residents can expect more tourists and more people looking to stay for an extended time.



Bozeman Fiber Optic Network Receives Big Boost

by Tim Hart

Bozeman’s attempt to lay fiber optic wire in town to improve internet prices, speeds and reliability for local business received a big boost from eight local banks recently. Bozeman Fiber Inc, the non-profit put in charge of the fiber optic project by the City of Bozeman, announced it has successfully negotiated 3.85 million in private financing.

The non-profit intends to develop an open-access network for private internet providers in Bozeman. They were put in charge of the project after the City of Bozeman moved away from earlier suggestions that would make the new cable public. Under the current plan, the project will provide the infrastructure and private internet providers can lease it at a certain price. Ideally, the project would help foster more competition as it would allow smaller companies to compete with larger national providers.

The non-profit believe they will start work in Spring 2016. Bozeman continues to invest in technology to stay ahead of the curve. Staying competitive in the tech world will help to continue driving more businesses and economic prosperity to Bozeman.




Fed Keeps Rates Near Zero, Mortgage Rates Fall

by Tim Hart

In light of the Federal Reserve’s decision to not raise the Federal funds rate, mortgage rates for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.86 percent this week.

The Federal Reserve continued to hold off on raising their interest rates, choosing to keep rates close to zero percent. The Fed attributed their lack of action to the lack of global growth that could potentially slow the domestic economy as well as the fact that inflation in the US remains subdued. The Fed committee also wanted to see additional evidence from the labor market to make sure it has and continues to improve.

The Fed made their decision 9-1 but they will meet again in late October and mid December. During those meetings, the Fed will once again decide on whether to raise rates. The Fed still plans on raising interest rates by the end of the year, but they have also said this for several previous years.

Currently, the Federal Reserve’s long-term goal is to have rates at or close to 3.5% by 2018.

Home buyers looking for a home loan will love the news that the Federal Reserve has not raised their rates as of yet. Mortgage rates are directly affected by the Federal Reserve rates and rise accordingly. Rates have stayed below 4% for 9 straight weeks. So long as the Fed does not raise rates, great financing opportunities still exist for buyers that might not be seen for some time. Having the Fed raise rates shows their confidence in overall economy, but from an individual buyer’s perspective, now is the time to lock in a great rate for the next 15 or 30 years.



Custom Home Building Increases

by Tim Hart

Custom Home building starts increased this year compared to 2013 and 2014 custom home start figures. Custom home starts are defined as homes built on an owner’s land, with either the owner or the builder acting as general contractor. The owner and builder have an agreement before the construction of a custom home.

Compared to other single family home starts, where the builder still needs to find a buyer for their home after completion, a custom home start can provide a builder with insurance that the home will sell while also providing a homebuyer the opportunity to customize each piece of the construction process to their liking.

From Quarter 2 of 2014 to Quarter 2 of 2015, 158,000 custom homes were started. From 2013 to 2014 of the same period, 146,000 custom homes were started. Having increased custom home starts implies that there are more homebuyers with more money in the housing market, looking for more than what the standard single-family spec home can provide. Many luxury buyers, instead of struggling through a long home search in the hopes of finding the perfect fit, move to custom building to get the amenities, style, floor plan and location they want in a home.

Interestingly, though custom home building has increased in the United States, its market share has dropped significantly since 2009. In 2009, 31.5% of all single family starts were custom homes. Now, only 23.1% are custom homes.

When looking at the time period, the decline makes sense. Builders at that time were highly competitive in a down market. Many builders would have been much more willing to build any type of home as they searched for enough work to keep their business afloat. Credit issues also made it hard for builders at that time to build homes without set buyers. Custom home building alleviated both, providing guaranteed work at a guaranteed price. 

On top of this, the market share has also declined because the single-family construction industry rebounded in general. Through much of the recession, single-family construction totals were much smaller, allowing custom homes (even if not growing themselves) to take a larger portion of the markets.

Growing custom home starts is just another small piece of evidence suggesting the United States housing market is rebounding and improving.






Montana to Improve Internet Speeds in Schools

by Tim Hart

Thanks to a partnership by the state government and an internet based non-profit organization, Montana Schools can look forward to having much faster internet in future years.

Montana will partner with Education Super Highway to help get state schools federal assistance and upgrade their broadband infrastructure. Currently, as many as 160 K-12 schools across Montana lack fiber optic cables that are needed for high speed internet connections. Rural schools struggle in particular due to their isolation. Education Super Highway specializes in gaining federal grants to help schools lay fiber optic wires or fund broadband upgrades. However, schools still need to pay for 10% of their costs. Having the state government jump on board will help pay for those additional costs to schools in need.

