Are you considering buying a home in today’s Bozeman market?

If so, you probably share many of the same concerns that other home buyers are experiencing. Whether you are a first-time millennial buyer or a seasoned high-end buyer, rising home prices tops the list. Competition between buyers for limited inventory is a close second. The real estate downturn of 2005/2006 depressed home prices in Bozeman for a number of years, while the last three years have seen the graph steadily reversing direction. Historic low mortgages rates are also inching up, and with the economy appearing to be heading towards sustained, healthy growth, combined with Bozeman’s “buzz,” prices will continue to rise. The trajectory is headed upward. Real estate is no longer at low, bargain prices, but keep in mind that it has yet to reach the peak of the pre-2006 real estate market. If you are contemplating buying a home, now is the time.


Bozeman is the fastest growing city in Montana, enjoying a 4.2% growth rate in 2016. Bozeman is also a “young” city, with the average age of people moving here and buying homes decreasing. Younger buyers are focused on good schools, easy commutes, a lifestyle that includes open spaces and the ability to walk or ride bikes rather than being forced to drive a car or take public transportation to get around. The lack of affordability in housing is the main concern. Decent and affordable Bozeman rental property is nearly impossible to find, and high monthly rental rates have pushed people into purchasing homes. Homes in the $250,000 to $750,000 price range in Bozeman are exceedingly tough to find. Buyers are rightfully concerned with the large gap between what they want, what they can afford, and actual inventory of available properties.


How does a buyer overcome these legitimate concerns? The first step is to be knowledgeable, focused, and prepared. Begin with your finances. Work with a loan officer and determine your price range. Secure a pre-qualification letter from the lender. One of your strongest positioning in a competitive market is to be able to provide solid proof that you can obtain financing for a given price point. This planning will also help shape your search for an appropriate property.


Hire an experienced real estate agent. You deserve an agent who knows the market, and is invaluable in guiding you in comparing properties, pricing, and structuring a transaction to your benefit. The right agent will help insure your transaction is smooth, as stress-free as possible, and will save you money. Agents talk to each other and oftentimes have a leg-up in knowing a property is about to come on the market. In today’s Bozeman market, a number of homes go under contract the day they are listed, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity. Pick an agent who is active, dedicated to finding you the right home, and will arrange for you to view new listings.


Before you meet with your agent, prioritize your concerns and needs. Write a list of what is essential for you in a home. Is price the key? A specific area of Gallatin Valley? Do you need a fenced yard for your dog? Do you have school age children and want them to be able to ride their bike to school? Are you a chef and need gas burners, or a tinker who requires shop space? Be realistic and consider your “Make-it or Break-it” items.  Very few people end up with everything they wish for in a home, so start by discussing the essentials with your Realtor.


Buying a home is a major investment. Your concerns are part of the process in locating and purchasing a home that fits as many of your requirements as is possible given your budget, inventory levels, and ability to negotiate a successful transaction. Concerns are building blocks, not road blocks. Treat them with respect and one day soon you could transition from a concerned buyer to a Bozeman property owner.


Mike Schlauch & Sally Uhlmann

Mike & Sally | SU Platinum Real Estate