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Bozeman Exploring Solar Alternatives

by Tim Hart

City leaders want to lower utility costs and make Bozeman a little greener by offering some form of solar program to its residents. The city wants to provide clean energy to all its residents-whether they rent or own a home.

Currently, a new community solar model has gained traction as the front-runner for how Bozeman may address solar needs moving forward. The community solar model allows customers to tap into a community-based solar system. For ‘opting in” to the solar program, customers will receive a credit on their utility bill without having to pay for expensive solar panels. Buying and installing a full solar system into a private home can cost up to $23,500.

Currently 22 other states use a similar model.

With that being said, it should be noted there are a couple other viable models that have worked very well in different places across the United States.

The first model involves putting solar panels on individual homes for no cost. The utility company then deducts energy that home produces from their overall utility bill. The company, in a sense, buys the power from the home and deducts that cost from the bill.

Another model follows a similar idea. In this model the utility company still places solar panels on the home. However, they set up a loan agreement, much like a home, for 30 years at a fixed rate. The homeowner will still receive a deduction on their bill but in this model they are also provided an opportunity to be a full owner of the solar panels (which would really cut down on costs!). The energy they produce can also be reinvested back into their loan payments.

I have written an in depth article about the last two models. If you would like to read more about them, click here.

All of the models have their own advantages and drawbacks. Whether its time, money or freedom of action, all the plans give in some areas and take in others.

Bozemanites should be appreciative of their elected officials' attempts to stay up to date with technology. With this solar story, along with city leader's recent attempts to establish a fiber optic network, its clear that one of Bozeman's goals is to keep itself technologically up to date. No matter what, having some form of solar program in place will help make Bozeman more sustainable, cheaper and keep it a wonderful place to live.

 

Source: http://www.kbzk.com/story/28924241/strong-push-to-expand-solar-energy-in-bozeman

 

Indonesian Woman Lists Herself with Home

by Tim Hart

For home sellers who have seen their local markets heat up in 2015, they will be happy to know the heat is limited to houses only. In Indonesia, one homeowner, Wina Lia, is trying to spice up her home sale by adding an unexpected ingredient to the mix – herself. Lia has offered an opportunity for her hand in marriage to any Indonesian buyer who chooses not to negotiate on the listing price of $76,500.

Homebuyers who prefer hot home deals in a more traditional sense are allowed to make an offer on only the home. Buyers looking for love over shelter may be disappointed to find out the home purchase only gives them the chance to ask for her hand, but does not guarantee her acceptance.

The real estate agent, Dian Purna Dirgantara, crafted the idea when the homeowner admitted she was also looking for a husband at the time. Since he produced the advertisement, he has received endless calls from viable buyers and the curious alike. Whether Dirgantara’s strategy will be picked up by other agents and homeowners looking to make a home sale is yet to be seen.

 

Source: http://time.com/3738528/house-indonesia-wife/

Bozeman Building Still Booming

by Tim Hart

According to the Department of Community Development’s Annual Report, Bozeman has seen a huge spike in building permits over the past two years.

639 single-family resident permits were filed in Bozeman in the last two years. That number is more than 2008 to 2011 combined. 40 duplex permits were filed in 2014. 44 were filed from 2009 to 2013. 27 triplex permits were filed in 2014. 18 were filed from 2008 to 2013.

The report has shown most of the growth on the western end of town but growth is also present to the south as well. Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, among their other construction projects, may soon be developing the open space acreage around them. Preliminary plans include 300 homes with park and wetland additions.

When seeing numbers like this, its hard to say Bozeman is not doing enough to keep up with their lack of home inventory. As both home prices and rental prices have gone up and vacancies for both have gone down, its clear the builders are working as hard as ever to get people into homes in Bozeman. Whether they will be able to keep up with Bozeman’s growing reputation and tourism numbers is to be seen.

 

Source: http://www.kbzk.com/story/28186330/bozeman-building-boom-spreads-in-all-directions

http://www.bozeman.net/Smarty/files/dd/dd78ab4b-2733-4d86-af27-5a5ce25a2f10.pdf

 

 

Bozeman Improves Safety with Recent Projects

by Tim Hart

Two recent projects taking place in Bozeman have highlighted the city’s recent efforts to better address the health and safety of its residents.

The Bozeman Police Foundation has spent nearly $6,000 to improve safety around Bozeman. One of the projects added flashing beacons to several crosswalks around Sacajawea Middle School and Whittier Elementary School. The new beacons should help drivers see and react to children crossing the street better than ever before.

Crossing guards have always helped children cross the road during times of high traffic, like in the mornings and after school. However, during off hours and  the times in between classes, those crosswalks do not have guards on patrol. Now, with flashing lights, the kids can cross the street safer and cars will be well aware when someone tries to cross the street.

Bozeman has been updating signage in town for the last year or so to better address the needs of its people.