Bozeman schools obviously have internet access. However the size of some schools, coupled with their network capabilities often leads them to having slower than ideal internet. By partnering with Education Super Highway, even well established schools like Bozeman High School will have the opportunity to improve their internet infrastructure. The Bozeman School District does a great job keeping up with technology--last year they purchased Chromebooks for use by students--and this new project will only improve technology access in Bozeman schools. The City of Bozeman has also worked hard to install fiber optic cables around town--something that will also benefit nearby schools who can connect into that infrastructure.

Schools will not know how much the internet upgrades might cost until they have been reviewed on an individual basis. Having improved internet across the state and specifically in Gallatin County schools will continue to attract young families to the area. Any parent wants to give their child the best education possible. Having access to a tool like the internet is a must have in this modern age—having its capabilities fully optimized can’t hurt either!





Commissioners to Address Bozeman Affordable Housing

by Tim Hart

In a great article by Eric Dietrich of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, he outlined the affordable housing proposal that commissioners will consider on September 21st as well as outlining the comments and concerns about the proposal from the two most prominent, opposing parties.

The proposal was made in light of rising values in the for-sale housing market in Bozeman and whether it’s the local government’s responsibility to help keep a certain segment of homes at the affordable level. Currently, there is worry that some residents will need to move to outlying communities to keep their homes affordable. Bozeman has had experts, non profits, builders and anyone else with creative ideas offer their best suggestions to tackle affordability. Ideally, Bozeman commissioners will reach a decision next Tuesday.

The Proposal: Currently, the median income for a resident in Bozeman is $61,800 and can afford a home up to $250,000. However, as of last November, median home prices sat at $287,000.

To help lower the average costs of homes in Bozeman, the city would try to build 14 new affordable single-family homes and townhouses by 2016 with 54 new units by 2017. The city would use inclusionary zoning to get the homes built. Essentially, they would ask builders to build a certain number of affordable homes for every full subdivision, development etc. To entice builders in, the city would help cut down their costs by subsidizing impact fees and reducing lot sizes.

Three quarters of these homes would be priced for residents only making 90% of the median income. That would help a family of three making $55,600 able to afford a home of $213,000.

The last quarter of affordable homes would be built for residents making $49,450 and below, or 80% of the median income. These residents could afford a home of $161,000. 

Currently, builders and home affordability non-profits sit on each side of the debate and both have brought up their own concerns with the proposal.

HRDC: The HRDC is a non-profit, community action agency that has helped build affordable homes across town as well as help residents below median income levels to keep a good quality of life.  The HRDC’s concern with the new proposal is that it does not go far enough. The HRDC would like to see more affordable housing for those making $49,450 or less. They were also disappointed that the proposal does not address issues of affordability in the Bozeman rental market.

Builders: Local area builders are concerned that the new proposal and regulations will require too much financial risk on their part without equal compensation for their sacrifice. Essentially, they would be asked to recoup the lost profits of adding affordable homes to a subdivision through the impact fees and lot sizes. Builders do not believe the profit line makes that feasible.  On top of that, builders are concerned that even if low income buyers were able to buy a home in Bozeman because it had been subsidized, they may not be able to qualify for financing from banks and other insitutions that want to see certain levels of income.  Builders would take on a lot of financial risk without the guarantee that a buyer would be waiting for them.

No matter what the City Commissioners decide, the affordable housing debate will continue in Bozeman. Hopefully, Bozeman will be able to come up with a proposal that would be agreeable to all parties, if not ideal.



Developing Story Mill Community Park Receives 75K Grant

by Tim Hart

Story Mill Park is one step closer to becoming one of Bozeman’s biggest, best public parks after receiving a $75,000 grant from Wells Fargo Bank. Crews began work on the 55 acre park late last year and have been working on clearing buildings and opening the space need to transform the area into parkland. The grant will go towards development of the park and restoration of the segment of the East Gallatin River that flows through it.

The developers, the Trust for Public Land, will still need to collect additional funds but the donation helps them towards creating a park with a wide variety of amenities. The project has been given $4.5 million by the City of Bozeman but the Trust for Public Lands will need to gain additional donations from private donors like Wells Fargo. The trust believes around 3 to 4 million will still be needed for the project.

A majority of the park will be built from 2017 to 2018. The park will be designed to connect the city trails into the M and Drinking Horse trails, further expanding Bozeman’s already vast trail system.




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 145