What's Your Home Worth?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Building Buyer and Seller Relationship

A great article from the National Association of Realtors indicates buyers and sellers are using Realtors at an all-time high. 88% of buyers and sellers are using realtors, compared to 69% of buyers using a realtor in 2001 and up from 77% of sellers using a realtor in 1991.

While the housing market can be difficult to navigate, buyers and sellers place high importance on a realtor who is honest and has integrity. Their local expertise of the buying/selling process, reputation, and knowing the neighborhood are all critical.

At The Schaefer Team, we are committed to working fully for our clients - both buyers and sellers - all the while working on their behalf in an ethical manner. We're successful in part to our strong communication with, and on behalf of our clients. 67% of buyers only interview 1 agent, and 70% of sellers interview 1 agent. We strongly encourage our clients to interview multiple agents before finding a good connection. 

Give us a call, shoot us a text, or send an email and let's chat about how we can help you with your buying/selling of a home!

HBS Agent or Broker

Source: NAR

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 Could Be Banner Year For Missoula Building

$160 million in building permits have been issued over the past 2 years in Missoula. Member's of the city's Development Services believe that next year's number could surpass that, bringing with it numerous projects and construction jobs. Major projects already announced include Missoula College, Stockman Bank, and the H&M Store. Downtown could see additional growth with St. Patrick Hospital looking to build a four story medical office building.

Continued good news is in the mix for the Old Sawmill District. While the project has taken longer than anticipated, developers anticipate seeing projects begin on the 46-acre site during 2015. This includes Polleys Square, a four-story condo project slated for Wyoming Street.

Lastly, there's the Southgate Mall purchase of the nearby lot with Val-U Inn. The hotel is going to be taken down at some point, however, what will take it's place still remains to be seen. Other projects have been rumored, but the Holidays, it was difficult getting concrete information.
Polleys Square

Source: Missoulian

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Season's Greetings From The Schaefer Team!

We would like to Thank You for a wonderful 2014 and wish you Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year! 

Jason, Alana, Jack, Derek, & Sam

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Missoula Showing Strong Signs of Recovery After Recession

Better late than never! Missoula's economy definitely felt the impact of the recession harder than other areas in the state - due primarily to the timber industry. When Stimson Mill in Bonner and Smurfit-Stone in Frenchtown both closed, Missoula and surrounding communities certainly felt the impact.

According to Patrick Barkey, an economist with the University of Montana, Missoula is poised to see more growth in 2015. He said certain sectors of the Missoula economy are strong, while others are weak. Government, such as the BLM and Forest Service stagnant and in decline. On the other side, the health care industry continues to forge ahead. There was 2.6% growth seen from 2013, and Missoula is the 2nd largest health care market in the state. 

The final piece of the pie that Barkey points to is tourism for Missoula and surrounding areas. Last year, restaurant and food service growth equated to 5%, while arts and entertainment saw a 13% increase. While the Stimson Mill in Bonner may have closed, Pyramid Lumber in Seeley Lake is doing quite well. 

Overall, Barkey is very optimistic about 2015 - which is good news are all of Missoula and surrounding communities.
Health care industry

Source: Missoulian

Monday, December 15, 2014

Missoula's Toole Avenue Development Transforms Warehouse Into Apartments

Additional upscale apartments are coming to Missoula and Toole Avenue. The property is located at 812 Toole Avenue, and expected to take 10 months from start to finish. They expect to have 32 units when finished on the second and third floors, with six ground-floor retail spaces. 

One of the main reasons for the new conversion of the warehouse is the expansion that St. Patrick Hospital is under going. St. Patrick is gearing up to add an addition in the spring of 2015.

This is more good news for downtown Missoula as it continues to transcend. It's beginning to get more trendy with the addition of breweries, shopping, and the new apartments being built. The estimated cost of this project is $5 million, and it's the group's only one at this time, however, they did say they are working on another potential local project.

Toole Crossing

Source: Missoulian

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tourism Official Detail's Industry Importance to Missoula

According to Executive Director of Destination Missoula - tourists spent $280 million in Missoula County last year, with $258 million being spent within the city limits. This spending supported 3,200 jobs, while contributing $22 million to taxes.

Barb Neilan, executive director, was the featured speaker at the Missoula Businesswoman's Network this week held at the Double Tree hotel. She explained that nonresident travel and tourism made up the second largest industry in the state. According to Neilan, 82% of new visitors return within the first two years, with most coming back on a regular basis.

