New Year, New Backyard


Happy 2018! I hope your New Year is off to a great start.

Everyone is all about resolutions when we flip the calendar from December to January. If your New Year’s resolution is to find a new home in 2018, I’ve got some tips to help you get there. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or you’re looking for a second home in Southwest Montana, this step-by-step guide should make that process easier for you and lead us to find your new backyard.

Have a 2-5 Year Plan

A lot of people get stuck watching their entire lives unfold in a house before even purchasing their first home. They look at a house and think ahead, wondering if it will meet their needs years into the future. But the truth is that you’ll probably move a number of times before a lot of those things happen. In fact, the average homebuyer stays put in a home for only about 7-10 years. Younger and first-time homeowners tend to move even sooner.

So if you’re looking at a house and considering how you’ll feel living there in 15-20 years, the truth is you will probably have moved on by then. Instead, ask yourself if a particular home will meet your needs in the next 2-5 years.

This is especially true for first-time homebuyers in the Bozeman area right now. Few first-time homebuyers are going to be able to afford their forever homes right now because of the rising prices and low inventory. Instead, they should look at what they need and want in the next 2-5 years and go from there. By getting in the door of their first home and making minor improvements, then, when they do sell the home in the future, they will have a bigger down payment ready for their next home purchase. Just remember – selling before you’ve been in a home for two calendar years means you’ll pay capital gains taxes, which right now are around 28% of your profit.

Make a List

That leads us to the next step – making a list of wants versus needs.

This will help you and your Realtor figure out where to focus when looking at homes for you, which will make your home search more successful. Jot down two lists – one of wants and one of needs. You may want to live in a two-bedroom house with a yard in downtown Bozeman, but that may not be possible for you at this time.

Living downtown may be a want, so write that down in the “wants” category, but having two bedrooms may be a need, so put that under “needs.” By working out your wants versus actual needs, you’ll be able to get closer to finding a home that suits you.

Something I have seen a lot here is that people here get stuck on location. They want to live in a certain part of town, but something else to consider is that Bozeman is growing so quickly that areas that are currently considered on the outskirts likely won’t be in a few years.

Also, consider that if lifestyle choices brought you here, you will be closer to some of those recreation opportunities the further outside of town you go. Buying a house in Four Corners means you’re closer to skiing in Big Sky or floating the Madison River than you might be in other locations. A house in Belgrade may mean you have a bigger garage to store your toys for getting outside.

Download Wants + Needs PDF

Get Pre-Approved

Before walking into any houses, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved with a lender. This is a good idea for a couple of reasons. First, if you have a pre-approval letter in-hand, you will be prepared to make an offer on a house as soon as you find the one you want. Second, it ensures that you aren’t wasting time walking through houses that are out of your price range. You don’t want to fall in love with a house only to find out later that it costs twice as much as you can afford.

If you’re looking for a lender, here are some I recommend and trust:

Stephanie Hartman
First Interstate Bank
Phone: (406) 556-4867

Kari J. Francisco
Big Sky Western Bank
Phone: (406) 556-3876

Renee Gaugler
Rocky Mountain Bank
Phone: (406) 556-7607

Brett Hyde
A Preferred Mortgage
Phone: (406) 581-7569

Have Fun

Once you have done the initial work – making your 2-5-year plan, compiling your wants/needs list, getting pre-approved – then the fun begins. Equipped with all of these pieces, I can make a short list of homes to visit that is crafted specifically for you. I don’t recommend seeing more than six houses in a day because more than that and the information can become jumbled.

This process also equips me with enough knowledge so that when something hits the market that meets your criteria, I can get you in to see it faster. It’s important, especially in this competitive market, to see a house as soon as you can. I try to make it convenient for my clients by working nights and weekends and arranging my schedule to meet their needs. Real estate doesn’t always operate on a 9-5 schedule.

Sure, buying a home can be stressful, but it should also be fun. Imagining where you’ll plant the garden and envisioning what color you’ll paint the kitchen is exciting. A good realtor should help alleviate the stress of finding a home so that you can focus on some of the fun stuff.

Want to know more about the buying process? Click below!

Buying Process

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