Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19

Allowing MLS to Take the Lead

by Tim Hart


“The power balance in the real estate world is shifting faster than ever. Travel titans, search engines, investment oracles and government entities all want to change the way we do business. Most just want to control a larger piece of the pie.” (Source)


In the everyday functioning of a real estate office, attracting and retaining agents is a top priority. Real estate, although a volatilemarket, is a rather stable numbers game when it comes to the number of agents entering versus retiring. With that being said, the ability of a broker or agent to increase sales production and income often comes at the expense of competing agents and brokers.

The common element in this competitive personal marketplace is the multiple listing service [MLS]. “The multiple listing service could be called the referee for our regional activities.” (Source) MLS standardizes practices and creates/enforces a plethora of rules. Some agents appreciate the consistency. Some agents loathe the rules impeding into their business. That very tension is where the greatest value of MLS is hidden. An authoritative entity used for the creation of industry wide standards is crippled if it is not also give the ability to enforce. Because of this, MLS is a uniquely powered organization. Realtor organizations, a variety of brokerages, part-time and full time agents, and the MLS staff all work together to generate consistency within real estate listings—the driving force for all real estate movement.

As the real estate industry is becoming increasingly more technologically driven, the tech driven entrepreneurs within the agent community seem to be leaning more toward unified solutions grounded in the network already in place—MLS.


The future of MLS may very well be a more regulated national oversight service. Many pressures on the real estate community are encouraging MLS to get more teeth. The alternative would be that brokers could forge different agreements with the same portals like multiple buyers competing for a home. Everyone could begin undercutting everyone else. There would be no uniformity of goal. So keep your eye on the real estate Multiple Listing Service… I am interested to see where this goes. 

Mortgage Credits Adjusting to the Market Recovery

by Tim Hart

Mortgage standards that have kept many potential buyers out of the market are beginning to loosen. In addition, banks are speaking about increasing their mortgage business soon and shore up their residential mortgageassets within the next year.  All these prospective changes are being driven by a sharp rise in mortgage demand in conjunction with more home purchase applications being approved (60% compared to 55% of a year ago). This will combat but not fully eliminate the highly competitive home buying marketthat will still require standards such as 20% down.

“Fear Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will force lenders to take back risky mortgages continues to be the primary condition constraining lending,” RealtyTrac reports. “Other conditions that have lenders holding tight to mortgage purse strings include obtaining insurance, slow economic growth, concerns about securitization, and processing capacity.”

Mortgage Squeeze Loosens, Somewhat,”

Data Shows Mortgage Credit Easing, Others Not so Sure

Here are the national averages for mortgage rates for the week ending May 16: 

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.51 percent, with an average 0.7 point, increasing from last week’s 3.42 percent average. A year ago at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.79 percent. 
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.69 percent, with an average 0.7 point, rising from last week’s 2.61 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.04 percent. 
  • 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.62 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 2.58 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.83 percent. 
  • 1-year ARMs averaged 2.55 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 2.53 percent average. A year ago at this time, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.78 percent. 


Stalling Sellers May Miss The Boat

by Tim Hart

Real Estate Opprotunity People, especially those who are thinking of selling, are eying the market with calculated hesitancy.  They are waiting to see by how much home prices will appreciate before they commit to the decision and plunging into the market for themselves.

Oddly enough, the time to decide may be based on when they purchased their home rather than watching the current market like a hawk. If your home was purchased during the sluggish market in the last few years, moving up in 2013 is their prime opportunity.

"Because they bought near the bottom, these home owners should have built up some good equity that can go toward the purchase of a new home, and waiting longer to build more equity likely won’t provide much advantage given that other homes that they might want to move up to will also be appreciating at roughly the same pace," Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, told HousingWire.

Home owners who wait much longer may miss their chance by being overly cautious. If you are looking to sell and then buy, waiting for prices to rise because there is no ultimate benefit. They will get more out of their home, but turn around and spend more too. In addition, the costs of financing your next home may increase in the months to come since mortgage rates are anticipated to rise from their current 3.5% to 4.4%... The time to sell may be now or else you may miss the boat...