Destination Missoula has grown from one employee with a budget of $130,000 to having 5 employees and a $900,000 annual budget. Much of the organization's work locals don't see. This is due to the fact they are working hard to attract people from Idaha, Atlanta, and Chicago to come to Montana. In addition, China and Canada are markets where they look to attract visitors. 

Missoula tourism

Source: Missoulian

Friday, December 5, 2014

2014 Best Year for Job Gains Since 1999

National reports indicated that 2014, with the addition of 321,000 jobs in the month of November, became the strongest year for job growth since 1999.

This is good news, and blew away the forecasted numbers experts were anticipating. The unemployment rate remained steady at 5.8%, which is down from 7% this time last year. Any month with over 200,000 jobs added is considered to be very strong. This year, the US economy has been averaging 224,000 jobs added per month.

Retail hiring continues to be strong nationwide. The Missoula area has seen this same growth with additional commercial construction happening, and retail businesses opening. Particularly on the sound end of town. Nationwide, 50,000 jobs were added in the retail sector - driven primarily by car dealerships and retail. Professional hiring has increased too, with 86,000 jobs added, many in the accounting and book keeping sectors.

One draw back, and we're seeing some of this in Missoula, are wages. Nationwide, this has been a concern for economic policy makers and the Federal Reserve. Wage growth has been slow due to the number of job seekers in the market. 2015 is shaping up to be very strong according to experts, and they don't see a slow down happening with hiring. Good news and hopefully this trend continues in the Missoula area as well.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Home Owners Putting HELOCs to Better Use

Very popular 8-10 years ago, Home Equity Lines of Credit are again making a come back. However, this time around, home owners appear to be using them in a much more responsible manner.

HELOCs were once thought of an easy way to attain cash. Home owners surveyed indicated they are using the HELOCs for projects such as kitchen updates, bathroom additions, new roofs, and other remodeling projects. Another 29% of home owners said they are using the money to take advantage of interest rates on financial products, consolidate debts, or pay off credit card balances. The survey indicated other major uses of a HELOC: buying new cars (27%), paying medical bills (18%), kids' and adults' education costs (15%), travel (15%), and small investments (13%).

Home Equity Lines of Credit are considered a much safer financial product in 2014 compared to years past. Most banks limit the combined loan-to-value ratio. In addition, lenders are more thoroughly reviewing documented income, employment, credit, and property values.

Source: Realtor Mag

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

5 Safety Tips When Decorating the Exterior for the Holidays

It's always an enjoyable time of year with family, friends, too much food...and in most cases for home owners - putting up Christmas lights! Here are 5 tips for the light and decoration installers at your residence.

1. Inspect all the lights prior to putting them up to ensure they are working. Nothing worse than getting up on the extension ladder, lights hung, and half the string doesn't work!
2. Don't overload circuits and watch for electrical concerns. Check for any tears that might be in the wiring surface. If installing a lawn configuration, inspect the ground to make sure you're not installing on a low spot where potential ground water can collect. Lastly, make sure to tape down extension cords if they cross walk ways.
3. Make sure all extension cords you use are rated for outdoor use, along with the strand(s) of lights you choose to use. 
4. Take extreme caution on rooftops. Best is to use an extension ladder if possible, and use nails in eves so you are ready for next year. Even better yet, have someone make sure to hold the ladder for stability. If it's too big of a challenge - hire somebody to do it.
5. Once the holidays are over - remove the lights. Leaving them up year round can cause the wires to wear and become weather damaged.

Best of luck to all of the Clark Griswold's in the Missoula area that are decorating! 
holiday house

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Keep Ice Off Your Stairs!

Obviously with our new blast of winter weather, we'll all encounter icy stairs. Here's a great, simple solution for the Do It Yourself folks out there on how to prevent the icy stairs.

1. An empty gallon jub
2. 2 Tbs of Dawn dish detergent (this is the recommended brand)
3. 2 Tbs of rubbing alcohol

Begin by measuring the rubbing alcohol and dish detergent into the empty jug and filling it with warm water. Cap it and shake gently - it works best if you're able to let it sit overnight. Shake just prior to using.

To prevent icy stairs, pour the mixture over the front step as soon as the temperatures begin to drop. The solution will not freeze, thus keeping your stairs clear of ice!

