Luxury home buyers are back in the game

Luxury home buyers are back in the game, signing contracts from coast-to-coast on homes priced in the tens of millions of dollar range. The recent $125 Million Dollar listing of Versace’s Miami Beach home equals the “highest-priced-residence-in-America” tag on Fleur de Lys Estate in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Steve Wynn spent $70 Million for a new penthouse, and a home in Aspen just closed for $49 Million.

Here in Bozeman, Montana, higher priced homes are showing up on the market, as is evidenced by the recent $7,800,000 estate listed in Bridger Canyon. Designed by renown local architect, Jerry Locati, and built by his favorite builders, SBC, the home commands views of the Bridger Mountains, is at the end of a gated road with its own stocked fishing pond, and is filled with treasures such as an ancient wood carving from Pakistan built into the master bedroom’s plaster wall as a headboard.

Wealthy people are snapping up homes in San Francisco, Palm Beach, Aspen, and New York, and the cost of homes is inching upward. Bozeman has yet to become the playground of the rich and famous. It retains its flavor of a quiet Rocky Mountain college-ski community, with primarily year round residents. That, however is also slowly changing due to the expansion of the airport and new non-stop flights to New York, Portland, Chicago, Atlanta, and next up–Dallas. The city is attracting the well heeled who can buzz in for the choice months and leave when winter seems too long. There is a growing number of small companies catering to second home owners, tending gardens, overseeing the home, keeping up with maintenance, even stocking the refrigerators. One of Bozeman’s premier private homes, tucked into 20 very private acres, less than 5 minutes south of town, is now under contract for millions of dollars. This was unthinkable a year ago, but the market and the willingness for people to buy has shifted.

Within the luxury market, values in Bozeman are still a “deal.” For $500 to $600 a square foot, a buyer will more than likely have 20 or more acres with world class views, finishes of the highest quality ranging from granite counters to Brazilian wood flooring, reclaimed timbers, jetted porcelain tubs, radiant heat flooring, hot tubs outside the master suite, and a wine cellar worth of Wine Spectator Magazine. The kitchen will boast Sub Zero refrigeration, a semi-commercial range, and walk-in pantry. There’s probably even a guest house. As more homes go under contract, the limited supply of both vacant land and high-end homes will drive the prices up, but they are still a minimum of 35% lower than in other Rocky Mountain towns such as Whitefish, Park City, Telluride, Vail, Jackson Hole. And, Bozeman is a real community, with an Opera, Symphony, and all those college kids encouraging us to retain our annual rating as Second Healthiest City in America.