In other news, the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital has seen its 15 million dollar expansion move faster than expected, due to favorable weather. The hospital will be putting in a new 5 story, 80,000 sq. ft building to help the hospital keep up with a growing Gallatin Valley population. The new building will be for offices, but it will help the hospital run smoother while better addressing the health and safety of Bozeman people.

Livingston has also taken on the construction of a new hospital, really showcasing the population growth of Southwest Montana.

 

 

Sources: http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/bozeman-school-crosswalks-get-new-makeover/31202248

http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/construction-on-new-medical-office-at-bozeman-deaconess-underway/31243572

 

Home Rent Lower in Areas Surrounding Bozeman

by Tim Hart

I read a great article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle today and I wanted to pass along some interesting numbers regarding rentals in the city limits of Bozeman compared to those outside of it. Long story short—it will be cheaper to rent outside of Bozeman compared to inside it.

The numbers were acquired by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and they explain how they found them below:

 

“The numbers included in this analysis are based on 114 rental advertisements posted to Bozeman Craigslist between Feb. 1 and Feb.16, as well as classified ads placed in the Chronicle’s Sunday edition Feb. 15. Postings advertising individual rooms for rent, as well as most duplicate postings, were excluded.”

 

According to these numbers, the median per bedroom monthly price of a rental unit was $513. For Belgrade, Livingston, Four Corners and Gallatin Gateway, the median bedroom rent was $450. That totals a $756 dollar/year difference in renting in Bozeman compared to out of Bozeman.

For a 3 bedroom unit, the average rent in Bozeman was $1,300 a month compared to 1,200 a month elsewhere. When comparing median home prices between Bozeman and Belgrade, $325,350 and $223,000 respectively, Bozeman actually comes off well in terms of their direct proportion of cost to rent. From an investment perspective, it leads one to believe that higher profit margins may be had in the Belgrade rental market.

But don’t go buying up all the homes in Belgrade quite yet, because here is a great fact that shows how quickly Bozeman rent has climbed in the last years. Only last summer in Bozeman, a 3 bedroom unit cost around $950 a month--$450 less than current rental rates. For six months, that is an exceptional difference. If an investor can find a good deal on a home, the increasing rental rate could really change his/her fortunes.

For renters, however, Bozeman still remains a tough rental market. However, the city continues adding home inventory, making subdivisions and creating affordable housing to address the issue.

 

Source: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/city/rent-too-high-look-outside-bozeman-city-limits/article_66ac83ed-200a-5cef-b375-2c32a8468050.html?utm_medium=desktop&utm_source=block_683269&utm_campaign=blox

The Lowe’s Holoroom – Its Pretty Cool

by Tim Hart

Lowe’s Canada released in November a new home improvement simulator to help consumers build their dream room called the Holoroom. Now, if you haven’t had your mind blown in a long time, watch out, this one may do it for you.

Essentially, the simulator applies 3D and augmented realities into an open space in the Lowe’s store, where consumers can digitally renovate any room in their home. Consumers can choose wall colors, wall and floor tile, and even select and move furniture into a digital room. Then, they can walk around and see how it fits aesthetically and proportionally before they have to make any purchase.

Consumers first design/mimic their room from home, then add their designs into a tablet and then enter the Holoroom to make their final adjustments. If it all sounds a bit confusing, here is Lowe’s video on the Holoroom which should make everything much clearer (and much cooler!)

Lowes plans on eventually shareable to friends and family who can then walk through the “renovated” room and give any advice.

 

 

Source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2352328

Tim’s Know Your Homes 101 – Ranch Style Home

by Tim Hart

Ranch style homes have many names. Whether you hear American Ranch, California Ranch, Rambler or Rancher, know that this architectural wiz is generally talking about a ranch style home. The architectural style originated from the US and became very popular post World War II through the late seventies.

Ranch homes are single storied with low pitched roofs. Generally, ranch homes are assymetrical, but can range in shap from rectangular, to l shaped or even u shaped. The floor plans in ranch homes are simple and open. Living rooms and bedrooms are usually well separated. Ranch homes have an attached garage and the famous sliding glass door to exit onto the patio.

Ranch homes are characterized by their casual and informal living style.

 

Bozeman Scores 11th in Livability’s Top 100 Places to Live

by Tim Hart

Congratulations once again to Bozeman, Montana! It seems like somehow, some way, Bozeman manages to get mentioned in the lists of top towns in the US every month! After National Geographic’s rating of Bozeman as a top 25 ski town, it seemed unlikely it could do any better.

Well, yours truly thought wrong, as once again, Bozeman made another list. This time, Livability.com honored Bozeman as the 11th Best Place to Live in the United States. More than 2,000 cities with populations from 20,000 to 350,000 were ranked. The 2,000 towns were considered in the top 5% of United States communities. Doing a quick bit of math that puts Bozeman in the top 0.55% of the top 5% of towns in the United States. Very, very impressive.