Freddie Mac - Buy Sooner Rather Than Later

In a recent video update on the housing market, Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, stated that with both mortgage interest rates and home prices projected to increase in 2015 buying now makes sense.
Here are the latest mortgage interest rate projections from four major housing entities:Fannie MaeFreddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
Mortgage Rate Projections | Keeping Current Matters

Friday, November 28, 2014

Home Ownership About Place to Call Home

The number one reason 24% of people purchase, is the desire to own a home of their own. This can mean different things to buyers. Proximity to family and friends is important to 43% of buyers when considering neighborhood. While buyers will often compromise on size of a home, layout, and price - the proximity to family and friends has little room for compromising.  

Most buyers bought a home that was previously owned, which they bought because it was a better overall price, better value, and for it's charm and character. The typical home purchased was a single-family that was 1,870 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

With the recent drop in temperatures, especially in Missoula and Western, MT, home owners were very cognizant of their heating bills. When buying, 36% placed high importance on heating and cooling costs. Others considered living close to entertainment and leisure activities as important. 


Source: National Association of Realtors

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Frontier Airlines Returning to Missoula in 2015

Beginning in May, 2015, Frontier airlines will again be offering direct flights from Missoula to Denver.

While they will not be daily flights, there will be plenty of options for flyers. Frontier had asked for a potential revenue guarantee, however, that was unable to be agreed upon. Thus, there will be no winter flights after the guarantee failed to materialize. The Missoula Economic Partnership had been working to help secure the revenue guarantee.

With Missoula having limited options at times, the direct flights left some wanting more. Yet, others realized with Missoula having a regional airport, options are bound to be limited and will take anything they can get.

Frontier's current schedule has them ending flights on January 5th, and resuming them in May of 2015.

Source: NBC Montana

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why The Holiday Season is a Great Time to Sell Your Home

"We're going to wait until the Spring to list our house."

Very common for us to hear that, but there are plenty of reasons NOT to list your house during the Spring. In fact, you may be better off selling during the Holiday Season. Here are the top reasons to sell during the Holiday Season:

1. You'll have less time wasted with buyers during the Holiday Season - the serious buyers are looking during the Holiday season.
2. Listing inventory is usually lower during the Holiday Season - less inventory can mean more "value" for  your home.
3. Buyers can be more emotional during the Holiday Season - meaning more value for your home.
4. Buyers have more time off work - meaning more time to look at homes.
5. If you sell your house now - less stress in the spring looking for a house.
6. Holiday decorations increase curb appeal.
7. Some buyers prefer to buy before year-end for tax purposes.
8. Receive equity before the holidays!

Market Update: Recovery Looking Very Strong

Homes in the Missoula area and nationwide are still very active. With the weather cooling down dramatically nation wide, there is always some impact on sales, however, the market remains very strong, especially within certain aspects.

New home construction has been very busy in Missoula's Linda Vista area. Builders continue to move new homes up there, and it's expected that 2015 will bring even more new home sales in that area. Single family new homes were at the highest level they have been for the month of October in 6 years. Additionally, the pace of existing home sales has been strong nationally. The pace of existing home sales has increased in 6 of the past 7 months.

Inventory continues to be one of the most challenging aspects, especially in Missoula and the price range of $150,000 - $250,000. 

Nationwide home sales reflect a strong economy, including a healthier economy in Missoula where there is a lot of residential and commercial building going on. Critical economic factors point to even more growth on the horizon for Missoula real estate and the nation.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Community Medical Center Potential Sale

News has been swirling this past week about the potential sale of Missoula's Community Medical Center to Billings Clinic and Regional Care Hospital Partners. Wednesday evening community members voiced their opinion in a packed Hellgate gymnasium. The plan would make Community a for profit hospital.

One of the main driving forces behind being a not for profit is the $70 million in proceeds if the deal goes through. Due to being a nonprofit, there are strings attached to this specific deal. The board in this case would have to give the money to one or more causes that mirror its mission to improve health in Western Montana.

The Attorney General is set to review the sale and make a decision by the end of 2014. Board members are confident the sale will improve patient experience, reduce health care costs, and improve health among the general population.

Source: NBC Montana

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Evaro Unveils Largest Gaming Expansion in its History

More good news for the Missoula, Polson, Kalispell, and surrounding communities in Western Montana. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have announced plans to add a $27 million expansion, plus $4.6 million in upgrades to the KwaTaqNuk Resort in Polson.