Read more:

 “The Time to Sell Is a Waiting Game for Some,” HousingWire (March 21, 2013)

Home Owners Reluctant to Sell; Inventories Fall


Better Marketing: Better Listings: Better Business

by Tim Hart
  • Responsive Website(s): Having the contact information for not only the real estate office as a whole, but for each agent (with a bio on what they are a specialist in) is necessary for buyers, but it is just as important for selling agents. Finding the information to schedule a showing, provide feedback, and contact for interest. This may seem like a no brainer, but finding the contact information for agents is surprisingly difficult at times. In addition, having continuity throughout the office as to what to do when a call comes in for a listing maintains the professional, high priority and maximum attention to each potential lead that comes in. 
  • Traceable Traffic:  Knowing about the marketing tendencies of each listing individually is a key indicator of how to gage a ‘good listing.’ Knowing when the listing receives market rejection, a spike in views, and even plateaus are all valuable measurements to appropriately adjust the marketing strategies for a listing. Not all sites provide agents with this information let alone allow clients to see these trends.
  • Local Market Trends: Finally, taking the trends of the individual listings and being able to expand that understand to what it means within the market at a whole is a deeply detailed-focus analytic process that takes years within the Gallatin Valley Real Estate market to be able to understand and iterate to clients. The juxtaposition of giving credence to individual listings and understanding them in the market at large is what will really set an agent apart.



Real Estate Outlook for the Gallatin Valley

by Tim Hart


Activity in Bozeman continues to trend very positively.  Big Sky continues to improve in median price and also days on market.  Belgrade is up and Manhattan and Three Forks continue to improve.  Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley are moving nicely!  The realtors and their suppliers are still very busy, prices are rising, days on market stats are shrinking.  It is a great place to live and the stats continue to prove this out.

Stats for Improved Properties:


Market Area

Units Sold – 2012 (thru Sept 30th)

Units Sold – 2011

Median Price – 2012

Median Price – 2011

Ave Days on Market – 2012

Ave Days on Market – 2011


















Big Sky
















Three Forks








* Data is for period Jan 1 – Sept 30th – includes all improved categories except for mobile/manufactured.

Summary of Data for Improved Properties:

  • Bozeman continues to trend up – 146 more improved properties sold this year vs. last year, days on market continue to shrink.
  • Belgrade also improved.  12 more units have sold year to year, median price up and days on market are down.
  • Big Sky statistics are mixed.   Median price continues to trend up – almost $45 k, units sold down a touch and days on market now improved over last year.  The trend is improving and should continue to.  
  • Manhattan now trending up – 2 more units sold, median price up $16k, days on market the only lagging indicator.
  • Three Forks finally gaining ground – six more properties sold year to year, median price about stagnant, days on market not improved though.




Overall, the Gallatin Valley is very healthy and continuing to improve!

Call, e-mail or text me for more information on the market and to get signed up for property alerts  which are daily updates based on your parameters or visit my web site..  I look forward to serving you!   Tim

Curb Appeal: Tips for Property Investors

by Tim Hart


Making a home stand out in a market that is evermore ‘template’ based for building homes is not something that can be put off for another day. In order to make your house pop when a potential renter/buyer is looking at it, follow these dramatic tips:

Simple and Sweet: Manicure your lawn. Great lawns require upkeep and that is a fact that people just have to face. Cutting, trimming, weeding, fertilizing, and a little bit of TLC to make the velvety green plain look solid and well cared for. If you do not have the time for it, hire either a professional company or if you are on the fence about the amount you need extra help, neighborhoods have a great summer work fleet of eager young kids looking to make a few bucks.

Beyond lawn care, shrubs, flowers, and bushes are spendy  to purchase so once they are in, trimming them back and keeping them in top-notch condition is only sensible. Here in Montana where spring is gorgeous, summer is short, fall is crisp, and winter is long investing in some winter resistant evergreens will keep a touch of color in snow covered yards.




Breaking Down Credit Score & Mortgage Rates

by Tim Hart


History has shown that the best way to predict a person’s behavior over the near-term future is to look at that person’s behavior in the recent past. It’s a concept similar to the First Rule of Physics — an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

This basic concept applies itself to predicting an individual’s spending habits as well. Precedent shows that a person who regularly pays their bills will continue to pay their bills on time in the foreseeable future. Your credit score therefore is based upon a person’s predicted spending habits based upon past performance. Specifically, to mortgage lenders, your credit score is your probability that you will pay your mortgage on time for the next 90 days. Higher credit scores correlate with lower risk. Transversely, low credit scores are associated with a high risk and that is why lower credit scores receive a higher mortgage rate.