Livability called their list a result of “its editors criss-crossing the US in search of great stories.” Well, it looks like they found some great places too. The company picked communities that stood out for “doubling down” on the livability of its residents. They focused on towns that were accessible, affordable, and provided choices and options to its residents; but they also focused on how its residents utilized those benefits. Livability judged these towns based on a combination of more than 40 data points, grouped into 8 categories.

Amenities (81) - Having activities and places to do them made communities stand out.

Demographics (33) – How diverse and accessible is your community?

Economy (62) – prospering cities spawn prospering residents in continued positive cycle

Education (81) – Schools create better community members and drive relocation.

Health Care (81) – Having an institution in town, that can create high paying professional jobs, while also caring for its community’s residents

Housing (65) – Is housing in the area meeting its residents needs and budget?

Social and Civic Capital/Engagement (82) – How are people giving back and working for the community?

Infrastructure (62) – are the proper buildings in place. Is it easy to maneuver around the city? Is transportation difficult?

Bozeman’s high total score put it at 11 out of the 2,000 towns in the running. Bozeman also scored number one in Livability’s Health Outcomes and Health Factors ranking for the state of Montana. Bozeman scored number two in Livability’s Healthy Behaviors rank as well.

Bozeman has seen increasing exposure on the national conscience as a great town with great people, doing great things. Looks like the nation has finally wised up a bit! Bozeman’s increased reputation should only continue bringing positive events, people and prosperity to the valley we call home.

 

 

Source: http://livability.com/best-places/top-100-best-places-to-live/2015/ranking-data

Belgrade Subdivision Reapproved by Planning Board

by Tim Hart

The Belgrade City / County Planning Board reapproved a 357 lot project this week—a project that had already been given the green light in 2006. The Ryan Glenn Estates project was once again approved, after the original project fell through during the recession. Glenn’s project went under after an Arkansas Bank that had funded the project had also folded. This subdivision is yet another recently approved development to increase home inventory and supply for the valley. Home values holding true, despite the increased inventory, reflect positively on the state of the market in Gallatin County.

With the re-approval of the subdivision, Ken Williams, one of the current owners, can now develop the land as it had been intended 9 years ago. The project will be built in 7 phases and is located at the corner of Penwell Bridge and Lagoon Roads.

The board added 3 variances to increase the city block length in the subdivision, eliminate curbs, and eliminate pedestrian ramps on the two major roads. The planning board also added a covenant eliminating future homeowners right to interfere with the nearby Gallatin Speedway. The board will also address the future of two of the lots in the development that are located on a floodplain. The board will decide whether to reshape them or eliminate them. Finally, the board wants to use cut-off street lighting to avoid light pollution in the area.

The growth of the Gallatin Valley has become increasingly evident. Subdivision projects like this one show that developers have regained their confidence that there are enough homebuyers waiting in the wings to legitimize the increase in supply. Bozeman and Belgrade’s home inventory has grown without creating many vacant lots, a positive sign for growth. Low mortgage rates and the lack of rentals in the area have created a deep source of potential buyers.

 

Source: http://www.belgrade-news.com/news/article_3f64b242-a5e0-11e4-9fe1-2bae5a6c51cc.html

Foreclosed On Home Buyers Returning to Market

by Tim Hart

According to Realtytrac, nearly 7.3 million people who have had their homes foreclosed on during the recession will once again be able to buy a home in the next 8 years. More than 500,000 foreclosed on homeowners will be eligible for a new home loan this year.

In general, homeowners can recover from a foreclosure in as little as three years. Realtytrac gives a more conservative number—seven years—for how long it will take these people to rebuild their credit score. By doing the math, homeowners who lost their homes in 2007 and early 2008 should now be able to qualify for financing.

As previously mentioned, 500,000 of these homebuyers, a.k.a. boomerang buyers, will be able to become homeowners once again in 2015. Next year, 1 million additional homebuyers will be added to the pool. By 2018, that number increases to 1.3 million. Low mortgage rates, low mortgage insurance rates, and new low down payment mortgages have also freed up more of these homebuyers.

Oddly, these buyers will most likely be able to find homes they can afford in markets that had originally put them in their unfortunate situation. Towns and districts with high foreclosure numbers during the recession still have the most affordable home prices. Hopefully, with that negative experience still on the forefronts of our national conscience and with the new government regulations enacted since, these buyers and their lenders will not find themselves falling into the same pattern that occurred during the recession.

Assuming all goes well, having more buyers return to the market will help the housing sector of the economy grow. Home prices may rise slightly, but having a big base of homebuyers should provide more stability and confidence for builders who can increase home inventory without concern.

 

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/27/real_estate/boomerang-homebuyers-foreclosed-return/index.html

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 121

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