Beginning in 2015, the construction will take place and is expected to make the resort the unlike anything else in all of Montana. The hope with the expansion is that it will add 140 jobs to the local economy. Funding for the projects came from a loan through the CSKT government, with stipulations that proceeds benefit tribal schools, elder care, and other tribal services.

The Missoula area real estate market would potentially see an uptick as a result of the 140 jobs added as a result. With the resort being a 60 minute commute from Missoula, the resort is expected to attract employees from all of the North Highway 93 corridor.

Source: KPAX

Montana 24th Best State for Business

Taking into account 36 factors - including business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. There were 11 different sources used in compiling data for the research.

According to Forbes, Montana's economy held up better than most during the economic downturn. Recently, unemployment has hovered around 4.6%. Of note, over the past 3 years, Montanans have launched more new businesses per capita than any other state, according to the Small Business Administration. With nearly two-thirds of Montana land dedicated to agriculture and ranch land, this continues to be a major employer in the state.

The projected annual job growth is 1.2% and the annual median household income is $45,665. Overall, Montana was just behind South Carolina and ahead of Kansas.

Source: Missoulian

Monday, November 17, 2014

Snowbowl Gearing up for the Season

A main draw of living in Missoula are the abundant outdoor activities - both summer and winter that exist. With our early snowfall that has hit, Snowbowl is gearing up for the season. Snow machines have been active, and at this rate they are adding a foot of snow a day.

Located only 12 miles from Missoula, the ski hill offers options for skiers of all abilities. Their goal is to be open by December 5th, and with the cool temperatures expected to stay in place for the time being, their manager is confident they'll make this open date.

Source: KPAX

Friday, November 14, 2014

New Restaurants Planned for Missoula South Crossing

The South end of Missoula is getting busier and busier. With Cabelas, The Boot Barn, Men's Warehouse and more already open, this is shaping up to be a great alternative for Missoulians and visitors to Reserve Street Shopping. 

Restaurants have always been a bit limited for those of us living on this end of town. While there are some good ones, the options are simply limited. It's been announced that MacKenzie River Pizza, Jimmy Johns, and Noodles & Company will now be tenants in the new South Crossing. MacKenzie River Pizza currently has 2 other locations in Missoula, however, owner Lance Robinson said they were not attracting those people living on the south end of town. The new location has already broken ground and they aim to be open by April of 2015. 

The 1st phase of the Missoula Crossing started in 2012 where the old Kmart was. There is more development being planned with additional tenants expected to be announced in the future. More restaurants and retail are on the horizon according to developers. This is welcome news for Missoula's south side residents and visitors from Highway 93 and south of Missoula.South Crossing

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Missoula County Approves 2nd Tax Enhancement District in Bonner

Since 2008 the Stimson Mill in Bonner has been closed, and slowly recovering with activity of new business. The city of Bonner has obviously been impacted as a result. Harris Construction plans to build a fabrication plant on the 116 acres west of the Blackfoot River known as the West Log Yard. The rest of the area will be subdivided to create a small industrial park. A similar district was created in 2012 on the other side of the river at the old mill site itself.

The creation of the new district will not raise taxes. However, it changes the way government redistributes what it collects, meaning property tax dollars garnered through new construction can be used for improvements of infrastructure. Timing is the key factor at this point. The construction of the plant has taken all of 2014, so the district won't become official for 30 days. The goal is to have everything finalized by February 1, 2015, enabling a base year of 2014.

According to Harris Construction, they look to hire about a dozen employees initially, with the goal of getting to 20. They'll be collaborating with Missoula Job Service and Missoula College to find skilled workers in stainless steel and nickel alloy welding. Good news for Bonner and the old Stimson Mill site.

Source: Missoulian

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Welcome to Missoula Area News provided by Jason and Alana Schaefer.  Here we look forward to providing our readers with in depth knowledge of everything from real estate in Missoula, MT and surrounding communities to events happening, celebrations, local news, and everything in between.

Alana and myself are both Real Estate Professionals, but we want this site to serve a purpose greater than that.  We pride ourselves on being active members of the community, thus that will be the premise of this site. We're both very social, and love all that Missoula and Western Montana have to offer. Not to mention, the great people!

Thanks for visiting and being a part of our great community.