Mortgage lenders use a credit model known as FICO. It is your FICO score that impacts the mortgage rate a person is eligible for. FICO is paired with the newly implemented LLPA (Loan-Level Pricing Adjustment) that was put in place due to the major mortgage market losses in 2008. LLPA are ‘discount points’ applied to a mortgage rate based upon the borrower’s level of risk. Here is an example:

Assuming a 20% downpayment, look at how discount points change based on credit score. Fees get massive for FICOs under 700.

740+ FICO  : There are no discount points required. This loan is “low risk”.

720-739 FICO :  0.250 discount points are charged to the borrower, or $250 per $100,000 borrowed

700-719 FICO :  0.750 discount points are charged to the borrower, or $750 per $100,000 borrowed

680-699 FICO :  1.500 discount points are charged to the borrower, or $1,500 per $100,000 borrowed

660-679 FICO :  2.500 discount points are charged to the borrower, or $2,500 per $100,000 borrowed

For more details: EMAIL ME!


Hot Topic: Kiddie Condos

by Tim Hart


Kiddie Condos 


FHA’s Kiddie Condo Loan Program is a non-occupant co-borrow program allowing parents to assist their children buy a single family home or condo  as they go off to college instead of paying for the costs of rent or dorms. The kiddie condo is just a nickname for a whole realm of options available for buyers-not only condos. Both borrowers take the title of the property and sign for the loan together. 


All borrowers have to qualify and pass a credit check.  There are ‘non-traditional credit’ options available for fresh young adults who may have not accumulated substantial credit yet.

Some of the other negatives that have come out of the woodwork as more and more people go with this option, and they all come down to overestimations. Parents overestimate the possible savings, the potential appreciation of a house in a college town, and they over estimate their child’s ability to serve as landlord and reliable co owner.  One must be sure they trust the integrity of their co owner as in any business deal and everyone must understand the risks that always come with investing in real estate.



A kiddie condo loan program is a great way for young adults to get a taste of home buying and ownership. This builds their real estate portfolio as well as their credit.  FHA normally does not allowing non occupying co borrowers on loans exceeding 75% of the property’s value, but with the kiddie condo you can get a maximum of 96.5% if the co borrowers are related by blood.

Along with high loan percentages, kiddie condos offer a low down payment, a lower owner-occupied interest rate on the mortgage, and the tax benefits. Deducting mortgage interest and real estate taxes on a Federal Income Tax return can be split amongst the owners in accordance to whom pays what expenses on the house.

"It transcends just helping you with school," said Vita, who's now a software engineer for Microsoft. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.) "I got to learn to be a responsible homeowner. I learned about paying bills and taxes and about credit. . . . I learned to be pretty handy, and (when the house sold), it was the basis for a down payment on a really sweet place."

Please contact me if you have any further questions. I have helped a handful of families find their ideal living solutions with this program. You can be my next success story!


Bank of America Offers $30K to Short Sale Owners

by Tim Hart


To curb the rate of foreclosures, BofA is offering $25,000-30,000 of assistance in relocation fees if they are willing to complete the short sale instead of foreclosure. Why? Banks are seeing short sales as a money saving avenue than if a homeowner falls into foreclosure. The difference between the two processes is simple; short sales tend to give the bank ownership of the home more efficiently leaving the condition of the property optimal for a speedy turn around on the selling end with low fees. In addition, data reveals that short sales bring in more money than foreclosures in the long run.

With that information at hand, banks have started to put forth special offers for homeowners struggling to enter into either short sales or foreclosures. BofA ran a pilot program in Florida and JPMorgan Chase piloted a similar program with the same incentive.

"This program can help customers make a planned transition from ownership when home retention options have been exhausted or they have made a decision not to keep the home," says Bob Hora, a Bank of America executive.

Source: “Bank of America Offering up to $30,000 for Short Sales,” CNNMoney (May 15, 2012) andBank of America

Read More

BofA Starts Writing Off Borrowers' Mortgage Debt

Abandoned, Deteriorating Homes … Just Let Them Burn?




Costco Is Entering the Real Estate Market

by Tim Hart


Bulk quantities of food, electronics, furniture, you name it and Costco isthe place to buy it. Now, after a year of testing to see the viability, the Costco we know and love will be implementing a full-service mortgage lending program on its website in partnership with 11 well know lenders. Over 10,000 mortgages have been issued under the program already. They are hoping that number will swell as word gets out.

What is your reaction to Costco’s bold move? Comment and Share



Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19