Buying a home in Bozeman is not for the faint of heart. In the last two years, our real estate market has become incredibly competitive and escalation clauses and bidding wars are a normal part of the process. We reached out to people who have recently purchased a home to find out what they wish they knew before they bought a home in Bozeman.
When we first saw our home, we fell in love with the open space behind it. It was one of the main reasons we chose the home that we did. But now that land is being developed. I wish I would have asked more questions about who owned that land, what it was zoned for, and if there were any developments in the pipeline. With so much development happening in Bozeman, it’s important to understand what could happen to the land around you.
I put off buying a home for so long because I thought I needed to put 20% down. I was working hard to save my money for a down payment, but it was taking a long time and home prices were going up fast. I had no idea that I could buy a house with just 5% down, I wish I had talked to a lender as soon as I started thinking about purchasing a home. I could have saved a lot of time, and a lot of money!
When we started the process of buying a home we went with a friend for our real estate agent and used the lender they recommended. A few months into the process we noticed we were the ones finding all the properties we wanted to see, not our agent. Because our agent wasn't a full-time agent, we were having trouble getting showings scheduled, which caused us to lose out on more than one property. On top of that, interest rates had gone up and our agent and lender hadn't mentioned anything about how that would affect our affordability. When we did finally get something under contract, we had no idea that even though we were well under the amount we had been pre-approved for, we actually were cutting it really close with financing because of the higher interest rates. I wish we had chosen both a lender and agent that were more proactive in looking out for us and letting us know about these things.
When we first started looking for a home in Bozeman, we were firm on a 2-car garage and a fenced-in yard for our dog. We didn’t even consider homes that had a 1-car garage or patio space and we wasted a lot of time trying to find something that really wasn’t reasonable with our budget. If we had just considered making some compromises at the beginning of our home search, we would have saved a lot of money and a lot of stress!
Note: Interest rates are rising and the amount that you've been pre-approved for may have changed. Click here to find out how to navigate rising interest rates.
While our agent did let us know all the basics about the HOA like what the fees were and what they included, I wish we had gotten a better idea of how the HOA operated before we purchased. Our HOA is not well run and there are many units in our association that do not pay their dues so the HOA reserves are underfunded. This almost terminated our home purchase at the last minute because the bank would not approve the loan because there were so many unpaid HOA bills in the neighborhood. We got lucky and the seller wound up covering all of the unpaid bills but now it is something we will have to deal with when we go to sell.
When we purchased our home on a good-sized lot we made the mistake of assuming we would be able to park our camper in our driveway. As it turns out, our covenants do not allow any recreational vehicles to be visibly parked for more than 24 hours so we had to scramble to find storage for our camper right after we bought our home. I also wish we would have known that our covenants stated that residents are not allowed to regularly park on the street.
I know everyone in the area is feeling this way now, but I really wish I would have buckled down and bought a home long before I actually did. The prices have gone up so quickly, if I had bought 2 years ago my mortgage payment would be almost half of what it is now. If you are house hunting and can still afford the area you are looking in, I’d say go for it while you still can!
It is important to note that many of these issues could have been avoided if the buyer was working with a well-educated and proactive real estate agent. Who you work with matters and not all real estate agents take on their responsibilities in the same way. Click here to learn more about how to find a good real estate agent. Click here for more Buyer resources.
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